1950-59 – The beginnings
1950’s – The Beginnings
The White Hills Cricket Club was officially formed in 1952 by Mr Hal Watts, Leo Palmer and Bill Matthews. With Mr Matthews being the clubs first Captain. We played our first two home matches on the ground next to the racecourse, horse stables are now built on the site. It wasn’t until 1954-55 when we played on the turf pitches on the ground in Scott Street, White Hills.
During our second year in the association, we were able to form an A Grade team to join our B Grade side. Unfortunately, the A Grade team were not overly successful, and was disbanded after the season. Good news came in the form of a B Grade Premiership.
Before the 1955-56 season, Kevin (Todda) Slattery joined our side, leading to a remarkable run of 5 Premierships. Kevin became one of the best bowlers in Bendigo Cricket taking over 50 wickets in four of those years. During this period, we also had all-rounder Frank Bulge, who scored 8 centuries as well as being a successful off-spin bowling. A highlight during this period came in the 1959-60 Semi-Final where Bulge and Punch Jelbart combined for a record 312-run partnership, with Bulge scoring 211 retired and Jelbart 102. Bulge backed this performance up with a score of 136 against Eaglehawk in the Grand Final.
White Hills were unstoppable in the latter stage of the 1955/56 season that we won 24 games in a row before losing to Bendigo United in the final home and away match of 1957/58. This obviously spurred the team on as they went on to win the next 22 matches.
In the 1958/59 Grand Final, well known sportsman Carl Carboon took 8/40 from 13 overs to set up a victory over the Bendigo Cricket Club.
1960’s – Success
After having failed to reach the Grand Final in 1960/61, we won the 1961/62 Grand Final, with Paddy Walsh (Father of BDCA great Wayne) scoring 95 runs, making it 7 Premierships in 9 years. In 1963/64 local footballer Ken Scammill scored 118, then took 5/23 in the Semi-Final, unfortunately it wasn’t enough as we lost the match to Cal Gully. A highlight of the 1964/65 was bowling Kangaroo Flat out for just 14 runs, with Les Suckling taking 5/5 and Gerry A’Herne taking 5/7.
Geoff Pierce joined our club in 1965/66 making an immediate impression with consecutive centuries, making 128* and 131 in a season that returned over 400 runs. In the following year, 1966/67 in the final home and away match, Pierce scored 151 against the South Bendigo Cricket Club. In the Semi-Final against Eaglehawk he scored 97 runs in a total of 147, also taking 7/22 and 73 in the second innings. Pierce also played a huge role in the Grand Final against Golden Square scoring 86 and taking several wickets.
In the 1967/68 game against Kangaroo Flat, we almost matched our efforts from 1964/65, bowling them out for 15. With Pierce taking 5/3 and 2/15 and scoring 68 runs. Throughout the year, Pierce and Suckling each took 30 wickets, with Pierce also scoring 350 runs. White Hills were beaten in the Grand Final in the next 2 years.
During the 1969/70 season in what might be an association record, we bowled out Golden Square for 9(dec)/7. Denis Breman taking 5/2 and Pierce 3/5.
Geoff Pierce was up to his old tricks during the 1971/72 season. In a One-Day match against Kangaroo Flat, he took 7/11 and scoring 69 runs, helping to defeat them outright. In 1975/76 we secured Cliff Hanrahan’s services with it returning immediate success. In his first match for White Hills against Sandhurst, he had the remarkable figures of 9/7, in the following game against Cal Gully he also took 9/12.
It wasn’t until the 1976/77 season that we formed an A Grade side once again, appointing Mr Ron Salter as our Captain/Coach, a position he held for 5 years. Ron was one of the best country cricketers and widely renowned as the “Bradman of the Bush”. It didn’t take long for a highlight to come, we defeated a very powerful Sandhurst team, who went on to play finals that year, in Round 4. Ron Salter became the backbone of our A Grade sides during this period, taking 37 wickets and scoring 423 runs in his first year and 42 wickets and 377 run s the following year.
In a match during the 1979/80 season against Sandhurst, Rod Southon took 9/43 runs in a B Grade match. After a spell of 13 years since our last Grand Final appearance we played off against West Bendigo, scoring 230 runs and bowling them out for under 100. Captain of that side Southon took 55 wickets for the season, including 9 in the A Grade side.
The 1981/82 season brought limited success, with the A Grade side finishing last on the ladder for the first time. B Grade however had more success making a semi-final appearance. Unfortunately we were beaten by Golden Square after winning first innings points. Under new Captain/Coach Barry Secombe in 1982/83 our A Grade side had it’s highest finish of 6th, with 2 matches to go we were outside the top 4 by percentage.
Our C Grade team, Captained by Andrew McArthur was in top form and made the finals for the first time. McArthur, a 16-year old scored 360 runs in 6 games at an average of 90, which included consecutive scores of 108*, 84 and 107*. B Grade were successful in making it to the Semi-Final against North Bendigo. Set 249 to win, Greg License joined Rod Flavell with the score on 7/174, eventually finishing the job with License scoring 46* and Flavell 29*. License again rescued the team in the Grand Final against Cal Gully. Chasing 230, and in trouble at 9/168, License (42*) joined by Arthur Peters (28*) to win the Premiership.
Before the 1983/84 season, we secured the services of three of the best cricketers in Bendigo with Leon Grose, Gerry Johns and Greg O’Brien all joining the club. Leon also being named the A Grade Captain, and led the team to finish 5th.One of the highlights from that year was Gerry Johns’ 117*, which was the club’s second century in A Grade history. C Grade won their first Premiership against Eaglehawk, Captained by Colin Blow and Coached by Jeff Palmer.
Season 1984/85 will go down as one of the most successful of the club history, with all three teams playing off in the Grand Final. A Grade highlights included two centuries to Captain Greg O’Brien, 120 against Strathfieldsaye and 156 against Bendigo. Jeff Palmer also scored 140* against Sandhurst, and Rick Poulter scored 101 against Cal Gully. Greg O’Brien and Jeff Palmer put on a club A Grade record partnership of 213 runs for the second wicket, with O’Brien contributing 94. Losing only 2 matches for the year, White Hills entered the Grand Final against raging favorite Eaglehawk. Batting first we scored 225, then bowled Eaglehawk out for 199, with O’Brien taking 5/51 from 26 overs and Ron Salter 2/53 also off 26 overs.
B Grade played the Grand Final against Sandhurst, after bowling them out for 171, we had slumped to 7/116 before Ian Lister (42*) and Barry Secombe (29*) scoring the winning runs. C Grade were not as successful, defeated by Golden Square after batting first and putting 173 runs on the board. The following season saw a significant drop-off in results, with no teams making the finals, Gerry Johns scored yet another century with 101 coming off his bat against Sandhurst.
Leon Grose was appointed our Captain/Coach in 1986/87, with both the A and B Grade sides returning to the finals. A Grade were defeated by flag favorites Eaglehawk in the Semi-Final. James Sexton’s first year with the club yielded an amazing 468 runs. After defeating North Bendigo in the Semi-Final, the B Grade side played off against Eaglehawk in the Grand Final. With the score on 2/6, Colin Bruhn (88) and Mal Healey (56) combined to help our score to 239. Eaglehawk were bowled out for 101 with Peter Phillips taking 2/25 form 21 overs and Steve Rixon 4/13.
Season 1987/88 saw a total of 4 centuries for the A Grade team, with Greg O’Brien scoring 110* and 128* in his total of 570 runs for the season. James Sexton scored his maiden century making 108, scoring a total of 613 runs for the season, which was a club record. Leon Grose also scored a century, scoring 100*, which was his first for White Hills, but believed to be his 24th in the association. The season also saw a return to the finals for all three sides, with A Grade losing the Semi-Final. Chasing 173, we had made it to 3/101, however a collapse of 4/6 within 5 overs proved too much to recover from. B Grade came in to the finals having only lost 1 game for the season, but unfortunately lost to Maristians in the Semi-Final. C Grade entered the finals undefeated, but after making only 92 in the Semi-Final against Maristians things looked down for the team. Some creative fielding backing up some brilliant bowling, White Hills won the match bowling Maristians out for 56 runs.
The C Grade team came up against Kangaroo Flat in the Grand Final. Kangaroo Flat batted first and made 174, White Hills passed the total for the loss of only 6 wickets and with 3 overs spare. This was the last Under 18 C Grade division as the following season, C Grade became an open age division.
Despite only losing 2 matches during the 1988/89 season A Grade failed to make the finals. Three draws proved frustrating, especially when we were in a strong position in 2 of those matches. Both the B and C Grade sides also failed to win a spot in the finals. Highlights from the year included the return of veteran Ron Salter after a 2 year break. Ron took an amazing 28 wickets for only 342 runs, including 6/34 against the reigning premiers Eaglehawk and a 9 wicket match haul against Strathfieldsaye.
Advantages of winning these premierships included invitation to the Puma Knockout Cup, which resulted in matches against the Melbourne Cricket Club in 1992 and the St. Kilda Cricket Club in 1993. This was a great way to expose our club to some of the best players in the state, name slike Dean Jones, Simon Cook and Brad Hodge. The St. Kilda CC lineup also included a young Shane Warne. Although we lost both games, respect was won against such quality opposition.
While the matches against these clubs were entertaining, there were also other trophies at stake. There was a slab of beer for anyone who could hit Shane Warne for 6, while nobody was able to collect, the closest effort was by Stephen McMurray, who is still involved in the club today with his 2 sons, a lovely pull shot of a short ball landed a couple of bounces inside the boundary. Stephen’s eyes lit up as the next ball pitched in the same spot, however, it was the famous flipper and soon dislodged the bails to Stephen’s disappointment.
The White Hills Cricket Club also hosted a number of representative games at the oval in Scott Street, one game included the great Pakistan Leg-Spinner Abdul Qadir. In the later 1990’s, with the legendary Ron Salter maintaining the pitches, the ground quickly became famous for its quality. This resulted in the oval being listed as the third best pitch in Victoria behind the M.C.G and Punt Road.
The club went through several coaches during this time, with Max Taylor leaving to return to the Eaglehawk Cricket Club who was replaced by Steve Rixon, who lasted 1 season. Other coaches included life members Phil Potter and Jock Schofield.
It was during the 1994/95 season that a young man by the name of Glen Roulston debuted in the A-Grade side, over the next 2 decades, Glen played over 300 games and taken more than 400 wickets for the club while also serving time on the committee, Glen was rewarded with Life Membership in 2013/14. During the 1999/200 Season a 17 year old by the name of Gavin Bowles played his debut. Gavin has since gone on to coach and captain the club.
The role of President was held by Rod Flavell starting during the 1991/92 season and finishing in 2004/05, Rod is also a Life Member.
While senior premiership eluded the club until the 2007/08 C-Grade team, our juniors began quite handy at winning premierships. The Under 11 team in 2001/02, Under 17’s in 2002/03 and Under 13’s in 2004/05 all were successful in winning the Grand Final. Coaches from this period included Jock Schofield (2000)
At the start of the decade, things were very stable with the off-field side of the club, from 2010/11 until 2012/13 Jock Schofield held the President’s role, Glen Roulston was the treasurer and Gavin Bowles was Coach, with Aaron Monro coaching in 2012/23.
The season of 2013/14 looked like being the year we would break our finals drought needing to beat Kangaroo Flat in the final round to have a chance. After being bowled out early for only 79, we ripped through their side led by Glen Roulston 4/4(8) and Rhys Irwin 3/31(21) to finish the day having Kangaroo Flat on the ropes at about 9/71. Early the next Saturday we took the wicket to earn first innings points with very jubilant scenes following. However, word quickly spread that the other finalist contender Eaglehawk were also in a strong position to win, meaning only an outright of Kangaroo Flat would secure us a finals position. A quick fire 8/180 from 83.3 overs left us 30 over to try and bowl out Kangaroo Flat. Unfortunately, we could only manage 4 wickets, again meaning we missed out on finals. It was also a disappointing end to the B-Grade campaign, falling just 4 runs short of a Grand Final appearance, losing to Eaglehawk.
It was during the 2013/14 season that the club decided to import a player. After going through several suitable applicants, it was decided to go with Welshman Gareth Davies.
The 2014/15 season brought about some changes with Gavin Bowles taking over the coaching duties and Rhys Irwin captaining the A-Grade side. Active recruiting resulted in obtaing the services of Mitch Winter-Irving, Sam Farmer, Tyler Oliver and Ryan Grundy. With Winter-Irving being selected in the Victorian Team for the Australian Country Cricket Championships, which were played in Bendigo. Mitch’s fantastic week resulted in selection in the Australian Country XI.