Formed in 1962, the Swanbourne Cricket Club has a history of which it is very proud. The Club was started by a group of enthusiastic young locals who lived around the Allen Park area and decided to enter one team in the Suburban Turf Cricket Association. Of the original eleven Ray Firkin (c), Ray McGowan, Len McElroy and Peter Imms were later awarded life membership after many years service to the club. Ray's father Jack Firkin was the President for the first ten years and became our first Life Member in 1967.
The club capped its inaugural season by winning the A-Reserve minor pennant thereby gaining promotion to A Grade the following year. After gaining promotion, a 20 year period followed where the Club dominated the First Grade competition winning eleven premierships and missing the finals only twice. The Club has been victorious in eight lower grade grand finals. From the one team fielded in A Reserve in 1962, we have steadily expanded to five senior teams today. This was a gradual process after introducing the second team in 1963, a third in 1975, a fourth in 1978 and a one day team in 1993.
The Club fielded junior teams in the late 60's and early 70's, first under 15's and 17's, then 14's and 16's. Several of these players stayed on with the club and had long careers including Vic Morrison, Ed Coyle, Bob Bythell, Ken Browne, Dave O'Shaughnessy, Peter Cumming and Robbie Stone. Of these players, David O'Shaughnessy would have to be the best local product. He could field, bat, bowl mediums or spin and keep wickets with the best of them. He also played league football for Claremont.
We have had the services of several first class cricketers over the years including Tony Lock, Martin Bicknell, James Hall, Chris Hawkes, Phil Weston, Ian Houseman, Bob Meuleman, Gary Cowmeadow and Jason Laney. Other fine local players included Darryle Gillies, Ray Firkin, Kevin Gibb, Peter Kynaston, Ron McBride, Trevor Howard, Ron Booth, Peter Bronsdon, Peter Farmer, John Coles, Simon Casey, Brian Jones and Fred Larose. Over the years there has been no real pressure to survive. We resisted the temptation to amalgamate with Claremont in the WASTCA in the mid seventies (they subsequently joined with Nedlands WASTCA and are in second grade today), however in the early eighties we did amalgamate with John XX111 and picked up one player.
The club has always been based at Allen Park, but it didn't always look the way it does today. In 1962 the upper ground had only recently been converted from a rubbish tip. The Western edges through to the beach were still to be used as a refuse site for another decade or so. There were small cyclone wire fences erected on the Western bank to catch the debris, papers, cardboard etc that blew across the suburb as soon the sea breeze came in. So the upper ground with it's malthoid wicket became the venue for home games for the 1962/63 season. Shortly after, concrete practice wickets were installed at the Southern end of the ground (ca. 1965).
In the Winter of 1967 the Club installed a turf wicket to replace the tired old malthoid center track.This exercise involved members carting soil from Harvey in the back of a truck and laying two wickets during a series of busy bees. There were no change-rooms, only a small toilet block to the South West of the old practice wickets and a storage shed that doubled as an afternoon tea point.
The first game on the turf track was played on New Years Eve with Swanbourne pitted against a State Colts side. The Colts team was captain-coached by Laurie Maine and contained the likes of Massie, Marsh, Playle, Edwards and Mann, who all went on to play test cricket. We had two turf wickets, soon it was three and then four, today we can get the use of up to five wickets throughout the year from the centre square, thereby reducing the wear and tear on that area.The turf practice facilities were introduced in the mid eighties and have been expanded through cooperation with the Nedlands City Council (NCC) from the original two practice wickets to today's eight to ten.
As the club grew from one to five teams in twenty years, new grounds were needed. The Club used Graylands oval from the mid 60's as its second ground, indeed first grade games were played there and at Swanbourne High School. In 1981 the club lobbied the NCC to install a synthetic wicket on the reserve adjacent to the Swanbourne Beach carpark. This ground was until the 1997/98 season used by the clubs "one day cricket" side. Allen Park Lower came into being in 1992 when the Club was granted permission to lay a concrete pad and install a synthetic wicket. Club members were involved in the construction and arranged the concrete and earthmoving equipment. The majority of the behind the scenes work being done by Brent Krikstolaitis.
The long term goal of the Club is that one day we will be in a position to replace the synthetic wicket on the lower oval at Allen Park with a turf wicket. Other goals include relocating and upgrading the concrete practice facility on the top oval to a position adjacent to the turf practice area.
It’s easy to understand why so many individuals during the last 53 years have had long playing careers for the Swanbourne Cricket Club. The club’s home ground, Allen Park, has facilities the envy of cricket clubs everywhere. The ground is magnificently situated adjacent to one of the best stretches of beach in the world and is overlooked by the picturesque Melon Hill. The centre wicket and practice nets provide conditions which reward sensible batting and encourage bowlers. As the sea breeze blows across the ground on a sweltering Saturday afternoon, visitors are apt to comment on how lucky Swanbourne players are to compete and enjoy their cricket in such serene surrounds.
The club has also been very fortunate in attracting talented cricketers and committed clubmen who have developed a tradition of success and enjoyment on and off the field. Ray Firkin, Darryle Gillies, Kevin Gibb, Bob Bythell, Brent Krikstolaitis, Mal and Stuart Thomas have each played over 200 games and have made significant contributions to the administration of the club.
The club has won eleven First Grade premierships in the W.A. Suburban Turf Association, more than any other club in this competition. In addition, Swanbourne has been victorious in numerous premierships in the lower grade teams. Much of this success can be attributed to excellent coaching and the wonderful team spirit developed between players off the field.
© SCC 2005