Stephen GibbsSTEPHEN Gibbs – avid cricketer, historian, librarian and beloved husband and father – recently died of pancreatic cancer. He was 63.
Stephen Walter Gibbs was born on November 6, 1950, the third child of Walter Gibbs and his wife, Rose (nee O’Brien). He had four siblings – Ruth, Rosemary, Peter and Laurence – and was remembered as a “loving brother”.
He attended school at De La Salle College, Revesby Heights and went on to study a Bachelor of Commerce, graduating from the University of New South Wales in 1972.
Stephen worked as a nurse from 1975 to 1978, completing his Nursing Aide Certificate in 1977.
In 1980, motivated by a deep interest in history, Stephen decided to undertake a Diploma of Librarianship and subsequently worked as a librarian at the Willoughby, Ku-ring-gai, Blue Mountains, Penrith and Hurstville libraries from 1979 to 1995.
But Stephen’s true passion was cricket – not only playing the game but also researching and writing about it. From 1969 to 1990, Stephen played for Gloucester (where he owned a property), Springwood Royals and University of NSW cricket clubs.
Stephen also revelled in the opportunity to contribute to the Australian Cricket Journal, which he did from 1985 to 1990.
He also wrote on cricket memorabilia for Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack Australia.
With fellow historian and friend Dr Richard Cashman, he co-edited Early Cricket in Sydney 1803-1856, publishing a meticulously researched and original manuscript that had been hand-written by Jas Scott in 1931.
In 1991, Stephen approached former Test cricketer Alan Davidson to secure the support of the NSW Cricket Association to publish the manuscript.
In 1992, Gibbs formed the Company of Cricket Scribes in Sydney and organised talks, with the help of fellow historian and close friend Alfred James, until 2013.
The speakers at these meetings included former Test cricketers, respected international cricket writers and commentators and the controversial Test umpire Darrell Hair, among others.
In James’ obituary to Gibbs, he fondly remembered a passionate and dedicated historian and friend.
“Stephen will be greatly missed by all who knew him,” James said. “He was that rare sort of friend who was always constant and engaged and his legacy will be greatly appreciated by historians and aficionados of cricket for decades to come.”
After 1995, Gibbs played in the Masters Competition, and one of the highlights of his cricketing career was taking a hat-trick on March 2, 2003 for Hornsby Masters (over 40s) against Kenthurst.
Gibbs also contributed many entries to the Oxford Companion to Australian Sport in 1994 and the Oxford Companion to Australian Cricket in 1996. He was an Honorary Library Consultant with NSW Cricket Association from 1996 to 2006, where he was responsible for expanding the collection of its library.
Stephen obtained a Masters of Management at the University of Technology in 1993, and became a management analyst in the local government and tertiary education sectors in later life.
He moved to Newcastle in 2001, where he took the position of Executive Officer in the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment at the University of Newcastle, which would be his final job before retirement.
He was well-liked among the staff at the university for his positive attitude and talent for the written word.
“In meetings Stephen brought humour, levity, an ordered informality,” friend and colleague Sheila Proust said.
“He shared information freely, was considered and thoughtful in his opinions and always co-operative, affable and respectful.
“He was very articulate and a great wordsmith.”
Fellow colleague Donna West agreed, adding: “Stephen drew the respect of some of the most respected people in the university . . . I will miss his wit, humour, warmth and wisdom.”
His passion for cricket took him to the end, with Gibbs recently completing his 2000-page monumental manuscript The Gibbs Index to Cricket, which references tens of thousands of matters related to the playing, history and recording of cricket over the years.
His revised 2014 version of The Gibbs Guide to Items Not in Padwick references over two thousand books, brochures and other items not described in the two Padwick bibliographies.
This was followed by his Post Padwick: The Gibbs Extension of Padwick’s Bibliography: 1990-2006, recently extended to 2013.
The guide was sent to book collector Roger Page in Melbourne a week before he passed away, solidifying Stephen’s legacy as integral to the conversation about cricket, past and present.