PHIL O'SULLIVAN OAM
EASTERN SUBURBS (WAVERLEY) CRICKET CLUB
The club is sad to announce the passing of Phil O'Sullivan, past president and life member of the Eastern Suburbs (Waverley) Cricket Club. Phil passed away after a short illness on 10 August at the Prince of Wales Hospital. Phil is survived by his wife of 74 years, Joan, his son Chris, daughter-in-law, Patricia, four grandsons and five great grandchildren. Phil was 97.
Phil O'Sullivan's involvement with our club goes back to before the Second World War and continued right up to his passing - a total of more than 80 years. Phil had been a player, captain, committeeman, publicity officer, promotions officer, trustee, delegate to the NSWCA, long time sponsor and coaching director as well as our president from 1979 to 1987. He was the inaugural winner of the clubman of the year in 1972 and again in 1984. Phil was the driving force in bringing to the Eastern Suburbs (Waverley) Cricket Club modern management practices especially with regards to sponsorship and coaching.
Phil's passing is truly the end of an era for our club covering the better part of the last century up to the present day.
Phil, as a young boy, watched and admired the majestic and stylish batting of Alan Kippax at Waverley Oval and in the latter years the brutal aggression of David Warner. Hundreds in between such as Wendell Bill, the Fingletons, Harold Butler, Bruce Francis, Alan McGilvray, David Hourn, Geoff Boycott, Malcolm Marshall to name but a few.
He would have crossed paths with the prince of wicket keepers and Waverley Captain, Sep Carter who debuted for Australia in 1902 and who was a regular attendee at the Oval up to 1948. He crossed paths with Peter Nevill who debuted as keeper for Australia in 2015.
He was around in the 1930’s when the club was set to abandon Waverley Oval as it's home ground in favour of Woollahra Oval to the building of a magnificent new grandstand at Waverley Oval in 2012 named in his honour.
Phil was the ultimate club man. When he was nominated as a life member his nominee Mick Alterator stated on the nomination form "I nominate Phil O'Sullivan for life membership as he has done more work for this club than anyone I know". In his centenary book on the Waverley Cricket Club John Morrison was to write " It should be recorded that Phil O'Sullivan is one of the most respected and loyal members that Waverley has ever had."
Phil was a visionary who was also a realist with regards to running an amateur sporting club. The bottom line was Phil was always willing to have a go at anything which could promote cricket in the district.
As a visionary Phil organised the first overseas tour by a grade cricket club to New Zealand in 1968/69. He was one of the movers and shakers who bought out Tony Greig to captain Waverley in 1975, against some opposition it has to be said. He organised the first ever cricket tour to China.
The New Zealand tour was a trailblazer for Sydney Grade Cricket and led to many other clubs undertaking similar overseas trips.
Phil and Tony were to remain the firmest of friends until Tony's untimely passing in 2012.
The acquisition of Tony Greig was revolutionary and not only changed the course of our club but also the course of world cricket. It was through Phil and Waverley Cricket Club that Tony Greig met Kerry Packer in 1975 and as Tony was to say in his Colin Cowdery oration in 2012 the Waverley Club had introduced him to a business world he had not known. This meeting of minds spawned the World Series Cricket revolution.The first cricket tour of the People's Republic of China took place in 1988. This tour is still celebrated on a regular basis. Phil was once called Australia's unofficial cricket ambassador to China. This was a momentous undertaking which was challenging logistically, diplomatically and financially. But Phil, the being the great organiser he was, pulled it off. The tour became the subject of a well received documentary on the Channel 7 network.
Phil considered one of his greatest achievements was in 1983 when he led a spirited rear-guard effort which saved the Waverley Club from extinction after the New South Wales Cricket Association had voted to amalgamate the club with Randwick. Phil led the fight again 10 years later when the same resolution was passed by the NSWCA. Indeed without Phil it is almost certain there would be no Eastern Suburbs (Waverley) Cricket Club today.
Yes so Phil was a visionary but also realised the importance of grassroots administration. He was a tireless worker for the club from the time he went on to the management committee and well beyond his retirement as president in 1987.
Phil's strong suite was coaching. Eastern Suburbs Cricket Club has a proud tradition in the development of junior cricket and junior cricketers. It was started by Dr Les Poidevin in 1922 and Phil was to take on this role from the 1960s onward. Thousands of children have gone through the Phil O'Sullivan junior ranks. Phil was not shy in seeking support from players and others, including his son Chris, who was the junior cricket registrar, to build and develop the coaching class. Phil had a particular knack in motivating volunteers for the greater good and was the ultimate networker, especially amongst local business.
By 1982, thanks largely to Phil, 323 juniors were registered in the coaching class. The sheer size of Phil's coaching class put great pressure on the 1983 NSWCA amalgamation resolution and was instrumental in saving the club. It was also to play a significant part in the 1993 amalgamation attempt.
Many of Phil's coaching class participants such as David Warner have achieved great heights in the game. Most have made lasting friendships through their involvement with the junior coaching class. This junior academy is now the largest in Australia and it's all thanks to the groundwork laid by Dr. Poidevin and Phil O'Sullivan.
Phil played a prominent role in the South Eastern Junior Cricket Association (SEJCA) and each year he would present the “Club Championship – P O’Sullivan Perpetual Shield”. His last presentation was in 2019 (COVID prevented 2020) where he delivered a rousing speech to the large gathering of young players and parents. It received a huge ovation.
Phil's fundraising efforts are legion. He raised tens of thousands of dollars for the club through any means possible from Melbourne Cup raffles to chocolate wheels, distribution of telephone books, in fact anything that could raise money. At one stage the club even had a poker machine in the backrooms courtesy of Phil and his mate John Chapman!
Phil realised the importance of advertising and exposure, especially in the newspaper print. Year after year Phil posted articles in the local papers, most notably the Wentworth Courier. A recent visit to Phil's house revealed articles by the hundreds which are currently being digitised and archived. Phil never missed a deadline and players of the 70s and 80s look back with fond memories at their games receiving the coverage they did.
Phil maintained strong ties with Waverley Council. He is held in highest of regards by Council but that did not mean he could not be firm in his dealings with them. In 1988 for example, after years of agitation by Phil with both Council and the Department of Sport and Recreation, all weather facilities were built at the southern end of the ground. This transformed our practice regime.
Another area in which Phil excelled was attracting sponsors to the club. Prior to Phil sponsorship was sporadic and mostly non existent. Phil, though a combination of newspaper publicity and being actively involved in the local business community, was able to attract a wide range of sponsors who either directly donated or had club awards in their names.
Phil worked in the community as a member of Rotary. He also had a long lasting association with Waverley College and was the oldest known old boy of the school.. No doubt those organisations would be preparing an appropriate tribute and are equally saddened by his passing. Phil was indeed a very busy man and led a full life to the end.
Phil was, without doubt, the quintessential community minded citizen.
Phil O'Sullivan OAM 1922 to 2020. Thank you Phil. Thank you for your service not just to the Eastern Suburbs (Waverley) Cricket Club but to the community in general.
The club extends it's sincere condolences to Phil's family.
Rest peacefully Phil.
For and on behalf of
The President and Members
Eastern Suburbs (Waverley) Cricket Club
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