Gerry Sweeting, always keen to keep kids busy and involved in sport, decided that playing cricket during the ‘off’ season
of football was a way to keep them off the street and out of trouble. Playing pseudo cricket matches on the football ground with borrowed cricket gear and tennis balls and Rafferty’s rules drew some critical comment from the headmaster himself (Roley Farrall). “Put your money where your mouth is” and “don’t criticize, get in and help if you’re such and authority on cricket” were typical of the response postulated by Gerry Sweeting. Thus, in 1974 Gerry applied to the DDCA to enter an under 14 team into the junior competition and a second team was added into the same grade the following year. With Gerry and Roley as Coaches, this heralded the dawning and embryonic stage of the NDCC.
Under 14/2 -1974/75. First Under 14 team to represent North Dandenong
Back row: Roley Farrall(Coach),Trevor Irving, David Whately, David Wright, Paul Thompson, John Heskethm, Brian Whately (Scorer) Front Row: A. Edwards, John Harris, Chris Farrall, Russell Heald, Ross Mullen, Richard Piening
Money for the equipment was provided by the football club. From two teams this grew in a short few years to two under 12’s, two under 14’s and two under 16’s.Now it’s crunch time! Gerry suggested that we should form a senior team in order to give these kids a path to follow rather that drift off to other senior clubs or worse still nowhere at all. After much coercing a meeting was finally held at Roley Farrall’s place with the view to commencing a senior team.
This was to be the formal beginning of what we have today as the North Dandenong Cricket Club (Inc.). Attended by Phil Mullen, Alan Marsden, Peter Barnes, Bob Saunders, Rob Neill, Graeme Johnson, Roley Farrall and Ian Truscott each donated to the‘starter fund’ necessary to purchase our first kit of gear. Supplemented by raffles we were finally underway. Whilst Bob Saunders participated in the pre season training and a practice match unfortunately he was unable to competein our first year due to illness. Graeme Johnson never played cricket although he was a junior coach.
Thus the first senior team comprised Phil Mullen, Roley Farrall, Alan Marsden, Peter Barnes, Rob Neill, Ian Truscott, joined by Joe Relph, Geoff Smith, Aird Shoesmith, Neville Mahomet, Paul Magnano with Chris Farrall and Ross Mullen
from the under 16’s. Scorer was Duane Neill.
Competing in ‘F’ grade although unbeaten throughout the season we were defeated in a reverse outright in the grand final
against Coomoora. Whilst this was a disappointing result Rob Neill won the Journal ‘Cricketer of the Year’, Roley Farrallwon the Batting averages and Rob Neill cleaned up the bowling.
The second year we entered two senior teams, ‘D’ grade and ‘E’ grade. The latter was to be our first senior flag under
Captain/Coach Phil Mullen. Demographics of the ‘North’ were such that our growth was rapid and after only three years of senior cricket we were playing on Turf in the DDCA second division. That same year with 6 junior teams and 4 senior teams we created a new DDCA record with 7 teams in the finals series. The momentum was strong with another DDCA record the following year of 8 teams in finals resulting in 5 premiership flags. Our first ‘home’ was a shared room with the ‘little athletics’ one big enough to hold some tumble mats and about one cricket team with no chairs or fridge. We struggled in this ‘cosy’ abode until we were able to move into the Gerry Sweeting Pavilion in 1979.
Turf cricket came to Lois Twohig in 1990/91 with the installation of our own wicket onto the top (Twohig 1) oval.
This is somewhat of a picture today compared to 25 years ago!
With a strong Junior development focus the club went from strength to strength by regularly promoting and giving juniors the opportunity to play senior cricket and thus developing their own game as well as progressing the club.
These opportunities were enhanced by the wealth and depth of coaching experience we enjoyed in these early days.
This strategy was deliberate and was has been well rewarded over the years given the number of players that have gone on to other venues, higher grades and representative cricket. Many DDCA firsts have been achieved by North Dandenong. The club is now in the hands of many of those who began their careers in cricket as little tackers in our under 12 ranks.
Thus from humble beginnings we can now see how this notion of giving ‘the kids’ something to do has blossomed into a strong, vibrant and cohesive successful force within the local community and the DDCA.
From humble beginnings the saga continues.......