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History 1970-1975

 

Bentleigh ANA Cricket Club

 

A Lesson in History

Part 6.  1970-75

 

 

 

1970/71

The season of 1970/71 was one which saw a fair amount of change around the Club, with hard working businessman Alan Blumfield taking over as President from Eddie Benson, who was moving up to Brisbane in search of more lucrative business ventures. John Sanders was appointed as Captain of the 'A' Grade team after Don Haw had stepped down from the job to take over as Captain of the Second Eleven in 'B' Grade. The Bentleigh CYMS team disbanded this year and two of its players, Kevin Owens and Robert Connolly, crossed over to ANA to play. Owens' arrival was a strange one indeed as he simply strolled into Bailey Park in his whites hoping to get a game of cricket with anyone who would have him. At this time Alan Blumfield was going through his frantic start of season ritual of attempting to organise the players and fill all of the teams. Upon being approached by Owens, it was a rather relieved Blumfield who advised him that the Club was in fact short and that Kevin's presence would be more than welcomed. Next thing Kevin knew he was batting for the First's, providing heart failure for his partner at the other end, Rex Sheppard, who was fast running out of batting partners in a crucial game. It was to be Owens' only game at the 'A' Grade level. Mick Stanton made over 360 runs with the bat while also performing well with the ball, but the real success story of the year was the dramatic improvement of another all-rounder, Neil Bach, who scored two centuries and amassed almost 450 runs for the season. The 'A' Grade team performed reasonably well once again, but after losing the last game of the year to top side East Bentleigh, narrowly missed out on the finals, finishing fifth.

Even after a rather inconsistent season the 'B' Grade team still managed to sneak into fourth position. Coming up against top team Bentleigh Methodists in the Semi-final the ANA team suddenly hit their straps and bundled the Meths out for a meagre 113 runs. Throughout the innings opening bowler John Garrett was the chief destroyer, taking 4/40, but he received excellent support from the stocky framed Ian Smyth, who captured 3/18 to completely demoralise the Meths. ANA struggled throughout the run chase, and at 7 for 93 appeared to be in a spot of bother. Again it was Garrett with 23 who allowed the ANA tail to wag sufficiently and this, combined with Jimmy March's score of 34, was enough to see ANA safely through to an overall total of 131 in their first innings. The Meths were determined not to give in without a fight and slogged up an aggressive 5 for 131, with Garrett continuing a fairytale match, taking 3/41 before the declaration was made. Opening batsman Brian Grandin contributed a fine 43 not out as ANA then batted steadily to knock up 2 for 118 and earn a place in the Grand Final. Now confident after their Semi-final victory, the ANA Second Eleven clashed with the Hampton Methodists in the Grand Final, and on paper the teams appeared evenly matched. Rising to the occasion, the ANA bowlers were once again on target and at one stage had Hampton reeling at 7 for 89 and then 9 for 149. But the Hampton tail continued to 'wag' and the score eventually reached 176 before the last wicket fell. Once again the chief destroyer was John Garrett with 4/51, but newcomer Robert Connolly's 4/64 was also well worthy of a mention.

ANA's first innings was always going to end up short of Hampton's mediocre target and they were finally dismissed for 145, with skipper Don Haw top scoring with 26. John Garrett with 5/36 and Ian Smyth with 3/40 then toiled hard, but when Hampton's second innings was finally wrapped up with the score at 219, ANA's task appeared to be a grim one indeed. In a last ditched effort, David Hanna sparked hopes of a middle order fightback, and at 5 for 128, ANA had clawed its way back to be in with a slight chance. But with his dismissal for a well made 41 the end was near, and ANA succumbed to be all out for 165, giving the Hampton Methodists the 'B' Grade Premiership. The 'Under 14' Grade team was led by David Crozier and finished the year on top of the ladder. After defeating the East Sandringham Boys Club in the Semi-final they were confronted by Moorabbin in the Grand Final. Starting the game excellently, the ANA bowlers dismissed Moorabbin for 105 runs in their first innings. The young Crozier then chose the perfect moment to score his first century for the Club, ending up unconquered on 106 not out as ANA swept to a total of 6 for 208, taking out the flag comfortably and giving a good indication of the tremendous amount of ability that this team had.

Sadly, the year was to end on a less fortunate note when one of ANA's junior team managers and excellent clubman, Graeme Mactaggart, died suddenly from a heart attack. As a tribute to the work that Graeme had put in over the years, not just with ANA but also with various local junior football teams in the area, the Club named the award for the Outstanding Junior after him, an award which is widely accepted as the most prestigious at the Junior level of the Club.

1971/72

Due mainly to the influx of Juniors into the Senior grades, the Bentleigh ANA Cricket Club was rapidly growing in the early 70's and this was reflected in the 1971/72 season. ANA fielded five senior teams for the first time in its history. Taking into account its three junior teams, ANA had become one of the largest and most powerful clubs in the CMCA. Popular clubman Greg James often provided team-mates with a few laughs throughout his career but occasionally his adventurous exploits managed to get him into trouble. Such was the case when, after years of returning to the 'shed' and unsuccessfully buying tickets in the infamous ANA Saturday night 'chook' raffle, James finally won the first prize which consisted of three chooks. Feeling that this was his lucky night, and very much in the mood for celebration, Greg then consumed more than his usual amount of the amber fluid and by the end of the night he was in no state to remember to take home his prize. The hot summer days following showed no mercy on the old ANA 'shed' and after three days the environment inside must have resembled an old Changhi prison hut. By the time the ANA players arrived for their mid-week training session, Greg's chooks were a little bit worse for wear, to say the least. A rather amused James soon lost his sense of humour when the other players forced him into the 'shed', which had now developed an odour that bared no resemblance to Chanel No. 5, to clean up what was left of his raffle prize . . . maggots and all!

John Sanders again led the First Eleven in 'A' Grade and the team started off the season magnificently, winning six of its first seven games, and looked to be a real threat for the premiership. However, they lost the next few games and appeared to have lost any chance of making the finals. But, as if the tables had been turned completely, ANA then won both of its last two games outright and after 10 years in the cricketing wilderness the 'A' Grade team catapulted into fourth position by a meagre 2 points. After their fine finish to the season ANA went into the Semifinal against West Bentleigh with a fair amount of confidence. Neil Bach had been sensational throughout the year, aggregating in excess of 570 runs, while Mick Stanton with 350, Barry Sheppard with 340 and John Levvy with 290 runs for the season, formed the backbone of a very impressive batting line-up indeed. Rex Sheppard had been back to his best form with 47 wickets for the year, while left-arm speedsters Neil Bach with 30 wickets and Gary Dennis with 28 wickets had led a fairly formidable bowling attack. The ANA team was weakened for the Semi-final with the loss of the hard hitting all-rounder Mick Stanton, whose football commitments with VFA team Oakleigh took precedence ahead of the Semi-final confrontation with top team West Bentleigh. This aspect didn't assist the ANA cause and the team went down to the strong West Bentleigh line-up. The ANA 'B' Grade team was once again led by veteran Don Haw and also had to win their last game to make the finals, finishing in third position. They came up against a strong Bentleigh Methodist combination in the Semi-final and only through the efforts of Kevin Nicholson with 30, managed to crawl to a fairly ordinary total of 103. However, the Methodists had not counted on the ability of the burly framed Alan Hollings as he destroyed their first innings by taking 6/27 off 14 overs. One by one the hapless Methodists batsmen were bundled out for a miserable total of 81 runs. This had happened after opposing opening batsman Colin Lilley had held up the game for several minutes, sitting in the middle of the pitch hotly disputing Gary Wicks' claims to a controversial slips catch. Opening batsman Alan Sanders with 38 and skipper Don Haw with 31, batted steadily to see ANA hit up 146 in their second innings but, after the last ANA wicket had fallen, the Methodists still had 30 overs to hit up the required 169 runs for victory. However, it was only Don Haw's nephew Ross Haw who threatened the ANA target by making half of the Methodist's score as they got to within 40 runs of their goal, before the last wicket fell. Alan Hollings had taken 4/61 and Robert Connolly 4/58 as ANA stuck to their task and entered a second successive 'B' Grade Grand Final.

The ANA Second Eleven came up against top team West Bentleigh in the Final. Batting first, ANA offered little resistance to West's pace barrage and capitulated to be all out for a meagre 91 runs. John Garrett then led the hard toiling ANA attack by taking 3/43, but the formidable West Bentleigh batting line-up hit up an impressive total of 232 in their first innings. In reply, Russell Mactaggart made 35 and hard hitting wicketkeeper John Peterson ended up with 30 as ANA fared little better in the second innings making only 133, giving West Bentleigh a comfortable outright victory. The Fifth Eleven, in 'E' Grade, was led by relative newcomer to the Club, Ron Cunningham. Throughout the year ANA had dominated the competition and finished on top of the ladder. After a comfortable Semi-final victory they went into the Final as favourites against the Bentleigh Methodists, and within no time at all had placed their assertion on the game as the Meths had plummeted to be 6 for 72. However, ANA then dropped several costly catches, and somehow the Bentleigh Meths ended up with a total of 303. Popular ANA character, Ken 'Deafy' James, fought hard for the Green and Gold and his innings of 83 was one of determination and defiance. Unfortunately his role was a lone one and ANA were bundled out for 174 in a tragic Grand Final loss.  Similarly, the 'Under 16C' Grade team was led by Neil Vorbach throughout the season and finished on top of the ladder prior to the finals. Going into the Semi as red hot favourites, the side collapsed disastrously to go down to the fourth placed McKinnon team in a major boilover. Their year had been highlighted by the performances of David Crozier who managed to win both the batting and bowling averages for the competition. Not bad considering he was in his first year at the 'Under 16' level.

1972/73

The Club was forced to move its home games to the ground at the Kingston Sanitarium and Old Peoples home in Heatherton Road, due to the major redevelopment of the King George reserve in season 1972/73. The demolition of the 'shed' was a sad sight indeed, resulting in the Club moving to Bailey Park for its post match refreshments. This season also saw the appointment of technically stylish all-rounder Barry Nye from McKinnon, in the VJCA, as Captain/Coach of Bentleigh ANA. This, along with the return of Ken Lonie from District Club South Melbourne, should have seen the 'A' Grade team with an even stronger combination than that of the previous year, and be a serious Premiership threat. However, with excellent opening batsman Mick Stanton leaving the Club and going to Perth, the batting line-up suddenly appeared very brittle, with only Barry Sheppard scoring over 400 runs for the year in a disappointing season for the Club. Gary Dennis excelled with his ability to cut the ball back sharply off the wicket and snared 35 wickets for the year, but disastrously, the ANA First Eleven could only manage three wins for the season and finished second last on the ladder.

The Third Eleven was led by  tattooed bowler Richard Wyly in 'D' Grade and just managed to sneak into the final four. They came up against the up and coming Moorabbin Youth Centre team in the Semi-final and had a rather unexpected win. They then came up against East Bentleigh in the Grand Final, and batting first, ANA hit up a massive 307 runs to put a stranglehold on the Premiership. Robert McDonald led the onslaught with a determined hand of 63 and he received fine support from Gary Wicks with 49, Russell Mactaggart 43, Ken Norton 39 and Jimmy March with 35. The ANA bowlers then bowled superbly to bundle the East batsmen out for 90 and 118 respectively in their two innings, with leg spinner Greg James capturing 6/38 in the second innings to lead ANA to a Premiership from fourth position.

The Fourth Eleven in 'E' Grade was led by Geoff Scott throughout the season and also performed creditably, finishing in fourth position prior to the finals. They defeated West Bentleigh in the Semi-final and were then confronted by the newly introduced Ceylonese team, the Cavaliers, in a fiery encounter. ANA batted first in the Grand Final, but were only able to knock up a modest total of 153 in their first innings. The ANA bowlers then fought back handsomely but the Cavaliers were just able to crawl past the ANA total, by making 167 in reply. Needing a good score to try to steal an outright victory, ANA plummeted disastrously to be all out for a meagre 70 in their second innings, and try as they might, the ANA bowlers could only manage to capture five of the Cavaliers' wickets before they hit up the 56 runs required for victory.

The 'Under 16B' Grade team was led by David Crozier throughout the year and had a formidable line-up indeed. They went through the season undefeated, due mainly to the efforts of their skipper, Crozier, who had a remarkable year. Prior to the finals, Crozier had scored no less than 500 runs, only being dismissed once and therefore having the incredible average of 500. He had also performed excellently with the ball but was pipped by a meagre .07 in the bowling averages by Maurice James, who had taken 43 wickets for the season, to win the Association's bowling averages with an average of 7.02. The ANA 'Under 16' team came up against Highett in the Semi-final and, batting first, made an impressive 226. This was due mainly to the efforts of Mick Allinson who hit up a fine 66 to follow on from opener John Adamson's 33. David Crozier, who cheekily came in at number 10, also blasted a quick 33 not out as he and Phillip Bibby, who made 28, put on a devastating 64 runs for the last wicket. Graham Baxter then captured 4/16 to destroy any hopes that Highett had of victory. This ensured the ANA team of a Grand Final berth and Highett were dismissed for a paltry 71 runs. ANA then came up against Mackie in the Final and soon set about asserting their authority on the game. Opener John Adamson was unluckily run out for 93 and David Crozier hit up a tremendous 98 as the ANA bats dominated the game. Barry Fisher with 30 and Geoff 'Jockey'  Moore with 32, continued the onslaught as the ANA Under 16's hit up an almighty total of 312 in the first innings. So confident was President Alan Blumfield of an ANA victory he organised the Premiership photo to be taken, at the ground, prior to Mackie commencing their innings. This aside, and with the awesome target in front of them, Mackie began the run chase but were never in the race. Off-Spinner Phil Bibby took 4/43 as ANA dismissed Mackie for 145, to take out the much expected Premiership, in a year which had seen the team, managed by Paddy Crozier, dominate the CMCA.

1973/74

After the very disappointing previous year the Club seemed to be further depleted in season 1973/74. Barry Nye returned to his more familiar turf wickets at McKinnon and with him went all-rounder Ken Lonie. Left-arm speedster Gary Dennis gave cricket away, heading up north to the Gulf of Carpentaria to become a fisherman, while the irreplaceable Rex Sheppard finally announced his retirement. Sheppard had played with the Club for 21 years and put together over 220 games in a remarkable career. Amazingly, ANA's most successful bowler had made over 2600 runs and taken more than 650 wickets in the Firsts, which was nearly twice as many wickets as any other ANA bowler.

John Sanders regained the Captaincy of the 'A' Grade team and he led a side mixed with both experience and youthful potential. Experienced campaigners Jimmy March and Barry Sheppard fronted up yet again, while no other member of the team was any older than 25. The youngest of these were David Crozier, Neil Vorbach and Maurice James, all of whom were only recently out of the Under 16's. The first game of the year saw ANA annihilate the Hampton Methodists in a remarkable performance. Chasing Meth's score of 6 for 237, 16-year-old David Crozier cracked his maiden 'A' Grade century, while the 34-year-old 'evergreen', Barry Sheppard, left fellow team mates at the Kingston Centre ground with a vintage display with the bat, amassing a monstrous 190 before being caught only feet from the boundary, and six runs short of Max Papley's Club record. Together, the pair had amassed an opening partnership of 238 runs, which is still unmatched today at the top level for the Club. However, the remainder of the season was fairly disappointing, but the hapless Hampton Methodist's bowlers again struck the wrath of the ANA batsmen in the last game when John Sanders and Russell Mactaggart both scored centuries against them. Generally though, the Club had a very poor year and for the first time in ten seasons failed to have a team in the finals.

 

1974/75

The following winter months saw some behind the scenes negotiating, which resulted, arguably, in the most effective piece of recruiting in the Club's history. Mainly due to the efforts of both the loyal and legendary team manager, Paddy Crozier, and Club President Alan Blumfield, the ex-Ceylonese international player Fitzroy Crozier was signed up as playing coach for season 1974/75. The left-arm orthodox spin bowler and right-handed batsman spared no time in instilling both discipline and dedication into a Club, which was possibly lacking in these, but no doubt loaded with potential. Immediately, results throughout the whole Club were outstanding, with 5 out of the 7 teams reaching the finals, making this the most successful season in the Club's history to date.

Sadly, the season also marked the end of an era with the retirement of Barry Sheppard, who hung up his whites after the first game of the season. After 16 seasons at the Club a 'duck' was hardly a fitting finish to the career of the man who's immaculately straight bat had elegantly stroked nearly 6000 runs at the First Eleven level. Sheppard developed his straight batted technique in his early years by continually practising the art of swinging his cricket bat through two upright stumps. This he combined with enormous levels of concentration, which he attributes to something he learned off Cyril Parke. Parke once told him not to bat to make centuries, but to bat to make 20 runs, start again at 20 to make another 20, and so on, until those three figures were met. With almost twelve thousand runs between them who would argue with this theory?

The 'A' Grade team, once again under the Captaincy of John Sanders, finished third prior to the finals. The bowling attack of Neil Bach, Maurice James, Alan Hollings and Crozier himself, allowed only two teams to score more than 190 runs against them all season. They faced the Virginia Park team in the Semi-final and set about their first step towards the flag with confidence. Russell Mactaggart led the charge making a fine 83, and he was well supported by Fitzroy Crozier with 69. The 'evergreen' Jimmy March then smashed up a whirlwind 43, as ANA amassed a mighty 335 runs. Virginia Park set off after the total with aggression, but a steady attack, led by Maurice James with three wickets, saw the team from the cigarette factory dismissed 100 runs short of their target. This brought ANA up against the mighty East Bentleigh team, which had won four of the last six Premierships. During the season East had beaten ANA quite comfortably and, even though they had finished in fourth position, went into the game as favourites. ANA batted first in the match but disaster soon struck when opening batsman, Fitzroy Crozier, was dismissed for that now infamous 'duck'. After having scored over 650 runs for the season ANA's key batsman was gone, and the chances looked grim indeed. However, it was the Sanders brothers who fought determinedly to steer the match ANA's way.

Skipper John Sanders polished off his 400 run aggregate for the season with an inspirational innings of 73 while Alan Sanders finished with 52 not out, as ANA clawed their way to a total of 257. Alan's outstanding effort was a far cry from the young kid who, in his early days, amused himself from his fielding position at fine-leg, by mischievously throwing stones at the unknowing Barry Sheppard in the slips cordon.

Prior to taking to the field, and attempting to bowl ANA to a Premiership, Coach Fitzroy Crozier addressed the players. Referring to his rare indiscretion with the bat, he boldly stated that 'Somebody must pay for this' . . . and pay they did. Nobody who witnessed that speech and the following repercussions at the Mackie Reserve, could ever forget the devastation that Crozier bestowed upon the strong East Bentleigh batting line-up. In passing the 50 wicket mark for the year, Crozier bowled ANA towards victory and when Maurice James held on to a one handed 'blinder' on the boundary line, ANA had won its eighth 'A' Grade Premiership, and its first for fourteen years. Crozier ended up with the remarkable figures of 8/47, in one of the greatest Final's bowling performances ever seen in the CMCA.

The Second Eleven, in 'C' Grade, was led by the experienced veteran, Don Haw. They also had a fine year, finishing on top of the ladder prior to the finals. They came up against the strong Cheltenham Church of Christ team in the Semi-final and controlled the game from the outset. Opening bowler Gary Pickersgill took 4/20 while Robert Connolly and John Hale captured 3 wickets each, as Cheltenham were pole-axed for a lowly 117. Hale especially had capped off an outstanding season in which he had captured over 60 wickets, highlighted by an impressive haul of 9/36 against West Bentleigh. Don Haw then led from the front with a defiant 65 as ANA put the game beyond doubt. He received excellent support from Harry Vantwest with 45 and Vice Captain Richard Wyly, who chipped in with a brisk 35 runs, to see ANA take a first innings lead of over 130 runs. Robert Connolly then capped off a magnificent match performance taking 7/77 in the second innings, to ensure a Grand Final berth against the strong Highett West team, which boasted possibly the competition's quickest bowler in Earl Peck.

Batting first, the ANA wickets began to fall rapidly, with only the determined bat of Harry Vantwest offering any effective defiance. Vantwest ended up with a fine 65 as ANA struggled to a modest total of 167 runs. Not to be denied, however, the ANA bowlers struck back solidly to dismiss Highett West for only 78, with allrounder Robert Connolly again being the destroyer, capturing 6/38. By making a magnificent 132 in the second innings, Rod Blumfield ensured that the ANA First and Second Elevens both took out Premierships. This was the first time in over thirty years, and only the second time in the Club's history, that this had happened. T

he Third Eleven, in 'D' Grade, was led by bowler Geoff Scott throughout the season and finished fourth prior to the finals, but was beaten by Brighton Union in their Semi-final. At the end of the season, the Fourth Eleven, in 'G' Grade, had finished in third position, due mainly to the efforts of Skipper Kevin Owens and promising junior, Cedric Jansz. ANA came up against McKinnon in the Semi-final and batted first, collapsing to be all out for a miserable 120 runs. The 13-year-old Cedric Jansz being the one ANA batsman to keep the McKinnon attack at bay on his way to an unconquered 64. Medium pacer Kevin Thomas  took 3/22 and off-spinner Dennis Williams captured 3/8, as ANA then bowled tightly to restrict McKinnon to a moderate total of only 158 in their first innings. At 7 for 73 in the second innings, ANA's cause looked to be a lost one, but fighting innings' from John Grace, with 54 not out, and Chris Milne, with 44 not out, carried the score to 7 for 173, before the declaration was made. The McKinnon bats then defied ANA's belated attempts for a Grand Final berth, to hang on for a comfortable first innings win. Justice had not been done in the eyes of the Captain, Kevin Owens. The burly, hard-hitting Owens had finished with no less than 716 runs for the season, setting a new Club record.

Cedric Jansz's final's series continued, however, as he led his 'Under 14A' Grade team into the finals. Alas, the road to success had not been an entirely smooth one and this was typified in the last game of the season. Needing four runs for victory to guarantee finishing in top position prior to the finals, ANA's Andrew Higgins belted a ball high into the outfield at Hurlingham Park, for what appeared to be a six off the last ball of the day. Brighton Union Captain and up and coming champion, Con Gorozidis, claimed that he had caught the ball inside the boundary. Nothing short of pandemonium broke out for the next ten minutes.

In an unprecedented step, team manager Rod Blumfield convinced Brighton Union to replay the last ball, and upon doing so, saw Higgins get a top edge over slips for four and give ANA a controversial victory. ANA easily disposed of Moorabbin in the Semi-final to set up a rematch with Brighton Union in the final. Batting first ANA collapsed miserably to the Gorozidis pace barrage, eventually being bundled out for a meagre 72 runs, with Cedric Jansz making 31 and offering the only resistance. In an incredible game, however, ANA's pace attack of Gary March, Andrew Higgins and Geoff Fontaine then fought back sensationally, to dismiss Union for an even more unbelievable total of only 48, virtually stealing the Premiership from the grasps of the Union team. March took 5/17 and Fontaine 4/14 as ANA pulled off a miraculous victory.

The young 'Under 14C' Grade team, led by Ronald Crossley, also performed admirably finishing fourth prior to the finals. They came up against the strong Bentleigh Church of Christ team in their Semi-final game at Cheltenham Park. Struggling from the outset, as Church of Christ hit up an impressive 5 for 160, before ANA capitulated for a miserable total of 67, with some hard hitting from Roger Godfrey being the only highlight. In its most successful year to date, the Bentleigh ANA Cricket Club had missed out on winning the newly formed CMCA Club  Championship Trophy by a meagre 1 point. It was a fine reward to the hard working efforts of President, Alan Blumfield, and Coach, Fitzroy Crozier, as they had lifted the Club from 'rock bottom' to supremacy in just one year. But whether this success had come too quickly, for the Club to be able to handle, would only be seen in the years to come.

 

Last Updated (Tuesday, 12 June 2012 16:14)