The History of Olinda Cricket Club

Olinda Cricket Club existed in 1911 as depicted in a newspaper article showing the results of a game between Olinda CC and Bayswater CC. Some uncertainty exists around the next few years due to a lack of recorded evidence.

Olinda and began its playing days in the Mountain District Cricket Association's B Grade competition. Teams it opposed included Ferny Creek, Silvan and Mt.Dandenong. In season 21/22, captain Billy Ellis led the team to the semi-finals but were knocked out by A Grade side Gembrook. In season 1922/23, Olinda captured the M.D.C.A B Section Premiership.

Strangely enough despite winning the flag, the club fielded a team irregularly through the 20's and it wasn't until the start of the 30's that it could consistently field a side. Some prominent names from this period include John Taylor, Stewart Eakin, Harry (Mick) Dahllof and any number of the Ebbels boys when they were available. These players formed the nucleus for the clubs back to back M.D.C.A flags in 1931/32 and 1932/33.

For around 30 years the club played in the M.D.C.A and found itself playing at many alternate venues. One of these venues was Bunkers Hill in Olindsa Crescent where you will now find Boulters Nursery and it wasn't until 1946 that the club settled at it's current location.

In the summer of 1947/48, the club again had premiership success, this time, an innings defeat of Monbulk in which opening bat Don Closs opened the bowling and took the stunning figures of 6/7 inc. hatrick.

In 1952, Olinda joined the Ferntree Gully Cricket Association and it was around this time that the club continued to lay the foundations for many exciting years of cricket. Noel Wall, Charlie Reid and Don Jones took charge of the club following the post war exodus of many and by the end of the decade, a 1st XI side took to the field to begin what was `the' golden period of our clubs history. In 1953, the current clubrooms were built and gave Olinda cricketers a real sense of belonging for the first time.

From the 60's through to the mid 80's, the club played off in no less than 8 grand finals and whilst this would seem to be an outstanding effort, it could never once add another flag to it's name. One of the grand finals was drawn against Wantirna South but was lost because Olinda finished lower on the ladder. Another was lost to Ferntree Gully after bad weather forced the game to be played over seven days. Don Jones completed his stellar career around this time and in the 15 years he played with the club, he won the 1st XI batting average every year, surely some kind of cricketing record.

Olinda joined the Ringwood District Cricket Association in 1971/72 and the club had really gathered momentum by the late 70's. It fielded four senior teams and even though going up from B Grade without a flag, it became one of the league powers in the A Grade competition. Through this golden period, names such as Graeme Rayner, Rick Wall, Shane Fitzgerald and John Clancy excelled on the field and by the early 80's when players such as Billy Oliver, Peter Hayne and Tony Duggan had entrenched themselves as Olinda players, Olinda was probably putting its greatest sides ever out on the ground. Unfortunately, still no premierships and by the end of the 80's, the club had dropped off considerably. When it fell back to B Grade for the 1990/91 season, there was 9 players on the senior list and many tough times ahead.

The club struggled to field two teams right through the 90's, Keith Pritchard and Steve Scott were relentless in their efforts to keep the club afloat and although there was a semi-final appearance in 94/95, not much else was attained through the early part of this decade. In 97/98, the Stewey Beale led side played off in yet another grand final. Once again Olinda was to fall just short of the finish line and lost to East Ringwood by 25 runs. Worse than Collingwood some would say ! A small band of workers stuck together though and in season 1999/2000, Glenn Taylor led the 1st XI in an undefeated season and claim the clubs 5th premiership after over 50 years had passed from the previous one. The celebrations after the 19 run win against arch rival East Ringwood were amazing to say the least.

The new millennium bought with it a new injection of enthusiasm and although the club went up into A grade again, it failed to win a game. However, it was a very competitive side and with the retirements in the last few years of players such as Stewey Beale, Steve Scott and Rick Wall, the club had a young but fairly experienced list and the future looked bright. The clubs committee had a major overhaul and the new members full of energy and great ideas took over to take the club into the next decade.

In the 2003/2004 season, the club moved with the times and appointed its first ever semi professional cricketer. Ranga Yasalal joined the club as an ex-Sri Lankan international player and his junior coaching along with his excellent performances on the field propelled the 1sts into the finals again. More importantly though, the club fielded 4 consistent teams for the first time in 13 years due to the tireless work of the committee and all four sides played in the finals. An outstanding achievement for a club that was definitely on the way up.

In November of 2004, the club held its first ever Hall Of Fame night at Tatra Receptions and 13 players were inducted. In what was probably the greatest night in the clubs long history, players and supporters going back to 1940 enjoyed a spectacular event which was capped off with the announcement that the 1st XI Best and Fairest from 2004/05 onwards would be declared the Don Jones Medallist named after our greatest cricketer. The inductees were : Charlie Reid, Noel Wall, Don Jones, Keith Rankin, Graeme Raynor, John Clancy, Shane Fitzgerald, Peter Hayne, Tony Duggan, Rick Wall, Bill Oliver, Stewey Beale and Steve Scott.

Since 2000, the club has been consistent in its finals appearances, with a one day flag, the 3rd XI winning in 2004/05 and then in a stellar year in 2005/06, both the 1st and 2nd XI sides claiming premierships. The first time ever that the club produced multiple flags in one season at senior level. Another first was created in 2006/07 when Olinda fielded 5 senior sides in the same year. The 1st XI was again in the Premiership decider in 2008/09 but fell just short, but was again able to climb the tree with a thrilling win the following year in 2009/10.

We introduced a team in the Veterans competition for the 2008/09 season and played off in a semi final in that year and had many finals appearances. They eventually won their first flag in the 2014/15 season despite the rest of the club struggling. Another, very welcomed, flag happened again in the 2016/17 season, the first flag for several players who had been playing cricket for Olinda for over 40 years. The Vets have been a success story for the club "blooding" many retired senior players back into the seniors and the club at large.

The senior club hit bottom during the 2014/15 season and was reduced to one senior team. The following season was spent stabilizing the club before making the decision to transfer back to the FTGDCA for the 2016/17 season. The club has continued going from strength to strength since this time and in the 20/21 season fielded 5 senior teams, 2 Veterans teams and the first ever women's team who went on to win a flag against Upwey-Tecoma.

Throughout Olinda's history, the club has had many great families give many hours of service. Some families include the Jones', Walls, Fitzgeralds, Scotts, Giddens'and the Blanchards to name just a few. Just as important are those individuals who have been honoured with Life Memberships.
They are as follows:- Stewart Eakin, John Taylor, Charlie Reid, Keith Rae, Don Jones, Frank Hallas, Noel Wall, Ian Jones, Max Finegan, Mick Fitzgerald, Rick Wall, Steve Scott, Neville Bradshaw, Keith Pritchard, Col Giddens, Rod Bartlett, Adam Humphries, Glenn Taylor, Peter Dean, Tim Scott and Adrian Willoughby.

These 21 people more than most have helped make our club what it is today, a strong and vibrant place with a very colourful history. We look forward to many more years of great times and results and we hope that in the not to distant future that we can once again bring the flag back to the top of the mountain.