David, you’ve had a long and distinguished cricket career. Where did it begin?
I started playing colts for Dennington when I was nine years old. Dad took me down to Harry Taylor’s store to buy my white pants. I was always going to play cricket at Dennington as Dad played there all his life. He played cricket with Dennington until he was 51 years old. I was lucky enough to have played in the colts’ premiership win in the 1973-74 season. I was captain of that side and was also the captain of the colts’ Country Week side.
How old were you when you made your senior debut with Dennington?
When I was 14 years old I made my senior debut. I was runner-up in the A grade cricketer of the year award in my last year of colts cricket.
Were you asked to go to Melbourne to play cricket?
When I was playing colts with Dennington, I was asked if I wanted to go and play Dowling Shield cricket in Melbourne with North Melbourne and Carlton. The Dowling Shield is for under 16 players. I did not take up the offer as it was just going to be too hard to get there. We had no relations in Melbourne where we could stay and on the other hand I was just a country kid. I really didn’t like the idea of going to Melbourne to live. I ended up playing senior cricket with Dennington until the end of the 1983 season.
Where did you go after the 1983 season?
I was lucky enough to be captain-coach with Dennington in 1980-81 and in 1981-82. The career change in 1983 was to go overseas. I went to America and Europe for 10 months. I took leave without pay from teaching. The overseas trip was a great experience.
Did you play cricket with Dennington again?
No. I joined Nestles after I came back to Warrnambool. The main reason I joined Nestles was because some of my mates were playing there, including Trevor McKenzie and David Herbert. I played for Nestles for five years. We won two flags and in one of those seasons we were premiers and champions.
Did you find it tough to play against your former Dennington teammates when they lined up against Nestles?
It was pretty good, really. There was a bit of friendly rivalry between the two clubs. I always knew that I was not going to stay at Nestles. I went back to Dennington for the 1991-92 season and played there until the end of 1999.
Did you have much premiership success at senior level?
I ended up playing in five senior premierships — two with Nestles and three with Dennington. The Dennington premierships were in 1994-95, 1995-96 and 1996-97. I was fortunate to have won the A grade cricketer of the year award in 1994-95. The funny thing about the Dennington premiership wins is we beat Nestles each time.
Can you remember what your highest score was?
I made 157 runs against Merrivale one day. I used to open the batting but in the later years of my career I used to bat at either three or four.
Did you represent Warrnambool in Country Week cricket?
I represented Warrnambool in Melbourne on eight occasions and I went to Bendigo on seven occasions. I was a member of the Warrnambool Country Week side which defeated Geelong for the provincial premiership in 1994-95. The game was at the MCG.
What are your memories of playing cricket on the MCG?
It was just a wonderful experience. It was really exciting to be in the changerooms which were used by the Australian Test cricketers. It was a real highlight. Another highlight of playing Country Week was we played on other excellent grounds at Collingwood and Essendon and the Albert Cricket Ground, to name a few. The grounds were in magnificent condition. The year we beat Geelong to win the provincial title we had a great side. Barry Maguire, Peter Johnson, Peter Newland, Neville Billington and Bill Tory were some of the players who played in that game. That era was a really successful one for cricket in Warrnambool. Each side had some really talented players. There were no easy games.
Who would have been the best player you saw play in Warrnambool?
When I was young I used to think Ian “Lefty” Wright was the best player. He was a gifted player. He could bat, bowl and field and was super competitive. Lefty coached the Warrnambool Country Week side when we won the provincial title. I rated Des Keane very highly. I also thought John McLean and Graeme Salmon were talented players.
Are you still involved in local cricket?
No. I have not been involved for a few years. I did coach the juniors at Dennington when my son Tim played there, but I just decided to have a break from the sport.
Did you play football?
I played footy for St John’s under 15 side before joining Warrnambool, where I played under 17s and under 18s. I played a couple of senior games with Warrnambool before going to Melbourne for university studies. The university year for me was from February to October, so I missed out on the footy before coming back to play out at West End-Allansford, where I played in two premierships. I ended up going back to Warrnambool after the stint with West End. I played 50 senior games with Warrnambool before injuring my knee.
What happened with your knee?
We played Koroit one day and I did my right knee. I was 24 years old and saw the surgeon in Melbourne. He did an operation and said my knee was buggered. I was devastated. The worst thing was Warrnambool won five of the next seven premierships and I could not play. The surgeon told me not to play footy again but if I did the right rehab work I would be able to continue to play cricket.
Warrnambool had some very good footballers in that era. Who do you think were its best players?
Daryl Salmon was a gun player. Frank Lane, Peter Sheen, Mark “Tocka” O’Keefe, Wayne Billings and Lee McCorkell were all top players. I had coaching stints with Warrnambool’s under 18 and reserves sides but we never had any premiership success.
Your children have been very successful in their chosen sports. What do you put their success down to?
My wife Suey and I have encouraged our children to do their best, whether it be in sport or anything they do, and I’m sure that encouragement and advice has helped them. Suey and I are proud of their achievements at all levels. Nicole has proven to be an excellent basketball player, while Tim has established himself as a good footballer at Warrnambool. Shelley is a very accomplished netballer.
You are a teacher at Warrnambool College. How long have you been teaching there?
I’ve been there for 34 years. I’ve loved my time teaching. I have found sport and teaching are a great mix. I’m sure the students relate to things better if they have been involved in sport.