Waking Up in the 1960s
Mount Colah returned to play in the HKCA competitions in 1962-63. However, the club now took on a different form. Mount Colah Rugby Union Football Club entered two teams into HKCA’s Schoolboys’ Competition (or Juvenile Competition) in 1962, one in U10 and one in U12. Unfortunately, both teams ended up last in their respective competitions. Mount Colah kept at it, however, and entered in three junior teams in 1963-64, in U10, U12, and U14. Each of these teams had stand-out bowlers whose achievements are recorded below.
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While Mount Colah was yet to return to senior cricket, this was reflective of a broader trend across the association. The 1960s was a decade of extraordinary growth for junior cricket in the area, even while senior cricket was considered to be languishing. The popularity of the Schoolboys’ Competition was stoked by a successful and highly publicised Test Series in 1960-61. It was deemed necessary to introduce a new role, known as Divisional Secretary, to manage each age group in this rapidly developing sector of the HKCA. Lyla Rae was one figure associated with MCCC who served as a Divisional Secretary in the years following the role’s introduction.
Nevertheless, at the end of the 1962-63 season, the HKCA Secretary lamented how the senior competition was in danger because not many junior teams were advancing to play at grade-level. Secretary Greg Freeman voiced his own anxiety about Australia’s interest in cricket during the mid-1960s, attributing any growth of the HKCA to the growing population in the district rather than growing enthusiasm for the game.
This rise in our numbers is in contrast to the downward national trend of cricket participation in recent years, which has resulted from the popularity of the motor car, giving the public access to more varied forms of recreation.
Secretary Greg Freeman, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Cricket Association Annual Report 1966-67
As the 1960s continued, Mount Colah further established a strong junior presence in the region. This legacy was carried into 1964-65 and 1965-66, although the exact details of these seasons are missing from our records.
Becoming Seniors Again
Mount Colah re-entered into the senior competition in 1966-67, with “striking success” (Annual Report 1966-67). Fielding one team for the C2, Mount Colah won the premiership and thus the Weeks Cup. Fostering a competitive rivalry with St Ives for the season, Mount Colah had a decisive win against their fierce opponents in the final. MCCC came second overall in the club championship.
Among Mount Colah’s senior players was S Hemming, who achieved the best bowling average for C2 across the association with 8.49. The fact that this was the same S Hemming who had proved himself a promising bowler in U12 three years earlier testifies to the success of the Schoolboys’ Competition and MCCC’s junior coaches in fostering young talent.
Mount Colah promoted many of its C2 premiers to B Grade in 1967-68, while still assembling a C2 team and three junior teams. Mount Colah again claimed the Weeks Cup by winning C2 for the second year in a row. C2 was a particularly fierce competition, with a close final played against West Pennant Hills. Stand-out cricketers in this C2 premiership team included Stuart Robertson, who placed first in association C2 batting with an aggregate of 495 runs and an average of 49.50. G Bailey made a splash in bowling by placing second with 38 wickets and an average of 11.20.
Mount Colah’s new B Grade team (and former C2 premiers) also had a fantastic season and placed third in their competition. Familiar names such as S Hemming and M Gray retained their place in the association spotlight, managing impressive bowling averages for their team.
In juniors, Mount Colah fielded teams for U12, U14, and U16. The most successful was U16, which placed third in the competition. Ian Hay was third in U16 for batting, with an average of 36.7. In the same age division, C Haviland placed sixth in bowling with an average of 11.03.
Wrapping up the 1960s
In 1968-69, Mount Colah reigned as club champion and claimed the Weeks Cup for the third consecutive year. The C2 Mount Colah team was replete with fantastic performances from players like Graham Bender and John Stephenson. Bowling was where Mount Colah shined, as Graham Bender came first in the association for C2 bowling with an average of 6.29, and P Doherty claimed the second slot with 7.09.
The B Grade team made another impressive bid for the Thomas Cup, but unluckily fell short once more. While ending up in sixth place, the competition was fierce, and the team did not make it easy for others bidding for the premiership. David Beal was a particular stand-out, as a batsman who placed seventh with an average of 17.51. Mount Colah didn’t manage to field any junior teams for the 1968-69 season, which was rendered all the more surprising after entering three teams the previous year.
For 1969-70, Mount Colah again entered two senior teams, and again was crowned club champion. B Grade was hotly contested, and Mount Colah placed second after a tense final against Perseverance. This was the first B Grade final ever played on turf, after Berowra Park’s opening provided another turf pitch. There were several impressive batsmen on this team, including Ian Hay, who placed second in the competition with a batting average of 42.22. Graham Bender had been promoted from C2 to B Grade for this season, and delivered a strong bowling average of 14.04.
Mount Colah’s C Grade team was largely advanced from the C2 premiers from 1968-69. Placing third in the run for the Hornsby Theatre Cup, the team made an impressive effort. Lawrence Price was a standout player as a capable batsman and bowler, and L Stephens placed third in the competition for his bowling average of 9.69.
By the end of the 1960s, Mount Colah had won the Weeks Cup for C2 three years in a row and claimed the club championship twice. While there are less records for junior cricket in this decade, the early 1960s saw the establishment of Mount Colah’s presence in the Schoolboys’ Competition, setting the scene for future growth in this area.