FOR a small club, 50 years is a big milestone.
Ballarat Fire Brigade Cricket Club is celebrating that achievement this season.
John Rinaldi played in the club’s first season 50 years ago, and is still involved today.
“We’ve always been a year-to-year club, so we don’t know if we’ll still be around in 50 years, but we certainly hope so,” Rinaldi said.
He has held many posts, including coach, captain and president.
The club’s champion player award is named after him.
The club formed in the season of 1963-64, replacing the Skipton Street Cricket Club, and was originally filled with firefighters.
In its first year, the club’s only team won the C Grade premiership and was promoted to B grade – a team Rinaldi was a part of.
That year they also won the premiership, but were not promoted and have never fielded a team in the top division.
“There were four years where I had to go up to Wodonga for work, where I wasn’t involved in the club, but otherwise I’ve practically been there the whole time,” Rinaldi said.
Rinaldi said there was one year the club had the chance to go up to A Grade, when it could have amalgamated with Golden Point, but the club voted against it.
Despite its strong start in the Ballarat Cricket Association, the club has only 11 premierships. There was a long drought between 1978 and 1996.
Darren Crawley said he hoped they’d be able to take a flag this season for their milestone year, with the second division team currently sitting fourth and the third division team in fifth.
“My father played with the club and was a life member and president, and with him passing on a few years ago celebrating the club’s 50 years is significant to me,” Crawley said.
“I’ve been around the club since I was young – I’ve been there in one way or another for nine out of the 11 premierships, so being able to celebrate the 50 years is a good way to give back to the club.”
The club will celebrate with a formal dinner with guest speakers on February 23, where the team of the half-century will be announced.
Past members and players are invited to join the celebration. Contact Darren Crawley on 0417 169 079.