Mount Colah Cricket in the 1990s

Coming into a New Decade


Mount Colah came out from a very successful period with the end of the 1980s and seemed determined to ensure this legacy carried over into the new decade. The fact that all four senior teams entered by the club in 1990-91 played in the finals speaks to the successful execution of this goal. Each final of this season was exciting in some respect, and Mount Colah ended up with three wins and one loss. The club could have had the opportunity to play five successful senior teams, if not for an unruly group of B Grade players who were disqualified for misbehaviour after playing only two rounds.

The premiership C Grade team deserves special mention for winning both best batsman and bowler for their competition, with David O’Connell’s 44 wickets at 13.87 and Simon Besley’s 516 runs at 51.6. This team also featured a triple-century partnership between Simon Besley (202 not out) and Phillip Newton (112 not out). Other centuries were scored by Phillip Newtown (105), Steve Newtown (100), and Wayne Richards (110).

The winning C2 team also included some standout performances, particularly by newcomer, Ben Geoghegan, and the team’s captain, Mark Bolger. Geoghegan, who had been top of his junior age group in batting for two consecutive years, made a remarkable debut in senior competitions by becoming runner-up batsman for C2 (602 at 55.16). In the final, Mark Bolger opened batting and then closed at the end with 53 not out. Craig Bolger also came through on the day to bat 140 not out, making the Bolger/Bolger partnership 198 runs.

Although just losing out in the final, Mount Colah’s A Grade was packed with strong players. Craig Busby made his century during the season, batting 111 not out. While there were no centuries in D Grade, Tony Nicht nevertheless achieved an aggregate of 590, suggesting a very consistent season.


Mount Colah won one premiership in 1991-92, continuing the club’s victorious run in the early 1990s. The B Reserve team was a resounding success in their competition, being described as a winning “mix of experience and some of the best juniors in the Association” (Annual Report 1991-92).

Mount Colah B Reserve’s final against Hornsby RSL featured fantastic batting from Ryan Bolger (69), Kent Robertson (53 not out), Troy Busby (39), and Chris Chilvers (30). B Lewthwaite represented the team’s best in bowling for the final, taking 4 for 31. Over the whole season, Mark Bolger took the most overall runs with a total of 604 and P Busby achieved a century of 101.

Ryan Bolger won best wicketkeeper in both B Reserve and across the whole association by making 35 dismissals. This feat is made even more remarkable when considering that Bolger was still playing in juniors for the season as well, achieving the highest batting average for U15 with 77.20. He had also won best U14 batting the year before with 44.77, and made the top ten batsmen in U13 and U12.

There was not a lot of cricket played in A Grade during this season due to the upsetting combination of turf pitches and unusually wet weather. Nevertheless, Bruce Kimberley scored a century (121), and Gavin Bramwell managed an impressive total of 403 runs for the season. Mount Colah’s B Grade were considered contenders for the final, yet dropped off the top of the points table late in the season after some of the team’s players were injured over the Christmas break. In C2, Tony Wicht took yet another century (106).


Graham Bender Retires


Graham Bender retired at the end of 1990-91, ending his run as the most successful bowler in the history of A Grade. In the years before Mount Colah A Grade, Bender took 71 wickets in C2 and 99 wickets in B Grade. In his twenty years in A Grade, he took a total of 863 wickets (Annual Report 1991-92). Over his career for Mount Colah, he also ran 2733 runs and played 269 matches


Mt Colah Cricket Club has lost a stalwart with the retirement of Graham Bender. From 1971 to the end of last season, Bender played a club record 269 A-grade games in which he amassed 2,733 runs in 185 innings for an average of 22.78. However, his bowling figures command most respect. Bender, who was a NSW representative at schoolboy level, took 766 wickets at the magnificent cost of just 12.21 runs each. As well, he took five wickets in an innings 57 times and won the Hornsby-Ku-ring-gai-Hills District Cricket Association’s bowling average six times. He still holds the association’s record for most wickets (85) and best average (6.56) in an A-grade season.

Sydney Morning Herald, 18 April, 1991.


The 1990s Continued…


The 1992-93 season again featured some fantastic cricket from Mount Colah’s players. The club’s A Grade team retained its particular affinity for bowling, ending the season with Steven Thomson at the top of the grade’s bowling averages with 34 wickets at 21.32. Both Thomson and Craig King managed six wickets in an innings at some point during the season. In A Reserve, B Lewthwaite took seven wickets in one innings. C Grade saw Ken Butler place second in bowling for the grade, as he took 35 wickets at 11.28. Andrew Murray issued the standout performance for D Grade, showing great results in both batting and bowling. Unfortunately, only C Grade qualified for the semi-finals in this season.

Mount Colah juniors also ran a good season in 1992-93. U16 included a Colah/Heights team, featuring young players from both Mount Colah and Hornsby Heights. Matthew Smith from Hornsby Heights and Ryan Bolger from Mount Colah dominated this competition, combining to produce a powerhouse team. Ryan Bolger came first in batting with an average of 54.18 while Matthew Smith topped the bowling with an average of 11.67. Martin Daley, B Carter, and M Schreiber all produced strong performances in the team as well.


Mount Colah A Grade clawed their way back into the final in 1993-94, after two years with low placements in the competition. Bruce Kimberley delivered a characteristically great performance in the final against Berowra, bowling 4/30 and bringing “some enterprise to the middle order with a solid and bright 65” (Annual Report 1993-94). Although Berowra won the match, Mount Colah’s team finished strong for the season. Gavin Bramwell achieved the highest batting average of the grade with 609 runs at 60.90, also scoring a century of 129.

The B Reserve team of this year claimed the premiership after a tumultuous season of last-minute grade changes and competition shake-ups. Mount Colah had a tense semi against Kenthurst, batting 9/164 when chasing 162 (thanks in large part to Wayne Richards’ half-century). The final was equally exciting, played against Beecroft in between bouts of heavy rain. In the match, Wayne Richards helped deliver Mount Colah the trophy with a well-timed 103 (not out), supported by David O’Connell’s 52. An all-around fantastic season for Richards, he walked away with the highest aggregate of the competition with 718 runs, and ended up in second place with his batting average of 55.20. The team also featured Anthony Wills as a star wicketkeeper, managing 34 dismissals throughout the season.

Other centuries for the season were achieved by T Khristidis (102) in C Grade, and Andrew Murray (138 not out) and Grant Robertson (121) in C2 Grade. Andrew Murray also won the C2 batting with 447 runs at 49.60. In junior cricket, Quentin Donald delivered the finest batting performance of U13 with 767 runs and an average of 95.8. With this impressive score, he trounced his previous year’s total of 433, which was the second highest of U13.


The early 1990s was overall a winning period for the club, which continued to grow and develop. Off the back of the era with Graham Bender, Bruce Kimberley, and John Jessup, we enter into a period featuring new rising stars. We also see plenty of players advancing through the ranks of junior cricket to become star players in seniors, giving credit to the work of junior organisers, coaches, and managers.


Kanga Cricket


Mount Colah introduced Kanga cricket in 1993-94, just one year after the HK&HDCA’s first trial of the program. Mark Bolger facilitated this introduction, as a Mount Colah senior player with years organising junior cricket at both a club and association level. Bruce Kimberley describes how he became charged with developing Mount Colah Kanga.


KANGA cricket started for MCCC in 1993-94. I remember Mark Bolger getting me to enrol my 3 boys, (Paul 8, Neil 6 and Ian 4 years). We started with 6 kids at Parklands Oval. The week before the first day, he informed me that there was no-one to take the squad and that I will have to coach them. The start of my MCCC coaching stint. Kanga Numbers increased and I became Junior Co-ordinator.

Bruce Kimberley, October 2021


Even as he continued to deliver great performances in Mount Colah’s A Grade, Bruce Kimberley was embarking on his next phase with the club: coaching. Bruce Kimberley would end up taking over the club’s Junior Organiser position from Ken Gamble, and eventually taking over the HK&HDCA Junior Competition Secretary position in 2000.

During the 1993-94 season, 80 children from the HK&HDCA’s Kanga program were invited to demonstrate their skills at the Sydney Cricket Ground during the NSW v Victoria Sheffield match, and a further 80 at the Australia v South African Test Match. The photos taken during this period are shown on the cover of that year’s HK&HDCA Annual Report, documenting the immediate success of the program’s introduction in the early 1990s.


Hornsby Ku-ring-gai & Hills District Cricket Association 1993-94 Annual Report, scan of front cover, including photos of Kanga demonstrating at the England Test Match.


The Mid-1990s


The 1994-95 season saw Bruce Kimberley play his three-hundredth A Grade match, making him the first Mount Colah player ever to do so. Mount Colah A Grade placed low overall in the competition for this year, however, being accused of having “lost the hunger” (Annual Report 1994-95).

Mount Colah B Grade laboured under the same affliction lower grades had confronted throughout the 1980s, delivering strong individual performances while failing to be sufficiently consistent as a team to take home the crown. The accusation of inconsistency was also flung at C Grade in 1994-95 when the team ended up at the bottom of the barrel even while featuring seasoned players like G Cluley and Tony Wicht, who both took centuries during the season.

Overall, this was a good batting season for Mount Colah, with at least one century scored for every senior team entered by the club.


Grade Player Score
A P Lines 111
B I Ward 105
C G Cluley 102 not out
C T Wicht 111
C2 A Murray 129


Mount Colah was well represented in junior cricket for the season as well, with plenty of talent spread across the age groups. In U11, Bingai Gamble made a ground-breaking entrance to competitive cricket by making 255 runs at an average of 127.5. Quentin Donald again claimed the top spot for batting in his age group, running 512 at 56.9 in U15. Both junior and senior cricket was dominated by talented batsmen in this period, so it was refreshing to see David Merrick in U14 with an impressive bowling average of 7.39.


Individual performance again triumphed over team performance in 1995-96. Junior cricket particularly started to falter as Mount Colah entered only two junior teams (not counting the non-competitive Kanga and U10 teams). Thankfully, these teams included outstanding efforts from Bingai Gamble in U12, and Todd Lundie, Andrew Lloyd, and Craig Mathes in U16.

A Grade missed out on the final in a very close competition, and Ryan Fury disappointingly fell one run short of a century with 99 not out. Mount Colah’s B Reserve was expected to dominate the competition, and yet ended up dead last. C Grade also had a rougher season, running sixth. C2 ended up with the same position as C, despite a strong series of wins. Chris Williamson from C2 had a great season, making a century (101), while also excelling at bowling, managing to take six wickets in one innings.


Mount Colah Cricket Club was shrinking in registered players during this mid-90s period, despite a growing interest in the younger, non-competitive age groups like Kanga and U10. In 1996-97, this trend continued as the club entered three senior teams, and only one competitive junior team.

Three centuries were recorded in B Reserve for this season, executed by Andrew Murray (122), B Richards (118), and M D’Arcy (100). Brendon Oakes also had a great season on this team, making 20 dismissals as wicketkeeper while also scoring 317 runs at an average of 26.40. In C Grade, Dale McAndrew delivered a fantastic all-rounder performance, achieving a century with 116 not out, scoring 573 runs at 47.80, and bowling 31 wickets at 16.50.


Wrapping up the Decade


Bingai Gamble, from junior Mount Colah fame, broke an association record in 1997-98 while playing in U14. Gamble achieved 315 retired in one innings against Berowra at Mills Park, including 30 fours and 24 sixers. This triple century was prominently featured on the Midday Show and the Cricket Show, and several other programs. Playing U14, D Grade, and rep cricket, Gamble completed the season with 1545 runs at an average of 41.75.

Mount Colah’s B Reserve team won the premiership that season, delivering thrilling and consistent batting during the last rounds. The team advanced to the final against West Pennant Hills Blue with the aid of Andrew Murray’s well-timed century of 108 (making his third century for the season, previously hitting 159 and 130). For the final, WPH Blue won the toss and chose for Mount Colah to bat first off the damp wicket. Mount Colah adopted a strategy of survival in its top batting order, holding out until the pitch could dry off. This effort produced a successful first innings of 235 off 100 overs, shouldered by Andrew Murray (45), Dale McAndrew (30), and David O’Connell (28). WPH Blue managed a total of just 92 the next day, after fantastic bowling by Paul Rider at 5/21 off 12 overs and Andrew Murray at 3/22 off 10 overs.

Over the course of the season, B Richards managed two outstanding centuries of 107 and 104, both not out. David O’Connell had the best all-round performance with 336 runs at 21.00 and 31 wickets at 13.25. Brendon Oakes had another great wicketkeeping season with 23 dismissals. This was an overall very strong team packed with hugely talented Mount Colah players, deserving of the B Reserve premiership.


All the Mount Colah senior teams advanced up the grades in 1998-99, as the B Reserve premiers jumped to A Reserve while C2 and D were reconfigured into a B Reserve team and C team. Both the resultant A Reserve and C Grade teams became premiers of their grades.

Despite jumping two divisions, the A Reserve team dominated the points table to become minor premiers, before tying in the final to share the major premiership trophy. The final against Glenorie ended up with the two teams becoming joint premiers in a match tie unprecedented in the association. In a thrilling twist, both teams finished their innings all out for 285. Over the course of the season, David Williamson from A Reserve was the most successful all-rounder of the grade, running 476 at 29.75 and taking 45 wickets at 9.18. Dale McAndrew also made waves with a score of 428 at 25.18, even while taking 32 wickets at 16.53.

The C Grade premiers played an excited final against St Ives. St Ives were all out for 199 after some skilled bowling from Chris Williamson (2/71), Craig Mathes (2/38), and John Mathes (2/41). On the second day, Mount Colah scored 214 after superb performances from Chris Williamson (73), Sven Holsten (36), and Simon Plummer (18). St Ives attempted to force an outright win with 6/116 declared in 17 overs, but failed when Mount Colah chased the required 102 runs with seven wickets down.

In B Reserve, Scott Henshaw made a ground-breaking debut in the association, scoring exactly 119 runs twice, both not out. Junior cricket also saw some exciting new blood, as Neil Kimberley advanced into the scored competition to take 17 wickets and run 268 in U11.


The 1999-2000 competition represented the last season played entirely in the twentieth century, and the last season before the 75th anniversary of the HK&HDCA. Alf James’ Summer Saturdays was produced for this 75th anniversary, and therefore completes its narrative with the 1999-2000 season.

Mount Colah made a welcome return to A Grade, thus entering a total of six teams into the senior competition. A Grade was undefeated until an ill-timed draw against Turramurra in round 13, losing their place in the semis. The team achieved several centuries, including from Bruce Kimberley (111 not out), David Williamson (112), Adam Perry (122), and Dale McAndrew (122).

A Reserve’s competition did not allow for as many centuries as A Grade, yet Phillip Newton still achieved joint highest aggregate with a Glenorie player, both running 517. Both B Grade and B Reserve stumbled before the semis but featured strong bowling from Bjorn Holsten (7/52) and Chris Vine (9/33, 7/32). B Reserve’s Scott Henshaw again delivered an outstanding season performance with two centuries (115, 100).

The C Grade competition saw Martyn Budden take 33 wickets at an impressive average of 16.3. In C2, N Chapman achieved a hat trick while Sven Holsten won the batting average (460 at 51.11) and hit two centuries (100 not out, 137). In juniors, Neil Kimberley again secured his position as a promising player for the club, claiming the top spot in U13 batting with an average of 63.6.


Mount Colah Cricket Club Entering into a New Millennium


Mount Colah Cricket Club ended its run in the twentieth century as a well-established local cricket club in the HK&HDCA and the region at large. At the turn of the millennium, we can see the pre-eminence of some fantastic Mount Colah players, including names like Phil Lines, Dale McAndrew, Adam Perry, David O’Connell, and David Williamson.

One of the most exciting developments at this snapshot juncture was the rising stardom of several players in junior cricket. Alf James puts together a running tally of promising junior cricketers at this moment in time. The Mount Colah players included on this list are presented below, illustrating the promise of the club in this period.


Batter Age Group Runs Average
Bingai Gamble U11-U15 2363 49.23
Quentin Donald U12-U15 2112 57.08
Ryan Bolger U12-U16 1943 48.58
Ben Geoghegan U13-U16 1734 57.80


Fireworks over the Sydney Harbour Bridge during closing ceremonies of the Olympics games in Sydney, Australia, October 1, 2000.