The Wandong Cricket Club.
Cricket was played at Wandong from the early days, matches were played at a rough paddock locally known as Falks paddock. The advent of the reserve saw more formal matches taking place with slightly better facilities although the chances of the ball ending up in the creek were always a possibility with the local big hitters.
The Kilmore Free Press reported on the local matches, the Wandong team played against Kilmore, Broadford and Wallan as well as the college team as part of the Wallan District Cricket Association. During the war years 1939-1945 the club went into hiatus as did most sporting groups of the time. Most of the players were off fighting the war. After the war the club resumed and remained a strong force up until around 1969 when lack of players forced the club to wind up.
One can imagine the days of the matches at the oval, the men in their whites, the ladies preparing afternoon tea, plates of homemade scones and sponges. Maybe a few quiet beers after the match. With the backdrop of the rolling hills and creek the Wandong oval would have been an idyllic setting to enjoy the matches. For many years, local Nance Pickett kept the scores for the cricket club, everyone had a job.
In 1947 the list of members read like a who’s who of Wandong, names such as Batty, Christensen, Collins, Davern, Falk, Harper McDonald, Pickett, Quillinan, Ramage Ryan, Scanlon, Shiel, Tannock, Thomas and Waldron. The club held regular dances, selling drinks and ice-creams at the hall to raise funds for equipment and improvements to the grounds.
Once a year the club travelled to Bendigo by train and played the waterloo club, funds raised helped pay for the trip. Cigarettes were supplied to players for the club as an incentive to play, a luxury item in the post war years. Players would often walk to the match going as far as Darraweit Guim!
In 1948 a concrete pitch was finally constructed with help from a grant from the ground management and a working bee of the members. The club now held frequent euchre parties to raise funds and also sold bats and ball to players to help boost the coffers.
Bill Patton who had lost one arm below in an accident on the tramway was a first-class batsman for Wandong for many years. In 1960 the grounds were upgraded again, Jim Rogers, the state school-principal finished the 1967/68 season as best batter with 250 runs. The club finished its competitive days with matches between the Old Boys and Young Boys and the Old Boys versus the Wandong Stars.
It wasn’t long after that the club disbanded through lack of players. In 1980 the Wallan Cricket Club moved to Wandong and took over the upkeep of the oval, mowing the grass as well as paying an annual fee for its use. Lack of numbers again caused the club to cease and by 1985 no competitive matches were played and soon after the club disbanded and did not reform.
Wandong has not had a competitive team since, Kilmore uses the oval and it is good to see cricket again being played there, with the advent of Milo cricket and the ground condition being improved all the time it is hoped that once again there will be a local Wandong team and the ground will ring to the tune of ball on willow.