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Last Tram to Nowhere -The story of Wynnum Manly Cricket Club

 

The 1960's

 

On a sunny September afternoon in 1961, a crowd of 1200 gathered at Brisbane's suburban Windsor Park. They watched West Indian Wesley Hall bowl for an hour before he captured the wicket of the Norths captain. Here to play Sheffield Shield cricket for Queensland, Hall was playing for Colts in his first club appearance.

Twelve kilometres away at Deagon, a handful of spectators watched another match where Sandgate Redcliffe and Balmoral Wynnum were making their first appearance in the district competition. Sandgate took the honours with a first-inning win. Wynnum batted first, making 238 and 0/8 in its second innings. Reg Bratchford top scored with 95. Sandgate made 7 Dec 267 with Ray Hughson taking 4 /109.

 

 

 

Fifty seasons have now elapsed since that afternoon and the clubs have since met 70 times with the honours shared. Contemporary newspaper reports lamented the addition of the two teams to the competition claiming a consequent lowering of standards. Fifty years on, this line of reasoning can still be heard in some quarters when any expansion to the competition is mooted.

 

Balmoral Wynnum was created by the amalgamation of Eastern Suburbs-Balmoral from Bulimba and Wynnum Manly from the Wynnum area. Those two clubs had fielded teams in the lower grades competition for some years and were rewarded for years of effort when finally admitted as a new Club by the Queensland Cricket Association to its premier competition – A Grade as it was then known, at its Executive meeting of 8 August 1961. Home games were played at Bulimba Memorial Park and Wynnum Memorial Park. Eastern Suburbs-Balmoral was, of course, an associate of the Eastern Suburbs club then based at Langlands Park. Eastern Suburbs-Balmoral had existed for 42 years, being formed in 1919, and it entered the QCA Senior Division in 1933 fielding B and C grades for 28 seasons. Wynnum had fielded teams in C grade and Intermediate in the season leading up to admission. Balmoral Wynnum fielded teams in five grades: A, Reserve, B, C and Intermediate. 83 players played in that initial season. The Club finished with £476 in the kitty but started with £489 so lost £13 about $30 in its first season.

 

Those early years were very much learning years. The 1960s produced few notable performances and it was not until the club’s third season that the first A grade century was scored by Alf Birks against Colts at Bulimba Memorial on 28 September 1963. Two weeks later on 19 October Birks returned the best bowling analysis of 8 for 27 against Valley at Bulimba Memorial. It was not until 14 seasons (1974-75) that first grade finished higher than seventh on the table.

B grade finished second to Toombul in the first two seasons but in 1961-62 only A grade played a final and in 1962-63 the B grade final was washed out so Toombul was awarded the Premiership. The Intermediate grade provided the first premiership– in the 1962-63 season they finished on top and beat Eastern Suburbs 88 to 83. In 1963-64 the Intermediate team finished on top and in 1968-69 they finished on top and beat Northern Suburbs in the final.

 

The club produced two Sheffield Shield representatives in Keith Dudgeon, who came from Cairns, selected in 1967-68 and 1968-69 and local product Bill Albury, who played from 1970-71 to 1973-74. Albury was actually the first selected representative player in a Queensland Colts team but unlike the world of sport today, he was unable to take his place in the team because of work commitments. He later played in a Colts team in a drawn Sydney Gregory match against New South Wales at Church of England Grammar in November 1965 where he returned 3/72 and 6/77 for the match.

 

The 1970's

 

The lack of success of the 1960s continued into the 1970s. From 1969-70 to 1971-72 second, third and fourth grades finished last on the ladder. In 1974-75 the club changed its name to Wynnum Manly to better represent its catchment area because residential qualifications were then in place. Don Allen was approached to come over from Northern Suburbs to captain the side and strengthen the batting, which he did for two seasons 1974-75 and 1975-76. Allen had played eight Sheffield Shield games before he joined Wynnum and played two more while he was at the Club.

 

Denis Schuller was the next player called to State honours following consecutive Club centuries in October 1975. During this time second grade achieved the Club's first senior premiership in 1975-76 and again, along with third grade, in 1976-77.

The Club moved grounds from its inaugural association with Balmoral and Wynnum to the Clem Jones Centre at Carina in September 1976 which coincided with John Bell’s arrival as a coach. On joining Wynnum Manly John Bell was the first appointed captain-coach of a Brisbane club side. Bell's tenure produced a purple patch for the club resulting in eight consecutive first-grade finals appearances from 1976-77 to 1983-84 including the first premierships in 1980-81, 1981-82, and 1982-83.

 

Bell’s policy of introducing youth was vindicated as Greg Ritchie, Carl Rackemann and John Maguire eventually represented Australia as Wynnum players, on one occasion in the same team when they played against the West Indies at St John’s, Antigua, in April 1984 (the fourth Test of the West Indies tour). This was a rare event at that time and more so with three players who had begun their representative careers with the same Club. They also played in seven World Series Cup ODI games against Pakistan and the West Indies in January 1984 and one further one day game at Castries, Saint Lucia, in the West Indies in April 1984.

Bell also recruited the Australian player Gary Cosier to play at Wynnum Manly and he became the club's first Australian representative when he was selected for the West Indies tour in March 1978. Interestingly, because of these representative commitments, Cosier played only two innings for Wynnum Manly. Cosier's last Shield innings as a Wynnum Manly player coincided with Wayne Broad's Shield debut in January 1978. Broad and Cosier, therefore, played together for Queensland without playing together at Wynnum Manly, as Broad was seconded to play for Colts in 1976-77 and 1977-78.

 

The Club achieved its strongest State representation on four occasions when four Club players played Shield together. In 1978-79, Schuller, Broad, Maguire and Bell played two games in Bell's only Shield appearances. In October 1982, Broad, Maguire, Rackemann and Ian Gallagher played South Australia in Gallagher's single Shield appearance and, in December 1982, Broad, Ritchie, Maguire and Mark Gaskell played Tasmania in Gaskell's only appearance as a Wynnum Manly player following a 13 match representation while at Eastern Suburbs. Ian Kelly was another to join the Shield ranks during this time. It was not until 2001 that we again achieved four State players in Stuart Law, Adam Dale, Scott Prestwidge and Scott O'Leary in a domestic one day match in Perth.

There were only three premierships in the second decade. Second grade defeated Sandgate Redcliffe in 1975-76 and South Brisbane in 1976-77. Third grade won its only premiership in 50 seasons in beating Eastern Suburbs in 1976-77.

 

The 1980's

 

The 1980s found Wynnum Manly at Boundary Street, Tingalpa, following the short-lived move to the Clem Jones Centre at Carina in 1978. Noel Gorman presided over this development at Boundary Street and with a dedicated band of players and officials armed with public sector finance produced two fields and a clubhouse, which rose Phoenix-like from a Council floodplain, and a discarded Brisbane Tram into a quality grade cricket facility. From this beginning, an ethos and strength were formed as the cricket complex emerged and developed. This sense of history and a willingness to build for the future has carried through to today.

The Channel O Cup was the first limited overs competition in Brisbane. This was a knockout competition of 30 overs duration played on Sundays for eight seasons from 1972-73 to 1979-80. Wynnum contested the final in six of those seasons, being victorious three times. This success was carried forward into the 1980s. Interstate players were invited to participate – those players who played for Wynnum Manly were Ron Crippen, Richie Robinson, Mark Clews, David Colley, Gary Gilmour, Barry Knight and Marshall Rosen.

 

Wayne Broad took over the captaincy from John Bell after the 1984 season and there followed a rebuilding period where premiership successes were hard to come by. Upon Broad’s retirement, Mark Gaskell followed in the captaincy in 1988, with an untried outfit.

 

This decade was the most successful for the Club with six premierships. First grade finished in the final four in eight seasons out of ten, and contested the final five times, winning three. It was John Bell’s dream to win eight consecutive finals but it was not to be. In 1984-85 such was the depth in the Club that second, third and fourth grades made the finals with seconds and fourths winning. In 1988-89, the under 18s, under Ian Romer’s coaching, won their first premiership in 20 seasons.

Five players were selected for Queensland – Carl Rackemann, Ian Kelly, Greg Ritchie, Ian Gallagher and Mark Gaskell who had made his debut while playing at Eastern Suburbs.

 

The 1990's

 

The 1990s saw, firstly, Peter Cantrell and then Mark Tooley make the Shield side. They were followed by Scott Prestwidge from Bankstown in 1990-91 and Adam Dale from North Melbourne in 1993-94. Stuart Law came from Valley in September 1997 to join Dale as an Australian representative. This period brought lower grade successes with premierships for fifth grade in 1992-93, sixth grade in 1993-94, fourth grade in 1996-97 and second grade in 1999-2000.

 

 

The arrival in Queensland of former Australian player Trevor Laughlin in September 1991 produced a much-needed impetus on the field. Laughlin joined a growing band of players who had representative careers before playing for Wynnum Laurie Chapman, Alan Jones, Ray Phillips, Ken Healy, Richie Robinson and John Hill. Laughlin captained for two seasons, 1991-92 and 1992-93, and then took over as president when he finished playing. During this time a better sponsorship base was actively pursued, the junior division was consolidated as part of the club and a women’s team was introduced.

 

Julia Price and Sally Cooper represented Queensland and Australia as Wynnum Manly players. Under Healy’s captaincy, 1995-96 produced a first-grade premiership and the Club’s third club championship. Again in 1996-97 first grade made the final to be beaten by Valley in the last grade final to be played at the Gabba. However, in ensuing seasons this momentum was not carried forward.

While the 1980s were the most successful years on the playing field, the 1990s ushered in a period of redevelopment and redefining the Club's focus. It became apparent that the Club could not continue to exist on canteen-generated funds for only six months of the year. Wynnum Soccer was approached and, being in a similar situation and having outgrown their premises, moved to Boundary Street.

 

Redevelopment of the playing fields saw the construction of a third cricket ground and two new soccer fields. With changes to licensing and gaming regulations, a building program was undertaken and a joint sports club formed to operate the licensed premises and contribute to the running of both sports. Noel Gorman oversaw this development with board members from cricket and soccer and initially, the new arrangement succeeded with the addition of hockey and other sports. However, the sporting club did not keep pace with industry trends and subsequently failed.

 

The 2000's

 

In 2000 the Club agreed to surrender its number one ground and allow its development as a first-class soccer venue. As part of this process, the number two ground was rebuilt and another ground developed giving the club three grounds of a high standard.

In the new millennium, 2001 saw Scott O’Leary become our next Shield player having risen through the Club’s ranks from under 16s – is one of only a few to have played in each grade. Chris Simpson in 2003, Ryan Broad in 2006 and Ben Laughlin in 2008 became the latest additions called to State selection and in Laughlin’s case Australian one day and T20 honours in 2008-09. Like O’Leary, these three players are local products having played their cricket for Wynnum since under 16s.

Broad joined a unique group of eight where fathers and sons represented Queensland and Laughlin an even rarer group with his father Trevor also representing Australia. At the same time, Angela Farrell, Megan White, Heidi Thompson, Trish Brown and Reanna Browne became Queensland Fire players.

 

In 2004 the Lions Soccer Club took over management of the licensed club, injected capital in a rebuilding program and professionally managed the operation. A change to the Lions policy in managing its licensed clubs resulted in the sporting clubs again managing the club. It is only now, after a few years where the Club struggled to trade that it may fulfil its early promise with a regenerated Board and a renewed program.

The highlight of the 2006 season was when Ben Laughlin and Trish Brown won the individual trophies for the best and fairest players in the men's’ (Peter Burge) and women's’ (Kath Smith) competitions. Brown first won the award in 2003 when it was first available and for the next three seasons. Under 18s and under 19s won their premierships. Club cricket returned to the Gabba with the T 20 final where Wynnum Manly was outclassed by University and where the women's’ team lost the final to Western Suburbs.

The 2006-07 season was the most successful for some years. The highlight was winning the Club Championship by the narrowest of margins of 2.22 points from Redlands – the first such win since 1995- 96. Five teams made the finals (firsts, seconds, fifths, under 18s and women’s firsts) and fifth grade secured the premiership.

 

  

 

A building program funded by assistance from the State Government and Brisbane City Council provided a clubroom and dressing rooms on the main ground as well as dressing rooms for the second and third grounds – facilities which are the equal of any club in our competition. The three grounds now have dressing rooms, sight screens and fenced ovals. The Noel Gorman Pavilion was opened in February 2007 and recognises the contribution that Noel made to the Boundary Street grounds. In June 2008 the three grounds at Boundary Street were named in honour of Club stalwarts – Bill Albury, Wayne Broad and Ian Droney.

Wynnum Manly had fielded a Women’s team for 15 seasons from 1996 yet in 2010 for a variety of reasons sufficient numbers for a team could not be found so ended an era. In 2011 the decision was taken to again field a Women’s team. After a lot of preparation in the offseason, it seemed that a team was organized but the final commitment was not forthcoming and the initial nomination was withdrawn before the start of the season.

In 2010, sixth grade won their third final in a hard-fought match over Western Suburbs on Bill Albury Oval. In 2011, the Club’s fiftieth season, there were five Queensland representative players in Chris Simpson, Ryan Broad, Ben Laughlin, Jason Floros from Canberra and Alister McDermott from the Gold Coast.

After a weather-interrupted first half to the season, the signs were encouraging as first, third, fourth, fifth and sixth grades were contenders for the final four. However only first and fourth grades remained competitive to make the finals. The weather again intervened in the semi-final which saw the first-grade advance to the final but fourth grade, having finished fourth, were eliminated. The highlight of the fiftieth season was the 653rd first-grade game – the premiership win against Toombul played at Allan Border Field.

 

Adam Dale was appointed Club coach in September 2002. Dale initiated a period of professionalism to club coaching. Bringing with him skills from successful Queensland teams, Dale looked at processes - believing if the processes were right successes on the field would follow. Dale’s unexpected transfer to Melbourne introduced Wayne Niven to the role. Niven continued the process of analysing trends and keeping the process simple. When Niven was recruited by Queensland Cricket in January 2008, Steven Fryer was appointed and has continued the professional approach by promoting from within and restructuring coaching by the appointments of Geoff Paulsen (batting) and Brendon Smith (bowling).

One of the strengths of Wynnum Manly is the stability and continuity of the administration. Ian Droney has been president for 11 seasons, Neil King 10 years as secretary, Noel Hendrix four years as treasurer. Setting the scene for this stability there have been only five presidents in the last 33 seasons

 

Wynnum Manly Presidents.
I.T.Droney, D.R.Poole, T.J.Laughlin, N.F.Gorman, G.J.Kinnear at the opening of the Noel Gorman Pavilion.
24 February 2007

 

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