Melbourne University Cricket Club was founded in 1856, just three years after the university opened, and is a founding member of the Victorian Cricket Association.
The eligibility rules, which have now been abolished, usually
meant that no matter how talented a team University fielded, it
lacked the experience needed for ultimate success in the tough
District competition. However it did win a First XI premiership
in 1928/29 and one ‘unofficial’ premiership in 1942/43.
In modern times in the Premier competition, MUCC has won two more
First XI premierships in 1990/91 and 1995/96. The Firsts have
been runners up four times and participated in the finals a further
14 times. In addition, the club has won the Club Championship
four times (1964/65, 1995/96, 1997/98 and 1998/99) and 10 premierships
in other grades.
Over the years many great players have passed through the club. Pre-war MUCC players Dr Roy Park, Dr Albert Hartkopf, Ted a'Beckett and Keith Rigg all represented Australia in Tests, the latter two while still students. After World War II many more Test and first-class players called University home. In 1951/52 Colin McDonald and George Thoms opened the batting for University, Victoria and Australia. In 1964 Bob Cowper, who had captained University only a couple of years before, made his Test debut against England. Cowper held the record for the highest Test score made in Australia (307 v England) until Matthew Hayden made 380 against Zimbabwe. In 1968 Paul Sheahan, now headmaster of Melbourne Grammar, made his debut for Australia against India in Adelaide. Jim Higgs performed excellently for University before going on to Test selection in 1978 and eventually becoming a Test selector.
In the mid-70s two more Test players-to-be, albeit for England, represented University: Graeme Stevenson and one Ian Terence Botham. Unfortunately, neither gave much indication while at the club of the international honours that lay ahead. In the early 60s, former England express bowler Frank "Typhoon" Tyson was captain-coach of the club. He was succeeded by another former Test player as coach: George Tribe who played for Australia in 1946/47 and subsequently was an outstanding all-rounder for Northamptonshire in English County Cricket.
Les Fremantle, Lou Carter, Alan Dick, Dave Kerr, Bruce Tozer,
Jack Potter, Ian Huntington, Allen Aylett, Ian Langford, Graham
Whitford, Norm Carlyon, Robert Rowan, Les Stillman, John Stephens,
Russell Sincock, Geoff Miles, David Knight, Bruce Moir, Peter
Anderson, Brendan Ricci, Peter Harper, Geoff Allardice, Brent
Lodding, Shawn Flegler and Brendan Joseland, among others,
have represented Victoria. Ashley Robertson, Brett Harrop and
bowling coach Dan Lowery are current MUCCers to have played for
Others considered to be at the forefront of their fields were also First XI players at MUCC. Professor Manning Clark, held by many to have been this country's leading historian; Professor Greg Mundy, one of the world’s leaders in research into myeloma; Professor Richard Smallwood, formerly this country’s Director of Health; and Justices Bill Gillard, David Ashley and Tom Wodak.
Ray Steele, who was also a Richmond VFL premiership player under Jack Dyer, was one of the best administrators Australian cricket has had. Melbourne University's matches against Hawthorn Monash University are for the Ray Steele Trophy. Steele’s son Tony, after being president of the club for seven years, has become one of Victoria’s three representatives on the board of Cricket Australia.
Malcolm Gray was chairman of the Australian Cricket Board before becoming president of the International Cricket Council and patron of Cricket Victoria, not bad for a former MUCC Fourth XI captain. Dual premiership player and former club coach James Sutherland is the CEO of Cricket Australia and Geoff Allardice is Cricket Australia Umpires’ Manager. Former MUCC president Ron Steiner is general manager of Rugby Victoria (having been a respected ACB executive) and Geoff Miles was CEO of Soccer Victoria.
During the famed Bodyline crisis of 1932/33, Dr Allen Robertson was chairman of the Australian Board of Control (the forerunner of the ACB and Cricket Australia). At state level, the late Bill Tickner, president of MUCC for 14 years, was held in high esteem especially for his work in junior coaching schemes during his 32 years as a Melbourne University delegate.
No account of MUCC would be complete without reference to Ernie Cropley - curator extraordinaire and committee-man, vice-president, chairman of selectors, barman, cook and father-figure to generations of University cricketers. In retirement he continued to support MUCC in every possible way and was patron of the club until his death in 1997.