O'Dowd Declares No.1 2017.18
Date of Event : Fri Oct 6, 2017 8:42AM




With this column celebrating its 30th Anniversary this season, the GCA Division One 1st X1 competition reverts to a 10 team format for the first time since season 1997-98. Both Bell Post Hill and St.Peters have come and gone since 1997-98 together in the interim with Alexander-Thomson, Bell Park, Geelong West, Highton, Manifold Heights, Marshall, Newcomb & Districts & Torquay. Since 1997-98, South Barwon has been re-admitted whilst Murgheboluc is the “new kid on the block”.

The structure of the 1st X1 competition has varied between 3 and 20 teams. Originally a 6 club competition in 1896-97 with sides Capulets, Clarendon, Geelong, Magpies, Non-Descripts and Yarra Street Wesleyans, it shrunk to 3 teams at the commencement of season 1910-11 with Geelong (Geelong Cricket & Football Club) fielding two teams plus Clarendon. However radical change occurred that season “with scores woeful and teams batting 3 and four short” the GCA was in crisis and mid-season at a meeting of GCA Executives at the Prince of Wales Hotel, “a District Scheme effective immediately was implemented as within the Geelong area four teams would be geographically distributed, being Geelong West, East-Geelong, South Geelong and Newtown & Chilwell. “Under existing conditions, the competition is lifeless so it is hoped in the best interests of the game, that the scheme will be taken up with enthusiasm”.

So from the constraints of a three team competition in 1910-11 it exploded into 20 teams in season 2004-05 only with 10 clubs in the South-East pool and a further 10 teams in the North-West pool with the top team in each section playing for the flag.

So with this season comprising 10 clubs, the “Mean” number of teams over the playing seasons is also 10 whilst the “average” number of teams is 8.


All batsmen will be relieved that champion paceman Trent Walerys announced his retirement during the winter. Snapped up by St.Josephs after he left Geelong Cricket Club with a record 369 1st.X1 scalps, he led the Saints to back-to-back premierships in 2013-14 & 2014-15, taking 8/64 in the earlier grand final to become just the fifth bowler to capture 8 wickets or more in a grand final. In just 6 seasons and 81 games at St.Josephs he collected 200 wickets precisely at a lowly 15.99. With a best of 8/33 in game no 2, he is just the seventh bowler to take 200 wickets and average 16 or less and play less than 100 games.



The 1967-68 season opened with football still the talking point of the town following Geelong’s gallant 9 point loss in the grand final against Richmond in front of 109,276 patrons. First X1 captains were R. Groves (Chanel College), J. Russell (Geelong City), L. Winch (Corio), J.Connoley (East-Belmont), G. Fergusson (GWC&FC), W. Salter (Leopold), P. Anderson (N&C), N.Chapman (North Shore-Norlane), J. Roberts (South Barwon) and P. Hassett (St.Josephs).

East-Belmont, having played all its turf matches at Kardinia Park West since its inaugural season last year, officially opened its new wicket at Winter Reserve. Also the Geelong City Council, in conjunction with the Richmond Cricket Hall Committee constructed “ a grand new turf wicket with fine facilities at Richmond Crescent and it was now up to the residents in the Eastern area to make good use of it”.


The “annual shuffle” between Lara and Geelong City took place under the promotion / relegation system with Lara returning to Division One at City’s expense. The eight team competition consisted of East-Belmont, Geelong West, Grovedale, Lara, Leopold, Newtown & Chilwell, North Geelong & St.Josephs. Leopold recruited experienced campaigner David Breheny as captain / coach whilst Peter Smith returned to GCA cricket after three seasons with VCA club, South Melbourne, his triumphant return destined to net 40 wickets at a lowly 9.3 and a premiership for East-Belmont.

On this round, the State Minister of Sport, Mr Neil Trezise retired, the 185 gamer at Geelong having played in Geelong’s 1951 & 1952 premiership teams and forming one of Geelong’s greatest ever roving combinations with Peter Pianto. However “Nipper” was a classy GCA 1st X1 cricketer with GWC&FC highlighted by 117 against Newtown & Chilwell in 1962-63 and a premiership winning 92 in the grand final of that season.

New Leopold captain/coach David Breheny pulled off a master-stroke by throwing Steve Howarth the new ball and he responded with a match-winning opening round best 6/30 to take the points over St.Josephs 175 (Graeme Beaumont 42, Harry Chrimes 26), Aaron Croft (52) and Breheny (36) depositing Leopold at 6/191. In a low scoring match, East-Belmont compiled 9/119 (Leigh Finch 46) but Grovedale could manage just 116 with Peter Smith in early ominous form with 3/36 (Rod Kiddle 42).John Hughes 35 stood out like a beacon in Lara’s below par 84,Glenn Wiese 3/30 and Brad Cox in to-be his last season with 3/51. Peter Kenyon did not bat in his debut match but his three dismissals behind the stumps commenced a record-breaking to-be 299 victims over 13 seasons – a GCA record to this day.



Manifold Heights returned to Division One cricket after a 3 season absence at the expense of Thomson to form a 14 team competition, being Bell Post Hill, East-Belmont, Geelong City, Geelong West, Grovedale, Lara, Leopold, Manifold Heights, Newcomb & District, Newtown & Chilwell, North Geelong, South Barwon, St Josephs & Torquay.

With only three matches played due to inclement weather, East-Belmont accounted for South Barwon, 8/165 to 146, East’s Andrew Baars (53) and South Barwon recruit Phil Hunt (2/23) sharing the honours. Barry Tsitas’ move from Newtown paid immediate dividends for Grovedale with a match winning 6/27 against Torquay, Joe Ellis on debut for the coastal town impressive with 3/26. In Newtown & Chilwell’s 80th  season, wicketkeeper-batsman Brett Goggin made a welcome return to the fold after last playing in 1998-99 but Lara won 155 to 120, Sean Arnott’s 2/10 to-be his only wicket-taking match for the season.



Retired AFL umpire Brett Allen was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in June after 346 games over 16 seasons from 1992 to 2007 where he was also the all-Australian umpire of the year four times and officiated in seven grand finals and 37 finals. He is the 14th. umpire inducted in the AFL Hall of Fame. However Brett is a Geelong boy and played GCA 1st  X1 cricket for North Geelong from 1988-89 until the third round of season 1991-92 with 33 against East-Belmont when footy umpiring terminated his promising cricket career. He made 47 on debut against South Barwon and his thirty six games yielded 1,129 runs at the smart average of 36.4 with a century, 112 against Newtown & Chilwell in 1989-90. A left-handed batsman he played in the 1988-89 losing grand final and compiled 46 in the following season’s semi-final. A consistent batsman he passed 30 on 16 occasions within his 34 innings.


Last updated: Friday October 6, 2017 8:46AM
Author: Garry Goodman