The Briars Sporting Club History
The Briars in the sixties built on the solid foundations laid in previous decades whilst still having the enthusiasm to introduce innovations.
The membership growth was not as spectacular as in previous times, growing from 357 in 1961 to 387 in 1970
On the sporting field, the 1961 season was A Grade Hockey win the pennant which marked their eleventh win in twelve seasons. The B Grade team followed on by winning the premiership in 1962 and 1963. 1964 saw a promotion to the Second Division, thus stronger teams as opponents which made pennants harder to come by.
The highlight for rugby in this decade, and the best season ever for Briars, came in 1964. Briars won the Kentwell Cup undefeated and the Club Championship. The team, coached by Brian Williams, was later dubbed “The Invincibles”. To prove it was no fluke, the footballers followed up with the Kentwell Cup again in 1965 and the club Championship in 1966. 1966 saw Briars contest the Judd Cup for the first time.
The 1960 season saw another big first for the Briars footballers – a tour of New Zealand. Unfortunately, only one match was won. During the second tour in 1965, we managed to win two matches. Australian teams, no matter how good, always seem to have a hard time against the Kiwi’s. 1966 and 1967 saw return visits by four different New Zealand teams.
Cricket opened the decade in very fine style by winning the municipal and Shires Club Championship in the 1959/60 seasons. This was again won in the 1963/64 seasons. That year also saw the introduction of the c Shires team.
During the 1960’s, the Squash playing members began to make their presence felt around the Club. The first Briars Squash pennant was won by the B2 team in the 1963 Spring competition. Then came the 1969 season, when the B3 team won the Pennant. Since that year, the Briars have had at least one pennant winning Squash team every year. These successes and the efforts of Squash playing members, particularly Doug Vanderfield, saw Squash become a major sport in 1970. This move allowed men to join the Club as Squash players. Previously, the Squash players were members who had joined to play Cricket, Hockey or Football.
Off the field, the Clubrooms purchased in the fifties were undergoing continued improvement. The biggest came in 1967 when the clubrooms were extended to their present size. The relocation of the entrance necessitated the changing of the club’ address from 34A George Street, Burwood to 30A George Street, Burwood. Other time saw the installation of new fridges, carpet and the excellent crest in front of the bar.
In 1963, the Briars Ski Lodge opened at Thredbo. This venture was undertaken by members of the Club. Its ownership and operation are independent of the Club.
At the end of the highly successful 1964 football season, a celebration dinner was held which was attended by 107 members and guests. This is regarded as our First Annual Dinner. In 1968, the Special guest at our Fiftieth Anniversary Dinner was the Chief Justice, Sir Leslie Herron. With great modesty, we shall recall some of his remarks: “…to my knowledge, the Briars is the only Club of its kind that I know of in the Western democracies” and “I look out upon as fine a cross section of the citizens of this state as it has every been my pleasure to address”. Other distinguished guests at dinners in the sixties included Sir Charles Moses and Alan McGilvray.
A Church Service and a Ball, as well as the Dinner, celebrated the Club’s half century in 1968.
During the Sixties, a Planning Committee was formed. Its function was to investigate ways and means of acquiring a suitable permanent ground for the Club.
Whilst the sixties was a time for innovative measures, regretfully, some things never seem to alter. From the 1959/60 Report: “Otherwise respectable and decently behaved members have been seen leaving the Club rooms by the rear entrance and not bothering to close the door after them leaving their empty glasses wherever they happen to finish their drinks, ashing their cigarettes on the floor and doing all sorts of similar things small in themselves but in total constant annoyance to those who have to make good these omissions”.