Just after the turn of the 20th century, a group of farmers living in the Mulgrave/Wheelers Hill market garden area, decided to form a Cricket Club.
It is thought that the first tour abroad of the Marylebone Cricket Club (the MCC - owners of Lords Cricket Ground) team in the summer of 1903-04 was the catalyst to the club being formed.
Although Australia lost that series, in 1903-04, it had created enormous impact in Australia, leading to many cricket clubs being formed around Australia, as well as the establishment of the Australian Board of Control for International Cricket (now known as Cricket Australia) in the same year.
One of the founding families, of which there were 5 or 6 young brothers, was the Armstrong family and from that one family, the Armstrong men would make up almost half of the cricket team.
At around the same time, a young Kyneton man, Warwick Armstrong, was making a name for himself as an all-rounder, and was very much a key player in the 1905 Australian tour of England. Warwick averaged 50 with the bat, including a triple century, during this tour, and is known to be one of the architects of the leg bowling theory. Whilst it is not known, if he was a relative to the Armstrong family of the Mulgrave area, his prowess with both bat and ball, could easily have helped the Armstrong lads take a proactive decision to help form their own local club with other local farmers
In the early days, the Mulgrave team would travel around the outer eastern suburbs to challenge other clubs on a Sunday for a seasonal premiership. One of those grounds was a paddock where, in early 1980s the VFL built it’s Victorian HQ stadium at Waverley Park. Although this stadium is now home to the Hawthorn AFL Club’s main training facility, the VFL Park’s main grandstand still stands proudly on the hill overlooking both that paddock, now its centre oval, and the Mulgrave’s Cricket Club’s home down the hill at Mulgrave Reserve.
In the early days, the Mulgrave Cricket Club was a very strong team and won a number of premierships in a row and were headed for a third, when family and duty called the Armstrong lads. Their mother was gravely ill, so instead of the lads playing in their third Grand Final in a row, they all decided to stay at home to be by their mother’s bedside.
Their team-mates supported them and forfeited the GF match and their chance at 3 in a row. This set of values of being a family club is still strong today where Mulgrave Cricket Club, year after year, has one of the largest number of teams of juniors in their Association.
Local families such as the Arnott’s, the Gunthers and many others were very much part of this club, also playing Australian rules football in the area, which led to the formation of the Mulgrave Football Club at Mulgrave Reserve, in the 1920s. Over the next 50 odd years, Mulgrave Cricket Club was a member of various Cricket Associations in the outer east of Melbourne.
In 1974, the 1st and 2nd XI teams moved onto a new main oval with a new turf wicket. This prompted a move of the club into the premier turf competition of the then Eastern Suburbs Cricket Association and immediately stamped their quality by winnings premierships in the first 2 seasons in ESCA.
In the mid 2000-2010 decade, almost 100 years to the year since it’s formation, the Mulgrave Cricket Clubs 1stXI Dunstan Shield turf team achieved what is likely to be a very long standing record in the ECA. Over 5 seasons, the Mulgrave 1stXI team won 5 flags in a row. With many of the players in those 5 teams being players who joined the club, as 11 and 12 year olds, then going on to reach this high level of achievement for each other and their team, again showing the family spirit amongst the Mulgrave families.
Today, Mulgrave Cricket Club has a strong presence represented in the highest levels of the ECA’s turf competition, 2 day Synthetic and Limited Overs competitions, as well as continuing that community role of offering the young children in the Mulgrave-Wheelers Hill area the opportunity to play and learn the game of cricket in a fun, safe and family environment.