During the 1927-28 season Alan Kippax brought a strong team to Maitland. The team was: A Kippax, A Jackson, EL Waddy, JM Gregory, R Steel, G Morgan, D Seddon, R Gostelow, HS Love, S Donnan and H Kennett. Apart from Donnan and Kennett, all had played international or interstate cricket.
A representative Northern team was selected to play against them, with one player being invited from each of the other HVCC Associations: G Bell, L Moore, F Cummins, C Andrews, V Cleary, J O ‘Hearn, W Jarrett(Hunter River); F Conolly(Newcastle); Henderson (Wyong); N Cameron (Singleton); and W Snape (Cessnock).
The match was played at the Showground on September 17 1927. Kippax’s team scored 286 (J Gregory 77, G Morgan 66, EL Waddy 43) in reply to the Northern team’s 8-234 declared. For the locals Charlie Andrews “gave a most artistic display” to topscore with 85. Unfavourable weather affected attendance and the Association suffered a slight financial loss on the fixture.
In the local competition the number of entries dropped to 30, chiefly on account of a number of junior clubs disbanding. New entries to appear were Western Suburbs in B grade, and Dunn’s Creek and Pelaw-Main in C grade.
The grading of teams and players was no longer left to the discretion of the clubs. A special grading committee was set up with the power to direct players to play in a higher grade, as well as to grade teams. Taking advantage of the amended rules, the committee promoted three teams to B grade. One of these teams Mulbring – ended up winning the premiership and the final.
Two new shields were donated for the competition the JP Idstein Shield for the B grade final and the Johnston No. 2 Shield for the C grade final. In the initial season of competition for these shields, Paterson won the Idstein Shield, and Mulbring the Johnston No. 2 Shield.
In A grade the Robins Club won both the O’Hearn and Waller shields for the premiership and final respectively, when they defeated Branxton that had finished equal in the competition on percentages.
At Country Week F Cummins, C Andrews, J O’Hearn and E Campbell represented the Association in the Northern District team. Though not as successful as in the previous season, the team had “the satisfaction of being the youngest team competing in the Carnival”.
The Association was disappointed at the failure of a number of top players to make themselves available for representation in John Bull Shield matches – a complaint to be voiced on many occasions during the Association’s history. The Annual Report regretted “to report that through the disloyal attitude on the part of a number of the district’s foremost players in not taking part in several of the matches, your Association did not justify itself in this competition”.
Early in 1928 the Association lost the wicket at the Showground, when it was unable to renew the lease with the Show Association. The funds of the Association received a setback as this was the only enclosed ground in the district. With the local football club, the Association put up a proposal to Council for the establishment of a sportsground on West Maitland Park, but the “civic authorities were not favourable to the scheme”.
The end of the season was marred by a serious dispute between the Association and Northern Division Club, that arose over the playing of an alleged unregistered player. This was to lead to the suspension and later expulsion from the Association of the Northern Division A grade captain, the cancellation of the registration of the club’s A grade players, and the resignation from the Association of the Patron, President, Treasurer, a Vice-President and one of the Recorders. In the Annual Report (a rare copy of which still survives in booklet form) these developments are referred to in an understatement as “a little unpleasantness, as a result of representatives of certain teams failing to discharge their duties in accordance with the Rules”. So deep was the rift caused by the dispute, that at the start of the next season the Northern Division Club at its Annual Meeting resolved not to affiliate with the Association, but instead to apply for entry in the Newcastle competition.
At the Annual Meeting John Lintott, who had been Association Secretary for the previous nine seasons, did not stand for re-election, citing as the principal reason “the attacks that had been made on him some months ago” during the dispute. It was regrettable that he should go out under such circumstances, for as one delegate pointed out “no one had displayed a greater effort for the game in Maitland than he had”.