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Epping District Cricket Club - A History 

Your Club was established as the Epping Municipal and Shires Cricket Club at a public meeting on 21 July 1933 at the Epping School of Arts, where a group of Epping cricketing enthusiasts, led by Mr S. A. Storey decided to form a new club. An approach was made to the NSW Cricket Association for a place in the Municipal and Shires Competition.

Under the leadership of Sid Thomas, a former First Grade player, the original team (list of these players below) entered in the 1933/34 B Grade competition. The team performed exceptionally well to gain premiership honours in its first season. Harry Hunt, a former State Cricketer, was the Club’s first President, Frank Russell the Honorary Secretary and Col Lording the Honorary Treasurer. The Club continued to field a team through the difficult years of the 1930’s and during World War II.
Premiership honours were achieved again in 1930/40 and with continued high performances until 1941/42, the team was rewarded by elevation to A Grade.

With the return of cricketing servicemen after the War, a second team was formed and entered in the Northern District Cricket Association competition until a place became available in the M&S B Grade competition in 1948/49. Club strength remained high under the inspiration of the executive team led by Mr S. J. Mayne and in 1951/52, further premiership honours were gained in A Grade.

In the early 1950’s, additional teams were entered into the NDCA Competition to cater for an influx of interested players and as a nursery for the development of young players. In 1956, our then Treasurer, Mr Doug Wotton introduced a schoolboy coaching scheme. 60 young lads enrolled in the Epping Oval sessions’ first class, with other sessions conducted at Waitara and Eastwood Ovals. As a result, the NDCA introduced Saturday morning cricket for boys aged 10 to 16, a competition your Club has continued to hold a strong representation in ever since.

Our Club celebrated its Silver (25th) Anniversary in 1957/58 by winning both the A and B Grade competitions as well as the inaugural Club Championship.

The following season saw the senior sides expand to 3 and then to 5 in 1962/63 under the stewardship of the venerable Jim McKenzie. Jim was also instrumental in reviving the Council of Shires Clubs, a representative committee desiring to promote Shires cricket, and the forerunner to today’s Shires Association. Jim’s involvement saw the introduction of a C Grade competition in 1964/65. Further premiership honours flowed regularly across the Grades, culminating in our second ‘clean sweep’ capturing the A, B and C Grade premierships and the Club Championship in 1974/75, a feat achieved for the third time in 1979/80.

The continued success of the Junior section of the Club saw, in 1977, the establishment of a separate committee of management for the Junior section of the Club, led by a Senior Vice President reporting to the Club’s overall Management Committee. The Juniors continue to be a successful and vibrant section of the Club, providing a steady feed of quality cricketers to the Senior sides to this day. Many of the dads involved in the Juniors were themselves products of the Juniors themselves and went on to distinguish themselves in the Senior ranks.

1982/83 saw further expansion of the M&S Competition with the introduction of the D Grade competition, which we successfully concluded with the premiership the following year. To further encourage and develop cricketing youth, the Shires Committee introduced the Frank Grey Shield for Under 24 aged players in season 1987/88. Epping has been a keen contestant in this limited over format competition ever since and have won the competition twice.

29 August 1985 was a very proud day in the history of Epping Cricket when one of our own made his Test debut for Australia. Dave Gilbert had indeed scaled the heights to line up in an Ashes Test that day, having started his journey in September 1977 in our NDCA D Grade side. Dave went on to represent Australia in 9 Tests. He also had a distinguished First-Class career in Australia and England and went on to an even more distinguished career as a cricket administrator. He is currently a match referee for the Cricket Australia but has never forgotten the start he received here at Epping and has remained a loyal and active friend of the Club to this day.

Dave’s journey to cricket’s highest mountain was mirrored by another who also never forgot where he came from and the friends he made on the way. Gavin Robertson became our second Test representative, debuting for Australia in Test Cricket in Chennai on 6 March 1998 and appeared in a further 3 Tests. Gavin continued his involvement with Epping after retiring from playing, including stints as Club Coach, and regularly gives up his time to attend our Annual Dinner as MC. 

Both Dave and Gavin are generous in acknowledging the role our Club played in their success and particularly the coaching and mentoring they received from our President and stalwart, Graeme Kightley.

The 90’s ushered in a new ‘professional’ direction in Shires Cricket. For the first time, marquee players were being recruited to Shires Clubs on a paid basis, forever changing the persona and reputation of the competition. No longer content to play second cousin to the Grade Cricket Clubs, Shires set about building its profile as the alternative competition for those cricketers finishing their Grade careers but still wanting to play a high standard of cricket. Sponsors were acquired to fund this development and the competition saw an influx of well-known and well credentialed cricket personalities. This has lifted the standard of the competition as a whole but has seen a shift in power to those clubs better able to source funds and thus quality players.

Epping followed this trend, albeit not as aggressively as other clubs. The Executive embraced the need for greater professionalism in the management of cricket. In a move that reflected this increased need to manage Club affairs in a professional and business-like manner, your Club undertook to incorporate itself under the Associations Incorporation Act in season 1991/92. This afforded Club management and members the sorts of legal protection enjoyed by officers of corporations. It was an important first step on the Club’s journey to becoming a truly professional organisation.
Your Club employed its first ‘professional’ player in 1992/93, when the very well performed former Grade Cricket legend, Gary Bensley joined the Club. Whilst not a full-time professional player as would seem in County and League cricket in England, Gary nonetheless brought to the Club a fresh approach to our game. Without his influence, Epping would have fallen way behind the high-flying clubs, both on and off the field. His own on-field performances were stellar, achieving Cricketer of the Year honours 5 times, second only to the great Phil Dunnicliff in our history.

In keeping with emerging trends in club cricket around the World, your Club adopted a nickname and new logo in 1992/3. From that time on, we become known as the Epping Bulls, reflecting our determination to charge back to prominence in the premiership stakes. It also provided a fresh new image for us to present to potential sponsors.

2005/06 saw a further step in our Club’s development with the employment of a formal Club Coach. Anthony Clarke-Bruce came to the Club with a sound background in playing and coaching and was our first official non-playing coach. His brief was to work with the younger members of the Club, as the Executive believe success will not come from enticing new talent at the top end of the Club alone, but by also building a strong foundation of home-grown youth which will be the base upon which long term success will be founded.

Whilst premiership honours have been scarce until 2022/23, the Club has nonetheless remained competitive in all Grades.

To recognise outstanding contributions to Shires Cricket, the Shires Association inaugurated The Shires Legends club. Epping’s prominent role in Shires’ history was recognised in 2003/04 when former Epping President, Perc Turnbull was inducted as a Shires Legend in only the second intake of inductees. This honour recognised not only Perc’s achievements and contributions to Epping Cricket but his leading role in developing Shires Cricket over many years to the strong and relevant competition it is today. Along the way, Perc accumulated over 1000 wickets and 3000 runs for Epping in a career spanning 1948 to 1991.

In 2004/05, Tim Creer joined Perc as our second inductee into the Shires Legends club. Tim has represented Lindfield, University of NSW and since 1970/71, Epping in a Shires career spanning over 50 years. As well as being one of our most successful captains, Tim also went past the magical 1000 wicket milestone in 2005/06. Tim has served our Club in many capacities over many years and has mentored many a junior player toward realising their talents in higher grades and competitions.

Phil Dunnicliff became our Club’s third Shires Legend at the end of Season 05/06. Whilst his stats are an amazing read in their own right, it is comments from his contemporaries and opponents that make Phil stand head and shoulders over all others. Comments such as “a complete cricketer”, “one of cricket’s gentlemen”, “a great captain’, and most telling of all, “the toughest bowler to face in the Shires competition” bear testimony to his standing, not only in our own club but I the wider cricket community in Sydney. Phil’s association with Epping started one year before our Club was formed when as a youngster representing an Epping XI versus and Invitation XI match at Epping Oval, he dismissed none other than Don Bradman. His association continued with Epping until the 70s as a player and administrator of renown. The Under 24s Player of the Year Award is named in his honour. A true Shires Legend.

In 2011, we had our 4th Shires Legend with Graeme "Rowdy" Baird inducted as a Shires Legend. An opening batsman with a technically sound technique, Rowdy became well known to opposition bowlers over several decades. A tireless &  dedicated worker for the Club, often doing unsung and
unseen work on behalf of his teammates Rowdy’s selfless example was rewarded by induction as a Shires Legend in 2011. Graeme became the
first Epping cricketer to pass the 10,000 run milestone. The 5th Grade Player’s Medal is named in his honour. He has also served your Club
on the Management Committee for over a quarter of a century as Honorary Secretary. A fine example and an inspiration we all aspire to, he is the
quintessential club man and a deserved Shires Legend.

Ten years later, our very own Mick Sedgers was inducted as a Shires Legend at the annual end of season dinner held by the SCA providing the club their 5th and most recent legend. An opening bat across all Grades over his career, Sedge also dabbled in medium pace as well as spin, to achieve batting allrounder status. Life membership was awarded for services to the Club both on and off the field. A regular on the Management Committee for over 35 years, 8 as President and 23 as Treasurer. Mick has also captained teams in 19 seasons, second only to Tim Creer. He has also kept the club’s records, statistics and prepared our Annual Reports for too long to remember. The 6th Grade Player’s Medal is named for him. Rowdy and Sedge have
been the mainstays of this Club for decades and set a great example for all to follow.

It was something that was developed for a number of years, but the Seniors and Juniors finally amalgamated in ... In a significant moment in the history of the Epping Bulls Cricket Club, the decision was to unite the juniors and seniors, created a seamless pathway for aspiring young cricketers. Recognizing the importance of nurturing talent and developing future stars, this integration hopefully will spark a new era of growth and opportunity. The club's vision became clear – to provide a comprehensive cricket experience where juniors could learn from seasoned seniors, and seniors could mentor and guide the next generation. This amalgamation not only enhanced skill development but also fostered a sense of camaraderie, teamwork, and unity that continues to define the Bulls today. 

In order to better service the growing demand of cricket and to have equal focus on both the young and the old we decided to establish a new committee structure. Our executive committee sits at the top with oversight of all operations in the Juniors and Seniors with members from each respective committee sitting on the executive committee. The committee consists of the following members who work to ensure the club is headed in the right direction. Executive Committee: President, Vice - President, Treasurer, Secretary, Senior Chairperson, Junior Chairperson. The executive must at all times have a minimum of 2 representatives from both the juniors and seniors who will round out the executive committee and ensure there is equal input from all involved. Beneath the executive committee were the respective Junior and Senior Committee members who had oversight of day -to-day operations and events with collaboration of both parties at the forefront. 

Our Club’s most recent on-field success was our second premiership in the Under 24 Frank Gray Shield competition in 2022/23. A truly talented band of young cricketers clean swept all before them to win the shield and break a premiership drought. A great team effort and fitting reward for this Club’s emphasis on development of young local cricketers.

Your Club continues to provide quality cricketing facilities to the district’s aspiring young cricketers, maintaining a competitive and influential presence in Shires cricket, and continues to discharge its obligation to be a nursery and conduit for elite cricketers in pursuit of higher honours in the sport. Your Executive Committee remains committed to these ideals and in preserving the enjoyment and camaraderie of our great game. Through the perseverance and commitment of all members, we look forward to continuing to enjoy the rich history of this great Club.
To be continued….
Playing Members in 1933/34
C. Burns
W. Collins
S. Kirk
 F.C. Russell
 H. Chapman
 R. Fearnside
 C.O. Lording
 D. Skinner
 P. Chapman
 S.J. Hooper
 J. Richmond
 S. Thomas
 F. Collins
 K. Hotson
 B. Purcell
 E. Waites

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