Premier Cricket: The ‘Mud Match’ of ’82

It was thirty years ago today – remembering the “Mud Match” – Richmond v Footscray March 6 & 8 1982 Punt Rd Oval

This weekend Victorians will enjoy the traditional Labour Day long weekend. Proclaimed in 1879, the public holiday was known as the “Eight Hour Day” until a name change to “Labour Day” occurred in 1935, the inaugural Moomba procession taking place in 1955.

The first day of the final round of Premier Cricket for 2011/12 was washed out due to persistent rain across Melbourne throughout Friday night and all day Saturday. As a result of the abandonment of the first day, Round 16 will be played as a 50 over per side fixture next Saturday, 10 March.

In a not too distant past the final round of Melbourne club cricket was played on the Saturday and Monday of the Labour Day long weekend. Last November I revisited a rather unique incident in the final round of the 1983/84 District Cricket season, Footscray claiming victory over South Melbourne when the Bloods couldn’t produce a new ball to commence play on the second day of the match – a link is attached. http://footyalmanac.com.au/?p=30652

This unusual end to 1983/84 was the second time in three seasons the Bulldogs were involved in an extraordinary conclusion to the home & away fixture. Two years prior to the infamous “no ball” game a remarkable end to the 1981/82 home & away campaign played out over the Labour Day long weekend.

The penultimate round of Melbourne District cricket for 1981/82 threw up a few interesting results. South Melbourne (9/212) held off Essendon (195), Prahran (6/228) rolled University (8/220 dec), Melbourne (4/250) was successful in its pursuit of Fitzroy (8/235) and Footscray (7/181) won a nail biter over Ringwood (177). Carlton and Richmond squandered opportunities to pick up valuable points, the Blues (9/189) drawing with Hawthorn East Melbourne (9/180) and North Melbourne (3/255) easily passing the Tigers total (6/217 dec). Entering the final weekend of home & away games the battle for finals places was alive with six teams still a chance to progress. Tied for first place on 66 points were South Melbourne and Prahran, the Swans holding a superior percentage. Perennial finalists Melbourne (64 points) still harboured hopes of snatching the minor premiership, reigning premier Carlton sitting in fourth position on percentage from Footscray (60 points each). Richmond (54 points) rounded out the six contenders.

Interestingly the top six teams would battle amongst themselves as part of the final round. Carlton and South Melbourne would meet at the Lakeside Oval, the MCC and Prahran would clash at Toorak Park with the Bulldogs traveling to Punt Road to take on the Tigers. None of the six teams were guaranteed a finals place and only Richmond had been eliminated from the minor premiership race.

There was one other hurdle three of the finals aspirants had to negotiate. Incredibly Victoria was scheduled to play in the “losers” semi final of the interstate one day competition on Saturday. This meant Carlton would lose Dean Jones, John Scholes & Ian Callen, Prahran would be forced to leave Brad Green & Julien Weiner out, with the Bulldogs unable to consider Len Balcam and Merv Hughes,   those seven players unavailable for club duty that weekend due to their commitment to what can only be described as an exercise in futility at the Junction Oval.

 

VCA District Cricket Round 15, Day 1, Saturday March 6.

At the Lakeside Oval champion Carlton all rounder Neil Buszard (115) helped his side overcome the early loss of Bill Tyson (6) and Chris Conroy and Keith Stackpole for ducks, the Blues finishing the day at 7/252. Buszard, winner of the 1974 Helms Award for best player in the interstate Claxton Shield Baseball series survived a confident appeal for a catch close to the wicket by Ossie Wright off the bowling of Ross Moore when he was on 17. His timely knock came off 242 deliveries, the 28 year old spending 247 minutes in the middle in what would be the highest score of his illustrious 22 season District cricket career, an effort all the more meritorious considering Buszard had battled a severe shoulder injury during the second half of the season. He received great support from Ian Taylor (38), Greg Smythe (38) and Ian Callen (26) – the same Ian Callen that appeared unlikely to play a part in the Blues last minute bid for a finals spot. Upon completion of his commitments in the 50 over contest at St Kilda, Callen was rushed to the nearby Lakeside Oval, his 19 minute stint at the crease helping Carlton reach a competitive total at stumps.

Melbourne medium pacer Peter King (5/48) ripped through the heart of the Prahran batting line up to reduce the home side to a disappointing first innings total of 161 all out at Toorak Park. The Two Blues never recovering after King took the wickets of Two Blues opener Russell Cook (13) and Dav Whatmore (0) in the space of three balls. Owen Mottau (60) was the only batsmen to keep the scorers busy on what was a disappointing display from the home side. The Demons had reached 28 without loss at the close of play.

Jim Higgs won the toss and asked Footscray to bat at the Punt Road Oval. The Test leg spinner looked to have made the correct call when the visitors slumped to 5/51. Enter Anthony Ian Christopher Dodemaide. The 18 year old Maidstone resident was making his first appearance for the Dogs in the post Christmas period after spending the first two moths of 1982 playing with the Australian Under 19 team in their home series against Pakistan. Three hours later Dodemaide (82) departed, caught behind by Phil Hyde off the bowling of Jeff Russ. He’d combined with Warren Patterson (43) to add 58 runs for the sixth wicket, putting on 86 runs for the seventh wicket with Barry Watson (34). When their final wicket fell the Dogs first innings effort had totaled 240. Footscray had the hosts on the ropes at 2/14 when stumps were drawn, the Tigers losing opening pair Geoff Richardson (5) and Michael Quinn (0) in the seven overs the Dogs bowled at them.

At the completion of play on Saturday a number of different finals scenarios were still possible. Melbourne, unbeaten following the Christmas break and requiring a further 134 runs to procure first innings points had shot to favouritism for the minor premiership. The six points they would receive for a successful run chase on Monday would see them finish 1981/82 with 70 points. Carlton, with 252 runs on the board, would’ve fancied their chances to defeat ladder leaders South Melbourne on Monday. The battle at Punt Road however was too close to call. Footscray had set Richmond the far from daunting task of reaching 241 runs for victory, but the two wickets the Dogs grabbed prior to stumps had them well and truly back in the hunt. Unfortunately a victory to either side wouldn’t assure them of a top four finish  as the Tigers required Carlton to lose, or at least draw their match with the Swans, and the Dogs could still miss out on the playoffs as their percentage (1.168) was slightly inferior to the Blues (1.183) following Saturdays action.

 

Monday March 8 1982

When Melbournians awoke on the final day of the three day Labour Day long weekend they were greeted by grey skies, the 7.00am temperature a warm 27 degrees and a humidity level of 42%. In his regular Monday review of the weekend’s District Cricket activities in The Age, Patrick Smith raised the possibility of that days play being adversely affected by forecast rain and thunderstorms, noting “if play was delayed more than 30 minutes games would revert to the previous VCA two day rule with a drawn match a possibility as the compulsory closure is waived”. Assuming most of Smith’s readers had the day off it’s likely those perusing his column would have been doing so at a time when the heavens opened up across the Melbourne and metropolitan region.

At around 9.20 am, less than half an hour prior to the scheduled commencement of the days Moomba procession a major storm hit the Melbourne Central business district, with the mercury dropping from 26 degrees at 9 O’clock to 18 degrees an hour later. The banner headline on the early edition of the Melbourne Herald would later trumpet Pour Old Moomba – Brollies up, so were spirits. Around 200,000 hearty souls braved the appalling conditions to take up vantage points along Swanston Street, the parade led by the Festival Monarch, 55 year old Melbourne icon Frank Thring. The estimated attendance was just over 200,000, substantially less than the previous year’s 500,000.

By midday Melbourne (16 degrees/78% humidity) was drenched with no sign of the soaking rains abating, and with the city and surrounding suburbs blanketed by heavy clouds it appeared that the second day of the final round of District Cricket for 1981/82 would be abandoned. With play unlikely it appeared that the First XI final four had been decided with the final standings as follows: (1st) South Melbourne 66 points 1.468%, (2nd) Prahran 66 points, 1.298%, (3rd) Melbourne 64 points 1.142% and (4th) Carlton 60 points 1.183%. It looked like Melbourne’s miserable Moomba Monday had conspired to deny Footscray 60 points 1.168% and Richmond 54 points 1.466% a chance to make a dramatic last minute push for a ticket to the post season. However the Tigers and Dogs weren’t about to let a little rain, actually a lot of a rain, ruin their season.

Barry Watson is an icon of the Footscray Cricket Club. Despite plying his trade at a club that has produced eight Australian Test representatives and numerous Victorian players since entering into the VCA in 1948/49, Watson is regarded as one of the finest players to have donned the red FCC cap. Watson made his senior XI debut with Bulldogs in a two day fixture at University on Derby Day 1973, becoming the first Footscray player to score a century on debut, a feat yet to be repeated in the ensuing 38 seasons. With one over remaining Watson had reached 90, and, despite nerves almost getting the better of him, the 23 year old recruit from Sunshine United managed to reach the ton with a six off the third last ball of the day. Surprisingly, perhaps disappointingly, it would be his only three figure score in senior District cricket. 1975/76, a season in which Footscray would go all the way to their second VCA First XI final saw Watson win the first of his three Club Championship awards at the Western Oval, scoring 189 runs at an average of 15.75, taking 24 wickets at a cost of 17.50 runs apiece.

An offer to coach sub district club Williamstown in 1977/78 saw Watson put his VCA career on hold for 12 months. He returned to the Kennel at the start of 1978/79 and promptly added another Club Champion award, his 25 wickets at 21.36 helping the Dogs to the minor premiership before bowing out to Richmond in a Semi Final. Fast forward 12 months to 1979/80 and Watson enjoyed what can only be described as his “career year” taking 49 wickets at 15.86 to easily take out that seasons Jack Ryder Medal, his superb efforts spearheading his side into the VCA finale. Whilst Footscray could manage a modest 221 in their first innings, the Bulldog bowlers strangled St Kilda, restricting the Saints to just 121 from 76 and half over to claim their first VCA pennant. The following season Watson was selected to represent Victoria in two one day matches.

You could confidently say, insofar as his club cricket career was concerned, Watson had seen it all, yet he couldn’t have expected Labour Day 1982 to pan out the way it did. Recently I had the pleasure of Watson’s company at Footscray’s annual past players function.  The conversation turned to that famous day nigh on 30 years ago. He takes up the story

“We arrived at the ground in teaming rain. About six players took their gear into the rooms assuming there was a chance of play, provided both captains agreed. As we were 5th and Richmond 6th, we knew the game had to go ahead. The covers came off the pitch around 1pm, and ten minutes later play commenced – in pouring rain” It wasn’t the centre wicket area that was the problem, the outfield had taken an absolute pounding from the elements that morning and was flooded. Watson remembers “The large puddles spread around the oval, one not far from the bat pad position. There were huge pools 15 metres behind the wicket at the grandstand end of Punt Road. Fortunately I came off a 12 metre run up, so I was the only one of our opening trio of bowlers that could start their run up without having to run through the puddle”

At approximately 1.10pm play commenced, Richmond (2/14) still 227 runs short of the target set them, Warren Whiteside 7 not out, overnight watchman Jim Higgs unbeaten with 1 to his name. It would be Watson who would bowl the first over. He recalls “I bowled the first ball to Jim Higgs. For the first time in my career I bowled with my club cap on, to help me see the other end of the wicket. Higgsy thick edged the ball – I’m sure he’d describe the shot as a square drive – and the ball landed in one of the mini lakes at third man. Three quarters of the ball was submerged in water and you can imagine the difficulties we faced once the ball got wet. It wasn’t long before players from other District clubs heard what was happening at Punt Road and started arriving at the ground”

Amongst the fashionably late was the then Captain Coach of the Carlton Cricket Club Keith Raymond Stackpole. It would be an understatement to suggest the former Australian and Victorian opening batsman was less than impressed at the proceedings taking place at postcode 3121. “Stackpole rolled up making his feelings known to all. He was, to say the least, peeved at what was going on. It wasn’t Richmond or Footscray Cricket Clubs that were responsible for the rule. I’m certain that if Carlton had been in the same position they would’ve been out there playing”.

Higgs (18) was the first to go when he was caught by Saturday afternoon hero Tony Dodemaide from the bowling of Peter Dredge. It would be Higgs’ highest score during his 14 seasons of District cricket. The dismissal of the Richmond captain saw the arrival of Brian Rogers to the crease. After spending part of the 81/82 season in Richmond’s second eleven, it would be fair to say Rogers was desperate for a big afternoon with the bat. Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

Whiteside and Rogers continued the run chase steadily, taking the score to 81 before Whiteside (34) was caught behind by Footscray captain Lindsay James off the bowling of Dredge, his work complete for the afternoon, perhaps the season, Rogers was joined by Rob Humphries. They added five runs for the fifth wicket before Watson claimed his first scalp of the afternoon bowling Humphries (4), the Tigers slipping to a precarious 5/86.

Humphries dismissal saw Russell Sincock make his way to the crease, the 34 year old no stranger to dramatic season finales. In March 1969 Sincock was a member of the Melbourne University side that lost the controversial “Ice Block” semi-final at Princes Park. At stumps on the first day of the match University were 2/9 in reply to Carlton (136). Overnight someone broke into the Royal Parade venue and placed two large slabs of ice on the pitch. The following morning English import Barry Knight ran through the top order of the Students batting order taking 7/20, Uni all out for 62. The Blues would prevail in the final defeating the MCC for their first senior pennant in 11 years.

Rogers and Sincock added 46 runs for the sixth wicket and looked to have wrested the advantage from the visitors when Sincock (25) became James’ third catch, the indefatigable Watson’s third wicket, of the innings. Richmond (6/132), still more than a hundred runs from its goal, Footscray requiring just four more wickets to book a spot in the following weekend’s finals.

Phil Hyde strode to the wicket, becoming Rogers’ fourth partner of the afternoon. His innings would be brief, his contribution minimal, Hyde (6) adjudged leg before wicket to the bowling of Watson. At 7/153 Richmond found itself in a spot of bother. Jim Higgs’ promotion up the order on Saturday evening meant 31 year old all-rounder Jeff Russ would bat number nine for the Tigers. Rogers and Russ took the total to 192 when Russ (16) departed, caught by Craig Davies from the bowling of off spinner Damian Ryan. With 47 runs to play with Footscray, needing just two more wickets for victory looked good things advance to the following weekend’s action. For either team an honourable draw or worse still a loss would mean “mothballs” for the current season, leaving them contemplating what might have been for the next six months. Through the rain Barry Watson kept charging in from the Grandstand end, and Brian Rogers continued to deny the Dogs the wicket they coveted most for season 1981/82. His.

With the clock ticking toward 5pm Peter McKay walked to the centre of the arena, his team still 49 runs adrift of the victory target set by the visitors two days earlier. McKay’s brief on that cold, wet, miserable holiday Monday afternoon would be to hold up an end allowing Rogers a chance to chip away at what still appeared to be mission impossible. McKay, in his fifth season with Richmond, had another small problem – he came to the wicket nursing a bruised and dislocated right thumb, just holding a bat would be difficult enough let alone attempting to occupy the crease for the next 60 minutes.

Rogers and McKay then set about the task, steadily eating away at the deficit, each run moving Richmond closer to the 241 runs needed for the precious 6 points that would extend their 81/82 commitments. As the Tigers edged closer to glory, Rogers found himself within reach of a superb century. And through it all Watson continued his marathon spell, unchanged, striving for the vital breakthrough that would inch his team closer to a memorable triumph. Then, with only a few minutes before the scheduled close of play Brian Rogers and his team achieved the milestones that earlier that day would’ve seemed nigh on impossible. Rogers, in what the Sun News Pictorial cricket writer Greg Baum would nominate as “The most important innings in club cricket this season” registered a marvellous century, his ton taking 229 deliveries to compile, having spent 262 minutes of his public holiday in the middle of the waterlogged venue. Richmond passed the Dogs score of 240 and, for the time being at least, booked themselves a place in the following weekend’s semi final against minor premiers South Melbourne. With the pressure valve released McKay (23) eventually succumbed, caught Dodemaide, bowled Watson.  Richmond finished the afternoon 9/241, Rogers (103) former state fast bowler John Leehane (0) the not out batsmen. Just as the victors had their hero in the 25 year old Rogers, the efforts of Barry Watson on that abysmal afternoon in March 1982 shouldn’t be forgotten. His figures for his day (and a bit) work read – 46 overs- 11 maidens- 5 wickets- 93 runs taking his tally of wickets for the 1981/82 season to 39.

Watson recently described the proceedings that took place on March 8 1982 as “a once in a lifetime game”. The match, his 92nd   VCA game for the Bulldogs would in fact be his last after accepting an offer to coach Sunshine in the sub district competition from the start of the 1982/83 season. He was reminded of his last hurrah with the Dogs prior to his first training session at Dempster Park “At the start of the 82/83 season I went to get my cricket boots. Only then did I realise they still had the Merri creek soil samples caked on them – they had to be thrown out” In his eight seasons at the Western Oval Watson took 181 wickets at an average of 18.19 per victim, scoring 1127 runs at 17.33.

It was inevitable that Carlton Cricket Club would lodge a protest in relation to the events that took place on Monday March 8. The following day in an article titled Farce says Carlton Mike Sheahan of the Melbourne Herald reported that whilst the Blues would face an impossible task to regain a place in the District cricket final four, its colourful president Howard Houston was, in typical fashion, shooting from both hips. Houston said his team had been “victimized”, that the previous days events at Punt Road had “constituted a farce“ and that his team “would hit back hard” Houston went on to say he felt “nauseated by VCA rules which are so open to abuse. We are in the four by rights but had to sit by while this farce robs us of our place in the four. I’m bloody disgusted”. The spritely 75 year old Houston added “You could have gone yabbying in some of the pools of water at Punt Road yesterday”. According to Sheahan Carlton had drawn up a letter of protest, and it would be lodged, by hand, to the VCA later that day, or Wednesday.

The VCA pennant committee met on Wednesday March 10 to consider Carlton’s protest. The committee dismissed the Blues protest to clear the way for the weekend’s semi-finals to proceed. Later that night South Melbourne captain Michael Taylor won the 1981/82 Ryder medal with 36 votes, Northcote’s Brendan McArdle (29) was runner up with the pre count favourite Peter Cox (28) finishing third.

So, thirty years after the fact, the question remains – were the Blues robbed? Whilst the final decision to play at Punt Road was left up to captains Higgs & James, it may not have been the case at the Lakeside Oval. Depending on who, or what you believe to be the case, umpires Whitehead and Collins may not have offered captains Taylor (South Melbourne) & Stackpole (Carlton) the option of attempting to start the match. What was the state of the ground at Albert Park? As a result of the game proceeding at Richmond, Carlton would’ve needed to take all 10 South Melbourne wickets. What impact would the inclusion of Len Balcam and Merv Hughes to the Footscray attack had on the result? Taking into consideration the state of the ground both would’ve been restricted to bowling from the Brunton Avenue end. Watson, Dredge (3/61 from 20 overs) Ryan and Rex Bennet were superb, yet Tony Dodemaide, who would capture 34 wickets for the Dogs the following season, didn’t bowl a single delivery in the match. Stackpole said at 10.00am on Monday morning he alerted Bert Numa, a member of the VCA pennant committee to go to Richmond because he “was sure something would happen”. Stackpole was involved in a “verbal” with Jim Higgs when the Tiger captain made his way from the field after being dismissed. Lots of huffing and puffing followed, but no one’s house was blown down.

If Carlton were itching for an opportunity to avenge, in their opinion, the injustice of Labour Day 1982, it didn’t have long to wait. The following season the Blues met the Tigers in the VCA Final. It was the fourth time in six seasons the sides met to decide the premiership. Seven players who represented Richmond in the “Mud Match”– Geoff Richardson, Michael Quinn, Warren Whiteside, Brian Rogers, Phil Hyde, Jeff Russ and Jim Higgs took the field in the 1982/83 decider. Richmond (377) batted first with former Australian Test skipper Graham Yallop (114) starring with bat. In response the Blues (206) fell embarrassingly short of the target, Yallop (3/41) the wrecker with the ball. The 1982/83 final marked the end of the golden run both clubs enjoyed from the mid 70’s through to the early 80’s, Richmond winning two titles in the interim the 1989/90 & 1999/2000 titles, Carlton procuring its eighth, and most recent premiership in 1980/81.

Under the current Premier Cricket Extreme Conditions Policy it’s unlikely a game such as the one discussed in this piece would proceed as the decision to commence play lies with either (i) The Pennant Committee – In the case of a full or partial cancelation in advance, or when ground reports and available forecast data has been collated or (ii) Umpires – If the Pennant Committee’s decision is for players to “report to grounds” decisions regarding play shall be in the hands of the umpires.

This Thursday (March 8) marks the thirtieth year since the “Mud Match” was decided in front of a small but enthusiastic crowd. So to the 22 players involved along with the umpires, officials and anyone else fortunate enough to have experienced a game Barry Watson described as “memorable, enjoyable, competitive and ridiculous” – Happy anniversary.

A huge thank you to Peter Binns from Premier Cricket in supplying me with the scorecard of this memorable match and to Barry Watson for his time and patience in answering the questions I raised regarding the game and his career.

Footnote: Brian Rogers was awarded life membership of Essendon Football Club at the 2011 clubs annual general meeting held last December, honouring his 25 years of service to the Bombers.

Comments

  1. Stainless says:

    Mic
    Great account. I started watching district cricket a year or two after the “mud match” but the Richmond supporters I knew all loved recounting the story – especially the angst it caused at the hated Carlton.

    I loved watching Brian Rogers bat. He had all the shots and did it under pressure as this story shows. He was Kevin Sheedy’s “magnetic board” man at Essendon for yonks. You’d always see him in the shots of the coach’s box.

  2. Mic Rees says:

    Stainless

    Thanks for staying with the piece ’til the end despite having prior knowledge of the result. Hope you were following the Tigers in 82/83, it was the only time they managed to get one over the Blues in the GF’s they met during that period.

    Brian Rogers was a very underated. Not surprising when you consider the Richmond team of that era had quite a few big name batsman, quite a few representing the state – Richardson, Quinn, Whiteside, Sincock, Harris, Davies, the late Paul Melville and off course Yallop.

    Stacky and Lindsay James were both working for Rothmans at the time of the MM – Tuesday morning “smoko” would’ve been interesting.

    MCR

  3. Stainless says:

    Mic

    Yes – they had a rough time against the Blues. I think the 82/3 Flag followed three defeats in the previous few seasons?
    No wonder we enjoyed their anger at the mud match!

    I enjoy your trips down memory lane.

    Stainless

  4. Excellent! Thanks Mic.

  5. Again Michael, a superbly written and researched article. I was there that day, and recall a player of international status who was tired and emotional, finishing up almost horizontal. Now Footscray players who have reached international status, i can recall Gaunt, Eastwood, Hurst, Bright, Hughes and Dodemaide all wearing the baggy green, Hastings playing limited overs, but who have i left out ?

    Glen!

  6. Mic Rees says:

    Smokie – Thank you.

    Glen – Thank you. Indeed you were there. As the train pulled into Richmond station I remember you saying either play was set to commence or some rather large seagulls had made their way to Tigerland.

    The two you’d forgotten were Les Joslin and Colin Miller.

    I was tempted to mention the T&E player. Met him once, came across as a good bloke. Doubt he remembers any of the match.

    MCR

  7. John Butler says:

    Terrific stuff Mic.

    I love the fact that Jim Higgs’ highest District score was this 18. Not even matching his test high 21.

    Remembering his batting, it’s a miracle either score was so much!

  8. Mic Rees says:

    Thanks John.

    Brave decision by Higgs to send himself in as the night watchman. His innings helped them over the line.

    He averaged 5.71 with the bat over the course of his District career.

    Higgs played in the “ice blocks” game – Not surprisingly was dismissed for a duck, one of Barry Knight’s seven wickets. Took 2/41 in Carlton’s first innings.

    MCR

  9. Ta Michael, i’d forgotten ‘Jumbo’, and ‘Funky’. How i forgot some one like Joslin is quite remiss, considering i work in a Health Centre which has the Joslin medical clinic in West Footscray. Thanks again, keep up the good work, and enjoy the Labour Day weekend !

  10. Rex Whitehead says:

    I wish to make it clear that it was not a matter of umpires Whitehead and Collins offering the option to the opposing captains to play. It was the option of the two captains to over-ride the umpires’ decison that conditons were unsuitable for play. These are two entirely different scenarios.

    Besides, umpires Whitehead and Collins were keen to journey to Charlie Sutton’s pub for a few pots.

  11. Hello Rex.

    Thank you for clarifying the rule as it stood then.

    I’m sure you’re aware of “The Albert’s” demise. Just what Footscray needed, more appartments.

    MCR

  12. Lindsay James says:

    Mick,

    I was aware of the rule, I had a very good advisor on such matters!

    When we arrived at Richmond I sought Jim Higgs who had the cards out and was shuffling them – he didn’t know the rule and I explained the situation to him – I still think he was more interested in playing cards.

    I knew that were was some ‘feeling’ that we had played that day but as I flew to Sydney that night after the game I wasn’t aware in detail of all the ‘shit’ going down during the days immediately after – no mobiles, pc’s then!

    regards

    Lindsay

  13. Brian Rogers says:

    Hi there,
    A good freind of mine sent me this article and he is based in New York!

    I have very fond memories of this day of course…..
    We even had a few drinks the night before to celebrate the end of the season.
    It really was Lindsay James that encouraged Higgsy’ to play.
    Yes I was playing cards with Richo’ & Lunar’ Leehane feeling a little seedy when higgsy popped in and said we are playing in ten minutes
    Get changed
    No warm up’s
    It was too wet
    To be able to help my club reach the finals (and we got beat by South Melbourne the following week and I got out to Ian Redpath of all bowlers) and ensure Carlton missed out of the finals was most enjoyable.

    Although at the time it required full concentration and focus at the job at hnad
    Apart from Barry Watson the Bulldogs also had very good club bowlers in Peter Dredge and Rex Bennett
    Damien Ryan was alittle less successful at club as the left arm spinner

    The rain
    The mud
    I had sized 12 boots on and the mud and slippery conditions often made it hard to run up and down the wicket as it was simply too slippery.

    Decent shots along the ground were NO run as the heavy loose water stopped the ball quickly
    We had to improvise a bit (which Warren Whiteside was fantastic at) and he got me going.

    Of course all their bowlers & Barry in particular were marvellous and I kept telling myself if we can wait till Barry gets tired we would have a much better chance of scoring as Ian Simpson one of my close team mates advised what a good bowler he was.

    Barry clogged up one end for a long time & was so hard to get away with that nagging length and not to fast speed – a terrific cricketer and competitor as was their keeper Lindsay James’ who was chatting constantly the entire afternoon.

    A lot of chat on the ground for sure
    And plenty of chat off the ground as the crowd swelled
    You could easily hear the comments but i think a couple of thousand turned up as no one else were playing anywhere …..our bar made a good profit that day at Tigerland!

    The following years victory against Carlton in the Grand Final was fantastic as well.

    Carlton had a terriifc team and they beat us three times in very slow dull boring games but that was the plan we had discussed- wear them down
    It didnt really work and they were better at that style of game.

    It proved in the game we won the following year we had to play our own game and take it up to them a bit.
    G Yallop a superb ton and Phil Hyde

    Only took us three Grand Final losses to work that out
    I rememebr speaking to Brendan McCardle many years later suggesting we played into Carlton’s hands by playing that way

    Really appreciate the article
    Very well written

    Congratulations to you and your skill as a jouranlist
    Peter Binns deserves an article on himself – he was a legend over many years !

    Happily married now with two little daughters who show no interest in sport
    Dancing,singing, acting is the main topics in our household
    They have no idea

    Next weekend the Richmond C C have a Hall of Fame night with two of our great legends being awarded that status
    Peter Willams (my first 2nd XI coach when i was 16) & Gavin “Dutchy” Holland a ripper we got via Ray Bright from North Melbourne
    Peter was by far the most influential person in my cricketing life – brilliant cricket brain

    Wonderful memories and I have a small smile on my face
    Thank you very much

    Kindest regards
    Brian Rogers

  14. Mic and Brian, Terrific that this article has been read around the world!

    Brian, in my first year a schoolteacher I sat next to a bloke in the staffroom who then played cricket for Souths (Brisbane) while I played at UQCC. WE were the respective skippers of our thirds – from memory. The bloke was a former handy district cricketer at Richmond: John O’Keefe. JOK, as we called him, is one of the great characters. He sometimes writes for this site (I hope he writes a bit more). Do you remember JOK? He now lives in New Zealand and teaches dancing!

    Thanks for taking the time to comment – which caps off Mic’s terrific article.

    Cheers
    John Harms

  15. Great feedback Mic. Strange to think when i was standing in the crowd that day with the Captain, yourself,and the rest of the fellas, the events would be read about in the Big Apple over 30 years later. Well done !

    Glen!

  16. Brian, John , Glen many thanks for your feedback.

    John – JOK spent four seasons (78/79-81/82) at Punt Road, playing 29 senior games. He took 53 wickets at a cost of just over 22 per victim. He followed in the footsteps of some wonderful RCC wrist spinners such as Doug Ring, Jim Higgs & Kevin Sheedy.

    Came across the attached article spotlighting Mr O’Keefe.

    http://www.theage.com.au/news/sport/thechangeofseasons1980/2007/02/16/1171405443168.html#

    Would it have killed the ‘subbies’ to have got the spelling of Paul’s surname correct?

    Glen – Superb contest, glad we were there to witness it. The “MM” keeps giving after all these years.

    MCR

  17. Jeff Rogers says:

    Hey Brian,

    great story. Thanks for the link.

    I do remember you telling me about it when we were kids. Your shoes weighed about 5 Kgs each covered in Merri mud!

    My favourite comment was “Brian Rogers was a very underrated batsman”. The family didn’t think that!

    I sent the email to Tony McDonald and his reply is below.

    Cheers,

    Jeff.

    Hey Jeff,

    Great story and was not aware of the breadth of Brian’s contribution.

    However, I am sure there are more stories and can contribute one. There is the time that Brian broke the glass in the much treasured old clock that adorned the pavilion of the picturesque Marlow Cricket Ground, not far from the meandering Thames in south-east England! Obvious that it was a well placed and astonishing ‘6’ as the clock would have been some 5-6 meters above ground level. Story goes that while members were full of astonishment, and had not seen the likes of it before, some were possibly uncomfortable that this Aussie was arguably over-stretching all the gracious hospitality that the club had extended to him.

    Difficult to find a more comfortable part in the old dart than Marlow! It is an outrageously wealthy part of the UK, just up the river from Cookham where numerous celebs and their ilk find sublime refuge from the rest on the planet. It is picture card country, the kind of place where you need a Range Rover to collect the mail at the front gate, where going to the office implies a ride on the first class train carriage to London, and no doubt there was a strong tug at the predominant old Tory values this week as they put MT to rest. The landscape / tree surgery company that I was working for at the time had a small office adjacent the Thames. Brian stayed with us for a while at the house I was sharing.

    On the upside for tourist to that particular part of the “home counties”, there are dozens of friendly pubs where stories of rugby and cricket exploits by the winners over decades and centuries are aired as if they only happened yesterday! I dare say that Brian’s knock would no doubt be still referenced as the day the clock glass was hammered!

    Cheers,

    Tony

  18. Have just noticed this article and the accompanying comments. It brought back some vivid memories for me. The game in questin I believe brought about a rule change whereby the umpires now have control over whether or not conditions are suitable for cricket. We were of course devastated as we felt confident that had we played we would have been able to secure 6 points. The Lakeside Oval was poorly named on that day as it should have been referred to as the Lake Oval. I can’t recall who made the decision to call the game off but in reality there was never any chance of playing. The ground was literally under water. We felt confident that our position in the four was secure because we knew that conditions would not be suitable for play at any other ground in Melbourne. We then heard the rumour about action at Punt Road. I think we went through a number of emotions -disbelief, anxiety and finally anger that our finals’ spot was in jeopardy. I’m not sure if all of the team travelled to Punt Road but when we arrived we saw Jim Higgs, who by any account was a batting bunny, playing immaculate forward defensive shots to balls which could only generously be described as gentle medium pace. My recollection is that the bowlers struggled to stand up, the batsmen struggled to stand up, the fieldsmen struggled to stand up and the umpires struggled to stand up. I think the sea gulls even had difficulty in the conditions. Most at Carlton felt that the appeal would be granted because the game was indeed a farce. I don’ blame the players from either team but we all felt that an opportunity to contest the premiership was lost through no fault of our own. You might like to research another final round that was plagued in controversy a few years later. Carlton was again in the four leading into the last round. Two contenders, Footscray(again) and University needed to score more than the 6 points allocated for a first innings win to displace the Blues. Suspicion surrounded the end result which enabled one of the teams( I think Uni) to claim fourth spot. Carlton was complicit to some extent because they failed to win in their match against Collingwood which would have guaranteed them a finals’ berth. This is why many people involved in Premier cricket believe that the last round should be a one day fixture.

  19. Mic Rees says:

    Hello JD – John?

    It doesn’t surprise me that the Lakeside Oval was a little wet that Labour Day, most of Melbourne was under water.

    The game “a few years later” you refer to was the final round clash in 1985/86 between the Bulldogs and the Students at the Western Oval. Footscray declared on the same total as Uni, Uni won the game outright and took Carlton’s spot in the four. It was the third time in five seasons the Dogs were involved in a controversial last round – The Mud Match of 82, the lost/no-ball match at the Lakeside Oval in 84 and the outright loss to MUCC in 86.

    Hope you enjoy the Coburg reunion (if you can make it) this evening.

    MCR

  20. Thanks again Mic – always a riveting read.
    Sport and weather, eh?
    The MCG is empty tomorrow (25 degrees)! Perfect for cricket.
    Watched some cricket from England last night (Notts v Kent) and the rain made it a doddle for the batting side. How’s that for a change of tune?

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