The history of the Waverley Cricket Club and Waverley Council have been inextricably linked in an association that commenced with the first meeting of Waverley Council in 1859 – a period of more than 150 years. At the time of the proclamation of the Municipality of Waverley in June 1859 a Waverley Cricket Club was already playing cricket in the Waverley area, albeit not on Waverley Park, as this area at the time was occupied by Falstaff Farm.
A loose association of cricketers playing under the banner of Waverley Cricket played “challenges” for some twenty years until 1878 when the Waverley Cricket Club was formally established, adopted a constitution and held annual meetings. Most often these meetings were held in the Waverley Council chambers and many of the office bearers of the Waverley Cricket Club also held official positions with Waverley Municipal Council. Indeed the first secretary of the Club, Mr. Thomas J Dickson was also mayor at the time, a tradition of councillors and state politicians having a close association with the cricket club that has continued to this day. In September 1880 at the annual general meeting of Waverley Cricket Club the secretary reported to the meeting that “the club had suffered through the want of permanent ground but it is hoped that the Borough Council will set apart a portion of the new reserve for cricketing purposes and so set apart it will form one of the best suburban grounds around Sydney”. Waverley Park had come under the management of the Council in June 1880.
Throughout the early 1880’s several sporting associations prevailed on the Borough Council to allow exclusive use of the newly established Waverley Park. Finally on 2 August 1887, in what was reported at the time as a “red letter day” in the history of the Waverley Cricket Club, the trustees granted exclusive right to the Club to play on the ground. Waverley Cricket proceeded to spend 150 pounds in improvements. Waverley Cricket had found a home and the beginning of a long association with Waverley Oval to the mutual benefit of both the Cricket Club and Council. The cricket club continued to spend funds on improvements to the oval and by 1894 were reported to have bought the ground into first class condition, recently erecting a pavilion and other conveniences and excellent turf match and practice wickets. The condition of the Oval was no doubt a factor in acceptance into the “Hordern Shield” electorate cricket competition run by the New South Wales Cricket Association at the time.
From the inception of Waverley Park as the home round of Waverley Cricket Club large crowds attended matches. The Oval and its various pavilions and structures were to become an institution in the local community. In 1923 crowds of 10,000 were reported to have attended the final between Waverley Cricket Club and Gordon Cricket Club. While such crowds do not now attend games a great number of residents continue to take an interest in the performance of Eastern Suburbs Cricket as evidenced through hits on our internet live score updates on game days. There have been three pavilions erected on Waverley Park, the first being entirely built by the cricket club at a cost of 150 pounds when the club was first granted sole use of the ground. In 1908 a second pavilion, large enough to accommodate 150 spectators was completed. This pavilion was to last until the 1930’s when the popularity of cricket and the needs of an expanding club saw the construction of the “T H Howard” pavilion. This was to be the precursor to the pavilion currently under construction.
During its long history Waverley Cricket has produced 15 test cricketers, has won 42 premierships and has been instrumental in many reforms and changes to cricket in Sydney. It has always had very strong administration and administrators with many progressing to senior positions within NSW and Australian cricket. For example the premier young men’s competition in Sydney, the Poidevin Gray Shield, was established by two of our greatest administrators, Dr. L O S Poidevin and Frank Gray. In 1988 Phil O’Sullivan, Club President, had the foresight to organise a ground breaking cricket tour of China, a tour that continues to be recognised at an official level by the Chinese Government today. Phil also organised the first overseas tour by a Sydney Grade Cricket Club in 1969. Of late our longest serving president Bob Horsell sat for twelve years on the Australian Cricket Board and was Chairman of NSW Cricket from 1997 to 2008.
Eastern Suburbs Cricket Club (Waverley) is a part of the sporting and social fabric of the local community. In their life’s journey thousands of young men and women have passed though Waverley Oval, its coaching classes and extensive junior competition. While some have gone on to represent the district and beyond, all have benefited from the mentoring provided by the coaches and senior players from the club. It is not trite to say that lifetime friendships have been forged at Waverley Oval, something that will continue as long as cricket remains our premier summer sport and is played at Waverley Oval.
To quote from Dr. John Morrison’s centenary history of Waverley Cricket Club “Up the Waves”
“It can readily be seen that the history of Waverley Oval is virtually inseparable from the history of the cricket club. Moreover, it is a tribute to the close cooperation that has always existed between Waverley Council and Waverley Cricket Club, an association which began in the 1870’s and continues to the present day. In fact, it could be said that, all over Sydney, similar scenes involving cricket clubs and local councils, were being enacted producing parks and playing areas to the mutual benefits of all concerned”.
Eastern Suburbs Cricket Club is constantly evolving and expanding. Its mission is the promotion of cricket for men and women and those with special needs. It continues as a major force in the Sydney Grade Cricket competition and provides a nursery for players at inter district, state and national level.
Waverley Oval and its facilities have been and will hopefully continue to be integral to the cricket club’s aspirations and achievements.