Almanac Cricket: The Story of Igino De Bolfo – A Champion Bowler for Boneo Cricket Club 1933-37







This photograph shows Igino De Bolfo standing and watching young Billy Cumming ( in the dray ) and friend ( astride the horse) enjoying the outdoors at Rosebud sometime in 1933. This is the only photograph photo of Gino while he lived at Rosebud. Source: The De Bolfo family. 





During a search in relation to  the early history of Boneo CC , an article in ‘The Weekly Times’ highlighted the   imposing  performances of a certain ‘G. De Bolfo’  for Boneo  during the 1935-36 season…



The article from the ‘Weekly Times’ (18th April 1936). Readers will also notice that R. Barnes and Ray Cairns were also starring in the SPCA that season.  


Such performances deserved further investigation; and with the help of Gino’s great nephew, Tony, it was discovered that Gino De Bolfo was born in San Nicolo di Comelico (Italy) in 1911.  At 16 years of age,   Gino and his brothers (Francesco and Silvio) sailed to Australia aboard the S.S. Re d’Italia.





The Re d’Italia arrived in Melbourne in 1927. ‘The Age’ November 25th Page: 19


After a long and wearisome voyage of 46 days, the De Bolfo brothers disembarked at the Port of Melbourne and a new chapter in the De Bolfo story began.




Like so many other new arrivals to Australia from Europe, Gino was unable to find permanent employment in Melbourne; and, consequently, he headed south to the Mornington Peninsula.


Gino found work at a tomato farm at Rosebud; and it is at this point in time that ‘Lady Luck’ smiled kindly on Boneo Cricket Club.   It is not known what attracted Gino to try his hand at cricket but he was fit, strong and very athletic and had a propensity for outdoor games.


Another factor in his decision may have been that the nation was infected with ‘cricket fever. ’ In that era Don Bradman had captured the imagination of young and old with his magnificent batting  performances in Sheffield Shield and Test Cricket.


Note: Younger readers may not be aware that one of Don Bradman’s great- grandparents was an Italian named Emanuel Danero. Emanuel was born in Genoa in 1807 and had migrated to Australia in 1825 or 1826.


Whatever inspired Gino to sign on at Boneo Cricket Club is anyone’s guess but he took to the game like a ‘duck to water.’


Gino came to grips with the English language which is not easy! Those who have read Nino Culotta’s book called They’re A Weird Mob will fully appreciate that it may have been harder for Gino to learn ‘strine (i.e Australia’s very own version of the King’s English) than the ‘fine art’ of bowling a ‘Yorker.’




It is believed that Gino played his first game with the Boneo Cricket Club sometime in 1933. The local family names associated with the club in that era included: Cairns, Barnes Simpson, Hall, Gleeson, Menzel, Crichton, O’Malley, Rudduck and Jennings.


From what can be gathered, Gino was a ‘medium pacer’; and his bowling analysis indicated that he possessed an innate ability to maintain consistent line and length.


From the available match figures, it is possible to conclude that Gino was rarely ‘taken to’ by opposition batsmen; and his tight bowling may have kept batsmen on the ‘back foot.’


Gino shot to prominence in Southern Peninsula cricket when he snared 4/11 against Rosebud;   and he followed that up with the stunning figures of 6/7 against Dromana. On that day, Dromana was bundled out cheaply in both innings to allow Boneo to claim outright points.



Gino’s devastating performance of 6/7 carried Boneo to an outright victory against Dromana in November 1933. His figures were published in several metropolitan papers.


Gino must have been a probing and penetrating bowler because in 1933-34 he netted 42 wickets at 7.45 runs apiece; and in the next season amassed more than 50 wickets with an average of approximately 7.0. As shown below in the ‘Weekly Times’   he was described as a ‘very promising bowler’…





It is documented that he took seven wickets for Boneo against Red Hill South in 1934; and  while it is difficult to unearth all his bowling returns , Gino took four wickets in an innings on 20 occasions including ‘10 bags of five’ wickets. It is safe to say that Gino was a bowler who made batmen earn every run.



Source: ‘Weekly Times’   April 18th 1936. Page: 67 


According to the MPCA figures, the following table shows that, in the period 1933-37, Gino played 63 games and took 171 wickets for Boneo CC. The statistics again underline his skill as a frontline bowler in local cricket.


    SEASON          GAMES          WICKETS
1933-34 19 42
1934-35 17 59
1935-36 16 40
1936-37 11 30
TOTAL 63 171


In those days, Country Week trial games were often played between the Southern and the Northern associations; and further research is needed to uncover whether Gino was selected/nominated to take part in those games. Judging by the figures above, he deserved to be considered for a chance to play Country Week. His team mate Ray Cairns (below) was a SPCA representative on at least three occasions.


Gino’s team mate at Boneo, Ray Cairns-Ray was the ‘wizard of the willow’ at Boneo. Ray scored some 11,000 runs for Boneo and is credited with at least nine centuries for the club. Ray represented the Southern Peninsula CA at Country Week and won the club’s batting averages on 16 occasions. His highest score 165 was against Rosebud High School in 1950-51.  




Gino did not play at Boneo in 1938; and it seems that he had returned to the city and was living in Carnegie. The Commonwealth Gazette indicated that Gino was naturalized in August 1939; and he was one of many Italians who had decided to ‘call Australia home’


 In the 2021 Census, more than one million Australians responded/ indicated that they had Italian ancestry (i.e. approx… 4.4% of Australia’s population).


Source: Commonwealth Gazette October 5th (Issue 65) 1939.


Gino returned to the fray and played suburban cricket but, of course, World War: 2 brought community cricket to a shuddering halt as thousands of young men swapped their ‘creams for khaki.’


“In July 1943, Igino enlisted for wartime service. Through the course of the conflict until his discharge in March 1946, Sgt Igino De Bolfo (VX142008) served with the 37th  Line of Communication Salvage Section, I believe in North West Borneo. Whilst there,  he contracted malaria which he had to deal with for the rest of his life, and when I asked him years later why he had enlisted in the first place his response was: “Australia took me in. I believe I owed Australia”. Source: Tony De Bolfo.


In later years, Gino worked as a glazier but he found time to ‘bowl’ again (i.e.   gentle pastime of lawn bowling );  and he became a keen and adept at his new sport.




Gino passed away on December 24th 2001 and was buried at the Springvale Cemetery alongside his wife Armida (who also from Italy). Gino and Armida raised three children Peter, Joan and Susan who must have been so proud of the life that Gino had built for his family ‘Down Under.’


Peter played football for Oakleigh (VFA); and Gino’s grandson, Steven, was a top order batsman for Prahran (VCA). In 2011, Steven De Bolfo compiled 164 not out in the Senior XI match against Melbourne at the Albert Ground. In all grades of VCA cricket, in the period 2001 -2021, Steven played 312 games and scored 7,894 runs including nine centuries.


In conclusion, history shows that all sporting organizations faced formidable challenges during those unforgiving and austere years of the Great Depression and Boneo CC was no exception.


However, thanks to a small band of loyal members and volunteers, Boneo CC survived and, in time, flourished to become a strong community based club (with 11 teams at the time of writing in 2024).


The current members owe a great deal to players such as Gino De Bolfo who gave so freely in steering the club through the fierce economic storms of that epoch and setting the foundation for future seasons.




  • Sincere thanks to Tony De Bolfo for his interest in our club and his assistance in providing the background information about his Great Uncle, Gino. Tony’s book ‘In Search of Kings’ tells the stories of Gino and another 107 passengers who sailed to Australia aboard the Re d’ Italia in 1927. It is published by Harper Collins.
  • Thank you to Doug Dyall for providing the MPCA statistics for the 1933-37 SPCA seasons. Doug has often assisted Boneo CC with facts and figures; and his diligence and attention to detail are appreciated.
  • Thank you also to the NLA which continues to be a vital source of so much of our club’s rich history.


This article was written for Boneo CC by Roger in 2023


More from Roger Spaull can be read Here.


To return to the  home page click HERE


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


Do you enjoy the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.


Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE





Leave a Comment