Living Memories January 2018 - Cricket - West v East
The cricket competition between Australia and England for 'The Ashes' is often spoken of as 'friendly rivalry' but players and spectators on both sides are well aware that it is absolutely 'fair dinkum' and that neither side intends to take any prisoners, as they say.
A similar arrangement seems to have existed between the Kinglake district cricket teams, East and West, in the early days of competition and it came to a head, and almost to blows, in the 1907-08 season. At that time, both teams were playing in the Whittlesea District Cricket Association (WDCA), along with teams from Whittlesea, Arthur's Creek and Linton Vale. By February, the Kinglake East team was unbeaten and their last match was to be played against Kinglake West. A win for Kinglake East would almost assure them of the
The match was played at Kinglake over two Saturdays, 15th and 22nd February, and, at the end of the second day's play, Kinglake East had won by 108 runs - a not unexpected result. But, after the game, a protest was sent by the Kinglake West team to the WDCA delegates committee on the grounds that two of the Kinglake East players were not eligible due to not having been resident in the district for the time required under the WDCA rules.
When news broke of the protest, there was an angry reaction among the Kinglake East team and letters appeared in the next issue of the local newspaper, the 'Evelyn Observer', written by the captain of the East team and also by 'Spectator' complaining not only of the 'underhand and unsportsmanlike' protest but also of the unruly behaviour of the barrackers, described as 'hoodlums', from Kinglake West who had turned up at the match and delivered a continuous 'volley of abuse' at the Kinglake East players during play.
The captain and club secretary from Kinglake West sent their replies to the next issue of the 'Observer' stating that they had every right to submit a protest under the WDCA rules and that the Kinglake East reaction was 'mere childishness', and furthermore, that the barracking had been nothing but the 'usual good-natured chaff common to these occasions'. There were more letters from Kinglake East, one threatening that the East team may well decide never to play in the same competition as the West team again.
Meanwhile, the WDCA delegates committee met to consider the protest. They were soon able to establish that the two Kinglake East players cited were Garvey and Mulchay who had been employed on a local farm, probably as fruit pickers, for apparently about three months and had played for the Kinglake East team for most matches during that season. It seems that the WDCA rules stated that a player had to have been resident in the area for at least 6 months so the decision was that the game and the points were awarded to Kinglake West who would now play in the Grand Final.
As a result the Kinglake East team had to play off against Whittlesea team - which they did and won by 7 wickets. Now Kinglake East would play Kinglake West to decide the premiership.
It is interesting to imagine the atmosphere when the two teams met again on the Whittlesea cricket ground where the match was played over two Saturdays, 7th and 14th April 1908. A letter in the 'Observer' the week before from the Kinglake West captain had included the statement: 'There has been so much bitterness over this protest that people are beginning to think that the Kinglake East club is afraid to play the final'. It must have sounded like a challenge.
The final match resulted in a comprehensive win by Kinglake East by 248 runs. Best batsmen for East were the three Murphy brothers, Anthony Beale, Thomas Wright and Jim Alexander, the latter also 'smart behind the sticks'. Kinglake East took home the WDCA premiership trophy and nothing more was heard about the protest.
It is a relief to note that, despite the earlier threat by the East team, both the Kinglake teams signed up to play the following season on the Yarra Glen District competition for the Cameron Trophy. 'By gones' were apparently 'by gones' by then.
Kinglake Historical Society
(KHS operates under the auspices of the Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House and can be contacted at KRNH on 03 5786 1301.)