Nunawading Cricket Club

Eric Thornton

Eric Thornton

Eric and his wife June moved into their new home in Nunawading in September 1955. The home was on land that was part of an old orchard and several months were spent working on the block before Eric got the urge to play cricket again.

It was a only short walk over Whitehorse Rd to Silver grove for Eric and his career at Nuna started in the second half of season 55-56. Eric and June’s experience was typical of many newlywed couples who moved to the area in the mid 50’s, just like the Sakers, Dolans and Rowes. It was this influx of new players that lead to the later success of the Club.


Eric was the Club’s Secretary in season 57-58, the season of the Club’s first A Grade premiership. More importantly, Eric won the Association and Club bowling averages that year (11.3 average). Eric was Secretary for 3 of the next 4 years and also played in the 58-59, 60-61, 66-67 and 68-69 First XI premiership teams.


With Ian Rowe and Mick McLachlan, Eric formed part of a very formidable First XI attack that helped win these premierships. Eric took 6-39 in 1961-62 vs Forest Hill and 6-49 in 1966-67 vs Mitcham, 7-29 in 1962-63 vs Mitcham, 7-60 and 7-57 in consecutive games against Blackburn and St Peters in 1967-68 as examples of his bowling prowess.


In total, Eric played 80 First XI games over 12 seasons and took 253 wickets at 14.42, a fantastic return ! In November 1966 Eric caused play to be held up in a game against Vermont when, a bail sailed over the fence into long grass, a distance of 160 feet, and was lost. This was reported in ‘The Herald’ newspaper as was Eric’s return of 6-24 that day.


Eric was Master of Ceremonies at many Nunawading and BHRDCA Presentation Nights but the highlight of his career was his nomination and awarding of Life Membership in 1961.


Eric and June moved to Preston in 1960 but Eric travelled to the eastern suburbs to play for Nuna for a further 12 seasons.

Eric makes the following personal observations of his association with Nuna.

One of the best decisions I have made during my life was to take up cricket again (at age 24), joining the Nunawading Cricket Club after Christmas of the 1955/56 season.  June and I had moved into our first home in Russell Street, Nunawading in September 1955. 

In my first full season (1956/57), in which I won the “A” Grade bowling, with an average of 12.8, the office bearers were : 

President                  Ted Aumann

Vice Presidents          Joe Carter & Tom Reeves

Secretary                 Ken Rout

Treasurer                 Jim Shilton

Committee                Frank Kitchen, Harold Helmore, Eric Best,

                                Arthur Chapman and George Thatcher.

 

To then play in the club’s first ever “A” Grade Premiership in 1957/58 and not only winning the club bowling average at 11.3, but also the Association average, was a great thrill. 

It was also a great honour to have been the club secretary in 1957/58 and to arrange for the team to be fitted with blazers.  Although I can take no credit for the design of the pocket, I did arrange with a blazer manufacturer in Sydney Road, Brunswick, to visit our then unlined, corrugated ‘pavilion’ at Silver Grove one evening to measure the team.  I still have my pocket. 

I was also secretary in 1958/59, 59/60 & 61/62. 

In the 1959/60 season Bob Saker won the Association batting average (his first of 5) at 60.8, from 548 runs, and was also top of the century makers with 134 n.o.  I finished second in the Association bowling averages with an average of 12.7 from 33 wickets.  The “A” team was runner up to Blackburn that season. 

During my last 7 seasons with the club (1965/66 to 1971/72), I was always the bridesmaid, never the bride, finishing second in the bowling averages 5 times.  Of interest is the fact that 8-ball overs was still the norm at that time, so the 1001 overs that I bowled would have been 1335 ovesr in 6-ball terms.  My other figures were 222 maidens, 229 wickets, 3249 runs at an average of 14.19.  (editors note : 3 seasons worth of scorebooks are at this stage still missing, which would show an even greater record for Eric’s career). 

All together, I played in 5 of club’s 6 “A” Grade Premierships (1957/58, 58/59, 60/61, 66/67 and 68/69), an honour I greatly treasure.  To say that I enjoyed my cricket would be an understatement, and that during my 16 ½ seasons, that at all times, win or lose, I enjoyed every game I played in, under whoever was captain, and in every team. 

However, the most important memories that I will always cherish, are the lifelong friendships that June and I have made, being made a Life Member in 1961, and being named in the “Team Of The Century” in 2002. 

My sincere thanks to the club for being such a unique part if my life.  I wish the club every success for the future.