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Adelaide University Cricket Club
From 1881 onwards cricket matches were played by Adelaide University teams chosen from academics, students and graduates. They played games against established local teams and occasionally journeyed to the country. Annual matches were played against a combined St Peters and Prince Alfred Colleges team.
In 1897 William Magarey, an Adelaide University law graduate and good cricketer proposed that a University side should be included in the SACA Competition. This was rejected by the South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) at that time because player qualification for teams was based primarily on residing within parliamentary electoral boundaries.
Following the initial rejection by the SACA the impetus for a University team waned for many years. Most students who had an interest in cricket had to play for suburban teams or if talented with an Electorate Club. In 1905 the Electorate system was replaced by a District Cricket Competition and again there was a move to have the University of Adelaide enter a team in the best competition. The Club was finally admitted to the SACA A Grade District competition in the 1908/09 season.
The University ground was not ready for matches until the 1909/10 season so A Grade games had to be played at other ovals in the first season.
By July 1910 the University Oval and Pavilion were completed, made possible by donations of 100 pounds each from 13 eminent University of Adelaide benefactors. The Club was also able to enter a team in the SACA B Grade competition in the 1909/10 season and that team had the privilege of playing the first game on the new oval on 9 October 1909.
The Club's first Captain was Charles Dolling, who as a student at Prince Alfred College had made 311 in an intercollegiate match and had already represented South Australia in 1905. The Adelaide University Cricket Club (AUCC) finished 5th on the premiership table. Some of the most notable players in the formative years were State players Dolling, Don and Ken Steele, "Johnny" Moyes, "Nip" Pellew, Gordon Campbell, Charles Drew and Hurtle Willsmore. In the last Sheffield Shield game before the outbreak of World War I, there were five AUCC representatives.
An important factor driving the formation of the AUCC had been the desire to play in competitions against Melbourne and Sydney Universities. The AUCC's first Inter-Varsity match was played against Sydney in December 1910.
The outbreak of World War I resulted in a cessation of the formal SACA premiership competition for five seasons. In the period 1908/9 to 1915/16 the Club had approximately 150 players represent the Club in A or B Grade. Of those, 112 current or former players put their studies, professional and sporting ambitions on hold to enlist. Thirteen of our men paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Before the War, the A Grade team was very talented but was unable to secure a premiership. It then would have to start over again after the First World War to rebuild the team.
When the SACA competition resumed in the 1919/20 Season, the AUCC was lead by Dr Donald McDonald Steele one of the handful of pre-War players to return to the Club. The team now had a completely different mix of players and culture comprising of students who had put their studies on hold to enlist, returned service men who gained entry to the University of Adelaide under repatriation schemes and an influx of younger players out of the high schools and colleges.
Donald McDonald Steele led the A-Grade team and in 1919/20 the team finish 4th in the 8 team competition, however there were no finals played. Steele who had already represented the State before the War along with Gilbert Jose, Lance Pellew and Garton Hone all gained First Class Selection.
In Steele's final season with the Club1920/21 his team performed well and finished 2nd on the premiership table, however still no final series were played. Steele captained South Australia on 3 occasions in 1920/21. During the season Gilbert Jose and Gordon Prest put on a third wicket partnership of 380 runs against West Torrens which still stands as a Club and SACA record for any wicket. Jose made 807 runs at an average of 115.28 to take out the SACA aggregate trophy.
Over the next five season's captains were Gilbert Jose, Lance Pellew and Gordon Prest, all exceptional cricketers with Jose and Pellew representing South Australia along with Harry Fisher, Patrick Ohlstrom and Lance Gun. The 1921/22 season was mediocre with the team struggling to bowl out the opposition and only Lance Pellew excelling with the bat. The season ended with the AUCC finishing in 7th position.
In the 1922/23 season the bowling stocks were raised with the emergence of Harry Fisher who had represented the State the previous year and the team finished in 6th position. The following season 1923/24 a Colts team and Kensington were added to make it a ten team competition. The Club finished 5th and missed out on the semi-finals after being 2nd earlier in the season. The highlight of the season was law student and leg spinner Patrick "Paddy" Ohlstrom winning the SACA bowling aggregate with 47 wickets at 17.36.
In 1925-26 Gordon Prest was elected for his third season as captain, however on completion of his medical degree and an appointment to the Adelaide Hospital he had to hand over the captaincy to Douglas McKay for the second half of the season. In the December 1925 triangular Intervarsity contest held in Melbourne, Prest led the AUCC to victory against Sydney in the final for Adelaide to become the premier University Cricket side in the country.
The 1926/27 season started with hopes of continued success with the premiership team largely intact. After being well placed equal second on the premiership table at the end of January University did not have another victory for the rest of the season and finished 7th in the 10-team competition.
Medical student Doug McKay led the side again in the 1927/28 season with most of the Club's experienced players available again. At the end of the season the AUCC just missed out on playing finals finishing 5th. Opening bowler and former premiership player Franz Wagner was lost to the Club in the second half of the season after taking up the 1928 Rhodes Scholarship. He had beaten McKay for the award, one of the three other applicants.
Doug McKay who had captained University to its first premiership three seasons earlier had now completed his medical degree at the end of 1927 and was now playing for Adelaide in 1928/29. Roy Pridmore took over the captaincy with a side much the same as last season. However, after a very poor season, coming to the last match of the minor round against bottom side Glenelg there was a possibility that University if defeated could collect the wooden spoon. University just managing to scrape over the line for their second win of the season and finished 7th on the premiership table.
The 1929/30 season was only notable for the fact that two AUCC players were to receive the Rhodes Scholarship. It was highly unusual for two awards to be given in the one year. Brian Hone and Lewis Wilcher were joint South Australian winners. Adelaide University failed to win a match during the minor round and finished bottom.
Despite the challenges, the University of Adelaide continued to prosper and grow in size during the 1930's with continued support from South Australian benefactors including the Barr-Smith, Bonython and Waite families. Of significance to the AUCC was the building of the River Torrens footbridge in 1937 which greatly improved access from the campus to University Oval.
The turnover of students as they finished their studies, player's unavailability during exams and university vacations was a constant feature and no less a factor in the 1930s and made it difficult to perform consistently from season to season. During the 1930's the A Grade team participated in finals on two occasions and finished in 5th position once. The other seasons saw the team at the wrong end of the ten team competition with the Club finishing bottom on two occasions.
Intervarsity contests were held every year against Melbourne and for the first time a team from a University of Western Australia team ventured across the Nullarbor Plains only to lose to Adelaide. Of the eleven contests against Melbourne University Adelaide won twice at University Oval and in Melbourne.
Of great significance in late 1939 was the decision made by the SACA Committee to amend the Bylaws to allow the University to include one graduate in each of the A & B Grade teams. This would have come into affect in the 1940/41 season. Also a notable development was the addition on the southern end of the pavilion including a visitors changeroom and additional seating.
Cricket in the early 1940’s was played in the shadow of events in Europe and South East Asia. University entered the forties with a hard core of experienced players led by John Stokes, Geoff Page and State batsman Jack Tregoning. As Japan moved southwards into Java and New Guinea, the district competition was abandoned altogether in the 1942-43 season and was restarted in 1944. University was fortunate to gain three young talents in left hander Hugh Douglas, right hander Ben Goode and fast bowler Don Beard, lead by Captain Coach Chester Bennett.
In 1951 University also made the semifinals but then struggled until 1959-60, when they were in the semi-finals three years running. Medical student John Lill was the outstanding Varsity player in this decade. He won the A Grade aggregate for five years and represented the State on innumerable occasions. He is widely acknowledged as one of the finest players never to play test cricket. The A Grade started the 1950’s as runners up they has moved up to fourth the following season. The wooden spoon reposed at Memorial Drive on four occasions.
The beginning of the sixties saw the AUCC as a very solid and traditional establishment managed by President Mr L.J.T Pellew. The A Grade was captained by “Shorty” Rogers and contained such notables as Bob Cameron and Brian Quigley. Bob Cameron was considered the best all-rounder in the state the same year David Sincock and John Sangster represented the State. Sincock was an outstanding acquisition for University. He came from Sacred Heart College at Somerton and went on to play for Australia.
1970 saw four district sides, and some of the most memorable characters like The Mayor, Boz, Jaws, Legal, Nages, Young, Rorro, Whimpey, the Mechanic, Pounds of Tuna, Clem, Wozza, the Judge, Dazzling Darren, Kanga, Ph.D, P.V.C and many more. This decade saw the initiation of the Kanga Awards, The play dirty cricketer of the year, the double-wicket competition and the Port Cup.
The 1970’s saw several premierships. State caps were gained by Ashley Woodcock, Peter Clements, Graham Winter and Bob O’Shannassy. Bradman Medals were worn by Rob O’Shannassy and Kevin Griffiths. A Grade Captains during the 70’s included Ashley Woodcock, Phil Scanlon, Rob Brice, Michael David and Kevin Griffiths.
The 1980’s saw the club grow to five district and 3 turf sides. Premierships abounded for the first few years of this decade, with three of the clubs grand total of eight district flags coming home to roost. The new decade dawned with the intense and competitive schoolmaster David Jeanes sweeping his team to the C Grade premiership at Hawthorn Oval in March 1980 against Salisbury.
The 1990’s was an unprecedented decade of success for The Blacks with three A Grade Premierships in 1992-93, 1994-95 and in 1997-98.
Season 2007/08 marked one hundred years of the AUCC, which was celebrated in great style.
Taken from the Adelaide University Cricket Club website.