Welcome to the Coromandel Valley Ramblers Cricket Club (CVRCC) – a club with a rich and strong connection not only with the early settlement of Coromandel Valley but also with South Australia.
The first arrivals to the “Valley” were runaway sailors who jumped their ship, the Coromandel, in early 1837 and sought refuge from the authorities in this area until their ship had re-sailed. Coromandel Valley was officially settled later in the same year by John Chambers who established his property on Chambers Creek.at the southern end of the valley. Chambers Gorge and Mount Chambers in the Flinders Ranges and Chambers Pillar in the Northern Territory were named after John Chambers by John McDouall Stuart.
By the 1850’s several permanent stone dwellings had been established and Coromandel Valley had become a fairly stable Community.
In 1862 the Coromandel Cricket Club was established using the Chambers Flat cricket ground as the venue for cricket matches. The site of this oval is less than 200 metres away from the present Weymouth Oval and is located on the eastern side of the Coromandel Valley Road. Games played during these times were not part of any formal competition and were not regular features, but rather individual affairs. Cement pitches were unheard of and only the wicket keeper and long-stop were permitted to wear pads. Other grounds used during this period were Murray’s Flat (behind the Jam Factory), Fiveash and Hawthorndene Ovals.
In 1880 this Club moved to Hawthorndene Oval, which coincided with the construction of the railway line through the hills. The township of Blackwood expanded during this period, at the expense of neighbouring communities and the club moved for the last time to its current home ground location of Hewitt Oval on Coromandel Parade in 1892. When the Coromandel cricket club moved out of the valley it became much more oriented toward the Blackwood district. Some dissatisfaction must have been felt with this move, particularly from those members of the team who still lived and worked in the valley. And so the Riverside Cricket Club was formed in 1906. This club disbanded in 1914 due to the First World War and unfortunately was never re-formed. Cricketing names such as Winn, Scroop, Watchman and Penno were listed as members of this newly formed team. Many of these names are synonymous with early life in the valley, but also with the Coromandel Cricket Club for the same period. It must be assumed then that there was some interchange of players between these two clubs.
In 1926, following World War I, the Coromandel Valley Ramblers Cricket Club was formed, containing not surprisingly many of those players from the disbanded Riverside Cricket Club. This new team made its home ground at Hawthorndene Oval and has remained there ever since.
The Ramblers joined The Adelaide and Suburban Cricket Association entering at Section 3 in the 1946/47 season after some 20 years in the Mid-Southern Association. Unfortunately limited records are available for the period 1926-1945.
The Ramblers continued as a single team club for the next 20 years with mixed success. As a club they not only shared the Hawthorndene Oval with the Blackwood R.S.L. Club, but it also shared all the maintenance and preparation of the ground. During this period, the Ramblers were held together by a dedicated band of loyal cricketers. In the 23 seasons from 1946/47 to 1969/70 that core of members included Len Kenyon (who played continuously for 23 seasons), Glen Watchman (20 seasons) Alan Rayner (16), Des Chilton (15), Jack Saunders (14) and Cohn Hender (13). After a premiership in 1969/70 in Section 2 the club entered a second side in section 4 for the 1970/71 season. The A Grade was promoted to the Section 1 division and has proudly remained there ever since. This was the start of a new era in the Club that saw an influx of junior players from Blackwood High School and also members from the now disbanded (and reformed) Belair Cricket Club. The 1970’s saw an explosion in Club Membership and resulted in a 3rd and 4th side being entered into the association by the 1977/78 season. Now with 4 sides, new challenges were before the Club, including financial security, ground locations, equipment and practice facilities.
After holding practices at Hawthorndene Oval for many years this venue had to be changed when the oval was upgraded during the early 1970’s. Practices were held at various locations including Blackwood High School, Coromandel Primary School and even Glen Watchman’s orchard (this is now the site of The Duck Inn). Finally during 1982/83 permanent practice facilities were established at Weymouth Oval. Substantial funds were required to finance these facilities and it was only possible with exhaustive fund-raising by Club Members during the 1970’s. These pursuits included, paper drives from 1970/71 through to 1980/81 and almond picking from 1977/78 to 1980/81. Councils over recent times have been applying a user pays principle to the use of their ovals and this has severely impacted on club funds. This problem has been largely overcome with an active pursuit of sponsorship of the club.
Finals were introduced for the first time in 1984/85 and the A Grade has featured in 8 out of the 14 subsequent finals campaigns to 1996/97 winning the 1994/95 premiership. In fact the Club has been represented in 11 of the 13 years of finals and has been one of the more successful clubs in this regard.
If the 1950’s and 60’s belonged to the likes of Len Kenyon then the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s have belonged to 2 current Club Members namely Tony Benson and David Neil. Since 1970 when Tony started with the Club he has held at one time or other many of the key executive positions within the club and has been the backbone and inspiration of the junior development which has seen many of the junior players climb up through the grades. David Neil has been secretary to the club since 1976 and Association Delegate and Committee person since 1972 and was awarded life membership to the Association in 1988.
The enthusiasm and commitment of these two players to the Ramblers and the game of Cricket must be acknowledged.
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75 Years of the Coromandel Valley Ramblers Cricket Club
The 2000/01 season represented the 75th anniversary since the CVRCC was officially formed on 21 July 1926.
After playing for some 20 years in the mid Southern Cricket Association the “amblers” joined the Adelaide and Suburban Cricket Assoc. (est 1899) in 1946/47. According to the records of this Association the CVRCC is now one of only 5 remaining clubs from the 1946/47 season. The other clubs being Coromandel, South Road, St Marks (now Morphetville Park) and Kenilworth.
It is appropriate on this anniversary then to invite a few comments/thoughts from one player who has played and been associated with the club for over 40 of those years.
“RAMBLING NOTES” – One player’s perspective
Despite rumours, I did not play in the first game of the Club. My first game was in 1960.
For about half of its life, the Coromandel Ramblers was one team club. The team drew largely on local talent, providing a strong community focus. I remember on game in shich three families of Watchmans provided six of the players. Imagine the confusion of the scoring opposition with â€œbowler’s name?”.
When I started playing, it seemed to me that the team was selected on Friday afternoon at the East End Market, where several key players worked. Practice was something you got on Saturday in the middle.
Hawthorndene has continued to be home ground, but it is better maintained these days. It is the only oval that I have played on where, early in the season, a ball has been lost in dandelions on the oval, and play had to cease while the ball was found.
The club has never had clubrooms. The open sided shelter as Hawthorndene provided the venue for after game drinks in earlier times, whilst similar shelter at Weymouth Oval serves this function today.
In my view, the back bone of the Club has been provided by three stalwarts. Originally Gill Penno, who established the Club, followed by Glen Watchman (that name again), and finally Tony Benson. Each dedicated tremendous efforts to run and drive the Club, but above all, each drew and encouraged young players to become involved.
The behind the scenes person who has quietly given great service to the Club is David Neil.
The Ramblers have always played to win, but enjoyment of the game has been paramount. Over time, most of us can relate to the development of special bonds and friendships between team mates as we have shared the highs and lows of the team’s performances. Many of us will remember opponents, who, although fierce competitors on the field, became respected off-field acquaintances, and whom we look forward to meeting again each season. (This is not universally so!).
Over 75 years, the Club has been an important element in the lives of many aspiring, average and accomplished cricketers, who, when asked could proudly reply â€œI play for the Coromandel Ramblers”.
Updated May 2010