East Christchurch-Shirley Hits A Hundred
The road has been long and often rocky, but the East Christchurch-Shirley Cricket Club has surmounted all the obstacles along the way to reach its 100 years, an occasion which will be celebrated in style over Show Weekend.
The East Christchurch Cricket Club came into being after a meeting in the St. John’s Schoolroom in Latimer Square in 1905. The club’s executive meetings were held at the residence of its first president, the legendary Dr Albert J Orchard, who was to stay in that position of responsibility until his death almost 53 years later.
Dr Albert J Orchard
President For Life
The Orchard name remained synonymous with East Christchurch-Shirley into the 21st century with Dr Orchard’s sister, Eileen, the club’s patron from 1955 to 1960, a brother, Dave, a playing member, and a son, Geoff, a winning captain for the club and a regular spectator at East Christchurch-Shirley’s senior matches until his death two years ago.
While the contribution of the Orchard family is unlikely to be ever matched in the history of the club, East Christchurch-Shirley has been well served, especially in more recent times, by families who have contributed not only on the playing pitch but on the management side or in supportive roles.
The Grocotts, now four generations of them, have been a backbone of the club for the last half century, and of late the input by the Pawson and Papps families has been considerable as, too, the contributions of stalwarts such as Trevor Hayes, Dave Hearn, Martin Flint, and Roger Parlane.
From a club which started with its home in what is now the Latimer Motor Lodge car park, East Christchurch-Shirley has continued to move in the right direction, east. In 1960 the club amalgamated with the Shirley Boys’ High School Old Boys’ Cricket Club and incorporated Shirley in its name along with the now familiar Cambridge Blue colour.
For the first fifty three years of its existence East Christchurch-Shirley called Lancaster Park its home ground. The pressure of a shared ground with Linwood and then Lancaster Park Cricket Clubs meant it was time to move to McFarlane Park. The clubs time at its new home was a period of turbulence and financial uncertainty. With the efforts of Ian Cromb and the old boys of Shirley Boys’ High School the club secured a move to its current home at Burwood Park.
Already recognised as the club with the best grounds and facilities in Christchurch, that reputation will be enhanced further with the completion of a new and enlarged clubhouse in the middle of Burwood Park which East Christchurch-Shirley’s cricketers will share with Shirley’s rugby players.
Although there were times when East Christchurch-Shirley has struggled for playing numbers, especially in the top grades, those years have been left well behind. Now the right structures are in place to accommodate not only the hundreds of children who play each Saturday morning, but also the club’s leading players.
With qualified coaches in charge, practice facilities greatly improved, and a good feeling of camaraderie throughout the club, East Christchurch-Shirley is flourishing and the success runs through the grades with the seniors (one-day), presidents and women’s first reserve all winning their competitions this season.
East Christchurch-Shirley had won 40 Canterbury Cricket Association trophies in its first 75 years; in the last 25 it has doubled that number and has also picked up eight women’s grade titles.
After winning its first senior championship in 1941-42, the club had a long wait until its second in 1998-99, but East Christchurch-Shirley has been a dominant force in Canterbury cricket for the last 13 years, having won three two-day championships and six one-day titles with the double being achieved in 1999-2000.
Having English professionals and characters such as Duncan Wild, Damian D’Oliveira, Mark Robinson, Dominic Cork and Darren Gough have lifted the club’s profile, but East Christchurch-Shirley has supplied many home-grown products who have contributed to New Zealand cricket, from Charlie Boxshall in the early 1900s to Jack Alabaster, Bruce Taylor, Vic Pollard and Peter Coman in the 60s and 70s to the present day Black Caps in Craig McMillan and Michael Papps.