Shanahan, Lawry and the breaking of the drought

by Mic Rees

First published 23 February 2011

The sad news of the death of Paul Shanahan at age 62  last week led to me spending a lazy afternoon taking a look back at the 1965/66 District Cricket Final played over parts of three April weekends at the picturesque Albert Ground almost 45 years ago.

Shanahan, a fast/medium pace bowler, made his District Cricket debut earlier that season for the Northcote Cricket Club. The Westgarth based team had been somewhat of an underachiever, their sole VCA premiership coming in the 1911/12 season.  The Dragons reached the 1923/24 final only to lose to a St Kilda team on its way to a then unprecedented four premierships in a row. It had been 14 seasons (1951/52) since the ‘Cotes had previously qualified for the semi finals.  However, when they were skittled for 82 in their first innings against Richmond in the semi final it seemed their return to the post season would be a short, and not so sweet one. Ken Walker, who’d taken 57 wickets in the home & away season, then single handedly decimated the Richmond batting line-up taking 9/28 in the process routing the Tigers for 60. Walker’s 9 wicket haul remains the only time a bowler has taken that many wickets in an innings of a First XI District final. Openers Bill Lawry (102) & Wayne Robinson (74) played out time Northcote reaching 2/195 in their second innings.

If Northcote were to end their 54 year pennant drought it would have to defeat a finals hardened outfit from Essendon. Season 1965/66 would see the Bombers qualify for their third straight finals appearance, an inaugural VCA First XI Premiership coming 2 years earlier with a victory over Fitzroy in the 1963/64 Final. Essendon, as had been Northcote in their semi final, were routed in the first innings against Carlton, declaring their first innings closed at 9 for 128. Carlton crashed to 3/30 at stumps and when Keith Kirby & John Grant ran through the middle order the following day the Blues were teetering on the brink of oblivion at 9/93, still 36 runs short of the required total. Robert Rowan was joined by Bernie Smith and for the next half hour the last pair inched Carlton to within striking distance of an unlikely win. When Rowan edged a Grant delivery to John Swanson at slip the brave resistance ended, their partnership of 29 for the final wicket leaving their team an agonising seven runs short of a miraculous victory.

Greg Hobbs, the Melbourne Age’s district cricket correspondent provided a chillingly prophetic warning to the Essendon attack, his review of the weekends semi finals that appeared on Monday 28 March 1966 carried the headline “Century by Lawry warning to Dons’ bowlers”. If only they knew!

Essendon would bat first in the finale, and when the previous weekend’s destroyer Walker caught Bomber opener Ray Howe off the bowling of Mitton for a duck the Dons were 1-7. Daryl Foster, who would go on to lead the Western Australian state team to nine Sheffield Shield triumphs as coach, joined his captain Ian Monks and the pair would add 122 for the second wicket. Monks, at 33 years of age had represented Essendon (16 games 1953, 1955) & South Melbourne (14 games 1956-57) in the Victorian Football League. He would record what would be the highest score of a marvellous 214 game District Cricket career for Essendon, his 136 headlining a total of 9/514 declared. Monks’ superlative effort is even more impressive when you consider he’d battled a heavy cold throughout his 217 minute, 209 ball innings, striking 15 boundaries (14 fours and a six). At stumps on the first day, with his team 6/311 in their first innings, Monks told the press his team intended to bat as longs as it could as “We might need all the runs we can get with a player like Bill Lawry in the Northcote’s side”. Obviously the 26 year old journalist Hobbs wasn’t the only one who had an inkling of the impending doom facing the Essendon attack.

Complementing Monks’ stand-out performance with the willow for the Bombers were two men who’d tasted ultimate glory with Essendon Cricket Clubs’ Windy Hill co-tenant six months earlier in the 1965 VFL Grand Final. The brilliant Barry Davis, batting at number 8, scored 61 before being Ken Walker’s single wicket of the finale and Premiership Full Back Greg Brown, who came to the wicket after John Swanson was dismissed for 23, knocked up a handy 36 before being run out. Wicket Keeper O’Neill (67), John Peters (54) and Keith Kirby (50 not out – not bad considering his career average with the bat was slightly better than 16) all made fine contributions to what seemed would be an insurmountable total for the Dragon’s to chase down.   Paul Shanahan was Northcote’s most successful bowler, the 17 year old rookie taking 4 wickets at a cost of 143 runs. Mike Mitton (2), Walker & Ryan (not the first time those names had appeared together in Melbourne’s papers during the mid 60’s) would take one wicket apiece. So desperate were the ‘Cotes Lawry himself rolled the arm over finishing with 0/7, neither of the two wickets he managed during his 153 game District cricket career would materialize during the Essendon innings.

Legend has it that Lawry said to his team mates that he wouldn’t have declared if he’d been in Ian Monks’ position, suggesting if a couple of them hang around with him they could indeed surpass the massive total set them. He was speaking from a position of strength. Not only had Lawry steered Northcote to safety the previous weekend with a contest crushing century in its second innings, he was coming off an incredibly successful Ashes series that included three centuries against the auld enemy and a Sheffield Shield campaign in which his 680 runs had been produced at an average of just under 57. At stumps on the second day of the 1965/66 final openers Lawry & Robinson had wiped off 96 runs without loss, the Dragons still a little over 400 runs short of their target.

Despite Robinson falling early, leg before wicket to Kirby not long after play resumed on Day 3, Lawry continued on the massive chase. Bob Gosstray (23) & Ian Cowley (7) would come and go relatively cheaply. Northcote had got the staggers and after being a comfortable 1-206 had lost two quick wickets. At 3/219 Lawry was joined at the wicket by Tom Ryan, the ‘Cotes in need of a steadying partnership.

Ryan, who had celebrated his 21st birthday a month earlier, was one of three Dragons that were completing their first year of senior District Cricket, the aforementioned Shanahan & Phil Burn being the other two. Ryan had taken the prize wicket of Monks in Essendon’s innings.  He would not fail his more experienced partner and the pair would immediately settle in to the task ahead of them. The afternoon wasn’t without drama as Lawry faced a hostile spell from John Grant.  Lawry, on three separate occasions during Grant’s dramatic 17th over, would barely survive to continue Northcote’s drive to the finishing line. Grant had Lawry dropped when Ken Adams missed a difficult chance at first slip and two balls later keeper O’Neill’s “catch” wouldn’t stand as Grant, alas for Essendon, had overstepped the crease. No-ball. It didn’t end there, as Grant’s next ball had Lawry slashing hard and high over slips for a streaky boundary. Having rode his luck Lawry took control in Grant’s next over smashing him to the boundary on four separate occasions. He and Ryan ensured no further damage was done, and at the close of play on the third day of the final Northcote had reached 3/405 – Lawry unbeaten on 236, Ryan not out on 77.

Estimates vary regarding how many people attempted to cram into the beautiful Albert Ground prior to the commencement of the fourth days play the following Saturday. Hobbs’ Monday morning article suggested as many as 4,000 and Rod Nicholson & Ken Williams tribute to the first 100 years of District Cricket 100 Not Out – A centenary of Premier Cricket, state “About 10,000 fans queued to get into the ground”. Whatever the number may have been, those who did manage to get a spot in the ground were treated to a dramatic start to what would be the final day of District Cricket for 1965/66. Ken Adams removed Ryan, the rookie adding 5 runs to his overnight score before being caught by Ian Monks at first slip. Northcote 4/411 with 103 runs still required for victory, Ryan returning to the pavilion having compiled a season high score of 82. His replacement was a man 17 years his senior and desperate to steer his side its second flag.

Frank Brew had broken into the senior ranks at Northcote during the 1943/44 season, some 22 years earlier. He was an 87 VFL game veteran having played for South Melbourne from 1947 to 1953. He’d waited too long for this opportunity, his brisk 47 runs coming off just 56 balls. When he was dismissed, John Grant trapping him leg before wicket, he and Lawry had added 94 runs for the fifth wicket. Northcote 5/505 and within ten runs of an historic win.

Phil Burn replaced the 38 year old Brew and whilst not troubling the scorers himself he would be at the non strikers end when Lawry notched the winning runs minutes later. Lawry’s marathon 509 minute stay ending with him unbeaten on 282. He’d faced 454 deliveries, 32 of them reaching the boundary. It was the highest score by any batsmen in a District First XI game since Bill Ponsford compiled 295 for St Kilda against South Melbourne in a semi-final of the 1926/27 season. It remains the highest individual score made by a Northcote batsman in their 103 year District/Premier cricket tenure. The Dragons 5/516 remains its highest score “for”.

Northcote wouldn’t return to First XI finals action until season 1973/74. As happened eight years earlier it would triumph in the Finale, this time knocking over the always formidable MCC. A stunning effort considering the Dragons finished season 1972/73 on the bottom of the 14 team District Cricket ladder. Wayne Robinson & Phil Burn would be the only survivors from the 65/66 team to represent Northcote in that April 1974 contest. Three future test cricketers – Gary Cosier, Richie Robinson (93 not out in the final) and Rodney Hogg were members of Northcote’s third First XI pennant winning team of 1973/74, other notables of that squad included Port Melbourne Football Club life member Jim Christou and Barry “The Cougar” Dawson dopple ganger , future Victorian state player, District Cricket legend & newspaper columnist Brendan McArdle.

For the beaten Essendon team the following two seasons would provide more heartache, the Bombers finishing runners up on both occasions. The 1966/67 Finale would be taken out by Fitzroy, the Lions reversing the result from three seasons prior. 12 months later South Melbourne would claim the 1967/68 title its third, and final District cricket First XI premiership whilst tenured at the Lakeside Oval. Following on from its 1963/64 success the Bombers would make 5 of the next 6 finals series, a victory over University in the 1969/70 final being its most recent senior success to this day. 6 members of the beaten 1965/66 team would be part of the 69/70 title winners – Howe, Swanson, Grant, O’Neill, Kirby & Adams.

Recently this website’s resident quiz master Christopher Riordan asked us to nominate our great all-rounders, past & present. Essendon’s 1965/66 Grand Final team was blessed with a number of its members excelling in other fields. Ian Monks’ football career was mentioned earlier in this piece, and Davis & Brown’s triumphant 1965 VFL season has been well documented over the past 45 years. John Swanson was one of the finest outfielders to represent the Victorian Baseball Team during the 1960’s, winning the “Helms Award” in 1968, an award presented to the most outstanding player of the Claxton Shield competition each year. Three of Victoria’s first four Helms winners Graeme Deany, John Swanson & Neil Buszard all played District Cricket with varying degrees of success, Swanson representing Victoria in both Claxton & Sheffield Shields. Swanson’s Claxton Shield teammate Robert Rowan was the last wicket to fall in the Essendon v Carlton semi final, Swanson taking the catch that sent the Bombers to the final off the bowling of John Grant. In January 2009 Swanson was named Centerfielder in Victoria’s Diamond Anniversary Claxton Shield “All Star Team”

Northcote’s premiership squad also boasted a couple of all rounders. Frank Brew’s VFL career has been noted, and William Morris Lawry’s passion for pigeon racing dates back to 1954. Tom Ryan has been the chief film reviewer/critic for the Sunday Age since that paper’s inception in 1989.

This brings us back to Paul Shanahan.  His 4 wicket haul in the final was a terrific effort, even more impressive when you consider his age, relative lack of experience, and how docile the Albert Ground pitch must have been – the finalists combined scores of 1030 scored for the loss of 14 wickets illustrating this point. Shanahan would play a total of 20 senior XI matches for the Northcote Cricket Club over a period of 5 seasons, his last appearance coming in the 1970/71 season. He took 21 wickets at an average of just over 44. Shanahan’s talents weren’t limited to cricket field. He played 21 games of VFL football for the Fitzroy Football Club making his debut in Rd 13 1969 for the ‘Roys against South Melbourne at Princes Park. Whilst he may not have racked up a huge amount of games, he managed to be part of three famous moments in VFL football during the early 1970’s

  • Round 1 1970 –  Sunday April 5 – Queen Elizabeth (II), Princes’ Phillip & Charles & Princess Anne attend the first VFL game played in Melbourne on a Sunday at the MCG. QE2 unfurls Richmond’s 1969 VFL premiership pennant, Fitzroy upset the reigning flag holders winning 16.20-116 to 14.12-96
  • Round 3 1970 – Saturday April 18 – A crowd of 25,887 attend the opening of the VFL’s headquarters ground at Waverley. Geelong 17.12-114 are too good for Fitzroy 7.11-53. Doug Wade kicks the first goal in senior football, Shane Molloy scores the first goal earlier in the day for Fitzroy’s reserve team
  • Round 21 1971 – Saturday August 21 – The infamous “Fog” match at the Junction Oval. The Lions’ 15.15-105 proves too much for Carlton 11.16-82. Shanahan’s 3 goals vital in extinguishing the Blues flickering hopes to defend their flag in September. 18 year old Assumption College recruit Renato Serafini makes his VFL debut.

Paul Shanahan was a Cricket Victoria delegate/member of the Pennant Committee in the early 1990’s, and two sons Damian & Andrew played senior District/Premier Cricket.



See scorecards from the 1965/66 Grand Final here.


  1. Brilliant stuff, Mic. I was one year old at the time of that match but I now feel like I can remember it!

    Bill Lawry hit four fours in one over? Surely not!

    Paul Shanahan – a sad loss at such a young age.

  2. Magnificent memorial Mic. Thanks. What a great “Melbourne” sporting life and a sad loss too young.

  3. Mic, Terrific piece. Of the many things contained in it, I particularly like the sense you have captured of the sporting fraternity of the time. Your cross-referencing of sports and players is really interesting. It makes you wonder whether blokes go mad training and playing footy for 11 months of the year these days.

    The Lawry innings is, as you demonstrate, famous. He was such a huge figure in cricket in Melbourne, and so respected. When I was in Canberra I met Geoff Pryor, Essendon FC premiership player and very good cricketer. When I mnetioned it later on to an old cricket type he said, “Geoff Pryor, he’s the bloke who knocked over Bill Lawry’s off-stump.” A brillliant comment: as if it only happened once in the entire ’60s. Geoff Pryor went on to be a radical economist and set up the VFL players’ union. I suspect he would approve of this website.

  4. #3. I would be happy to nominate Geoff Pryor as the Almanac’s number 1 ticket holder.

  5. Gigs #1, Crio #2 & JH #3 – Many thanx for your kind words. 62 yo – far too young

    Gigs 1# – Lawry took 17 from “The General’s” 18th over – Four 4’s & a single. Wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t read it.

    Crio #2 – Still find it hard to believe 4,000 Melburnians actually got into the Albert on Day 4

    John #3 – Thanks for the Geoff Pryor story – had no idea he’d played District 1sts – (16 games University 65/66-67/68). Was involved in the Essendon players strike of 1970.

  6. John Butler says

    Terrific story Mic

    I still have memories of reading Lawry’s autobiography as a kid. He obviously gave this innings enough of a mention that I still remember it. There’s the odd mention of pigeons as well.

  7. thank you so much for what you have written above, my father is Paul and I’m his eldest son…
    while looking for some info for his Eulogy at his funeral tomorrow (Thurs 24th) I’ve stumbled across your blog

    I’m sitting here shattered about his sudden death but also very proud to have him as my dad

    thank you so so much, although he didnt play heaps of games (due to injury) he certainly was part of some very big moments of Melbourne sporting history

    we all love him dearly and will miss him forever

  8. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rocket says

    Good one Mic!

    You have captured the enduring drama of this contest.

    Remember following this match through the pages of the then Sun News Pictorial…
    Remember nearly all these names too. John Grant and keith Kirby in particular were District cricket stars.

    It was a stunning victory by the Brickfielders – I’m sure they weren’t called Dragons then. Or in 1923/24.

  9. John #6, Shanas #7 & SMBR #8 – Thank you.

    #6 – When was the Lawry bio printed ?

    #8 – You’re correct, they wouldn’t have been “Dragons” in 65/66. 73/74 maybe. Bit lazy on my behalf.

    Dragon mascot may have been adopted by the football club initially. I think being denied promotion after winning the 1981 VFA second division flag was the strat of a slow demise for a grand old team.

  10. Correction – #9

    Northcote won 1982 2nd Division flag


  11. Mic

    It must have been a long time ago. I had it when I was a kid. Sadly no longer in my possession.

  12. Actually, just looked it up.

    It was called “Run Digger”. Appears to be currently out of print.

  13. Mic
    Unfortunately another one who has been taken from us at too young an age.
    I reckon Premier Cricket (and Victorian cricket in general) has really lost
    a lot in this new age of AFL professionalism. Looking back now, it seemes
    quite extraordinary the number of players who combined playing VFL with
    playing District cricket.
    I do not know if any studies have been done on the subject, but the decline
    of Victoria as a state regularly supplying players to the national cricket
    team surely has corresponded with the end of the dual sportsman era. It would
    be interesting (and frightening for cricket administrators) to know the number
    of young cricketers who have given the game away in pursuit of the AFL dream.

  14. Smokie. That’s an interesting line of thought. So (political bias aside) how do you account for NSW’s continued dominance?

    Surely the rise of football professionalism (in all codes) in each state would have the same consequence — or is there something about the nexus between footy and cricket in Victoria that makes the situation different?

    Another interesting tangent is the number of NSW-Australian cricketers who have played soccer to a fairly high level only to give it up to concentrate on cricket — the Waugh brothers, Gilchrist, Krejsza, Katich (I think), (Thommo and Len Pascoe in earlier times). Enriques would also have been a soccer player I’d guess.

    It kind of backs up the argument about how choices made are being detrimental to the less dominant sport.

  15. Smokie #13 – Mid 60’s/early 70’s saw a number of VFL footballers representing Victoria, names such as Graeme Watson, John Scholes, Max Walker, the great Peter Bedford, John Stephens and later on Robert Rose & Doug Gott – both playing their last state game in Jan ’74. Either Michael Clark (Wayne’s son) or Nick Jewell are the the last to do the AFL/Shield double.

    Ian # 14 – Did Thommo cop a life ban from soccer for indiscretions on the field ? Regarding NSW cricket I’m pretty sure Graeme Hughes is the last RL player to represent the state at RL & at Cricket.


  16. Yes. Thommo hit a referee. And I think you’re right about G. Hughes as well. JTH would know better but I think Andy Bichel was a decent RL footballer.

  17. #15 You probably need to go back further than Clark and Jewell, Mic, because they didn’t really play Shield and AFL in the same years. I am not sure of the details about Clark’s career at Fremantle and in the WA squad but I suspect both were fairly brief. After Fremantle cut him he spent a year on Collingwood’s list but at best he might have played one game for the firsts. Jewell’s Shield career started after Richmond had let him go.

    I suspect the last player to play top level Aussie Rules (SANFL and VFL) and Shield cricket at the same time was Craig Bradley and even then he eventually gave up cricket for football.

  18. Dave #17 – Yes, quite correct. Jewells shield career commenced after his one and only game for the Tigers (1997).

    Clark suffered a serious leg injury (knee/leg break)the only season he had at Collingwood. No senior games with the Pies. Shield career (dozen or so games) would’ve been after his return to the West

    If Craig Bradley is not the answer, maybe someone like Geoff Parker during his time in Victoria.

  19. Great read Mic. My heart was racing as I started reading the Frank Brew paragraph. Historical reminiscing as a tale of adventure. How many wonderful stories and people and moments get lost to the wind? I love that Shanahan’ son read and was touched by what you have recalled.


  20. Tony Roberts says

    Speaking of players in the 1965/66 VCA final playing other sports…besides pigeon racing, I’ve always thought that The Phantom (Bill Lawry, not Walker) also played baseball. (With his build and left-handedness, I picture him out in right field.)

    I don’t know what level he reached, but as he grew up in Shaftesbury Parade, Thornbury, I expect that Lawry would have played baseball in Merri Park, next to Northcote HS, for the Fitzroy club. If he did, it’s likely that he turned out alongside various Harvey brothers in the Fitzroy team. The Test team of the early sixties, including Lawry, Neil Harvey and another baseballer in Norm O’Neill, must have featured some rifle arms in the outfield.

  21. Paul Daffey says


    Can you write something on the “ice block final” at the University Oval in the late ’60s, just so I know that Kevan Carroll hasn’t been making it up.

    I know Carlton was playing … er, that’s all I know.

  22. Rick #18 – I was surprised when I found out that dashing cameo wasn’t Brew’s swan song in District cricket and that he was playing ’til the end of the decade.

    Tony # 20 – Yes, you are correct sir – Lawry did play baseball for Collingwood in the winter league.

    Paul # 21
    March 15 & 16 1969 Carlton 136 & 6/100 defeated University 62 (B Knight 7/20). Article in the Monday morning Age makes reference to the “damaged” pitch that University had to bat on. Kevan had moved from MUCC a few years earlier to HEM.

  23. Any chance, Mic, of appending the scorecard from the match?

  24. Great read! Paul Shanahan was one of my first cricket coaches. He was a larger than life figure who loved a chat about footy, cricket or the punt. He looked a bit like Nick Nolte. His sons both played district cricket. Andrew played a few seasons in North Melbourne’s ones after breaking his ankle in his first game. He is still doing the rounds of suburban cricket with his offies. Damien was a brilliant allrounder who was very unlucky not to play shield cricket. He played over 200 games and captained Camberwell Magpies and Geelong.

  25. Crio #23 – Before I do so, need to point out an error in piece. Ian Cowley made 5 NOT 7 as mentioned. Sack the author !

    Anyway, here goes

    Essendon Innings
    I. Monks c Lawry b Ryan – 136
    R.F.R Howe c Walker b Mitton – 0
    D.H Foster b Shanahan – 31
    J.D Swanson c Morrison b Shanahan – 23
    G.J.Brown Run Out – 36
    J.W Grant c Morrison b Shanahan – 39
    J.A Peters c Morrison b Shanahan – 54
    B.G Davis c Gosstray b Walker – 61
    T.S O’Neill b Mitton – 67
    K.W Kirby not out – 50
    K.E Adams not out – 3
    Extras – 14
    9 dec 514

    Northcote Bowling – K.V.J Walker 1/95, M Mitton 2/105, F Brew 0/113, P.G. Shanahan 4/143, T Ryan 1/37, W.M Lawry 0/7

    Northcote Innings
    W.L Robinson lbw Kirkby – 41
    W.M Lawry not out – 282
    R. Gosstray lbw Grant – 23
    I.A Cowley c Davis b Adams – 5
    T Ryan c Monks b Adams – 82
    F Brew c Adams b Grant – 47
    P.A Burn not out – 0
    Extras – 36

    Essendon Bowling – J.W Grant 2/134, K.E Adams 2/105, K.W Kirby 1/135, J.D Swanson 0/49, J.A Peters 0/14, B.G Davis 0/22 R.F.R Howe 0/21

    Northcote won on Ist Innings by 5 wickets

    Sorry my notes didn’t take in total overs. Northcotes FOW in piece/post. Slacker !

    John #24 – Thanx. Damian only retired as a player at the end of last season, remains the Cats non playing coach

  26. Thanks Mic. Fascinating and excellent.

  27. Mic. great piece. Those were the days

  28. Dear Mic
    Just came across this. Many thanks for a lovely piece of writing.
    I was so sad to hear of Paul’s death. He was a lovely man and I remember my delight at renewing acquaintances with him at the dinner held at Melbourne University to celebrate “the District cricket match of the century” more than a decade ago.

  29. Helllo Tom.

    Paul managed to fit a lot into his 21 game career with the Roys – the Royal visit and VFL Park opener in 1970 and the “infamous” fog match in 1971. Taking four wickets at the Albert, as I’m sure you’d be aware, was a superb effort.

    Since the piece appeared quite a number of people who knew Paul have told me what an absoIute champion bloke he was.

    Thank you very much for your kind words – seen any good films recently?


  30. The comment prompted me to read Mic’s wonderful piece. As a historical aside, I was at what I think would have been Paul’s last game of senior footy sometime in the 70’s. My SA team (West Torrens) had a key forward, Brian Mulvihill, who was one of the strongest marks I have seen, and one of the worst kicks. He was better from 50 out, than 20 straight in front. We recruited Paul Shanahan I assume to play closer to goal and let Mulvihill play CHF. Everything looked a million dollars in the pre-season. Then the Torrens and Shanahan curse hit. In the final intra club trial match (at Grange Oval from memory) near where Footy Park now is, he went down with a knee injury right in front of me. I don’t think he ever played a senior game for us.
    Sad to read of his passing. Sounds like he was a good all-round sportsman and bloke. I remember how optimistic I was for that season before his sudden injury. Took me 40 years to realise that I was barracking for the wrong Eagles.

  31. Hello Peter

    I wasn’t aware Paul had a crack at the SANFL. Brian Mulvihill had a couple of seasons at NM. Debuted against Dogs in ’71 at Arden Street.

    I’ve got a disc or two that contains Eagles footage from the mid 80’s you may be interested in. I’ll be in contact.

    Many thanks


  32. Hi Guys,

    I havent’ been on here since Dad’s passing last year but thought I’d look back and see if there were any further comments on here and the last 4/5 posts certainly have me very proud of him and how he was seen to others….as a great bloke !!

    For the record Dad left Fitzroy in 1972 (he was only 23 from memory) and said he wanted a change after never getting regular games at the Roys..and unlike today where he’d probably go to another AFL/VFL club he went and played with West Perth (WAFL) for 2-3 seasons in what he said was a very tough league before heading to West Torrens where he mentioned on numerous occasions to my brother and I that he was “flying” in the pre-season and was ready to have a great year (think he was still only 26 at this stage)…but the subsequent knee injury in that game saw the end of his career…he went on to be Chairman of Selectors under Neil Kerley for the next few seasons before his work saw him and us head to Qld for a number of years before coming back to Melbourne

    Miss the great man every day and still hard to realise he’s gone…

    Thanks all for the comments/memories…

  33. Hi Mic,

    An excellent piece. I saw all of this game, except for the final day. I missed that because of a footy practice match I had to play. Shanas and I have conversed about his dad on another forum. I am in possession of considerable information about this game. I’d intended writing a similar (not as good, obviously) article myself.

    Paul Shanahan and I were opening bowling partners in a YCW competition, played on Sundays. Paul would play for Northcote on the Saturday, and then turn out again on the Sunday with us. He was pretty handy in our comp., but not the complete standout you might think. Every team had at least three district cricketers in it. Ours, at one stage, had seven District first eleven players (I was not one of them). I also played footy against Paul when he played with Clifton Hill, also in a YCW competition, before he went to Fitzroy. I spent three quarters of one game against them running away from Paul, who wanted to maim me, because I’d stupidly donged his best mate, Bobby Ireland (who also played footy with Fitzroy, and was an excellent cricketer).

    As for the GF of ’65/’66, you are right about the state of the Albert track. The closest I could come to an adequate description would be to characterise it as having the sheen and smoothness of a slab of glass. It was arguably the greatest game of District cricket ever played. My father, who managed to attend the last day told me that people were standing on the rooves of their cars parked outside the ground, to get a view.

    I have typed this very carefully, given that another poster on this thread lectured me in Media Studies at Swinburne. Tom Ryan’s’ quite a stickler for the language being presented in its correct form, as he should be. For my putative article, I interviewed Tom and also Bill Lawry on audio tape. I still have these tapes and all other research I did for the article. Which brings us to the real reason for this post. Because he seems to visit here occasionally, I’d like Shanas to contact me, so I can give him a look and listen to the info. I have accumulated about that wonderful game. We tentatively arranged to do this on the other site we visited, but it hasn’t happened, slackness on my part being the major contributor.

    Finally, I was terribly saddened to hear of Paul’s passing. He was a ‘nob’, not in the contemporary sense of being an idiot, but in its traditional meaning of being a ‘noble person’. He was also a very funny man.

  34. Stan the Man says

    Great article. Sad to hear that Brian Mulvihill pased away just days ago as well. Another player to succeed in both codes – Barrie Robran opened the batting for SA on a few occassions and was one of the best to go around in the SANFL.

  35. Brian Mulvihill. Played at North Melbourne during Brian Dixons coaching. Centre half-back, centre half forward to my memory.

    Glen !

  36. I spent years suffering watching Mulva at FF and CHF at West Torrens when I was a kid. One of the best marks I ever saw. One of the worst kicks. ‘Nuff said. RIP.

  37. Mic Rees says

    Rugmop – Thank you for your comments, very kind indeed. I look forward to reading your story on the 65/66 Final. If I see Tom Ryan at MIFF (opens next week), I can send him your best wishes if you like? One more question – was Bob Ireland a member of the Preston team that lost the controversial “kick before the opening bounce” Grand Final against Dandy in 1971 ?

    Brian Mulvihill debuted for North Melbourne against Footscray at Arden Street early in the ’71 season. The ‘Boners won by 7 points, David Dench kicked the sealer late in the game and Dennis Commetti was named amongst the best for the Dogs (reserve side). Sam Kekovich mentioned Brian during his “open Mike” chat a couple of weeks ago. Perhaps the Roos and Woodville/West Torrens will duly salute this evening/weekend in honour of him.


  38. I didn’t know about Mulva’s death. Great memories. a real star at Torrens and a fair dinkum character when “on the bag” for the also recently departed J.P.Easom. Mulva was always likely to fall under Slammin’ Sam’s spell – as Sam would attest, he perhaps wasn’t good enough to get away with the social indulgences of Keka and still play VFL. Always found him a good bloke in those halcyon times at strath Dogs etc! RIP

  39. Yep Mike, Bobby Ireland would have played in that game. This was another sporting fixture I attended. Great game of footy. I was barracking for Preston because one of my former neighbours, Bob Heard, was playing in the ruck for Preston. I had followed them the whole season. If I remember correctly, Alan Joyce coached them.

  40. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Fantastic quality piece of writing to manage to get the appropriate recognition of ,
    Paul Shanahan and the coverage of probably the most famous game of district cricket ever didn’t ,Bill Lawry allegedly say righto guys I’ll get half so you only have to get half before , Northcote batted ? Interesting bowling figures six guys going for triple figures !
    Ben Higgins is the last guy to play , SANFL and , Shield cricket
    I concur re , Mulva a fantastic mark but what a shocking kick .
    Rapt that I found the article and some brilliant posts . Well played , Mic

  41. Fantastic report Mic. I can remember my dear old mum all those years ago, who was as one eyed an Essendon supporter both footy and crickets as you could get, complaining about Lawry, and wishing he had specialised at pigeon racing.

  42. Oh, those names, particularly on the baseball side. In many ways such a shame that the move to summer seasons in the ’70s effectively killed the cricket/baseball crossover.

    Graeme Deany was still playing in the lower grades at Preston in the winter league in the late ’80s. Played against him a couple of times and he was still a crafty old bugger. My time at Melbourne Uni BC didn’t overlap with Robert Rowan’s but I did watch him take a bullpen when he dropped in on training around some commemorative event we had one year. Such a beautiful, fluid pitching motion. And of course, Bill Lawry’s own illustrious baseball career with Collingwood is well known.

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