It is with regret that we advise well known Gunnedah resident and former member of the NSW parliament, Roger Wotton passed away yesterday afternoon.
Roger Corfield Anson Wotton (born 14 June 1919) was the Country Party (later National Party) member for Burrendong from 1968 to 1971 and from 1973 to 1981, and then for Castlereagh from 1981 to 1991 in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly.
He was born in Ardlethan, New South Wales, and attended the local public school and then Yanco Agricultural High School. He served in the 2nd Australian Imperial Force 1940–45, rising to the rank of lieutenant and serving in Darwin, Morotai and Borneo. He married Shirley Crick (who’s father was a leader in the Australian entertainment industry and former Lord Mayor of Sydney) on 3 February 1945, with whom he had five children. A farmer and grazier after the war, and joined the Country Party in 1950. He served on Coonabarabran Shire Council from 1963 to 1968, and as Deputy Shire President from 1965.
In 1968, Roger was selected as the Country Party’s candidate for the new state seat of Burrendong, which largely replaced the old seat of Mudgee. He was elected without difficulty on Liberal preferences. In 1971, however, he was challenged by Leo Nott, the former Labor member for Mudgee who had retired at the previous election. Nott was narrowly successful, but Roger Wotton defeated him in 1973. In 1981, Burrendong was abolished, and he contested the seat of Castlereagh, which, despite being held by Labor MP Jim Curran he was successful, and held the seat until its abolition in 1991, when he retired from parliament.
Roger Wotton also has a special place in Gunnedah sport, being the captain of the all conquering Gunnedah cricket teams of the 1950’s. An outstanding cricketer in his own right, Roger Wotton played at a Country and regional level played against visiting international teams of his era. He played at a representative Country level with New South Wales Western Districts (1947/48); Western New South Wales (1947/48); Hawkesbury (1949/50); Northern New South Wales (1950/51-1954/55).
He was heavily involved in NSW cricket, being a Vice President of the NSW Cricket Association from 1970 for almost 30 years and managing the Australian team to New Zealand in 1977 when the World Series Cricket revolution was being developed and players being secretly contracted by Kerry Packer.
He had a great passion and involvement in the NSW Pastoral and Agricultural Show movement, being a Councillor on the Royal Agricultural Society from 1961. He was also a Vice President for an extended period. Roger Wotton was Ringmaster at the Sydney Royal Easter Show during the 1980’s. He remained heavily connected with the RAS up until his death.
He will be fondly remembered and sadly missed.
Tribute to Roger Wotton by his good friend Rodney Cavalier, Chairman of the SCG Trust
Roger was an exceptional cricketer and a fine gentleman. Though on opposite sides, we became good friends. I have been to his home in Gunnedah for dinner. We spent many days together, as one must to tour the country properly. In more recent years I saw him annually at the SCG.
In 1954-55 in a match for Northern NSW v the MCC at Newcastle, Roger scored a fine 52 in the second innings. the north was facing a first innings deficit of 227 and was in danger of an innings defeat when Roger at no.4 rallied the tail to force the MCC to bat again. The MCC attack included Bedser, Loader, Appleyard and Wardle.
During that tour Roger forged a friendship for life with Alec Bedser and his twin. Each Ashes tour while he was an MP, Roger entertained the travelling entourage in the dining room at Parliament House. The Bedsers were an essential part of those touring parties. Their tours started in Perth and loosely followed the cricketers. Don and Jesse in Adelaide, friends in country towns, friends in the cities. It was beautiful to see them together. One story has it that Roger introduced Alec to a chiropractor Gunnedah way who set about wracking pain Alec was suffering and cured Alec for good.
While an MP, Roger was Captain of the Parliamentary XI whomever was in power. His nickname within the Country Party was “Skip”. On the field he was definitely in charge regardless of the status of his fellow team members. I saw him one day at Victoria Barracks pull ball after ball into the trees on the Oxford Street side. If he had been hitting toward the barracks buildings, one does not want to imagine the damage he might have done.
The splendid Johnny Moyes covered the tour of 1954-55 as he did all post-War tours until his death in 1963. In The Fight for the Ashes (A&R 1955) Moyes praised the power of Roger’s hitting. This book, bookmark suitably inserted, sat on the mantelpiece in Roger’s dining room.
Roger was someone you could talk to through a multitude of interruptions during a day or days of cricket. He was a fine host and a fine guest. I will miss him.