The cricket club was formed in 1928 by members of the Burwood Returned Soldiers League (RSL) looking to create an active social pursuit. With a formal title of Hartwell and Burwood District Returned Soldiers Cricket Club, they aligned with the Burwood and District Cricket Association. Membership was limited to returned soldiers and their family members. Bill Cochrane was the inaugural skipper and among the early players were Rube Wagner, Dore Newing, Allen Hopper, George Hepburn and Arthur Aston. Hartwell Sports Ground has been the primary home base since this beginning.
Commonly known as the RSL Cricket Club, a second team was soon added in the 1930/1931 season. Gradually talented players like John Oldis, Ted Watts, Bill Smith, Bill Morgan and Ted Cummins joined the ranks to make the teams very competitive. As the war heroes aged, the club’s name was changed to Burwood Soldiers Socials Cricket in 1938 with the aim of broadening the attractiveness to new players. Numbers dwindled during the Second World War and the Club reverted to one team. In 1944/1945 the first eleven attained the club’s first premiership.
During the late forties and early fifties some icons joined the club. These included a punishing batsman Don McLaine, left-handed batsman Bruce Murray who went onto play for Victoria and the legendary Jack St Clair who earnt renown as a left handed opening batsman and an astute leader. A couple of flags were won by the second eleven in the early fifties. The incorporation of Soldiers in the name was dropped in 1957 and the simpler Burwood Socials Cricket Club came into existence.
A noteworthy committee decision led to the formation of a junior team for 1961/62. Three of the early junior players Alan Portbury, Terry Howard and Bob Lainson eventually became Life Members. Two other long-term legends Colin McDonald and Peter Gosden commenced with the club in the mid-sixties.
The disintegration of the Burwood and District Cricket Association after the 1967/1968 season caused the club to connect with the Box Hill Reporter District Cricket Association. An incredible unchanged spell by Colin McDonald concluded with the figures of 9/76 to enable the first eleven to storm to a premiership in its second year in the Box Hill competition.
The decade of the seventies was a period of momentous growth. It was kicked off by the influx of players from St Stephen’s, Richmond such as Bob Naismith and Gary Davis. Within five years the club was fielding five senior teams and two junior elevens and the inaugural professional player, Bob Osborne, was contracted. In 1978 the current name of Burwood District Cricket Club was implemented. Former Collingwood premiership player Jeff Costello was recruited in 1979. Opening left handed batsman and leg spinner Costello dominated the Association and won two medals for best player in the top grade.
The eighties and nineties were a phenomenal period for the club. A run scoring machine in Charlie Dart came from Melbourne CC and broke all records with the willow. He was to win another three medals as Player of the Association. His talented son Simon shone in our junior ranks and eventually represented Australia Under 19’s and Victoria before winning the Melbourne Premier League Ryder Medal in 2005.
A ladies’ section was introduced in 1987 and the club was now fielding eleven teams each week. Premierships were flowing in the late eighties with a clean sweep three of Under 12 flags being captured in both 1989 and 1990. The 1989/1990 season recorded three senior men’s premierships.
The nineties were stunning with 26 flags being won. The club fielded an incredible 22 sides in the 1997/1998 season which was a doubling in size within ten years.
The first ladies’ premiership occurred in 1991 and a further three plus two Under 17 girls’ flags came in the decade. Camberwell Ladies CC merged with the Ladies’ section in 1996 which elevated the ladies first eleven to the top grade in the Victorian League. Victorian Captain Julie Savage skippered our top team which featured many current and past Victorian and Australian representatives. By 2000 no female teams were fielded by the club.
Junior teams continued success after success. The Under 12 A grade teams won their eighth premiership over a twelve-year period. A record eleven junior boys’ teams were entered in 2004/2005. There was continual success into the 2000’s before a disconnect between parents and club members resulted in no junior teams being entered by 2010/2011.
Peter Nevill had started in our Under 12 ranks in 1993 when he was 8 years old and reached the ultimate when he was chosen in Australia’s Test team in 2015. He debuted at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London where he was presented with his Baggy Green by the legendary Australian Captain Steve Waugh.
The men’s section still had some success through winning first eleven premierships in 2006/2007 and 2010/11 and three other flags in lower grades. Numbers gradually declined in the early 2010’s and the club diminished to only one team in 2016/2017. A drop in grading levels and a fresh influx of players brought consecutive premierships during the next four years.
The 2019/20 season was significant with the First Eleven achieving the premiership, a veteran’s team kicked off and a junior program re-launched. The club’s premiership tally sits at 64 after 93 seasons to the end of the 2020/2021 year.
This history was compiled by Mr. Ian Scholefield. Ian is the author of “From Khakis to Whites”, (Story and Statistical Record of Burwood District Cricket Club 1928-1987) which was produced for the club’s 60th anniversary. He served on the committee for 30 years, 5 years as Junior Co-ordinator before serving on the Executive Committee in various roles from 1974 to 1998. Ian also played 352 games and scored 6,064 runs as a player. He was awarded the BHRDCA RJ McIntosh Medal in 1995 and Australian Sports Medal in 2000 for his service to cricket. He is currently researching the club’s history for a centenary publication.