East Coburg Cricket Club
CRICKET – THE BACKYARD, THE BOOT, BREARLEY AND BEYOND.
My earliest recollection of cricket dates back to the late 70's playing with my brother Frank in the backyard at Connelly Street Brunswick. We were young and free and after watching the Aussie cricketers on TV we spent many hours in the backyard or the concrete driveway and on the bitumen street emulating the likes of Dennis Lillee with the ball or Greg Chappell with the bat. There was no Playstation, or computer games nor videos and it was watching and playing cricket that caught our imagination in the summer months. Of course come winter, the bat and balls would be stored away and the footy would become the outlet of your youthful energy.
Alongside cricket and footy, we also played rebound tennis up against the factory wall opposite George Georgiou's house. George's dad also had an immaculate lawn in the backyard and it was here we crouched over a putter honing our putting skills. I recall George always passionately organising something. Either a game of street cricket, a street sporting event, and in later years an outing or a wild party in his dad's garage. His biggest coup in the early years as a teenager was the Olympic Games. George organised his school mates, cousins, and kids from the neighborhood and hosted the Olympic games in Connelly St Brunswick. The schedule of events included; 100m – sprints up the street, 400m – around the block, marathon – around the block many times, cycling, tennis, golf – putting on Georges's backyard lawn, discus – used the Frisbee, long jump and many more events that I am stretched to recall. He even organised cut out paper medals coloured in Bronze, Silver and Gold pierced with a wollen thread to present to the Olympians. Great local sporting feats and legends were brewing but most important of all which would shape the forthcoming cricketing deeds of the locals, their mates and those in the neighbourhood, was the arrival of George Georgiou the sporting administrator.
It has been well documented in many publications and writings on the history of the Club that the birthplace of the Club emanated from the first social games of cricket played between two teams organised by George Georgiou and Frank Rechichi back in the summer of 80/81. These two teenagers saw and fulfilled the need to progress from the bitumen street littered with potholes to the ovals and concrete wickets of Parkville. Although these games were social games, both George's eleven and Frank's eleven competed fiercely. A game was on and each wanted to win. The degree of organisation that went into these games is truly typical of those involved. They even arranged an official cricket scorebook to record the social matches of 80/81 & 81/82. Today, one of the Club's prized documents is in fact the original scorebook used to record the first matches. The game of cricket had brought together a bunch of teenagers and their mates from the neighbourhood and friendships quickly flourished.
The Club, named East Coburg Cricket Club, emerged in 82/83 following the social games and friendships of the previous seasons. George was appointed the inaugural President, with many of the others taking on the remaining administrative roles and playing.
The club had humble beginnings. Membership receipts, raffles and in later years footy tipping competitions and Tattslotto number competitions were the prime revenue sources for the club. Cricket equipment was stored in George's garage and ritually crammed into the "D Mobile" on training nights and match days. The "D Mobile" was our mobile clubhouse. It housed the portable matts on the roof top and the cricket kits, stumps, balls, drink containers, esky, scorebook, et al; in the boot. There were many home grounds and training grounds used over the years. Some that come to mind (and this is by no means an exhaustive list) are Royal Park, Princess Park, Northcote, Dechene, Morris, Cole, Cook, Seabrook, Newlands High School, Hallam, Glenroy Tech, Batman TAFE, Gladstone Park, McDonald and since the early 90's – Brearley Reserve. Who could forget, after a hard night at training, the effort required to unload the matts off the "D Mobile" up the drive and into George's garage. Vote counts and trophy presentations were held in George's backyard.
The Club has progressed enormously from those humble beginnings. Today the Club has arguably one of the best cricketing facilities in the locale in Brearley Reserve – the home of East Coburg Cricket Club. The Club has continually grown its membership base and since 1993/94 season has consistently fielded four men's XI. The second eleven was established in 1987/88, then followed the third eleven in 1992/93. Presentation nights are the highlight of the social calendar, being formal nights and attended by as many as 100 plus members and their guests. Sponsorship and canteen sales alongside membership receipts have superseded footy tipping competitions, raffles, Tattslotto number competitions, and Melbourne-Caulfield cup doubles as the prime sources of revenue for the Club.
The Club set it sights on its first premiership. It was secured in 1987. The club then planned for the ultimate prize – the A Grade flag. It was ours for the first time in 1993/94. The Club had arrived as a force in the competition. The Club could now match it with and beat the heavyweights of the competition.
In the last three seasons of 99/00, 00/01, 01/02, ECCC played off and won five out of five grand finals in each and every XI fielded. In the 99/00 season, the Women's XI in their inaugural year, and the 4th XI (C Matting) brought home a double premiership. The following year I was overjoyed when I played in the 3rd XI (B Matting) premiership. Then the stellar season of 01/02 brought the dizzying heights of the 1st XI (A Turf) and 2nd XI (B Turf) premierships – what a fantastic achievement and fitting finale to our twentieth year!
A total of 76 players have played in a premiership team at E.C.C.C. In the last three seasons, 60 premiership medallions have been awarded to players at the Club. Some players had become premiership players for the first time or in the case of others, double, triple or quadruple premiership players. A total of 54 individual players over the last three years have tasted premiership glory! This is a fantastic result and all those involved should be very proud of their achievements.
In the last twenty years we ended in seven seasons with something to celebrate – the sweet success of 10 premierships. The Club has progressed from one of the fledgling clubs of the early 80's to one of the most successful and respected clubs of the competition. Today, the Club is a leader in many of the critical elements that make up a successful club. It has a dedicated and hardworking committee, "A Grade" cricketing facilities at Brearley Reserve, matting cricket facilities at Jackson Reserve, dedicated captains and players with enormous skill and ability, a strong membership base, strong sponsorship support and a warm and inviting social scene for all, including family & friends.
The highlights over the years are the premierships. Personally, I have been very fortunate to have played in three premiership teams. The first in "C" Grade in 1986/87 – the club's first premiership. The second in "C" Grade in 89/90 and most recently the B Matting premiership in 00/01.
The sweet taste of premiership glory has required much commitment and dedication of all coaches, captains, players, committee, sponsors, family and friends. It is this dedication and commitment to the task both on and off the field that epitomises the Club.
It is most pleasing that over the years many new players and individuals have joined the Club and many of its members from the foundation years are involved to this day. All members, players, administrators, family & friends, sponsors and all others associated with the Club should stand tall and be very proud of their endeavors and achievements over the last twenty years. The Club for me has a very proud history, many fond memories and has brought much enjoyment and friendships. If we all continue to ask ourselves "What can I do for the Club?", I trust there will be many more friendships, fun and folklore beyond season 2002.
P.S. As official club statistician I take this opportunity, on the conclusion of our 20th season of cricket, to highlight a number of achievements of the numerical kind:-
- More than 330 players have represented E.C.C.C.
- More than 635 games of cricket.
-10 Premierships out of 16 Grand Final appearances.
Mens: First XI –Three premierships and one runners up,
Second XI – Three premierships and three runners up.
Thirds XI – One premiership and two runners up.
Fourth XI – Two premierships.
Womens: First XI – One premiership.
- 76 premiership players.
- Over 114,000 runs scored.
- Over 6,000 wickets taken
- Over 3,200 catches taken.
- 67 centuries.
- 64 – "6 or more wickets in an innings".
- 8 hat-tricks.
- and 20 years as President – George "The General" Georgiou.
CRICKET – THE BACKYARD, THE BOOT, BREARLEY AND BEYOND - Part 2 - Season 02/03 to 06/07
In the second installment of Cricket – the Backyard, the Boot, Brearley and Beyond, I follow up the ECCC story from season 02/03 to our milestone 25th year. Oh and what a story it has been! The 06/07 season is primed to be a most memorable one. George has a long list of social events and functions in the pipeline to celebrate the club's 25th season. Alongside the functions and events planned for the 25th year, the forthcoming year is also significant from a statistical perspective. The statistical highlights that we will catch sight of in the forthcoming year, being our 25th year, are:-
- During our 25th season, the club will rapidly approach the registration of 500 players.
- The club will organise over 900 games of cricket, and with 11 players per game, this equates to over 10,000 games.
- The club will field cricket sides in 80 grades of cricket over the twenty five years, having started with a single grade.
- With five grades 25 years later in 06/07, the club will average 3.2 grades per season over the 25 years.
- The club will score its 150,000th run and take its 8,000th wicket during the year.
- Of upmost priority, if the club can increase it's premiership tally from 11 to 13, the club will approach 100 individual players who have tasted premiership glory.
- And as George kindly reminds us every now and then, the club will rapidly converge on it's hundredth club newsletter, hundredth media article and 3,500th photo.
These are indeed remarkable records of the club's history.
The 04/05 season saw the exquisite dolce# tones of Gideon Haigh and Tim Lane reverberate around our pavilion. For those that attended this was a night to savor. I will go as far as saying this night ranked up there amongst the best of them; outside those memorable nights spent celebrating premiership glory. The rain was coming in sideways but the lure of Gideon and Tim overpowered the teeming rain with 100 odd attendees filling the club rooms to capacity.
# - Italian adjective:; sweet
The 04/05 season swept in the Harmony Shield, a concept and a game played between two of Melbourne's most multicultural cricket clubs. East Coburg Cricket Club and Sunshine Heights made local newspapers and mainstream media in the form of the Greek Neos Cosmos, Greek Ta Nea, Italian Globo and Arabic El Telegraph with the newsprints
publishing feature articles on our Club. Our President, George, and the president of Sunshine Heights are interviewed by Gideon Haigh and John Faine on the conversation hour on ABC 774. Multiculturism and cricket came together in Coburg.
I vividly recall the day, the hour and could probably pin point it to at or around 1:10 pm on 26th December 2004, when ECCC is broadcast across the airwaves of prime time ABC 774. It was the luncheon break of the 2nd Test Match between Australia and Pakistan, day 2 when the stern conversation between the "general" and myself, deep in the bowls of the new MCC member's pavilion, was interrupted by Drew Morphett's announcement. ECCC is announced on prime time ABC 774 as a final five winner of the "ABC Team of the Year" competition. The ECCC story was compelling enough to the judges of the "ABC Team of the Year" competition, to reach the final five nationwide.
Is this as good as it gets? Can this be bettered? Well you know the quote….. "Good, Better, Best - never let it rest - until your good is better- and your better is best"
The Cronulla riots break out in NSW and come knocking on the door at ECCC. On Wednesday local players at West Coburg receive text messages inciting gatherings to the west of Melbourne. By weeks end, West Coburg and East Coburg Cricket Clubs join forces and are playing off on Saturday afternoon for the Solidarity Shield, a concept to unite all in the local community through cricket. ECCC joins forces with West Coburg on the cricket field to stamp out racism. So would ECCC, or more specially George, settle for local newsprint to cover the story? George manages to get airtime on ABC 774 leading up to the game. On game day, George has all the commercial broadcast television stations converging at Brearley Reserve alongside key leading local identities (with a politician or two amongst them). Much is spoken before the game about the need to stand side by side with each other in the local community and stamp out racism. The Solidarity Shield is born, an embryonic concept in cricketing circles, and a game that would be hotly contested over the coming seasons between two community cricket clubs. The game of cricket will spread the message amongst the local cricketers and the wider community. The story is beamed across the nation's lounge rooms as the leading news item in the prime time nightly news 6.00pm timeslot across all the commercial television channels. In somewhat unorthodox fashion, ECCC makes it to prime time broadcast television!
The period, from season 02/03 through to season 05/06, was a timely reminder that premierships are hard to win. The club played in three grand finals and took home the spoils of the silver wear in one out of the three grand finals contested.
The 03/04 season closed with the club's third eleven reaching runners up in the A Matting grade. This was a tremendous effort in itself given our third eleven was up against first elevens on most Saturdays. The following year in 04/05, the club's second eleven achieved runners up in B Turf. In both grand finals, the club fell short to the tune of about 20 runs in a first innings result.
The season to remember was 02/03. Our third eleven in B Matting, superbly led by captain D. Hallal, navigated the season undefeated to be crowned premiers and champions. Personally it was most memorable as I was fortunate enough to be part of the team. More importantly all the players and all those associated with the club tasted the spoils of premiership glory. This was also a first for an ECCC premiership side, to remain undefeated throughout the season. In our 21st year we added our 11th premiership flag to the walls of our clubhouse.
So what can we look forward to in the years ahead? On the field, the focus will be the ongoing quest for more silver wear. Off the field, if George has his way, ECCC will make it to the mainstream newspapers.
Vice President - East Coburg Cricket Club