This is a brief history of the club. For the full history of Brighton Union please see Glancing Back - The History of Brighton Union by Noel Pullen on this website.
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Brighton Union Cricket Club was formed by a merger of the New Marylebone Cricket Club and the Odd-Stocking Push Cricket Club. The fledgling Brighton Union had two teams based at Hurlingham Park, an area of reclaimed swampland that had previously been used as a racecourse before the land was purchased by Brighton Council for use as a public park. The 1st XI won a Brighton District Cricket Association premiership in its first season.
The first concrete grandstand was built. Prior to this, players changed in roofless wooden sheds. Malthoid pitches replaced the earlier rolled clay/sand pitches.
A 3rd XI was formed.
1928 - 1942
"The wilderness years" of Union: the club struggled on field as well as financially during the Great Depression period. Players made do using old patched-up equipment and a wide variety of clothing, while cricket balls were also in short supply. The late 1930's saw a revival in Union's fortunes, with the 1st XI leading the field in the 1941/42 season prior to the Brighton District Cricket Association ceasing operations for the remainder of World War 2.
1944 - 1950
During the War, Union continued to field teams in the neighboring Bentleigh District Cricket Association (the direct forefather of the current City of Moorabbin Cricket Association). 1944/45 was a good year for the club, with both 1st and 2nd XIs winning premierships at the expense of Bentleigh ANA. Brighton Union returned to the Brighton District CA for the 1946/47 season and won its sixth premiership, defeating Hurlingham CC in a low-scoring final.
1950 - 1962
"The golden era" of Union. The club won an astonishing nine 1st XI premierships, including six in a row between 1955/56 and 1960/61. Club greats of this period include the Polson brothers George, John, and Les, Frank "Dummy" Edlin (a deaf-and-dumb cricketer who made over 6000 runs and took 800 wickets), John Egan, Bill Ould, Len McAliece, Harry Smith and Keith Hamilton. Union was also blessed with an exceptional president in Len Holford.
Brighton Union formed its first ever junior sides, two U-16 teams known as the Greens and Golds. These teams played each other in the Brighton District CA U-16 finals in both the 1955/56 and 1956/57 seasons, a testimony to the extraordinary talent then present at the club.
Brighton Union elected to join a stronger competition (the City of Moorabbin Cricket Association). In 1961/62 the 1st XI finished runners-up to Bentleigh Methodists, but won the premiership the following year.
1963 - 1966
Decline and relegation. Many senior players retired, and junior teams ceased to be fielded. Union was relegated to B-grade, and with only 20-odd senior players left the club had reached rock bottom.
1966 - 1970
"The restoration of Union". Under the leadership of secretary Peter Marcollo, a dedicated committee set about restoring the fortunes of the club with an energetic senior and junior recruiting drive. The saviours of the club included stalwarts Bill Ould, Howard Leigh-Watkin, John Egan, David Wingfield, Noel Pullen and Allen Thomas: Allen was instrumental in recruiting players so that a 3rd XI could be re-formed. U-16 and U-14 teams were also re-instituted during this time.
The 1st XI defeated Hampton Methodists to win the B-grade premiership and earn promotion back into A-grade. This team included rising young stars Julien Wiener, Kevin McNally, Jeff Hayes and Peter Cook.
A 4th XI was formed.
1970 - 1974
"The turf experiment". For four seasons the 1st XI played in the South B section of the Victorian Junior Cricket Association, using a turf wicket at Elsternwick Park. In 1971/72 Anthony "Jack" Vollugi became junior coach of the club, ushering in a great era of junior development at Brighton Union. In this season Peter Head turned in a remarkable individual effort in the U-14 grand final, scoring 159 n.o. and taking 6/37 with the new ball to virtually defeat Bentleigh Presbyterians single-handed. 1972 saw the formation of a 5th XI, which remains the highest number of senior teams the club has ever fielded. Noel Pullen became club secretary in 1970 and held this key office until the close of the 1999/2000 season.
After an acrimonious parting with the VJCA in 1974, Brighton Union 1st XI returned to B-grade in the City of Moorabbin CA, and in 1975/76 held out for a thrilling 3-run win in the grand final against Hampton Central. Club old-timers rate this as Union's finest premiership win. The team was then promoted to A-grade for the following season, and has been a permanent fixture in the top grade ever since. The U-16s won their first CMCA flag, with Simon Davis (5/60) and Peter Grant (101) the stars.
The clubs first U-12 team was formed.
John O'Sullivan hit up a majestic 183 n.o. in a single morning in an U-14 semi-final against Ormond. Years later long-serving junior coach Jack Vollugi rated it the most brilliant junior innings he ever saw. Only 3 years later, John was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of 16.
1982 - 1983
The 1st XI took out back-to-back premierships against fierce rivals East Sandringham. The 1982/83 final was an epic 2 run victory, set up by an heroic bowling performance from Con Gorozidis (9/140 from 54 overs).
1981 - 1986
A womens XI competed until lack of numbers finally led to its demise.
1987 - 1988
In an otherwise barren period for the club, the U-14s won back-to-back premierships under the management of Max Williams. The 3rd XI had a thrilling win in the 1987/88 E-grade semi-final against Hampton United. With 5 runs needed off the last ball of the match, 16 year-old Owen Morros hit a 6 to pull off a miracle win. Sadly, the fairytale ended in defeat the following week in the Grand final against Bentleigh ANA.
The 5th XI won its second premiership after a 14 year wait. Highlights included an amazing last wicket partnership of 219 between veteran Alan Creswick (83) and 14 year old Simon Williams (103 n.o.) in the G-grade semi-final against South Caulfield. Simon continued his wonderful form with a match haul of 11/83 in the Grand final against Highett.
1990 - 1999
"The Glorious Nineties". This decade has seen the club win four 1st XI flags, the most successful period since the halcyon days of the 50s. These successes were largely driven by modern greats such as Con Gorozidis, Alex Gerdan, George Gorozidis, Tony Grant and Owen Morros. During this time the club welcomed back former junior stars Julien Wiener, Peter Grant and Andrew Grant. In 1993/94 the 1st XI competed in the Victoria-wide Puma Cup tournament and created a sensation with wins over THREE district sides (Frankston, Footscray and Collingwood) before Union's gallant run ended at the hands of Northcote in the semi-final. The 3rd XI broke a 41 year drought to win a flag in 1994/95 under the leadership of Peter Head. After a low point in 1991 when juniors had dwindled to a single U-12 team, Brighton Union commenced annual cricket clinics at Gardenvale and Brighton primary schools. One of the first recruits was Kivanc Cevik, who subsequently won 3 junior club championships to match the efforts of previous multiple winners Peter Head, Con Gorozidis and Con Pothitos. As a result of the clinics the junior section has expanded to an all-time high of 5 teams.
After a twenty year wait, the club gained its first U-12 premierships, with both the U-12A and U-12D teams successful. U-12 stars Michael Barberio, Darian Kuzma and Michael Cove were also instrumental in the helping the CMCA U-12 team in winning the prestigious U-12 Mitchell Shield tournament (an annual contest between all Melbourne metropolitan cricket associations). Jack Vollugi passed away in 1997, aged 89. It is fitting that we acknowledge his incredible coaching legacy: 26 years of service during which the club won 21 premierships in various grades and 7 CMCA club championships. Literally thousands of kids benefited from Jack's lifelong love affair with cricket.
The 1st XI won the premiership by decisively defeating Washington Park. This season Brighton Union succeeded in initiating a Friday afternoon U-14 cricket competition, and our team won the inaugural premiership in this grade. The team was ably led by James Jorgensen, who capped off a great year by taking out the Junior club championship.
2000 - present
The 1998-99 premiership saw the gradual retirement of many club greats, and the club spiralled to one of its worst seasons ever in 2000-01 with all senior teams near the bottom of their grade and the 1st XI narrowly avoiding relegation. At times things looked so bleak we wondered how the club would survive as the club was also in serious financial strife. In the next 3 years the club gradually clawed its way out of this hole, largely due to steady improvement by the younger players in the 1st XI.
Season 2002-03 saw a short-lived comeback by George Gorozidis after a 2 year absence. Returning in Rd 6, George started with a brilliant 141 against Mackie, probably the finest innings of his career, and then followed up next week with 263 n.o. against Bentleigh ANA, made from only 145 balls in just over 3 hours and including 15 sixes and 33 fours. This is the highest score in CMCA A-grade history. In 6 matches George made 685 runs but unfortunately the side missed finals that season on percentage.
In 2003-04 the 1st XI coached by Danny Frew stormed into a grand final and came heart-breakingly close to causing a huge upset after having premiership favourites East Sandringham 5/35 chasing our 185. Since this grand-final disappointment the 1st XI have struggled for consistency. However the lower XIs have flourished, with all teams tasting finals action in recent years, and the 3rd XI breaking the premiership drought by taking out the E-grade premiership in 2006-07 under the captaincy of Imad Amro. Hero of the win was Kivanc Cevik with his maiden century, and club stalwarts Nezar Daou and Richard Lewis finally savoured a flag after a 20 year wait.
Our senior establishment returned to 5 sides with the entry of a One-Day XI in 2003-04, and this team has been a regular participant in finals. Significant events during these years included 450 games to David Wingfield, and 300 games to Con Gorozidis and David Blair. A sad note was the passing of club legend John Egan in 2005, however his name is commemorated in the newly-instituted Michael and John Egan Shield, which Brighton Union and Bentleigh ANA compete for annually. New life members elected were Phillip Arnold, Danny Frew, Alex Gerdan, Owen Morros, Simon Haddon, Nezar Daou, Paul Hack and Ken Williams.
Off-field the club hosted the first ever Over 60s match in Victoria in 2003, and past club secretary Noel Pullen created electoral history as the first Labor candidate to win the safe Liberal Upper House seat of Higginbotham. 2003 saw the appearance of “Dexter”, the clubs first bowling machine, which continues to do yeoman service at training. In 2005-06 major expenditure allowed practice nets renovations and a new centre pitch for the main oval.
Despite indifferent form by senior teams in the new millennium, the junior teams have continued to be successful, with four U-14 and three U-12 premierships won during this period. A very talented group of U-14s were successful in wining back-to-back flags in 2005-06 and 2006-07, so the club has plenty to look forward to as these lads mature. Particularly noteworthy performances in 2006-07 were centuries by U-14 stars Nick Travers (146) and Jordan Steele (105) in the 4th XI. Junior teams swelled to an all-time high of 6 teams in 2006-07, with three of these teams reaching the finals, so the club continues its tradition as a leading junior club within the CMCA.
The 2007-08 season was the club’s centenary year.