Nunawading Cricket Club

Written by Alan Haag

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 in Collingwood in 1931 and moved to McKean Street, North Fitzroy when I was 3 months old.  I lived there with Mum, Dad and my brother who was 10 years old.  My Dad was killed in a car accident in 1953.  I went to St Thomas Christian Bros College in Clifton Hill.  I played football with the Clifton hill Catholic Young Men’s Society (CYMS) until the Saturday before Iris and I got married on 3 may 1958, then I hung up my boots.  I trained with the 2nds at Fitzroy Football club in the early 50’s under Keith Stackpole Senior.

I first played cricket with Clifton hill YCW.  I remember one game where we batted for two hours.  We batted first and made 3 for 339, I opened the batting and made 110, the other opener (Leo Clarke) made 97 and another by the name of Kevin Coghlan (who played VFL with Collingwood and Hawthorn) came in a made 100 plus in about ½ hour.  Would you believe that we rolled them twice for 18 and 22 with 4 different bowlers, 2 taking 5 wickets each and one six wickets and one with 4 wickets and all this done with 7 players.

These games were played Sunday afternoons and in another game I made a 100 in the first innings and a 100 in the second innings.  After the game I was approached by the umpire and he asked me if I was interested in playing on Saturdays with their club in the Jika competition.  The side was called Court Robin Hood, as I was not playing anywhere else at the time,  I said yes.  I played for 3 or 4 seasons in the early 50’s until they abandoned.

As I mentioned before Iris and I got married in 1958 and we lived in Hawthorn until we bought our home in 1959 in Ringwood, because of my work with E. Hassett & Sons who sold Howard Rotary Hoes and their business was in Maroondah Highway, Ringwood.  I worked there for 37 years in the Spare parts division, we moved into our new home in mid September 1959 and we still live there.

My first game for Nunawading was in season 59/60 and I was picked in the 1sts and one that I will always remember as I was only supposed to help out and fill in for the 2nds in the first game after Christmas, after Mick McLachlan had called me at work and asked me to play because they were short of players over the holidays.

As we did not have a car and did not get our first car until 1967 Mick picked me up from work in Ringwood and on the way to Silver Grove he said I have a surprise “you are playing in the 1sts with me at Halliday Park”, which was our home ground at the time as Silver Grove was having a new pitch layed.

Alec Culvenor was captain but was not playing and George Dolan was on holidays and Bob Saker was captain for the day whom I meet for the first time.  We batted first and Bob asked me to bat 1st wicket I said I have not had any practice, he said that it did not matter; Mick said you can handle a bat.  I had one pad on and Mick said hurry up your in.  I took block and the first ball was a bouncer straight at my head which I hooked over the square leg boundary.  As I was talking in the middle of the pitch with Bob the bowler came up to me with his hand out to shake mine and he said “I thought it was you coming out to bat you little black Bastard”.  His name was Bob Walliker a great guy who happened to be my Captain when I played with Court Robin Hood – we had a good chat at tea time.

I was happy with my innings as Bob and I took the score past 100.  We both got to 50 before tea, after tea I was in the 60’s when Bob hit the ball to the covers – I said Wait and he said YES and kept coming – so I took off and was run out – we did win the Game in the end.

Monday morning my phone at work ran hot with calls from Alec, Bob and Mick asking me to reconsider and keep playing, so after a talk with a very understanding wife I rang Alec to say I would continue to play. 

I assumed that with players returning from holidays I would be playing in the 2nds but to my surprise I was picked in the 1sts and this turned into playing for 24 years of which 9 years was continuous in the 1sts which included playing in the finals every year and winning 4 Premierships – 60/61, 65/66, 66/67 and 68/69.

I captained the 2nds in 69/70 and 70/71; we were runners up in 69/70.

I Captained the 4ths in C1 to a premiership in season 75/76 – some of the players that were in the side included Bob Jenkins (Vice Captain), Ray McBlane, Glen Smith, Kevin Cresp and Clive Mullett – all well known in the club. 

I also captained the newly formed 5th side in 77/78 to a premiership.

The first highlight in my career at Nunawading was when playing in ‘B’ Grade in the 61/62 season when I was not available for the 1sts because I could not play on the second Saturday and Ken Rout who was captain said if we batted first he would play me, thankfully I did the right thing for Ken making 174 N.O. and received a trophy from the Association who in those days gave a trophy for the highest 100 scored in each grade – I still have it put away very carefully.

Another highlight was making the first one of my two hundreds scored in the 1st Eleven, 116 out of 7/292CC in 1966 when Jack Kirby was coach.

The other one was a memorable one for me as I joined George Dolan in the middle and a little talk and advice from George we both made 100’s.  George was 145 and I made 110, at stumps we were 4/314. 

After I retired Iris and I joined the North Ringwood Seniors Citizens Club where we got back into our Ballroom dancing on Saturday nights and some Sunday afternoons.

We live a quite life now; we try to see our family, Geoff our son and daughter in law Anna, Wendy our daughter and son in law Scott (Scott is also well known at the cricket club) as much as we can and especially our 5 wonderful grandchildren, Sarah, Chris, Chelsea, Montana and Indianna.

We also celebrated our 50th Wedding anniversary on the 3rd of May 2008. 

Q2. You have been selected as a representative of the 77-78 D1 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

Our President at the time was Bob Jenkins.  In the season 77/78 we had 4 teams and at the time many old faces like bob Saker, George Dolan, Kevin Steele, Mick McLachlan, John O’Sullivan, Trevor Hutchins and many more.  And some new faces like Trevor and Bill Saker, Alan Gale, Andrew Sach.  After a fiery general meeting and a lot of for’s and against it was suggested I step down as captain of the fours and we put in a fifth side and I should captain the side as we had about 9 or 10 sixteen year old boys ready to play seniors and we already had the third ground at Mahoney’s road not being used and we should not loose these boys as youth helps build a strong club.  This was passed at the meeting and a 5th side was formed – a new set of matting was purchased from Pentridge.

Before the start of the first game we had a quick get together as there were a few boys I had not meet and did not know who could bat or bowl.  After I lost the toss and had to bowl I was advised I should open with Ian Presnall and David Cowell.

Ian’s first over is remembered by everyone, his first ball was a wide taken by 2nd slip, his 2nd ball was also a wide, I had a quick chat to him and his 3rd ball knocked the middle stump out of the ground.  His 8 ball over turned into a 16 ball over (including 8 wides) and he finished with the good figures of 3 for 8 off the over.  David’s first spell was very accurate and I think he picked up a wicket.  They were well supported by Peter Donaldson, John McCauley, Peter Jenkins, Merv Legg, Mike Viljoen and between them we were able to dismiss Templestowe for 93.  But unfortunately our batting let us down and we only made 77.  In their 2nd innings we were able to dismiss them for 30 due to great bowling spells by Peter Donaldson 5/13 and Merv Leg 5/15.  This left us only having to make 46 which we got fairly easy finishing with 1/50; I managed to get some batting practice with 33 N.O.

I was happy to get outright points in the first game of the season and learn what I could about the capabilities of the boys coming up from the under 16’s.

After tasting Victory in the first game each and every player that played during the year realised that as the season progressed we became a very competitive side that could play in the finals.  As the season progressed and we kept winning games with everybody contributing 20 or 30  with the bat we managed to make a reasonable score with some big scores from Mike Villon (78), John Bowman (85 NO) and John fisher (79).  I had my best season with the bat in my time at Nunawading making 978 runs for the season which included 4 or 5 centuries with the most important one being in the Grand Final. 

Once we found the right formula with our attack with Peter Donaldson and John Macaulay bowling very tight and accurate with the new ball and being well supported by Mike Vuljoen, David Cowell, Ian Presnell, Peter Jenkins and Merv Legg (who unfortunately broke his arm in the 2nd last game and missed the finals). 

In the semi final we batted first and made 207 thanks to great innings from two of the younger brigade in Ian Presnall (46) and Geoff Woolley (43).  I think we dismissed them for about 140.  To reach the grand final was a great achievement for the team.  We played Blackburn and having won the toss we batted, we got off to a shaky start with on one really dominating as slowly we got to 5 or 6 down for around 100 then a steady hand from Mike Viljoen and good support from John Fisher, John Macaulay and a great partnership with Peter Jenkins enabled us to make 171.  At stumps on the first day they were 3 or 4 down for around 90 to 100 and their best bat was still there being R. Main who had made 116 in the semi final. 

At the start of the 2nd day we managed to get a couple of wickets but R. Main still remained a thorn in our sides.  I brought Mike into the attack and he found Mikes leg brakes a bit hard to play and in Mikes third or fourth over he played at one and missed and thankfully I took it cleanly and removed the bails and he was on his way back to the pavilion.  From there who ever I gave the ball to bowled very tight and accurate and we dismissed them for 156, giving us a lead of 15 valuable runs.

 During the break before we batted we had our usual chat and I explained that those 15 runs were probably the most important runs of the season, but we must bat for a long as we can and make as many runs as we can as we did not have to make a decision when to declare and then try to bowl them out in their 2nd innings – it was the other way around. 

As we still had about 2 ½ hours to bat, I told the boys we needed to be no more than 3 or 4 down and around 120 at stumps.  Thankfully at stumps we were 3 or 4 down for about 150 (I was 96 N.O.) start of play on the 3rd day saw us carry on from the end of play on the 2nd day with everybody contributing with their 20 or 30 and to stay with me at the crease for as long as they could till I was dismissed for 177.  They finally dismissed us for 370 after tea, their Captain John Berry decided he did not want to bat in their 2nd innings as we had made too many and he conceded defeat. 

To win the Premiership was a real team effort from everybody whether it was our batsmen’s or bowlers or when fielding.  Everybody was dedicated and had faith in everybody in the team. 

The team consisted of me, John Fisher (VC), Mike Viljoen, Peter Jenkins, plus 7 16 year old boys, David Cowell, Geoff Woolley, John Macaulay, Peter Donaldson, John Bowman, Ian Presnall, and Colin McWhirter.

I was very proud of everyone in the team with their commitment and the way in which they played the game. 

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.  (e.g. Eric Thornton- 5 premierships in 9 years, 4 vs Doncaster Footballers) 

With the forming of the 5th side and winning the Premiership in 77/78 was an influx of juniors joining the club from under 12 to under 16.  Season 78/79 saw another 9 or 10 juniors moving up to the seniors that we had to enter a 6th side who also won the premiership in their 1st year.  Season 79/80 saw our 1st win the Premiership under John O’Sullivan and the 5th under the very astute Kevin Steele who made a wonderful 100 in the Grand Final. 

The club just got bigger with new players coming to the club and more Juniors coming up to the seniors that Season 80/81 saw a 7th side formed and season 81/82 saw an 8th side formed.  We also had 7 or 8 junior sides as well. 

Thanks to a great administration, committee Members and helpers we were able to maintain this for 13 years. 

From the team of 77/78 season I am thankful that the committee formed the 5th side and allowed me to captain it, just about everybody stayed for 10 years or more. 

The side produced some great club members, just to name a few – Peter Jenkins (President, Committee Member, Captained 5th and 6th), David Cowell (President, Committee member, Captain of sides from 2nd to 5th), P. Donaldson (Captain of the 6th in season 90/91 Premiership side).  Peter Jenkins was also a member of the side.  John Macaulay (was a member of 83/84 1st Eleven Premiership side captained by John O’Sullivan).

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 Mahoney’s road in 1974 was a huge step in the club expanding – as mentioned before to 8 seniors and 7 junior sides.  

March 1979 as a joint venture with the Soccer club saw the opening of the upstairs club rooms.  

During this period it was a great honour for me at the Annual General meeting to be nominated and made a life member of the Nunawading Cricket Club..  I was nominated by a great friend and team mate and a wonderful club member (nothing was a trouble for him) – Terry Harris. 

As we all know Terry and his friend George Capallo both lost their lives when caught in a blizzard on Mount Hotham in September 1978.  It was an extremely sad time for me and the club. 

Q5. Finally, can you please note why you played cricket for Nunawading and the strengths of the Club at that time. 

I started to play with Nunawading in season 59/60 through my mate Mick McLachlan who I grew up with in Clifton Hill after I meet him in Clifton Hill one Sunday morning.  He was visiting his parents and Gladys parents and Iris and I were doing the same. 

We started talking cricket and he told me had started playing with Nuna and he suggested I come and play, but I said I did not want to play that season due to other commitments, but assured him I would play with him at Nunawading the following year and no where else. 

But a phone call from Mick after Christmas asking me if I would help out and fill in because they were short of players – as previously stated I said YES. 

As mentioned before not having a car at the time and having to use public transport – it was difficult at times but thanks to Mick, he picked me up from work when he was able to – otherwise it was the 18 minutes past 12 train from Heatherdale to Nunawading and run like hell to Silver Grove to get a ride to where we were playing.  

To think that from a fill for 1 game I was to play for 24 years and I was very fortunate to play with A Culvenor, R Saker, G Dolan, E Thornton, D. Bosworth, I Rowe, M McLachlan, I Sach and many more.  

I was fortunate to go straight into the 1st XI as they were a very strong side – the club at the time when I joined was very strong with Tom Reeves as president and a very dedicated committee behind him and plenty of helpers. 

We have been fortunate to have great Presidents to lead the club to name a few: T. Reeves, A. Culveror, R. Saker, I. Sach, R. Jenkins (all in my time), also K. Joyce, P. Jenkins, and at present D. Cowell. 

Early memories of Silver Grove was the children’s Father Christmas (played by Jack Kelly) party, No liquor allowed on the premises, as the pubs shut at 6pm, drinks after the game were at somebody’s house like A. Culvener, R. Saker, A. Walker, G. Cross etc.  In the early years when we played at Silver Grove before we had a car Iris would catch a train with Geoff and Wendy to Nunawading and bring some afternoon tea and help get afternoon tea with Margaret Saker, Marj Bosworth, June Thornton, Joan Culvenor, Gladys McLachlan. 

When we got out first car Iris along with Geoff and Wendy would come to every game.  Bring afternoon to any game where none was supplied especially in the lower grades. 

I must mention the 77/78 season she was there every Saturday with afternoon tea.  I remember Geoff Woolley saying the best time of Saturday afternoon was Iris’s sandwiches and cakes.  Thanks Iris. 

Committee meetings were held at somebody’s house; we held quite a few meeting at our house and also had a few card nights to raise money for the club. 

I had 24 years as a player of wonderful and happy times at Nunawading and Iris and I made many friends over the years. 

To be made a life member in 1978 and receive my medallion and certificate at Presentation night on 6th April 1979, signed by R. Jenkins President, D. Bosworth Vice President and R. Baird Secretary was a great honour and proud moment for me.