WALKERVILLE CRICKET CLUB – HISTORY
THE EARLY YEARS
Early history has been documented in Council minutes and summarized in the publication, John Walker’s Village.
The Town Council of Walkerville purchased “Cocker’s Paddock” in 1909, an area of 6.5 acres bounded by Smith Street and Warwick Street, now known as Walkerville Oval. The earliest records of cricket being played on the ground were documented in 1910/11, when the Warwick Cricket Club were granted use of the ground and used a “scraped” pitch. Over the next 10-15 years numerous local cricket clubs used Walkerville Oval as a venue. These included: Court Foresters Retreat Cricket Club, Gilberton Cricket Club, Walkerville Methodist Cricket Club, Sussex Cricket Club and the YMCA Cricket Association.
The Walkerville Cricket Club was first mentioned in 1915 as part on the combined Walkerville Football, Cricket and Tennis Club. During the early years it is apparent that the cricket club struggled financially, as fund-raising activities were more restricted compared to its’ more popular winter counterpart and spectators could not be charged to watch matches. Until at least the mid-1930s, Walkerville Oval was used to agist cattle and the Walkerville Cricket Club shared the use of the oval with the Walkerville Methodist Cricket Club, amongst others. The pitch (note singular) was a tar-dressed surface, which suggests that it was flat and hard and probably a batman’s paradise. The original red-brick clubrooms (still exist behind the current facility) were built in 1920s and a horse-drawn lawnmower was used to mow the oval from 1924. By the mid-1920s the oval and its’ surrounding had improved dramatically, due to tireless work by several individuals, plus working bees to develop the playground, Soldier’s Memorial Gardens and build the octagonal marble pagoda, which house a drinking fountain.
In the 1933/34 season the Walkerville District Cricket Club won the premiership of the Adelaide and Suburban Cricket Association. Despite on-going financial difficulties (mainly owed to Council for the use of the Oval) it appears the 1930s were a successful period on the field. This may have coincided with the removal of the ashphalt pitch and the laying of a concrete pitch.
During the Second World War, the Walkerville District Cricket Club fell on hard times and was disbanded due to lack of numbers, which resulted in Council giving permission to numerous other social clubs to use the facilities during these years. However, in 1946, the Thompson Memorial Cricket Club successfully applied to use Walkerville Oval, and subsequently advised Council that it had decided to adopt the name of Walkerville District Cricket Club. By 1949 the cricket club was enjoying much success, including the A-grade premiership in 1947/48 (PDCA), improvement of the clubrooms and irrigation being installed to water the oval. The B-Grade was formed in 1947, the C-Grade was formed in 1949, and sight-screens were first used in 1948/49. Practice wickets were first requested in late-1949, although Council did not approve the installation until 1964.
THE GOLDEN ERA
The 1950s and 60s were a thoroughly successful period for both the football and cricket clubs and many well-known sportsmen represented the Walkerville District Cricket Club. Some of these included, Ron Phillips, Mal Whitford, Colin McGuiness, Don Bremner, Claude Jarrett, Ron Hewett and Graham Winter. The A-grade won the premiership in 1953/54.
The 1960s, in particular, was a period when Walkerville District Cricket Club dominated the Prospect District Cricket Association, winning 8 A-grade premierships in 11 seasons. In season 1964/65 both the A-grade and B-grade won the premiership in the same season for the first time (repeated in 1966/67). It was during this “golden-era” that several club legends exerted their influence in both on and off-field capacities to lay the foundation for what the modern Walkerville Cricket Club is today. This band of mates lifted the on-field performances to new levels, and Walkerville was simply too good for the other clubs in the competition. The loyalty and club spirit of this period is exemplified in the records of such past players as Bob Mylrea (452 games in over 40 years), and Brian Perkins (380 games) and typifies the fact that the Walkerville Cricket Club had found the right recipe for on and off field success. It is typical of this spirit and the enduring friendships that were formed during this period that these past players still attend the club to this day.
After ten or more years of petitioning the local Council members, the Walkerville Sports Club finally received consent to build the new clubrooms in the late-1960s. The Walkerville Sports Club Rooms were opened at the oval in March 1969, offering first-class facilities for members. It was about this time that an inauspicious character named Kevin Edis joined the club in an off-field role and subsequently, went on to fill positions on the WSC committee and for both the Football and Cricket Clubs, serving as the secretary of the cricket club for about 20 years. “Smoker” as he is known, has become a fixture of the Walkerville Cricket (and Sports) Club. His continued involvement, despite many recent illness’ is testimony to his passion for the Walkerville Sports Club.
In 1970/71, The Walkerville Cricket Club was finally granted approval to remove the concrete cricket pitch and install turf wickets. Walkerville had first applied to install turf wickets way back in 1949! Therefore, for season 1971/72, Walkerville joined the Adelaide Turf Cricket Association and played upon brand new turf wickets. Naturally, the Walkerville A-grade won the premiership in its first season, albeit starting in A7. Over the next 9 years Walkerville worked its way through the grades, finally reaching A1 (Premier) Grade in season 1981-82, and joined Grange Cricket Club, another first-time A1 promoted club. Walkerville did not have to wait long for premiership success, winning the A1 premiership in the following season, 1982/83. During this period the club was well served by former Test cricketers Jeff Hammond (as captain / coach) and Terry Jenner, both of whom brought a level of professionalism and commitment not previously seen at Walkerville. Even Barrie Robran donned the whites for Walkerville during his time as a Walkerville footballer.
Walkerville enjoyed further premiership success in 1985/86, well-led by Neville Ford, when both the A-grade and B-grade won the premiership, with the C-grade also reaching the grand final. It appeared that Walkerville would dominate the competition, a la Port Adelaide Football Club. Over the next 10 years Walkerville frequently featured in the A-grade finals, and were often favourites to claim the flag, but the premiership eluded them. Rivalries with Gaza, Grange, SPOC and Payneham were strong though out this period. On-field, there were four or five senior teams representing Walkerville Cricket Club every season, but the only senior premiership claimed over the next 15 years was in J-grade in 1989/90. However, junior cricket had begun to grow during the late-1980s and several premierships have been secured since. Walkerville senior cricket has been well served by many of these former junior cricketers.
In the early 1980s, Walkerville had secured the services of Kym Reid, from Edwardstown CC, a well-known A-grade cricketer with rare abilities. The simple uttering of his name would torment opposition bowlers and his individual cricket exploits would shine for Walkerville for the next 25 years.
The run of 20 seasons in A1 (Premier ) Grade came to an end in season 2000-01, when Walkerville was relegated after surviving and avoiding relegation the previous 2 out of 3 seasons due to late season rallies. However, the committee and the playing group were determined to see the club embark upon a period of stability and success, and this was achieved through much tireless work by the committee, supporters and not least the players, whom recruited cleverly, attracting club-orientated people to the Walkerville Cricket Club.
Finally, after 16 years without a senior premiership, the C-grade defeated Brighton (whom were undefeated) to secure the F-grade premiership in 2001/02. This premiership, along with the resurgence of the A-grade, whom qualified for finals, consistent B-grade finals participation, and an ever-increasing junior cricket representation, underpinned the success that the club would experience over the next 5 years.
The Under 17 side won the premiership in 1999/2000 (undefeated) and repeated the effort in 2005/06. An Under 13 team won the premierships in 2004/05 and Walkerville was represented in junior grades from Under 11 through to Under 17, totaling 7 junior teams. Together with firstly 5, then 6, senior teams the Walkerville Cricket Club was a thriving representative of the Walkerville Sports Club.
After missing the finals in season 2003/04, Walkerville’s A-grade atoned by defeating SHOC in the 2004/05 A2 grand final played at Payneham Oval. The game was remarkably one-sided, as the Walkerville attack tore through SHOC’s batting line-up for a mere 50-odd runs, which were gathered quite easily.
Walkerville’s rise back to A1 / Premier grade in 2005/06 culminated with finals participation and a narrow semi-final loss to eventual premiers, Brighton. However, the B-grade enjoyed premiership glory, going through the season undefeated, erasing the wounds of several narrow grand final defeats over the previous 8-9 seasons. The climax was a tense grand final against Pooraka on Walkerville Oval, in which Walkerville defended a sizeable total valiantly, but victory was only secured in the last hour of the second day’s play. The C-grade were eliminated from the finals, but were promoted as minor Premiers, whilst the D-grade, under the astute captaincy of Kym Reid, endured a heart-breaking grand final defeat at the hands of Woodville Rechabites, after storming into the finals in the last minor round.
In season 2005/06, four out of five senior cricket teams played finals (for 2 grand finals, 3 promoted sides and one premiership), and together with the Under 17 premiership, this season must surely rank as the most successful season the Walkerville Cricket Club has yet produced.
With the battle for the Ashes in our home backyard in season 2006/07 Walkerville was able field 6 senior sides (4 two day sides, 2 one day sides) with depth at the Club reaching new highs. The A grade side had a slow start to the season and even though they won 4 out of their last 5 games they would just miss out on a finals berth. The season uncovered a star with the bat for the Walkerville Cats with the talented Brett Weinert scoring 491 Premier Grade runs and demonstrating his true potential.
In what was a year of consolidation for Walkerville only the LOE one day side lead by Sam Frick played finals with all other grades winning enough games to keep them free from relegation. On a cold and wet day the LOE’s made it to the Grand Final against a star studded Adelaide Rockets team at Rostevor Oval and in an overs reduced match, a determined Walkerville went down by 4 wickets. The 3 year reign of Club Captain Brent Felice ended as he sort other ventures but after steering Walkerville back to Premier grade and consolidating their position he left the club with a bright future ahead.
Season 2007/08 brought a new set of challenges for Walkerville with many experienced high grade players leaving the Club giving opportunities for the younger players to compete at a high level as Walkerville fielded 5 senior teams (only 1 one day side). Walkerville employed ex-Northern Districts allrounder Ben Duncan as Club Captain and whilst at the age of 24 his captaining experience may have been small his commanding 6’5 stature would make him hard to overlook.
After seeming to avoid relegation with a comfortable victory over Sacred Heart in Round 10 a long and frustrating year finally took its toll on the Walkerville A grade in devastating fashion in the final round of the year. Playing a one day match against finals contender Pultney, Walkerville were bundled out for a paltry 103 with Pultney easily claiming the runs and then batting on to make 4/234. Due to their poor performance and other final round results Walkerville were relegated from Premier grade by .01 of a point (effectively 1 run). It was a difficult year for Walkerville with the D grade also being relegated however on a positive note a lot of talented and promising young cricketers got valuable experience for the seasons ahead.
Another slow start to the 2008/09 season saw the A grade now in the A2 competition being 2 and 4 at Christmas with again a relegation battle on their hands. Walkerville would avoid relegation in the round 10 match against Kilburn at Kilburn chasing 248 when Mark Reid (114) and John Hutchinson (93) aided Walkerville to a then club record 9/415 and victory. Walkerville had won their last 3 games of the year however
one turning point for the season came in the Round 7 clash with Port Districts where Walkerville were bundled out in the first innings for a meager 71 and after Port Districts had passed their score they looked to set up an outright victory. Walkerville facing a humiliating loss and certain relegation bandied together with a united performance. An inspiring spell of off spin bowling from Leo Panzarino saw Port Districts dismissed for 156 and 150 with Panzarino claiming 7/48 and 5/51, a club record 12/99 for the match. Mark Reid again starred with the bat making another hundred in Walkerville’s second innings of 7/263 allowing Walkerville to claim an unlikely victory in a season defining match.
Again it was a tough year across the board for Walkerville with all teams struggling for most of the year however under the captaincy and leadership of the club towards the end of the season next year brings bright prospects.
The 2009/10 season saw the Club employ a new captain in the form of Damian Miller from District club West Torrens to lead the A-grade and were also able to attract a number of new players to bolster the clubs A-grade depth.
The A-grade side went on to have a successful year in both the main season competition by winning the Premiership and promotion back into A1 Premier Grade and making the semi finals in the 20/20 competition. Mark Reid had a stellar year with the bat making over 770 runs to win the ATCA competition batting trophy.
In a tense grand final played at Grange oval the A-grade had lost the toss and Flinders Park had nominated to bat. The Walkerville fast bowlers were able to exploit the conditions and tore through the opposition batting order. This had Walkerville batting just after tea on the first day chasing a small total. At 4/16 the game was in the balance but some solid performances luckily had the Walkerville team get over the Flinders Park total on the first day 6 wickets down and passing the set score with 8 balls to go in the day. This was a blessing as rain set in over night and continued on through out the next day to wash out the seconds day play leaving the Walkerville team as the winner on day one results.
The LOD side lead by John Lamp was filled by mainly veteran players. This side also went onto win the One Day Premiership in a thriller on Walkerville oval.
After such a successful year the Walkerville Cricket Club was named ATCA Club of the Year with much credit going to Club President Kym Reid and his hard working committee. With these Premiership wins the club finished the year with two sides being promoted and one side in the C-grade being relegated. The coming season will once again be a challenging one for the club