Photo: Ron Hamence with Ernie Toshack on the 1948 trip to England
Top of the field naturally has to be Ron Hamence who toured England in 1948 with the Australian Cricket Team commonly referred to as “The Invincibles”.
We also had several other players represent South Australia in cricket, Len Michael and Rex Blundell both kept wicket and were useful batsmen whilst Alan Hitchcox was a useful enough State bowler for the Poms to brand him “Pitchcox.”
In Australian Rules Football, I believe the most significant employee was Bernie Smith (photo above) who played for Geelong after commencing with West Adelaide whilst Fred Hardwicke played for North Adelaide.
I seem to recall that Brian James may have played for Glenelg but am not certain of this.
Greg Novice and John Elsdon represented Norwood and Glenelg respectively in the Reserves whilst I believe Reg Handke played Colts football for Norwood.
Several GPD employees made their mark as umpires at SANFL level. Dean “Eagle Eye” Groves was a league goal umpire for an eternity as well as cricket umpire.
Alan Lethbridge, John McInerney and David Barber were all boundary umpires for many seasons. David Barber was also a very useful runner.
Many others showed talent in other sports, Paul Cowie, back in the 1960s, was an excellent table tennis player as were Jack Taylor, Paul Korff and Frank Nelson.
The GPD used to field table tennis teams at the Railways Institute during the week with much success.
It was a very entertaining lunch room in the 1960-1970s watching these guys go head to head.
We have all heard about the escapades of Graeme “Yank” Hall who played Pennant Tennis and supposedly beat Frank Sedgman with one hand and using a frying pan.
Many of our staff participated in shooting down at the Dean Rifle Range. I do not know what standard any of these people reached but I do recall that Jack Findlay and Max Gill competed regularly in these events.
The most all round talented sportsman that worked at the Government Printing Office was probably John “Mooster” Bryant.
He could play all sports. He played Reserves football for North Adelaide and would have played league if not for a liking for the “amber fluid”.
He played a match for Thompson Football Club, kicked 16 goals, but in the Sunday Mail it was recorded as 4 goals, so he would not be selected next week for the North Adelaide Reserves.
John was an excellent 8-ball player and can claim to have beaten Eddie Charlton.
I know it is true, I was there. He beat him twice and Eddie got the sh**s.
He now plays pennant bowls for Lockleys and believe me he can more than hold his own with most bowlers.
One local trip, Bob Parker volunteered to play his piano accordion. Poor bloke got booed off both buses and never volunteered his services again.
Wayne Vitnell on his first and only cricket trip, got on the bus bragging how he could outdrink everyone. He was pissed by Bordertown and spent the whole trip, sick as a dog.
The plane trip when a young playing member took his own bat with him on the plane. Whilst distracted his cherished bat was borrowed and passed around the whole plane, only returning when signed by most of the passengers on the flight. Never touch his bat!
The show in the canteen when Bob Allen coerced Rod Parham to perform on stage with that delightful blonde entertainer. Who cared whether she could sing or not.
I recall the contribution made by Fred Godson. Fred was a cricket umpire who had officiated in many State games. He was befriended by Ron Hamence and was asked to officiate in our home matches. He enjoyed the weekends so much he and his wife became a member of the club for decades.
For many years the cricket club ran “The Golden Circle” draws. There was a weekly draw during the year with a final big draw. This was well supported by all GPD members and the proceeds were used to offset the cost of the cricket weekends, which were not paltry.
Unfortunately, with the division of the Melbourne Printing Office into smaller units the quality of cricketers and number of members steadily declined.
Our own Cricket club began to face similar problems.
To try to keep the weekends going it was decided to amalgamate the two clubs and we visited Mildura and played as a composite side in 1995 and 1996 against Mildura West Cricket Club.
Bruce Lockier provided the off field entertainment.
Unfortunately in 1997 the decision was made to “declare our innings closed” and an “Auld Langsyne” was held in Melbourne.
A great finale was held with the cost to all participating members being subsidised from the remaining club funds. We stayed at the Travel Inn Motel where we held a Welcome Dinner on Saturday night and a Farewell Luncheon at the Cuckoo Restaurant.
Thanks to all those who helped create the Institution.
The Cricket Club was a major institution of the Printing Office. It began in 1951 and continued for nearly fifty years before our final visit to Melbourne in 1997.
The main organisers over the years were Jack Findlay, Ron Hamence, Les Hawes, Ted Burkert, Bob Allen and Bruce Brown.
The Victorian GPO first visited us in January 1951. A picnic was organised at Balhannah which included a tug of war and the first annual cricket match.
Our first cricket side had such notables as Merv Clark, Eric Swinstead, Ron Hamence, Len Michael, Howard Nilsson, Alec McDougall and Dean Groves. The Victorian team included Bill Purves, Doug Stewart, Albert Willcox and Bill Duckworth.
South Australia won the match 183 to 156 runs.
The next year South Australia visited Melbourne and this tradition continued with each team travelling to the other State in alternate years.
The home teams won the matches up until 1964 which coincidentally was my very first trip, at age 16. The bus left on Friday with a stop at Tailem Bend and tea break at Bordertown.
Those days there was no booze on the bus. We drove through the night with most people trying to catch some shuteye or singing “Forever and Ever.
We arrived in Melbourne around 6 am and had to stop opposite Flemington race track. We were not able get into our hotel, until 9 or 10 am. So we watched the horses doing their track gallops for several hours. It was freezing!
After checking in a group of us decided we would go to the Young and Jackson Hotel, to see the famous nude painting of Chloe. We got lost!
That evening we had a Cabaret at the Brunswick Hall and the next morning we went to the Kew Mental Institution to play cricket.
We had twelve players including Barry O’Donnell and myself. We were put through our paces by Ron Hamence and Laurie Blackwell to see who would make the final cut.
The final team was announced in batting order, Blackwell, Walker, Blundell, Buckby, Wight, Lind, Evans, Groves, Fisher, Crawford and Ron Hamence.
Victoria batted and we restricted them to 5/125. Laurie Blackwell and John Walker had an opening stand of 84 and our first success in Victoria was a possibility. Several quick wickets fell and with the overs dwinding Malcolm Lind and Dean Groves were promoted up the order. We won by 13 runs.
That night when I returned to the room there was Mort and Grubby drinking in the room. I went off to bed.
Later, I felt this hand coming up from under the bed. I grabbed my beloved cricket bat and whacked this guy with it. I thought I had killed hm. I ran from the room screaming with Mort and Grubby chasing me, saying it was a joke.
The cricket club was much more than just about cricket. Most members joined to experience a unique weekend.
On the Saturday, many members went to the local races and at night entertainment was usually a Cabaret at the Tube Mills, and later the Show Boat on the Port River.
The atmosphere at the cricket was hilarious, who can forget the “Arfa Dunga” show at the Unley Oval put on by Colin Rawlings and David Barber.
The Monday was a men’s only day until the late 1970s when the women became involved. Bus trips were organised to places like Hardy’s winery.
The Les Hawes trophy would be presented along with the handover of the Perpetual Shield.
After a night at North Melbourne Football Club listening to a pissed S.A. captain saying “excuse me” all night, “Chalky” Marks created the “Excuse Me” club.
You were given a leather strip with a number on it. If you did not present it upon request, you were fined 20 cents, The fines were used by Chalky to buy prizes drawn on the Monday.
Bob Allen would arrange with the GP to borrow the delivery van over the weekend. It was used to carry the cricket equipment, “odd” keg of beer and tressles. Ron Garland normally drove.
Once we stopped for a piss break outside of Bordertown. We all got back on the bus and ten minutes up the road, “Nobby” began muttering “Where’s Artie?”
We turned the bus around and went back about 15 kms. There was Artie trying to negotiate the wire fence alongside the highway. (see part 2)
When I started at the Guv, the tradesmen and apprentices on the Jobbing Floor I can recall were Bruce Lockier, John Buckby, Vic Byford, Charlie Hewett, Jack Van der Schanns, Ted “The Red” Sobolowski, Alex Riley, Jeff Brand, Bruce Kutcher, Jack Wells, Ray Stagg and Dennis Bradley.
In addition there was one of the nicest persons I have ever met Joe Schoberg.
Fred Hardwicke was one of the clickers then and he was the best teacher an apprentice could have ever had, you were there to learn the trade and not have fun.
At the back of the Jobbing Floor there were two guillotine operators, Con Mohr and Ben Bey.
Fred Pretty was in charge of the Monotype keyboard Room and his staff were Ted Burkert, John Hunkin, Alan Swinstead, Paul Korff and Ralph Hannant.
Bill Wallace was in charge of the Mono Casters who comprised, Cecil Dodd, Bert Tinkler, Neil Cross, Peter Reeve, Alex Crawford and later John “Mooster” Bryant.
I remember well the trips over to the smelting room to empty the type boxes. Firstly you had to wait an eternity for the lift driven by Bill McKenzie.
Then you had to hope that Rozario was not in the lift because Rozario was always wanting to kill Bill with the bale hook every time they shared the lift.
On Monday nights the apprentices had to attend Kintore Avenue Trade School. I remember spending several nights having drinks at the old Rundle Hotel along with a counter meal so we could face the likes of teachers Bob Green and Bill Sims.
I recall the daily double cards for the horses that were run on Friday afternoons, by Ted Burkert and Jack Findlay and then later by Dennis Bradley and John Buckby.
Dennis Bradley resigned, got as far as Murray Bridge and lost all his pay on the horses and started back again as if he had never left.
Ken Arnold and Dick Radford were in charge of the Binding Room, a chap called Bert Parsons was one of the Machine Room bosses,
Norm Trigg was in charge of the Despatch, Peter Shepherd was in charge of the Store, assisted by Jean Neumann.
Ken Nancarrow and Bob Herriman ran the Composing Room, along with Jim Hosking, Frank Lock, Albert Wellman and Graham “Yank” Hall.
Ron Hamence was the reader on Hansard and I think Ivan Merrett was the clicker at that time.
Clarrie Stone was the smelting man before Bob Miller and I remember he had green teeth, not surprising when you think what impurities those guys must have inhaled daily. The carpenter then was Len Wallace.
Jim Walker was in charge of the Intertype Room along with the likes of Jack Findlay, Max Gill, Stan Sharman, Roger Radbone, Charlie Ludlow, Don Loose, Brian Hartshorne and the legendary Frank “Popeye” Nelson who could set the Police Gazette, and read a car magazine at the same time. The end result often showed it.
Howard Nilsson and Howard Bateup were the mechanics at the time.
I well remember Dick Stockdale as the head reader and Kay Thorpe. Dick religiously walked from Mile End to and from work every day.
The Jobbing Room reading staff was Ron Lahiff, Colin Haines and Iris Morgan.
Who can forget trying to keep pace with Alf Slender who would park his car down near the Adelaide Oval and walk, more like run, up to the old office in King William Road.
There is the priceless story of Monotype Keyboard operator Paul Korff who was looking out the window and said to his offsider that the car going around the corner looked like his car.