An original 'Melbourne Cricket Club. Honorary Member's Ticket' valid from 26 December 1883 to 26 January 1884
A cream card printed in brown (77 × 114 mm), with text on both sides: the recto has the title details within a decorative scroll-motif border and with manuscript insertions; the verso has the lengthy two-part Rule IX, relating to visitors' tickets; apart from a few marks and mild signs of use and age, a very good example of this exceedingly rare piece of ephemera.
The ticket is issued to 'R. Burton Esq.', and it is signed in ink by the MCC secretary, B.J. Wardill. At the time, Richard Burton (1863-1933) was a 20 year-old school teacher from Gawler, north of Adelaide, who was very active in the local sporting community. 'He won a cup ... for the highest batting average for the Gawlers in 1882-3, 1883-4, and 1887-8, and was also top in 1889-90 and 1891-92. He was a star wicketkeeper as well as batsman', according to E.H. Coombe in his 'History of Gawler' (1910). Benjamin Johnston Wardill (1842-1917), cricket administrator, was born in Lancashire, and 'migrated to Melbourne in 1861 ... Joining the garrison artillery soon after his arrival, he rose to the rank of major in the Harbor Trust Garrison Battery in 1885. Secretary of the Melbourne Cricket Club from 30 April 1878 to February 1911, he retired owing to ill health; the membership had increased from 572 to 5353. He organized and managed the 1886 Australian tour of England which was arranged by the club and later managed the tours of 1899 and 1902. Wardill was largely successful in his aim to make the Melbourne Cricket Club the Australian counterpart of the famous Marylebone Cricket Club in England, and his influence on Charles Bannerman, F.R. Spofforth, Clem Hill, Victor Trumper and others helped them lay the foundations of the Anglo-Australian Test cricket series. Wardill was also a capable all-round sportsman; as a cricketer he was a solid batsman and a useful round-arm bowler, playing once for Victoria in 1866. He also excelled as a rifleman and in 1876 was a member of an Australian team which toured the United States of America and shot at the Philadelphia International Exhibition' ('Australian Dictionary of Biography').