Imagine this land as the early pioneers entered the land of the Wurundjeri or the Yarra Yarra tribe. The hills and slopes of Ringwood, Croydon, Warranwood, Wonga Park, Lilydale and other nearby areas were well wooded with peppermint eucalyptus and stringy barks. Lilydale grew slowly at first during the sixties and the seventies. By 1880 its population numbered about 350. Cricket had been played in the local park since 1863 and the first pitch was laid in the following year. Matches were played as arranged by the Secretary of the club either by issuing challenges to other settlements or receiving challenges or by arranging matches between intra-town groups. Some matches were followed by dinner at the local hotel, the costs sometimes being paid by the losers. If visitors ever indulged, the horses knew their way home anyway. In July 1887 Lilydale contained 300 dwellings and the population was about 1500. Cricket boomed in Lilydale. There were always 2 teams and sometimes more. Social matches were played between local teams and the players were always keen to try their skills against teams from Melbourne. Matches were usually one day's duration. The Express on October 6 1886 announced - "The Lilydale Cricket Club will open the season next Saturday when they will proceed to Wandin to try conclusions with the Wandin Club. The Lilydale Club will be represented by the following: Harman, McGhee, Poyner E. (Capt), Hooper, Leach, Kings, Mortimer, Hales, Laidlaw, Downham, and Poyner J. Emergencies: Hill, Johnson and McNeil. The above players are requested to meet at the usual place tomorrow (Thursday) evening to arrange for traveling to Wandin. In the event that one of the above players is unable to play, they are requested to communicate with the Secretary on or before the 7th inst." No doubt the usual place was the Olinda Creek Hotel in Lilydale. The Club had a particularly active season and the following indicates the type of matches arranged. The next match was against Mooroolbark. Unfortunately only 5 players turned up for Lilydale and consequently they suffered a severe defeat. In the first innings Lilydale made one run and 19 runs in the second innings. Their opponents beat them easily in the first innings. Then followed: Lilydale 36 defeated Brushy Creek 26 Lilydale 77 defeated Howe Crescent South Melbourne 12 Lilydale V Mooroolbark not played due to inclement weather Lilydale defeated by Richmond Juniors "as many local players did not appear Lilydale 94 defeated Codring Yering 16 Lilydale V Wandin - Results not known Lilydale V Mooroolbark - Results not known Lilydale frequently had trouble in fielding a full team during the fruit and berry picking season. However this was not the reason that led to a terse exchange of letters in the Lilydale Express over a match, which Ringwood thought, had been arranged with Lilydale. The following letters in the local press tell the story. A DISAPPOINTMENT. To the Editor of the Lilydale Express Sir - Having arranged in all good faith with the Secretary of the Lilydale Cricket Club for a match with our club, to be played on Saturday 12th February at the Lilydale ground, we accordingly turned up at Lilydale by the 1pm train from Ringwood and were informed that "they did not intend or could not get a team together", one player had gone fishing and other players were playing for another club which they were engaged to play. In fact several of the members of our team, seeing the streets look so deserted (not a soul in sight), thought we must have alighted at the wrong station. After walking the town we failed to catch the 2pm train to Ringwood. We had two alternatives. To wait in Lilydale until the departure of the 7pm train or walk to Ringwood. We adopted the latter preferring to walk in the hot sun to loitering about Lilydale for hours, although we had provided ourselves with return tickets. Apologies for trespassing on your valuable space, Thanking you in anticipation, - I am ALICK PATTERSON Hon. Sec. Ringwood CC Perhaps the thought of a quencher at the Hugh O'Rourke pub at Brushy Creek might have influenced the Ringwood boys' decision to walk. This was Lilydale's reply- AN EXPLANATION. To the Editor of the Lilydale Express Sir - In last week's issue of the Express, you published a letter from the Secretary of the Ringwood C.C. in which he desires to give his disappointment vent in the most public manner possible and which, like most persons who believe themselves ill-used, resents facts based on his own side of the question and ignores those bearing upon the other side altogether. Now Sir, the facts are that at the beginning of the cricket season some three months ago, I received on behalf of the Lilydale C.C. an offer to play the Ringwood side on the Lilydale ground on the 12th February which I accepted and informed the club members accordingly. On the Monday previous to the date fixed for the match I wrote the Ringwood C.C. desiring to be informed if they were going to carry out their part of the arrangement, to which I have not received a reply. Therefore Sir, under the circumstances, I considered that I was perfectly justified in not making any arrangements for the match, and having given the above explanation to the Ringwood cricketers, personally, I think it to be unwarrantable arrogance on their part in giving the affair publicity in the Express. Hoping you will in justice publish this. I am etc S. BOLITHO Hon. Sec. Lilydale C.C. A Lilydale team competed in the Hart Co. Trophy Competition in 1891-92, the E.H. Cameron Trophy Competition in 1892-93 and 1893-94, the W.C.Farrell Competition in 1895, the Sweetnam trophy competition in 1896 and the Lindsay Russell Trophy Competition in 1897, 1898 and 1899. The trophies for the last named competitions were interesting because in 1897, they consisted of 11 individual silver medals for members of the premiership team and in 1898 they were gold medals. However, Lilydale had no success during these years and in season 1899-1900 did not compete in the Knox Trophy Competition. Some of its players played with Seville in the competition. Lilydale for several reasons was starting to lose its dominant place in the district. But it still had a few years to run before this would happen completely. After all it was still the major community in the Shire of Lilydale that at that time included the areas presently covered by the cities of Ringwood and Croydon.
The Croydon cricket club had decided to take steps towards forming an association the next season and intended to call a meeting for that purpose. Notice was to be sent out to various clubs requesting attendance of delegates and in order that a fair level of feeling may be obtained, the secretaries of district clubs were invited to interview their members and their opinions thereon. The meeting was to be held at Lilydale as that place is regarded as the most suitable Headquarters. Croydon had overlooked the fact that by that time of the year, most clubs had a number of matches already arranged. Lilydale for example, had already received a large number of applications from metropolitan clubs for matches "and in view of this fact it was deemed inadvisable to enter for any association competitions". Without Lilydale it wasn't a competition. Therefore the proposal lapsed for another year. However there must have been general agreement that there would be an association in 1907-07 by the ways the clubs prepared for that season. Lilydale approached it in a business like way. The two clubs amalgamated and fielded two teams known as Lilydale A and Lilydale B. Lilydale also put down a new pitch during the previous season that was described as a "permanent wicket". On 3rd August 1906. "At a meeting of delegates from the local and district crickets clubs held at the Olinda (Hotel) it was decided to form an Association this season and compete for a trophy which was generously donated by C. J. Mitchell. The clubs represented at the meeting and who have joined in the Association are Lilydale (seniors and juniors), Mooroolbark, Croydon, Wandin, Seville and Coldstream. The Lilydale and District Cricket Association continued on, the participating teams in 1914-15 being Lilydale, Lilydale Rovers, Coldstream, Woori Yallock, Seville and Wandin. Healesville and Mitcham clubs both applied to join but the Association decided their inclusion would "prolong the season too late and declined the requests with regret". But in a burst of enthusiasm, the LDCA decided "in view of the patriotic efforts and great efforts shown by Madam Melba in this district, she is requested to accept the position of President of the Association. AND SHE DID. She was also offered and accepted the appointment of patron of the Warburton Cricket Club. Whether she ever attended a meeting of either Association or the Warburton club is not recorded.
The Lilydale Cricket Club having stored their kit since 1915, held their first meeting after the war in September 1919 and solemnly confirmed the minutes of the Annual Meeting held in 1914 five years before. Out of a membership of 17 players, 13 had been in active service. The Lilydale and District Cricket Association reformed and began play on October 18, 1919 with only Lilydale, Seville, Woori Yallock and Wandin as the competing clubs. In season 1928-29, once again on Boxing Day Ringwood pitted its team against the Lilydale Association and was beaten conclusively 121 to 8/276. Ringwood and Lilydale were also drawn closer together by being grouped together in the Country Week. In 1930-31 Lilydale Juniors joined the RDCA and in 1939 Lilydale District Cricket Association became known as the Yarra Valley District Cricket Association. In the early 1950s a player had joined Lilydale from the South Melbourne club. His name was Jack Le Poidevin and he was to make his presence felt as a batsman in the Association for the next decade. He won the Association A Grade batting average on 6 occasions including an average of 82.14 in 1957-58 and an aggregate of 1002 runs in season 1961-62. In 1959-60 winning the premiership not only meant winning 2 consecutive flags but it also created a record of not being defeated during those seasons. The actual unbeaten period was an amazing 32 games that stretched from late in the 1957-58 season to the third game of the 1960-61 season.
Written by Fathertoosa