Journey of discovery

Prized possessions: John Shaw (at left) and Dan Heaney with the early days premiership medallion, silver fruit bowl, and silver cup.

A chance find of a gold medallion proving Woodend Cricket Club won a premiership in 1900-1901 has ignited interest in discovering more about the early days of cricket in Woodend and surrounds.

“We had no idea at all … the club hasn’t got any written records about what took place prior to 1925,” long-time life member John Shaw said. 

President Dan Heaney said it was important the club delved into its history and origins, and anyone who could provide any relevant information would be welcomed. 

“We didn’t have a clue about the 1900- 1901 premiership until Woodend resident Julie Morris found the inscribed gold medallion when packing up various items that had accumulated over generations,” Shaw said. 

The medallion inscribed with the name ‘L. Harris’ is about the size of a 50 cent piece. 

The player was Leigh Harris, who went on to become a notable Woodend resident. 

Research revealed the Kyneton District Cricket Association allocated five pounds to enable Kyneton jeweller Mr Leaney to supply gold medals for the 13 Woodend players. 

The Woodend Star reported at the time that if the five pounds was insufficient to cover the cost, two shillings each would be collected from each recipient. 

It was explained this was necessary through one team failing to pay its entrance money. 

Teams competing in the association at the time included Kyneton (two teams), Woodend, Lauriston and Malmsbury. 

A premiership trophy in the form of an inscribed silver fruit bowl showing Woodend also won a flag in 1907-08 has also turned up.

And Shaw made an important find when he was wandering through a St Paul’s Cathedral opportunity shop in Melbourne some time ago. 

Lo and behold, there was a silver cup from Woodend’s premiership from its time in the Macedon District Association, which he quickly obtained for the club. 

It is thought the cup may have been there because of a prominent Dean of Melbourne’s close connection with Woodend. 

In October 1900, the annual meeting of Woodend Cricket Club at the London and Liverpool Hotel “lapsed through paucity of attendance” with not more than six supporters and members present. 

Obviously, a better outcome the next time around, with a premiership to follow. 

This Saturday evening, the Woodend Cricket Club’s Hall of Fame celebration is expected to attract a large gathering. 

Shaw and Heaney hope those present may be able to shed more light on the club’s pre-1925 activities.