History in Brief 1962-2012
It is generally considered that the birth of Koonung Heights Cricket Club was in 1962/63 as Koonung Heights Presbyterian Cricket Club (KHPCC) and played in the Eastern Suburban Churches Cricket Association (ESCCA).
Colin Fulton, a former Hartwell Presbyterian player was the driving force behind the establishment of the club. Colin recruited players, procured equipment and sought financial contributions of 50 pounds that were gratefully received from Bob Tran, Jack Mackie and the Koonung Heights Presbyterian Church. These three people are life members of the cricket club.
Other founding members included Frank Cahill, Spencer Colliver, the Rev Ian Tanner (inaugural president of the club), Ian Taylor, Tom Garnham, Ian Polmear and Bill Dermody.
The club commenced by fielding one senior and one junior team in the ESCCA. The chosen ground for “battle” was situated deep in the heart of North Balwyn. Greythorn Park, often called “Nunger Park” or the “Home of Cricket”, was formerly an orchard and wildlife sanctuary. The pavilion was still a number of years away and cricket equipment was stored by a local resident under his house.
“Nunger Park” consisted of two windswept ovals that resembled pot holed and sodden dairy farms at the start of the season, before reverting to parched and thirsty deserts by February. The summer scenery to the north, the Great Dividing Range, was often obscured by smoke or dust storms on forty degree days. The grounds were split by an archetypal, unimaginative, but functional shed, that despite expensive renovations has changed little.
In season 1966/67 KHPCC amalgamated with Koonung Heights Methodists to become Koonung Heights Presbyterian Methodist Cricket Club. As a result the club was fielding two senior and two junior sides. This same season saw the arrival of club legend Michael Schokman who went on to play 300 games for the club.
Competing players represented the Presbyterian Church situated on the corner of Belmore Road and Rostrevor Parade and the Methodist church on the corner of Belmore and Winfield Roads. Throughout the 1960’s the president of the club was typically a minister from one of these two churches.
Post-match socialising was either at the Harp of Erin (still a major sponsor today) or the Doncaster Inn. It wasn’t until John Watts (approx. 1966/7) donated the first fridge to the club that players started congregating back to “Nunger Park”.
During the 1970’s, as the two churches officially united the club became known as Koonung Heights Uniting Cricket Club. The club had pushed for the member clubs of the ESCCA to not necessarily be church aligned, but with a 75% majority needed for change this didn’t occur. After parting ways with the church, the name reverted to the Koonung Heights Cricket Club, when the club moved to the Box Hill Reporter District Cricket Association (BHRDCA) in 1981/2, where it has stayed for 40 seasons with much success.
This change represented a major challenge, as it involved shifting to one of the largest competitions in Australia and playing against clubs with up to seven or eight senior sides and strong junior programs. The club is now entrenched and respected and at present a long standing club member, Peter Rosenthal, is president of the BHRDCA. Special mention needs to be made of Peter. He was President or Secretary of our club over 25 consecutive seasons. An exceptional performance by the man we affectionately call “Bozo”.
Greythorn Park is our home ground but the club has utilised various grounds such as Tannock St in North Balwyn, Wattle Park, Wattle Park High School, Timber Ridge, Trinity Grammar in Bulleen and currently Stradbroke Park and Hislop Park. The club has fielded a varied number of sides over the years with the most being six senior and ten junior sides in the one season.
The club has won a total of 45 senior and junior premiership flags with the highlights being the six 1st XI premierships. In particular the first ever premiership in 1968/69, the 1sts and 2nds both winning in 1972/73, the A grade churches flag in 1975/76 and the BHRDCA A1 premierships of 1993/94, 2005/06 and 2013/14 (team picture on front cover).
History will show that “The Nungers” veteran side of 1997/98 won the inaugural BHRDCA Veterans premiership. Thanks to Glen Howard et al, who have re-created the veteran’s side over the last twelve years. The veterans side over twelve seasons have won six premierships.
Influences have been many. Clearly the church gave it life, but a mixture of youth, a “larrikin” influence and Sri Lankan immigration, as epitomised by one of the fathers of the club, Michael Schokman, have set its culture. Teams are known for their competitive, good humoured and attractive cricket, best reflected in a phrase “Going Greenidge!”, which was coined in the early eighties by a much loved, but now departed club member, Mark Brenchley.
With age has come maturity and the club’s ability to administer itself has improved over time, admittedly with the “help” of an ever increasing raft of local, state and federal government regulations. Committees of the 2000’s have become stronger by both numbers and commitment.
Much has changed, but three things remain; the People, the Shed and the NUNGERS!
History in Brief 2013-2022
How time flies from our 50th anniversary celebration at the MCG.
A new decade in the club’s history started with our sixth First XI flag returning the Nungers to the McIntosh Shield. After a few years we were back in Wilson Shield where we were competitive, missing out on a few close grand finals.
The club continued to be strong fielding five senior teams each year for most seasons along with at least one veteran’s team. We also had a T20 side over these years with guest appearances from several AFL players. The club continued to see success on field with eight senior mens flags, two T20 flags, four veterans flags and a women’s premiership.
We celebrated many milestones with the most significant involving the players that have made this club so great - Michael Crooks (500 games) along with Ken Ferguson, Peter Rosenthal and Bill Karametos all passing 400 games. The club also presented 8 new Life members this decade bringing the overall number to 31.
In 2017/18 we reinvigorated our junior program starting with two Super 7 and Fast 9 sides. This was the first year that girl’s cricket was introduced to the Nungers with two teams competing. The commitment of Michael Crooks and Matthew Christensen with the support of many others has seen the junior program grow to over ten teams for both boys and girls today. We have enjoyed 8 premierships shared with 4 boys and 4 girls teams.
The interest in female cricket brought about our first senior women’s team in 2019/20. This team continues to grow in strength, and we look forward to future success.
On a sad note, we lost one of the clubs legends with the passing of Michael Schokman. Michael was a stalwart of the club who was often seen around Nunger Park well past his playing days. Michael has been remembered with the naming of the club champion award in his honour.
The club celebrated our first 1stXI flag 50 year reunion in November 2018. On this night we presented the John Watts Medal (First XI captain 1968/69 premiership) to the player judged player of the match in Grand Final victories. The medals were presented retrospectively to all winners on the night.
The club proudly announced the naming of a number of other awards on this night.
Players who are the best player of each grade will receive a medal named after the following club greats: Ken Ferguson (First XI), Michael Crooks (Second XI), Colin Fulton (Third XI), Ian Hampson (Fourth XI) and Michael/Theo Vlahos (Fifth XI).
The Young Cricketer of the Year award was named after Greg Webb in honour of his work with the junior program.
The Best Clubman award was dually named after the two members who have been the clubs life blood for many years - Bill Karametos and Peter Rosenthal.
Outside of the club Peter Rosenthal was awarded life membership of the BHRDCA for his outstanding work as President of the competition.
As the decade drew to a close two significant matters overshadow the on field and off field success of the Nungers.
2019/20 was the first year impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Competition was shortened over the next few years with games being played as one day games only as it was a week to week proposition whether clubs would be able to field teams or be struck down by this insidious virus. A number of protocols were introduced by Cricket Victoria that were religiously followed by clubs to ensure competition could continue.
On a brighter note the club has been in meaningful discussion with the Booroondara Council on the redevelopment of the pavilion at Nunger Park. A long term desire of the club to upgrade our facilities is closer than ever before, although due to budgetary constraints we will not see this come to fruition for at least another two years.
To those that gather at the 70th reunion lets hope we talk about our great new facility and the ongoing success of the Koonung Heights Cricket Club aka The Nungers!