The problems in fielding two senior sides were further exacerbated in 1960-61, by the unavailability of the Canterbury ground for cricket. The Council had decided in the winter of 1960 to level the ground. and to construct a stone retaining wall. The winter was very wet and for some months the Council graders and excavators sat idle a morass of mud. It was obvious that the ground would be out of action for most of the summer. Frantic enquiries by the committee found an available ground, Carter Oval in Burnley. However this was only able to accommodate the first XI. Many of the second XI players, understandably, left to play with other clubs and the club's pool of available players continued to decline.
The club was obviously at the crossroads. It lacked the players and resources to compete with the bigger clubs, such as Mont Albert an Surrey Hills who were able to invest in paid professional players and coaches.
The committee decided to do two things. A junior side was started, and the club appointed a coach.
In hindsight, it is easy to see that the establishment of the junior side paved the way for the extraordinary success the club achieved in the 1970's. However, in the early 60's, youngsters were scarce, and the junior side often played with only 10 players. Sometimes the numbers were made up by very young juniors. Steve Bates, for example, played his first game for Canterbury as a nine year old, in the under sixteen competition. For the bleary eyed seniors who took charge of the juniors, success must have seemed a long way off on those chilly early Saturday mornings, when the dew was still on the grass. Men like Norm Shores, Geoff Sutton. Wally Bates, Alf Kann, Lindsay Ridgwell, Bob Trengove, John McCarthy and others spent countless hours coaching. umpiring, scoring, consoling and transporting juniors to and from matches.
The committee's other move to halt the decline of the club, by appointing a coach, did not achieve the same success. Kevin Kearney came with good qualifications and experience from the District Club Fitzroy, but was unable to establish credibility with the club's senior players. The club and Kearney parted after a season together.
Despite the lack of numbers in the early days, the junior side quickly produced some talent. Gerry Hegarty and Ian Coles dominated the junior competition. Both while still juniors made significant contributions in the seniors, in the afternoon. Gerry was an aggressive right-hander who went on to play first XI cricket at Hawthorn East Melbourne. Ian was a graceful right hand bat (an outstanding all rounder in the juniors), who captained the first XI in 1968-69.
At about the time (1965-66) that the juniors were beginning to gain strength in numbers and talent, there was a steady influx of younger senior players to the club. Players such as Don Hegarty a powerful all rounder who represented Victoria in its Victorian Junior Cricket Union side, Geoff Smith a fiery red headed fast bowler, Bernie O'Brien an all rounder who came from Mont Albert, Mick Maguire, son of Leo, Geoff Davey, a fast bowler who tragically died of lymphoma at a young age and John McCarthy, an opening batsman from Wyclif Congregationalists, provided great support and enthusiasm to older players like Joe Goodear, Norm Shores and Norm Spendlove.
But consistency was lacking. Although Joe was still the outstanding all rounder in the ESCA, he was no longer taking 40 wickets and scoring 400 runs a season. The club's first XI performances in the first half of the 1960's reflect this. There was still a large gap between consistent on field performances. and the potential that was emerging at the club. The point was, and this is echoed in the annual reports of the time, when would this talent produce the success that the club had experienced in the past?
Still, the club persevered. Strong leadership was provided by Norm Shores as president; Alf Kann was an efficient hard working secretary; and the committee was strengthened by young members such as John McCarthy and Geoff Sutton who joined long-standing committee members, Lindsay Ridgwell. Bob Trengove and Wally Bates.
The turning point for the club was 1966-67. This season provided clear evidence that the encouragement that the club gave to its junior players would lead to success. Half the club's first XI was under 21, yet they managed to win 5 games. It was in this season that opener Mick Maguire won the first of his 12 club batting average awards, and did well enough to win the association batting trophy.
The second XI, however, led by Lindsay Ridgwell took all before them, and won the club's first premiership for nearly twenty years. This side had a blending of experienced veterans such as Vin McCarthy, Norm Spendlove and Norm Shores. matched by some outstanding youngsters, namely Warren Coles, Bob Gillard, Steve Bates, Barry Maguire and John Bate (these last three were still playing in the morning with the juniors). Half of this second XI were products of the junior side, and were soon to take their place in the first XI. This must have been a season that Norm Shores enjoyed enormously. He took a huge number of wickets (58) at a microscopic average (6.6), and he was able to witness at first hand the paying off of the club's junior policy, of which he had been a major instigator and supporter.
When Norm came to Canterbury back in the 1930's success seemed a Canterbury birthright. It just seemed to keep on happening. But through the 50's and early 60's it was all too clear that if success was to continue, then the club had to change and grow. It is to Norm's credit (and others obviously too) that he was able to recognise this, and set the club on a new course. It must have given him great pleasure to share in this change, and in the resultant success.
Success also came to the junior side. The grand final followed a course more akin to a timeless test than to a suburban junior cricket final. North Balwyn, with two outstanding junior allrounders, Grant Mitchell and Greg Booth batted for a day and a half amassing 3 for 343. Mitchell and Booth were also the opening bowlers for their first XI, which won that year's senior grade premiership. Little opposition was expected from the Canterbury batting line up, against such a potent attack. In an exciting fight back, with centuries to John Bate and Barry Maguire, Canterbury finished with 8 for 339. It was a high quality performance from both sides, and it was a genuinely shared premiership.
These tastes of success were followed by disappointments. In the following year the firsts needed only to win the last game to secure a place in the final four. Despite rearguard innings by Joe Goodear and Bernie O'Brien the firsts failed by just three runs.
Worse was to follow in the 68-69 season as the first XI failed to win a game and finished last. For the first time in the club's history the first XI was relegated from the senior grade division. The only bright spot was the performance of Mick Maguire who scored over 600 runs, and won the ESCA President's Trophy for the outstanding player of the turf section.
The club was struggling again. Its recent successes appeared to be short-lived, and this decade closed as it had opened, with Canterbury on the bottom.
No one doubted that there was abundant young talent in the club, but it would take time to consolidate this youth and inexperience.
This page is sponsored by:
Barb and Ewen McCarthy
Elizabeth and John McCarthy
In memory of Keith McCarthy