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History - A Brief Overview, PKLC 50th Anniversary

 

Port Kembla Cricket Club, A Short History

Originally founded by the Darcy Roaders, based around a group of cricketers living opposite Electrolytic Refining & Smelting on Darcy Road in Port Kembla, the team was officially called the Electrolytic Company Club in 1912, playing its first official game on the 18th March 1912 defeating the team from Wollongong C. C (the eventual 1912 premiers).  The success of teams selected from workers of the Electrolytic Company and the Darcy Roaders prompted team captain Jack Petfield to press for the formation of the Port Kembla District Cricket Club. A meeting was held on 5th September 1912 at the Great Eastern Hotel (now called Steelworks Hotel) where the Port Kembla D. C. C. was officially formed and the first office bearers appointed. Mr Jack Petfield was officially appointed the first 1st grade Captain.

As Port Kembla D. C. C., the first match was played against Wollongong at (now) Wollongong Showground. Port Kembla temporarily played home games at Wollongong until generous financial assistance was given by the management of Electrolytic Refining & Smelting Co. (then the only major industry in Port Kembla), which donated the first ground and wicket, which was laid at the northern end of the Electrolytic Company grounds in Port Kembla (now tennis court and car park near Police Station). The original wicket can be seen in the pictures below. This was used almost continuously until 1939. Dr. Kirkwood was instrumental in having a turf wicket laid down in 1925. This proved unsuccessful because of problems arising regarding upkeep. Later, a strip was laid down at Kemblawarra Oval and still later transferred to its present location at King George V Oval.

 

Some of the finest cricketers ever to play in the Illawarra have padded up for Port Kembla since the club's inception in 1912. Three of these players, Albert Bennett, Max Hanna and Frank Jones represented against international teams. The general opinion of supporters of many years standing is that the late Herb Mills was the best cricketer to ever play for Port Kembla. Herb was also a state rugby league referee. It was also generally agreed that Gordon Rodwell was the best ever captain and later cricket administrator to emerge from the smoke stacks.

The club won its first premiership in 1914-15. Competitions were suspended during the First World War, and Port Kembla returned to the winning list in 1921-2, 1922-3, and 1923-4 with three successive premierships. In the 54 years of the club's history (article originally written 1966), the following players gave more than 15 years service: H.A. Mills, C. Ackerman, C. Brewer, S. Small, E. Leplastrier, G. Rodwell, M. Simon and G. Hoffman.

Summary of some earlier key players:

H.A. Mills: Joined the club in 1913 and played continuously until 1930, leading both the batting and bowling averages on several occasions. A brilliant opening batsman and first class slow bowler. On his retirement in 1930 he became club president.

D. Matthews: Joined the club in 1913 and was captain till 1921. A wicketkeeper batsman of obvious class he was forced into retirement as a result of a serious accident before he reached his peak.

Albert Bennett: Opening batsman for Port Kembla at the age of 13 in the 1923-24 season. Played for NSW against the West Indies in 1930-31 scoring 96 runs. Later he went to England and played many seasons with Lancashire, with or against Eddie Paynter, George Duckworth and Sir Len Hutton. Later he played 1st Grade with St.George, finishing his career with Port Kembla in 1946-47.

Gordon Rodwell: First played with the club in 1925 in second grade, became first grade captain in 1939, an honour he held until his retirement in 1947. In 1948 he was elected president of the Illawarra Districts Cricket Association, a position he retained until his retirement in 1957. Rated Port's best ever captain, he also skippered the Illawarra team for seven successive seasons, and was also a state selector.

Morgan Simon: Port Kembla's "Mr. Cricket" first started playing for Port Kembla in 1932, has captained first grade and played out his days in second grade. He had played 34 seasons consecutively (-to 1966) for Port Kembla.

There are many others, such as Max Hanna, a prolific run scorer who captained Southern NSW against India and England; Frank Jones, the speed merchant, who played with Hanna against England; Stan Small and Reg Grayson who with Herb Mills took more than 80 wickets in a season, whilst Mills, with Albert Bennett, scored 5 centuries in a season. To this one could add George Beckett, Eric Ritchie, Doc Poidevin, Bob Richmond and Stan Beasley.

In more recent times, some of the great names and achievers for Port Kembla Cricket have included but not exclusively are Doug and Keith Barker, Barry Bates, John Hunter, Garry Boyall, Len Brown, Keith Hughes, Andrew Koutsoufis, Anthony, Lindsay and Julian Le Bas, Ian Leishman, Philip Murray, Peter Van Geest, Peter Wilson, Neil Garrett, Gordon Grivas, Bruce Weissel, Garry Masters, Steve Nikitaras and Greg Harvey. Many of these players achieving high representative honours including: Illawarra Representative, Sydney Grade, NSW Country, Combined Country, NSW Colts, NSW 2nd Eleven, NSW State Squad, NSW Sheffield Shield, WA Sheffield Shield. The club has a proud history of local junior players making representative sides. The club believes other players can achieve the honour of playing in the first class arena. We are hopeful that young players like Jordan Magro could be the next if he keeps improving and continues to represent in junior state teams. Our goals include continuing to produce outstanding cricketers and hopefully guide them in achieving their dreams in this great game we play and enjoy.

 Overall 1st Grade Premierships: 1914-15, 1915-16, 1920-21, 1921-22, 1922-23*, 1930-31, 1938-39, 1939-40, 1941-42, 1942-43, 1943-44*, 1944-45, 1967-68, 1971-72, 1979-80, 1980-81, 1981-82, 1984-85*, 1988-89 & 2003-04.     *Undefeated Season.

Overall 1st Grade Minor Premierships: 1922-23, 1937-38, 1940-41, 1943-44, 1944-45, 1952-53, 1967-68, 1968-69, 1970-71, 1979-80, 1982-83, 1984-85, 2001-02 & 2002-03.

 

   1980-81 Premiers

 2003-04 Premiers  

  

Steve Nikitaras with 2003-04 Premiership Medal

2004-05 ICA Award Winners

These pages have been compiled from various sources, many thanks to Wal Smith, Ted Masters, Nick Kapsimallis and Martin King.