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Bullecourt - The ultimate sacrifice

Bullecourt - The ultimate sacrifice

On April 25, 1917, nine Gordon cricketers were stationed within their AIF divisions near Bullecourt or recovering from their wounds in nearby hospitals. They would have observed a minute’s silence and for some a swig of rum was consumed to remember their fellow diggers who had fallen at Gallipoli.

The Australian "Digger" memorial at Bullecourt

Four of those cricketers Alister Maclean, Johnnie Moyes, George Swan and Ron Eaton had somehow survived the First Battle of Bullecourt from April 10 to 11, while another five, Frank Bamford, Henry Gordon, Harry Braddon, Charles Cook and Colin McCulloch were unaware that the British command were about to send them back over the same ground in a week’s time.

No doubt, defeat had flattened their spirits, having just endured one of the coldest European winters on record and two weeks earlier, 3400 of their fellow Australians had died or were wounded in one of the Western Front's bloodiest battles, the First Battle of Bullecourt.

This was Anzac Day, 100 years ago today, at Bullecourt, in France.

It was two years since the Gallipoli landing and the Australians, many of them veterans of those battles, had again been let down by their British command, this time with "new-fangled" tanks that did not perform. Now, licking their wounds and awaiting orders to attack again, they were unaware that one of their great victories was just a couple of weeks away. That victory would cost them dearly, leaving a total of more than 10,000 casualties from both Bullecourt battles, including about 3500 killed in action.

Major Johnnie Moyes

This sacrifice would "live in history as long as history exists", wrote the celebrated war correspondent Charles Bean. In the villages of France and Belgium, the bravery of the Australians is still commemorated. An Anzac Day service is held each year in Bullecourt where a proud statue of the Australian Digger has pride of place.

The Gordon "veterans", including the highly decorated Alister Maclean had been back in action after spending the winter ‘on holidays’ in Flers, while Johnnie Moyes was back after being wounded at Pozières and George Swan, who had fought at Gallipoli and Pozières, had again fought gallantly against immeasurable opposition at Bullecourt in the first encounter on April 11. They had been joined by new recruit, Ronald Eaton, who had played in both the 1913-14 and 1914-15 seasons for Gordon, having started as a nineteen year old. He played mainly Third Grade over the two seasons and was a very promising all-rounder, scoring 436 runs and taking 45 wickets in the two seasons. He was promoted to Seconds just when the war came and took 5 wickets in his two games. A promising start like so many of his friends who were taken away and not given the chance to play again.

Frustrated by a lack of support from the untested British tanks, the Australian troops proceeded nevertheless to attack the German lines at Bullecourt and both George Swan’s 47th Battalion and Major Johnnie Moyes, who was the commander of the 48th Battalion on that day, made inroads to occupy sections of the Hindenburg Line. As was customary, the battalions sent up flares to signal artillery support but conflicting orders were sent to Ron Eaton’s 12th Field Artillery Brigade that the support wasn’t needed. Now cornered without assistance, the Germans counter attacked and isolated the Australian battalions who became completely surrounded.

Charles Cook

Almost a quarter of the battalion troops were forced to surrender with a total of 1,142 soldiers taken as prisoners of war. Fortunately through some skillful maneuvering, some of the 47th and 48th Battalion, including Johnnie and George, were able to avoid surrendering and under heavy fire re-took the German trenches at their rear. Finally artillery from the British 5th Army arrived to provide support but they became confused and their bombs started to fall on the Australian battalions. What sort of luck is that to be bombed by the Germans and the British at the same time! No wonder we like to beat them at cricket!

In the chaos that followed, Johnnie Moyes was severely wounded in the right thigh but fortunately was able to get to an ambulance station for treatment.

As Anzac day came and went in 1917, the diggers couldn’t believe what they were hearing as the British commander instructed the Australian 2nd Division to relieve the 4th Division and again attack the Hindenburg line at Bullecourt. The five Gordon cricketers who had relieved their exhausted team mates were:

  • Frank Bamford – Agent from Clanwilliam Street, Chatswood
  • Henry James – Clerk from Middleton Street, Chatswood
  • Harry Braddon – Barrister from Cherry Street Turramurra
  • Charles Cook – Builder from Patrick Street Chatswood
  • Colin McCulloch – Solicitor from Lane Cove Road Warrawee

These cricketers had all played for Gordon in various teams in the years before 1915, but none of them would enjoy a day at Chatswood Oval again either through their injuries or in the case of Colin McCulloch his tragic death on April 11, 1918.

Colin McCulloch

Very disappointingly, the second battle became a repetition of the first except that the Australians held a 400 metre long section of the Hindenburg line, not previously broken, and after some sporadic fighting, by 15 May all action ceased. The battle had meant 7,000 more losses for the Australians and with the loss of life, horrific injuries and no prospect of any progress, the troops were now being pushed beyond their limits.

Colin McCulloch, who was a prolific writer during the war, best summed up the early morning of May 3, 1917. Quote:

I wonder, did I ever give you my impressions of this bombardment we put up just before the attack near Bullecourt, on the very early morning of the day on which we moved up? I had only joined the battalion the night before and from 2 to 3 was on gas guard. A little after 3, the gun fire suddenly grew terrific – all night it had been heavy, but I can’t describe what it was like when the final ten minutes opened. There were guns in the hundreds all round us and it was a most uncanny and awesome experience to watch and listen to a bombardment like this. The whole sky is a blaze with flashes from the guns – worse sheet lightning I have ever seen. The earth rocks, and seems to shudder as the guns fire. “Drum fire” it is called – You know how a kettle-drum is played – well try and imagine hundreds of guns firing at the same rate – it is simply indescribable – and just ahead of the ridge one sees the innumerable rockets and flares, which poor old Fritz is sending up, as if in anxious interrogation as to what is going to happen, although he knows it only too well – and then quite distant from the tremendous roar of 15 inch naval guns and howitzers etc. one can distinctly notice the short sharp bark of the 18 pounders and “pock” of the machine guns and the crackle of rifles. All these have sounds of their own and one can distinguish them at once.

Then, the uncanniness is increased by one seeing very distinctly a battalion of men moving up from supports – and hearing hoarse voices from goodness knows where – All this while the traffic of ammunition wagons etc. on the roads is endless – and finally with the first light of day one notices first the long string of horses – drawn A.M.C (Australian Medical Corps) wagons climbing slowly toward the clearing station over the rise and later men singly or in groups, who, though wounded and often badly, are still able to walk to the station. The whole sequence of sights and sounds a nightmare that one will never forget.

Charles Bean summed up the second battle of Bullecourt as, ‘in some ways, the stoutest achievements of the Australian soldier in France, carried through against the stubbornest enemy that ever faced him there’. No one could ever deny that it had taken exceptional bravery, and great sacrifice, to break into the Hindenburg Line and hold on to a section of it.

As we commemorate all of the fallen ANZAC soldiers throughout history, spare a thought for those nine brave Gordon cricketers who were in that hell hole on April 25, 1917 facing a very uncertain future and wondering if they would ever come home. While eight of them did return, only one played cricket for Gordon again. Ironically that was the legendary Johnnie Moyes, who was wounded twice in France and went on to become a renowned radio broadcaster.

The Gordon District Cricket Club owes its very existence to these brave men and we won’t ever forget them.

Lest we forget.

Paul Stephenson

GDCC Academy
End of Season Awards Night - 2017

End of Season Awards Night - 2017

All Gordon supporters - This is a reminder that we're less than two months away from our End of Season Awards night. Do whatever you have to do to save this date! This year's Awards Night will build on last year's and is going to be massive.

On Saturday 29 April 2017, we've booked out the Kirribilli Club in Milson's Point. Bring your partners along for some very special red carpet treatment and some fabulous entertainment”.

This will be a ticketed event, where you will be treated to great food and drinks throughout the night.

Singles @ $95, Couples @ $190 and Tables of 10 @ $900 (savings!).

Check out our order form here: www.gordoncricket.com/awards-night 

Colts vs Penrith - Grand Final - 2016/17

Colts vs Penrith - Grand Final - 2016/17

Cricket is a funny game. You win some and you lose some. It isn’t every year that you play 15 rounds of hard fought cricket to make a final. On this special occasion, the 2016/2017 Gordon Colts led by “Sir” Aaron Crofts featured in the Grand Final. 

Aaron "Ronny" Crofts - Premiership captain 

In weeks gone by the focus of the team was on the finals. A convincing round 15 win against UNSW confirmed top spot and a clash with Randwick Petersham who won a bare five matches all year in the semi final. The rain card was played in the semi and off to the final colts went.

Killara Park was the venue and the 2nd place Penrith Panthers were the opponents. After a mammoth week of preparing tactics that in fact had been organised at least two months in advance, creating a wicket and reminding the boys on the fundamental rules of cricket… (Yes Brady I am referring to you here) the weekend had arrived and the weather had cleared.
As expected a delayed start welcomed the two sides to the infamous dog park. The sluggish outfield was damp on the surface in patches, the pitch in good condition but all we needed was some heavy sun and it was game time. 

Nonetheless, it got to midday and play had not begun.

In retrospect, this gave the boys and Ken another chance to mingle in the change rooms. I must admit, teenagers and a sixty-year-old coach really do not mix. Immaturity on both ends if you ask me.

At 3:00pm play was abandoned for the day. Over the last week, we had spent a total of 24 hours waiting in the change rooms doing nothing… is that a record? The only bright side to the day was putting covers back on the wicket. I like to think as Captain I have taught the alliance of students in my team “how to put covers on and off the ground”. 

Let me just set the scene for you. We have about 6 players in the team who love standing within a 1m radius of each other. Therefore, instead of taking 5 minutes to put covers on the ground, it takes at least 15 minutes. I think it is time that each club hands out a mandatory “Guide to Covers” at the start of each season. 

Anyway… Day 1 abandoned and back to our girlfriend’s houses for a deep tissue and bubble bath after a strenuous day doing chores.

Play was scheduled for 10:00am on Day 2. The “lads” as Jory Cureton would say arrived 8:30am sharp to once again repeat the daily dose of removing and folding covers. The Dharmsala looking wicket was flat, not a tinge of grass was left. It had been rolled more times than a typical Georges River side in the 2016/2017 season…. Sorry Dayle.

The outfield was still moist but the conditions were perfect. Play was called to begin at 11:00am and a toss at 10:30am.

Captain Aaron Crofts had reminded the boys for the last three months that “all we need to do is to bat for 192 overs and we win the premiership, honestly it is that simple”. Well despite those spiteful tactics, Crofts heroically won the first battle of the match and won the toss and elected to bump Penrith out of the game.

Final words were exchanged in the dressing rooms and the realisation that the first ball of the Grand Final was under way in due course. The scene was set and thanks to the efforts of the groundmen and others involved we got to begin the Grand Final.

Let me take you to the commentary.

WICKET – OUT!!! (1/36) Dellis to Bull – Bull tries to loft one over cover but plays on the up and is caught by Crofts in front of point. A solid start by Penrith but once again Gordon continue to attack and a spirited Nick Dellis gets the breakthrough.

Brady Morrison - One to watch out for in the future 

WICKET – OUT!!! (2/37) Hood to Agius – Trapped in front on the full and the young and inexperienced green shield player goes packing for a Duck…. Quack Quack Quack. Hood find his rhythm.

WICKET – OUT!! (3/38) Nehru to Sullivan – BOWLED. Nehru has been causing trouble to Organ at the other end but his extreme sweating disease has brought about a sweaty and shaky shot from Sullivan who chops on for another quacker. Penrith have lost 3 for 2.

WICKET – OUT!! (4/41) Keane to Coyte – Caught Behind. Arguably the easiest wicket in the metro cup this season. The professional “hacker” has literally just hacked and snicked off to Oliver Williams with the gloves. This is cricket and this is pressure from the Gordon Colts.

WICKET – OUT!! (5/43) RUN OUT by R.Krishna. Suicide. Slipped on the second and Organ is run out for a well compiled 34. A gorgeous throw over the stumps from Rahul and Penrith are reeling.

WICKET – OUT!! (6/52) Dellis to Crouch – Back into the attack is Dellis and he strikes again. A healthy edge to Williams who takes his second. Penrith are in all sorts and have now lost 5 for 16.

Manus Chauhan - Unlucky with the ball in the Grand Final, but clearly kept the pressure up to the Penrith bats 

WICKET – OUT!! (7/79) Crofts to Lelliott – A healthy partnership was forming but on comes the captain with some tight bowling and Lelliot gets strangled to square leg where Rahul Krishna takes a sitter.

WICKET – OUT!! (8/79) – Crofts to Chowdhury – Crofts is on a hat trick. The battle of the captains is one by the Gordon skipper as crofts charges in and shatters the stumps first ball. In celebration, he runs off down towards his fans.

WICKET – HOWZATTT – OUT - (9/81) – Seneviratne has the last laugh as Smith plays around one and gets struck in front LBW. A pumped up Danusha gets his first.

WICKET – OUT!! - (10/87) – Crofts to Greogory – A massive shout from Gordon and Crofts has his third as Nick Dellis takes a catch at bat pad.

A phenomenal effort to take 10 wickets for 51 runs as Penrith crumbled for 87 all out.

Andrew Harvey and Brady Morrison had been cautious in recent weeks with the bat and had the best opportunity to seal the deal for the Colts side in chasing 88 runs to win the game and the Grand Final.

Harvey and Morrison were watchful and played their most elegant innings of the season. Harvey (30) left the ball with ease and punished the short and wide deliveries when he was offered them.

Morrison once again dominated bat and ball. He enjoyed clipping a ball for six over deep backward square that I am sure his Shire ladies will be hearing about during the week. Nice work Brady.

At 0/40, Gordon looked comfortable. Morrison eventually fell for 20 but Harvey was class and anchored the innings right until the score reached 80. Williams, Crofts and Krishan all chipped in a few runs to see us to the end but it was Manus Chauhan (3 not out) and Matt Keane (18 not out) who had the honour of seeing us to a 5 wicket victory and the Metropolitan Cup title.

Andrew Harvey makes a great start to the small target chase 

What a season…. What a team. 165 wickets later and over 2,500 thousand runs scored, the Gordon Colts proved that experience does not mean everything and that a strong and relentless bond is what truly counts to any success.

Beers were shared and stories were told but a big thank you must once again to our manager Jenny Williams who has worked tirelessly all year to ensure this team reached its peak.

As captain I would like to thank those who attended the match and supported us this season. Ken Wilcox you are an ideal and your enthusiasm was immense in tutoring these boys on how to sustain pressure on and off the field. Ha!

Finally, congratulations to all of those who were a part of this squad this year. I am proud of you.

Captain and Champion Player out!!

President's Message - March 2017

President's Message - March 2017

What a great day last Saturday was for the club, six victories, five teams qualifying for the finals, two as minor premiers and fourth in the Club Championship. To top this off we had a great night of celebration at our end of season Players function with good attendance from our players.

Elliot Richtor has run into some late season form. Great for the finals! 

Whilst this was a great day, we have unfinished business and I would like to wish all our teams the best over the coming three weeks. If we keep working hard and play with confidence we can take out some premierships. Finals cricket is a fantastic opportunity for all players involved, so embrace it and don’t leave anything in the sheds. 

Go the Stags.

I am not going to focus on individual performances in this message, their time will come at our Annual Awards Dinner on Saturday 29th April. Can I encourage everyone to attend this evening, based on last year it promises to be a great night and hopefully a perfect way to celebrate some great performances during the season.

Whilst on congratulations, I would like to congratulate our Women’s club for winning their 1st club championship for over 20 seasons and also minor premiers in 1st grade. To top this off they won the T20 comp a few weeks back. A great season all round for Gordon.

Colts secure the minor premiership and looking to perform strongly in the finals 

I would especially like to congratulate Steve Colley and our 1st grade team for their effort to finish equal first in the 1st grade comp. It’s been a long time since this has happened and a testament to this tight knit side who have played quality cricket all season. Also a big congratulations to David Burk and 5th grade, and also Aaron Crofts and Colts for their minor premierships.

With 2nds and 4ths also making the finals we have plenty to be proud of this year. To our 3rd graders, you just missed out but the performances post-Christmas have been exceptional with 3 bonus point wins along the way, which definitely helped our final Club Championship position.

Last week we also had the pleasure of seeing our English import Mason Crane being selected for his first game for New South Wales. This is an exceptional effort and he has definitely deserved his opportunity. His contribution to the club this season both on and off the field has been exceptional and at 20 years old, the sky is the limit for this talented player. 

We're not quite sure whether this counts as a contribution on the field by Mason! 

As I said to Mason on Saturday night, keep your feet on the ground and enjoy the ride.

Since my last President’s Message we have of course held our Annual Golf Day at Killara Golf Club in February. What an amazing day it was and exceeded all expectations. It was also great that we could increase our donation to the Daff family, and we hope in a small way that this will assist their family.

A huge thank you to Adam Gilchrist and Tony Squires who not only showed how professional they are but their generosity in giving their time to grass roots cricket. To all our sponsors, donors and supporters for their support not only this year’s event but in a lot of cases over many years, thank you so much for your contribution. Also to all the players and ex-players who came along, thank you for your support.

Gilly and Tony Squires entertain the crowd at the Golf Day 

Lastly I would like to thank our organising committee Paul Stephenson, Tim Cubbage, Geoff Keevers, Peter Calov and Kim Kilkeary for their great help to make this night possible.

Over the next three weeks we need to band together, all be prepared to help out, as the responsibilities of hosting finals matches come upon us. If we work together you never know what may happen. GO THE STAGS.

Geoff Hickman
President

Riboni Constructions
Green Shield Trials Application Form 2017/18

Green Shield Trials Application Form 2017/18

Applications to be part of the Gordon Green Shield squad for 2017/18 are now OPEN. To apply for the trials, please fill in the electronic application form below and you will receive a response shortly. 

Please be advised Gordon District Cricket Club will be conducting Green Shield trials on the following two Mondays, 20 March & 27 March 2016 from 7 - 9pm at SCG Indoor Centre.

There will be an INVITE ONLY session conducted at Barker College on a date to be confirmed in April from 2-5pm after the sessions at the SCG . Players invited to this session will be informed by email Friday 7 April 2017.

Please complete the attached form by Wednesday 15 March 2017.

The club is expecting a strong performance on the field this season, with contributions to team victories coming from all players.

The Green Shield competition is an under 16 competition and we will be considering squad members from the under 15s and 16s only. All under 13s and 14s are selected through our Junior Development Squad.  

Please note that to be eligible, you must be able to attend training in Sydney and be under the age of 16 at 01 September 2017 (i.e. born on or after 01 September 2001).

We ARE NOT considering applications from overseas, unless you are moving to Sydney for the beginning of the program. If you are not, then please do not apply. 

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