Written by George Dolan
George joined Nunawading in 1956 and immediately played in our First XI where he played until 1971-72. He finished his career in the lower grades, making 50 in his last game, a winning grand final. Nuna made the finals in every year of his time in the Firsts for 6 premierships and 3 Runners-up. He played over 320 games in 28 seasons of cricket.
Q1. Please provide a personal background including your time at Nuna, personal and career highlights and what you are doing now. Please include details of the best game you were ever involved in.
I was born at Ouyen in 1930 and went to primary school at a little place called Bronzewing. All that was there was a railway siding and the school. I went to St. Patrick’s College Ballarat in 1943-45 and from there to Melbourne to work for the PMG as a technician. Got married in 1954 and moved to Nunawading 1955. My father had died in 1947 so mum sold the farm and moved to Melbourne to be with my brother and me as we were the only children. We lived in Essendon and then built a house in Glenroy. I played football in the Saturday Morning Industrial League which was comprised of teams representing the 3 breweries, wharfies, Yellow Cabs, GMH, etc. so it was a tough competition. In 1950 after kicking 100 goals in 1949 I had a try at Essendon, didn’t make the list but played a handful of games in the 2nds as full forward. There was a champion called John Coleman there at the time so no future for me there and I wasn't good enough anyway.
When we moved to Nunawading in January 1955 I played footy with Nuna in 1956, 57 and 58. The highlight of my time with them was kicking 10 goals against Templestowe to beat them by 4 points.
I joined the NCC in 1956 and opened the batting against East Burwood in my first game. Bob Saker batted at No.3 in the same game which was also his first game for the club. A highlight of my career was making a century in my 2nd game which was against Doncaster Footballers on our home ground. We made the finals but got beaten in the semi-final.
Things went well again in the next season (1957-58) and we played Blackburn in the final. They batted first and made 140 all out. At stumps we were 2 for 165 and looking good with Bob Saker and Alex Culvenor not out. The innings collapsed and we were all out for 217, a lead of 77. Bob made 57, Alex 46, in a partnership of 98. At stumps on the 2nd day Blackburn were 6 for 187, a lead of 110. They declared on the 3rd day at 9 for 279, a lead of 202. We made 8 for 203 with 25 minutes up our sleeves.
I managed 104 and Doug Bosworth 35 n.o. It was described by many as one of the best games played in the last 20 years. It was a definite highlight of my career to make a century in a final and play a good part in a flag.
Another highlight in my career at NCC was to make 203 in the seconds against Yarraleen in the middle of February on a stinking hot day at the age of 44. I won't tell you I was dropped at 99 and again at 193. Another highlight was making 58 on the day I turned 50. I also have to mention my last game for the club. I was captain of our 4ths and we played in the Shield 3rds and made the grand final against Blackburn. They made 180 but during their innings I broke the middle finger of my right hand when fielding so I went down the batting order hoping I wouldn't have to bat but no such luck. I went in at 5 for 83 and Alan Jackson and I put on 56 before he was dismissed. Then Peter Donaldson and I took the score to within 10 before he went. Russell Baird joined me and we got there when I scored the winning runs. My finger didn't hurt after I had a beer for every run I made (58)!
I joined the Mitcham Bowling Club in 1985, we moved to Mornington in 2001 for 6 years and have moved back to Ringwood so rejoined Mitcham. I won the Club Championship in 1994-95, 2000-01 and 2007-08 and was runner-up in 1999-2000, beaten by 1 shot.
While waiting to become a member at the bowling club I coached our juniors and in those 2 years each team won a premiership, 3 the first year and 4 the next. It was a very happy and rewarding time and I felt so proud of all those boys.
Q2. You have been selected as a representative of the 68-69 A Grade Premiership team.
a) Can you please provide some information about the club at that time (e.g. who was President, how many teams, dominant players, funny incidents, club personalities, controversies etc).
b) Can you please talk about the team itself, who did well with bat and ball and in the field, any details of how you got to the finals (e.g. memorable games or on-field events such as a big hundred or bag of wickets) and why you won the premiership
68-69 President Bob Saker, Secretary John McDonell
Our coach of the last 2 years, Jack Kirby, left the club because he was not happy that the coaching position was advertised even though he was available. The club apologised and offered him the job but he declined and left. Nevertheless the First XI again won the premiership making it 3 premierships out of the last 4 consecutive grand finals. That in itself is an outstanding achievement. We had a strong batting line-up of Dolan,Kay,Saker,O'Sullivan,Bosworth,Haag,Pomeroy,McDonald,Ian Davies,Thornton,Rowe. John Kay was as good a keeper as any in the competition but I believe our strength lay in our bowling attack. Openers Ian Davies and Eric Thornton always gave us a great start with their pace and accuracy backed up by the best slip fieldsman I have seen outside of test cricket in Bob Saker. For a man of his size his speed and agility were amazing. Our spinners Ian Rowe and Grant McDonald were also excellent.
Ian's effort in winning the bowling average 9 times in 13 years between 1960-61 and 1972-73 is absolutely brilliant. His accuracy put the opposition under enormous pressure. I remember asking him in the 68-69 grand final 2nd innings "Do you want a silly mid-on?" His reply was "you put 'em where you like I'll just bowl". And just bowl he did with the figures of 14 overs 4 maidens and 6 for 32. In the first innings he only got 4 for 19 of 11 overs 4 maidens giving him match figures of 25 overs 8 maidens 10 for 51. Not bad for someone who will "just bowl". Our batting in the 68/69 Grand Final was very ordinary in the first innings to be all out for 108 but our bowlers knocked them over for 86. Davies 4/37, Thornton2/27, Rowe4/19, McDonald2/23. In the 2nd innings I nicked a pull shot into my forehead early in the innings and had to go to a doctor for stitches. Bob Saker 82 and John O'Sullivan 33 put on 92 then we collapsed.
I returned and finished 19 not out. Our lead was 185 and we rolled them for 140 thanks to our bowlers as previously mentioned. Rowe6/32, Thornton2/27, Davies1/43. And so ended another great season for the NCC 1st XI with only 1 loss for the year and that was to East Burwood. It was a team with no apparent weaknesses, if some batsmen failed others rose to the occasion and the same applied to our attack, they applied great pressure all the time with speed and accuracy. Well done.
Q3. What was the aftermath of that premiership? How did the team go after that, did most of the players stay, any major changes etc?
The club advertised for a coach at the beginning of the 69-70 season but there were no applicants. It didn't matter because our top 3 teams played in the finals. The 3rds (B1) lost their semi to the East Burwood Meths and the 1sts and 2nds both lost the grand final to Blackburn teams. These losses were compensated in some way by the U16's who the first flag for our juniors.
Season 70-71 saw the appointment of Trevor Hutchins as coach. He came to us after some years playing for Richmond and he became probably the best cricketer to ever play for our club. That may be a big statement but his performance with bat; ball and fielding cannot be bettered in my opinion and also the opinion of almost everyone who saw him play. In 70-71 the 1sts finished 4th beaten in the semi by Forest Hill.
In 71-72 the 1sts went into the finals undefeated but were beaten by Forest Hill in the semi.
In 72-73 the 1sts missed the finals for the first time in 17 years
73-74 saw the introduction of the Shield Grade and we won the premiership in the top 2 grades i.e. Shield and Grade 1. There were 104 teams in the competition at this stage. This win was the 1sts 7th premiership. We dismissed Doncaster Footballers for 108 thanks to 8/42 from Russell Baird. We made 179 with John Kay 60 and Routy 34n.o. We rolled them for 164 with Russell Baird getting another 6 wickets, Trevor Hutchins 3 and we then struggled to 8/94 to get the flag. The 2nds beat Templestowe 181 and 94 while Templestowe made 145.
Q4. Please provide any other information you would like to such as a funny story or significant event/milestone during this period.
The move to Mahoneys road reserve was a monumental step in the Club's progress. We did not lose any players but gained new members every year so that by the early 80's we had 8 senior and 7 junior teams. The joint venture with the Soccer Club to build the upstairs clubroom was another major step in our progress. This room was opened in March 1979 and was a great asset to both clubs. The NCC went from strength to strength as we gained more and more players even if it probably didn't show on the premiership board for the 1st XI after the mid 1980's but one of our teams won a flag almost every year, There are very few clubs anywhere that can claim as many flags as the NCC.
Q5. Finally, can you please note why you played cricket for Nunawading and the strengths of the Club at that time?
I joined NCC at the start of the 1956-57 season after moving to Nunawading in January 1955.Nunawading was a rapidly growing new suburb then and there were a lot of new members joined the NCC at that time. E.g. the Sakers, Thorntons, Rowes, McLachlans, Bosworths etc. A lot of these players went straight into the 1st XI and so began an era of great strength both on and off the playing field. Facilities such as the clubroom were quite ancient but in 1957 a new pavilion was built and the ground upgraded. During this time the 1sts and 2nds played at Halliday Park Mitcham next to the Bowling Club. I remember hitting a six onto the bowling green during a game of bowls!! Fortunately no injuries resulted.
In 1974 the Club moved to Mahoneys road and grew rapidly in the next few years to such an extent that, as mentioned before, we soon had 8 senior and 7 juniors. In my humble opinion this made us one of the biggest cricket clubs in Australia and to run such an organisation required a lot of hard work and efficiency by our office bearers and so many helpers. I won't name anyone in particular because there were just so many people involved over such a long period of time.
My 30 years at the Club were just such wonderful happy times. There were no fights, controversies of any magnitude to speak of and the friendships made over that time were wonderful. It was an absolute pleasure to be part of the NCC and to be made a life member in 1971 was probably the proudest moment of my time with the club.