It was a night of reminiscence, reflection and unreliable recollection when our bastion of social cricket, the MCC XXIX Club, celebrated its 50th anniversary in the Members Dining Room on September 27.
A record number of 400-plus current and former players of all ages and disparate ability gathered to honour the foresight of the XXIX Club founders who, in 1956, decided to form a social offshoot of the parent club to foster the game of cricket.
Indeed, seven of the 13 founding fathers – Jonathan Crawford, Warwick Harrison, Dr Ian McDonald, John Miles, Bill Ponsford Jnr, Reg Teasdale and Winston Rickards – were in attendance, with “Doc” McDonald recounting the tale of the club’s formation after being inspired by his time with South Oxfordshire Amateurs Cricket Club in England.
Our most recent MCC Test cricketer, Brad Hodge, was guest speaker, reliving the excitement of last summer’s Test debut and his double century in Perth against South Africa. He also revealed a hidden talent for impersonations, Sri Lankan ace Muthiah Muralidaran taking a hammering in particular!
Club stalwart and former XXIX Club president Peter French proposed a highly entertaining and thoughtful toast to the club earlier in the evening, with only a few of those in the room failing to gain a mention in the torrent of tales that rained.
Peter also noted that since Lindsay Hassett addressed the audience at the inaugural dinner in 1957, there had been six Test cricketers, two Australian captains, two Melbourne Football Club coaches, one Brownlow medallist, two Supreme Court judges, one Prime Minister and an Opposition Leader take to the stage in the name of the XXIXers. What a line-up!
Later in the evening, in recognition of the MCC’s appreciation of the XXIX Club and its role, outgoing MCC president David Jones presented a crystal decanter to Doc McDonald, one of the driving forces behind its establishment 50 years ago.
With guests supplied with a XXIX Club DVD courtesy of Jeff Chapman, all that was left was for them to rise from their seats, lift their glasses and drink with throttle free, singing Doug Reid’s XXIX Club song to cricket and the MCC.