|Posted on April 2, 2020 at 9:00 PM|
This season, marks the 100th year for the Ringwood and District Cricket Association (RDCA) in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne. As a ”Life Member” of the association I thought I should write this opinion piece, not only to congratulate them but to thank them for providing my club Heathmont a competition to enable and further the careers of others.
I was lucky to have so many mentors around me at that time; my father Lloyd, Bill Dean, Chris Healey, Keith Barrett, Alan Espie, Ray Curnow, Jim Clarke, Russell Hall, Ian Castle, Noel Eddy, Les Blackbell, David Boxshall, Alan Batten and of course Doug Ackerly... All mates who helped me through my youth in a game which subsequently became a lifetime involvement. To you all , I say; “Thank you!
I think it is also safe to say, such an opportunity would not have been afforded me had my parents stayed in Yarck; And yet it is there my passion for the game was born. I had followed Dad about dragging his bat to games at Yarck, Thornton, Eildon, Alexandra, Marysville and Mansfield. The memory of his team mates stay with me today and I thank them; Max Blakeney, John Cameron, Ivan Fox, Eddie Jackson, Alan and Murray Parsons, Laurie Nicholas and Peter Tossol.
I began my association with the RDCA through Heathmont U/162’s in the 1964/65 season.
Not many would know that during the late 60’s and early 70’s the RDCA had the largest participation numbers of any competition in world cricket.
In those days it wasn’t too difficult to find a Victorian to represent the State; names like Lawry, Cowper, Connelly, Redpath, Stackpole, Sheahan and Walker were representing our country.
In the wings knocking on the door of Test selection were; Watson Josilin , Thomson, Robinson, Gott, Bedford, Rose, Hogg, Higgs Yallop, Hurst, Bright, Moss and Laughlin.
The strength of Victorian Cricket was at an all time high and with only a hand full of paid administrators at the helm... I ask you to take a minute to think about that simple fact!
It was a time when Melbourne District Cricket Clubs (the founders of the VIctorian Cricket Association) we’re discussing whether or not they should vote to include new teams into the competition. It was felt this would encourage further development of the game particularly from areas like the fast growing Eastern Suburbs (the RDCA). Something that was being pushed hard by the late great Clive Fairburn, a mate.
And so on the basis two new clubs were given the responsibility of growing within their regions; it all took place in season 1973-74.
In the RDCA’s case; many had hoped for brand new independent cricket club; formed in association with the RDCA, but unfortunately an existing club was promoted and in the opinion of many, it was a sad day for local cricket... looking back on it all now, only one of those two clubs survive and statistically it has never lived up to obligations.
Yes I am talking about Ringwood Cricket Club and at the time, local clubs were not happy and were of the opinion that Ringwood (The Rams) had a significant “conflict of interest”.
Yes! The Rams were running A and B grades and their own junior program in the RDCA and because of this local clubs felt they were at a disadvantage; especially cumulatively. After all who had done all the hard work developing the game in the area to allow their junior programs to be raided without compensation, acknowledgement or reward.
It was a good point and the animosity amongst local clubs, never really improved over the years and I leave it to you to figure out why?
From what I know, I will say this... it wasn’t a fault of the Rams players. Not once did they convey themselves as superior in the game and that is the way it remains.
I think this was a significant factor in the way the RDCA is today. And don’t get me wrong; it is only that I had visualised something more for the RDCA.
Unfortunately for the RDCA, Ringwood Cricket Club have not produced a single Test Player failing all expectations held by founding VCA members.
It should have been realised that just a Club participating in the Premier Competition of the State would never be appropriate... it would require pathways structures, between the associated competitive organisation, coaching opportunity and the idea of administrative advancement.
Looking back the RDCA should not only have been the breeding ground for future Test players but for coaches, better ideas and development programs. These should have been introduced to juniors development programs... to encourage player participation and reciprocation.
If only greater thought had been given to the RDCA it would be celebrating much much more this year... nevertheless congratulation on turning 100 and let’s hope the next 100 brings greater reward.