Club History

The History of The Adelaide University Cricket Club

c 1875 match

The History of the Adelaide University Cricket Club

Club Origins 1881 - 1907

From 1881 onwards cricket matches were played by Adelaide University teams chosen from academics, students and

graduates. They played games against established local teams and occasionally journeyed to the country. Annual match were played against a combined St Peters and Prince Alfred Colleges team. In 1897 William Magarey an Adelaide University law graduate and good cricketer proposed that a University side should be included in the SACA Competition. This was rejected by the South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) at that time because player qualification for teams was based primarily on residing within parliamentary electoral boundaries.


Following the initial rejection by the SACA the impetus for a University team waned for many years. Most students who had an interest in cricket had to play for suburban teams or if talented with an Electorate Club. In 1905 the Electorate system was replaced by a District Cricket Competition and again there was a move to have Adelaide University enter a team in the best competition. The Club was finally admitted to the SACA A Grade District competition in the 1908/09 season.

Foundation Years 1908 - 1920 & The Great War

The University ground was not ready for matches until the 1909/10 season so A Grade games had to be played at other ovals in the first season.


Uni  Oval 1910

By July 1910 the University Oval and Pavilion were completed, made possible by donations of 100 pounds each from 13 eminent University of Adelaide benefactors. The Club was also able to enter a team in the SACA B Grade competition in the 1909/10 season and that team had the privilege of playing the first 

game on the new oval) on 9th October 1909.

University Oval c1910 

The Club's first Captain was Charles Dolling, who as a student at PAC had made 311 in an intercollegiate match and had already represented South Australia in 1905. The AUCC finished 5th on the premiership table. Some of the most notable players in the formative years were State players Dolling,  Don and Ken Steele, "Johnny" Moyes, "Nip" Pellew,  Gordon Campbell, Charles Drew and Hurtle Willsmore. In the last Sheffield Shield game before the outbreak of World War I, there were five AUCC representatives.


An important factor driving the formation of the AUCC had been the desire to play in competitions against Melbourne and Sydney Universities. The AUCC's first Inter-Varsity match was played against Sydney in December 1910. 

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AUCC 1910 Inter-Varsity Team 

The Great War (1914 - 1918)

The outbreak of War resulted in a cessation of the formal SACA premiership competition for five seasons. In the period 1908/9 to 1915/16 the Club had approximately 150 players represent the Club in A or B Grade. Of those, 112 current or former players put their studies, professional and sporting ambitions on hold to enlist. Thirteen of our men paid the ultimate sacrifice.


Before the War, the A Grade team was very talented but was unable to secure a premiership. It then would have to start over again after the First World War (1914 - 1918) to rebuild the team. When the SACA competition resumed in the 1919/20 Season, the Adelaide University Club was lead by Dr Donald McDonald Steele one of the handful of pre-War players to return to the Club.  The team now had a completely different mix of players and culture comprising of students who had put their studies on hold to enlist, returned service men who gained entry to Adelaide University under repatriation schemes and an influx of younger players out of the high schools and colleges. 

1920 to 1930 - The First Premiership

Donald McDonald Steele led the A-Grade team and in 1919/20 the team finish 4th in the 8 team competition, however there were no finals played.  Steele who had already represented the State before the War along with Gilbert Jose, Lance Pellew and Garton Hone all gained First Class Selection.

Prest  Pellew  Jose

In Steele's final season with the Club1920/21 his team performed well and finished 2nd on the premiership table, however still no final series were played. Steele captained South Australia on 3 occasions in 1920/21. During the season Gilbert Jose and Gordon Prest put on a third wicket partnership of 380 runs against West Torrens which still stands as a Club and SACA record for any wicket. Jose made 807 runs at an average of 115.28 to take out the SACA aggregate trophy.

Over the next five season's captains were Gilbert Jose, Lance Pellew and Gordon Prest, all exceptional cricketers with Jose and Pellew representing South Australia along with Harry Fisher, Patrick Ohlstrom and Lance Gun. The 1921/22 season was mediocre with the team struggling to bowl out the opposition and only Lance Pellew excelling with the bat. The season ended with the AUCC finishing in 7th position.

In the 1922/23 season the bowling stocks were raised with the emergence of Harry Fisher who had represented the State the previous year and the team finished in 6th position. The following season 1923/24 a Colts team and Kensington were added to make it a ten team competition. The Club finished 5th and missed out on the semi-finals after being 2nd earlier in the season.  The highlight of the season was law student and leg spinner Patrick "Paddy" Ohlstrom winning the SACA bowling aggregate with 47 wickets at 17.36. 

The 1924/25 season saw Paddy Ohlstrom again have an outstanding season with 47 wickets at an average of 21 (2nd in SACA Aggregate). At the end of the minor round the team was fourth on the premiership table and was to meet Glenelg in the semi-final. In a tense match University defeated Glenelg with 1 wicket in hand. In the other semi-final Sturt (minor premiers) were defeated by Kensington. In the grand-final against Kensington the match was in the balance at the end of the first Saturday, however University then chased down the runs. Sturt having finished minor premiers then had the right to play University in a "Challenge Final" for the premiership.  The match was abandoned on the first Saturday due to bad weather and played as a one day match on the 11th April with the game to carry over to the Monday if needed.

University suffered a major blow before the start of the game when top batsman Lance Gun was unable to play because of an injured wrist. Sturt won the toss on a perfect day and batted on a good wicket taking the advantage making 359 runs. When University batted after a good start collapsed and were all out for 173. 

Premiership Success

In 1925-26 Gordon Prest was elected for his third season as captain, however on completion of his medical degree and an appointment to the Adelaide Hospital and had to hand over the captaincy to Douglas McKay for the second half of the season.  In the December 1925 triangular Intervarsity contest held in Melbourne, Prest led the AUCC to victory against Sydney in the final for Adelaide to become the premier University Cricket side in the country.

At the end of the minor round the AUCC team was on top of the premiership table by a single point from last season's premiers Sturt.  Semi final wins to University and Sturt saw the two teams face off in a rematch of the previous season's final. After a losing the match, University as minor premiers had the right of Challenge and in a tight contest that carried over onto the afternoons of Monday and Tuesday, University were ultimately successful.

1926 Advertiser Reports “University’s first A Grade Premiership”

The report on Wednesday announced the victory: “For the first time in their history, University have won the cricket premiership of South Australia. When play ceased on Monday evening University required 31 runs to win and they had three wickets in hand… every run was cheered, and four byes from Scott left University with 20 runs to get. Greatly to the disgust of Selth, he failed to take another ball, and two more byes were run. The crowd were now worked up to a great pitch of excitement. Then, amid uproar like that at a college match, there was a crack to the square leg boundary by Bayly and the match was won by three wickets. A crowd of enthusiastic University supporters invaded the field and immediately the runs were scored and seized Wagner and bore him off in triumph. Bayly evaded his pursuers. Sturt players freely offered their felicitations to the victors and in the University dressing rooms, the Sturt captain (V. Richardson) congratulated the premiers on their fine win”.

1925  Premiership team

Adelaide University CC Premiership Team 1925-26

The 1926/27 season started with hopes of continued success with the premiership team largely intact. After being well placed equal second on the premiership table at the end of January University did not have another victory for the rest of the season and finished 7th in the 10-team competition.

Medical student Doug McKay led the side again in the 1927/28 season with most of the Club's experienced players available again. At the end of the season the AUCC just missed out on playing finals finishing 5th. Opening bowler and former premiership player Franz Wagner was lost to the Club in the second half of the season after taking up the 1928 Rhodes Scholarship. He had beaten McKay for the award, one of the three other applicants.

Doug McKay who had captained University to its first premiership three seasons earlier had now completed his medical degree at the end of 1927 and was now playing for Adelaide in 1928/29. Roy Pridmore took over the captaincy with a side much the same as last season.  However, after a very poor season, coming to the last match of the minor round against bottom side Glenelg there was a possibility that University if defeated could collect the wooden spoon. University just managing to scrape over the line for their second win of the season and finished 7th on the premiership table.

The 1929/30 season was only notable for the fact that two AUCC players were to receive the Rhodes Scholarship. It was highly unusual for two awards to be given in the one year. Brian Hone and Lewis Wilcher were joint South Australian winners. Adelaide University failed to win a match during the minor round and finished bottom. 

Intervarsity Matches 1920 -1930

The AUCC played thirteen Intervarsity matches from 1920 to 1930. Adelaide won three contests, Melbourne seven and one draw. Only two games were played against Sydney University with a win each.

To be continued

1940 to 1949

[F.C.Bennett] – Cricket in the early 1940’s was played in the shadow of events in Europe and South East Asia. University entered the forties with a hard core of experienced players led by John Stokes, Geoff Page and State batsman Jack Tregoning. As Japan moved southwards into Java and New Guinea, the district competition was abandoned altogether in the 1942-43 season and was restarted in 1944. University was fortunate to gain three young talents left hander Hugh Douglas, right hander Ben Goode and fast bowler Don Beard lead by Captain Coach Chester Bennett. By 1946 University took on a more mature look with Jack Tregoning and Norwood and State footballer Peter Dalwood with his specially made tall pads and super Jumbo bat which posed a threat to the rowers and ducks on the Torrens Lake.

1959  Womens  Cricket

1950 to 1959

The Grand Final which University should have won. Uni got Sturt out for about 290 and were 0 for 100 at stumps with John Wilkin who had kept wickets all day and a virtual night watchman Geoff Gubbins doing the job. The score the next week (no Sunday Cricket in those days) was pushed up to one for 200 and University still had their star batsmen State Players Ern England and Laurie Smart to come. They didn’t make the necessary runs and tears almost come to John’s eyes as he relates the story. Both John Wilkin and Laurie Smart I know will be present at the centenary dinner and I think those players are as noteworthy as others mentioned. I believe in 1951 University also made the semifinals but then struggled until 1959-60, when they were in the semi-finals three years running. Medical student John Lill was the outstanding Varsity player in this decade. He won the A Grade aggregate for five years and represented the State on innumerable occasions. He is widely acknowledged as one of the finest players never to play test cricket. The A Grade started the 1950’s as runners up they has moved up to fourth the following season. The wooden spoon reposed at Memorial Drive on four occasions.

1960 to 1969

The beginning of the sixties saw the Adelaide University Cricket Club as a very solid and traditional establishment managed by President Mr L.J.T Pellew. The A Grade was captained by “Shorty” Rogers and contained such notables as Bob Cameron and Brian Quigley. Bob Cameron was considered the best all-rounder in the state the same year David Sincock and John Sangster represented the State. Sincock was an outstanding acquisition for University. He came to us from Sacred Heart College at Somerton and went on to play for Australia. As we left the sixties, all was calm again, the flower people were respectable middle-aged businessmen and the club was about to enter into the Birchall decade.

1970 to 1979

1970 saw four district sides, and some of the most memorable characters like The Mayor, Boz, Jaws, Legal, Nages, Young, Rorro, Whimpey, the Mechanic, Pounds of Tuna, Clem, Wozza, the Judge, Dazzling Darren, Kanga, Ph.D, P.V.C and many more. This decade saw the initiation of the Kanga Awards, The play dirty cricketer of the year, the double-wicket competition and the Port Cup. The 1970’s saw several premierships in 70-71 B Grade def. Kensington and C Grade def. Flinders. In 73-74 C Grade def. West Torrens and Uni Whites def. Prospect and in 79-80 C Grade def. Salisbury and Richard Smith lead Uni to Adelaide Turf victory. State caps were gained by Ahsley Woodcock, Peter Clements, Graham Winter and Bob O’Shannassy. Bradman Medals were worn by Rob O’Shannassy and Kevin Griffiths. A Grade Captains during the 70’s included Ashley Woodcock, Phil Scanlon, Rob Brice, Michael David and Kevin Griffiths. Special mention must go to Tom and Dulcie Palmer for their unswerving devotion to the Club over two and a half decades. Dulcie’s egg and lettuce sandwiches nourished many a player and Tom’s score sheet was forever accurate. What a decade, what a bunch of personalities, what memories, ‘really great decade that’ (thanks Richie!).

1980 to 1989

The 1980’s saw the club grow to five district and 3 turf sides. Premierships abounded for the first few years of this decade, with three of the clubs grand total of eight district flags coming home to roost. The new decade dawned with the intense and competitive schoolmaster David Jeanes sweeping his team to the C Grade premiership at Hawthorn Oval in March 1980 against Salisbury. The same year our team led by Kevin Griffiths, demolished the combined Oxford/Cambridge University XI. Intervarsity success continued with victories over Sydney and Tasmania although Melbourne still gave us a couple of hidings. The outstanding performances for the decade were by Robert O’Shannassy who took out his third Bradman Medal, Graham Winter (who played State cricket with success, including 7/63 against the powerful West Indies) and Gary Davis (who was runner-up in the Bradman Medal on a count-back). Off the field as well as on, the fun continued. Long may the Blacks prosper.

1990 to 2000

The 1990’s was an unprecedented decade of success for The Blacks with three A Grade Premierships in 1992-93, 1994-95 and in 1997-98.

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1992-93 Premiership Winning Team

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1994-95 Premiership winning team

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1997/98 SACA Premiership winning team

2007 to 2008

Season 2007/08 marked one hundred years of the AU Cricket Club, which was celebrated in great style. Over 400 people attended the event, held at the Adelaide Oval. Past players and supporters came from interstate and overseas to be part of the event. The club’s A Grade captains since WWII, most of whom were in attendance, were recognized, as were all of the club’s premiership captains. A number of speakers related tales of the club, from John Lill who played in the 1950s through to present day captain Nathan Adcock. A display of memorabilia showed the history of the club from the early 1900s to the present day. 

The History of the Adelaide University Cricket Club

For a more in-depth history in club origins 1929-1930 - CLICK HERE

Produced by tireless work of AUCC Club Legends Rob O'Shannassy & Janne Filmer 

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