Club Memories

Vale John Russell (JR)

Club stalwart JR passed away on Monday, 6th August 2018, aged 89. 

John Anderson (Melbourne Cricket Club): Fond memories of JR. Man of integrity. Was never tempted to slip an extra run in the scorebook for CC of NSW in some of those close finishes we had at the SCG. 

Brian Breakspear Secretary, City and Suburban Cricket Association – 1903 Inc.: I first came to know John as a Director of the Cricketers’ Club of NSW during the late 1980s. As he was a Director of a Registered Club,  we were bound to meet in my capacity as the Licensing Sergeant of The Rocks Police Patrol. As time passed on, whilst I was playing for Yaralla CC, we communicated regularly when C.C.N.S.W. played at Goddard Oval. In 2000, the late and revered City & Suburban Cricket Association Secretary, Jack Pace retired from that position and John succeeded as Association Secretary.  As Assistant Secretary, I had a good working relationship with John.  He stamped his own name on the role.  In 2003, John played a major role in coordinating the Association’s Centenary Year which culminated in a memorable Centenary Dinner.  He was a Life Member and Legend of the City and Suburban Cricket Association.  He will be remembered for his commitment to the game as a remarkable administrator and friend. 

Greg Brooks (current President C.C.N.S.W.): I first met John in 1994 when I began my first season with the C.C.N.S.W. John was a senior member of the Club and part of the management committee. I soon learned how involved he was in the Club and as the then President John McGruther’s words testify elsewhere he was a true club man. Every Saturday JR would turn up to Camperdown and elsewhere to score the match and ensure the C.C.N.S.W. badge was well represented. A cup of black tea and some afternoon tea kept him going all day! After the match we would all adjourn to the Camperdown Bowling Club for a drink and a few laughs with the opposition around the day’s events, good and bad. We won more than we lost, and JR was very proud of the team…indeed he was thought of as one of the team. After a whiskey and a soft drink JR would load up his white Subaru and be on his way home. JR regularly joined us on tour, both to the country venues like Mudgee, Bowral and Camden, the interstate fixtures to Melbourne and Brisbane and of course overseas. He was present whenever we were privileged to play on the SCG and I know he was very pleased to receive his memento from the Governor of NSW, Marie Bashir when the Club was asked to play a match against the Army to celebrate 150 years of cricket at the SCG. One of the highlights of our time together was the 2007 tour to South Africa, a trip made possible for John thanks to generous contributions from club members, particularly Steve Taylor who made a significant contribution. JR had a fantastic time, highlighted by several train journeys, one of which between Mosel Bay and George was almost missed but saved by the tour group to ensure JR’s bucket list was met! The trip to the Zulu village and the subsequent greeting ceremony was also remembered by John as a highlight…for entirely different reasons! Even as age and illness caught up with JR and he could no longer attend our matches I would receive a phone call on Saturday or Sunday night to check the results of his beloved C&S team. All the details were required, and it was often a long call! John was made a “Legend of the C&S” in 2010 and was a life member of the C.C.N.S.W. There are many stories that could be told, and I do not have enough space here to re tell them all. Suffice to say that JR contributed to every aspect of our small Clubs’ activities and he will always be remembered as a great club man, a true gentleman and a wonderful friend. 

Brian Fallon: John was one of nature’s true-gentlemen, one whose attitudes to life and practised-values, inspired you to do better. 

Adrian Hawkes: John would have been 60 when I first met him in1989 with his playing days behind him. An initial gruff exterior hid a gentle man who was passionate about cricket and steam trains; loved to score with his “special” system and produce averages and quotients. He started the practice of writing weekly match reports on our C&S games which he scored and managed. His reports could be passionate; I remember his once writing that the opposition were “cowboys” but fortunately this was pre internet days. In his later years he liked to ring up for a chat and usually this lasted longer than an hour. I will miss him. 

Joff Johnson: It is with a very heavy heart that I respond to the sad news about our beloved mate, JR.  JR was highly respected and admired by all the C.C.N.S.W. family who came in contact with him.  He was a permanent fixture at most of the games I played with the C.C.N.S.W. and we loved him being with us.  I will remember him as a gentle caring man who could not do enough for the players and supporters – he will be sorely missed. 

John McGruther: I recount some brief thoughts below by way of some Memoir contribution: There are only a select few who, in life..whether in or outside of sports affairs…meet the Biblical test of impeccable Stewardship. That is, of the true and faithful servant. John Russell is the epitome of the ethic. I should know. I worked with John, .affectionately “JR” to most…for periods on a daily basis, for over 12 years during my term as President, and a co- Director with him, of the Cricketers’ Club of NSW. That was only part of our affinity. From 1985 to now is 33 years for all of which I have held JR in the closest and affectionate regard. Words cannot do justice to some Testimonies, this being one. This attempt thus can only be humble. But JR’s Club Stewardship is potentially impassable. He organised Cricket Matches, he attended to Score them, he wrote Newsletters to Members about them  whether whimsical, serious, or chastising, usually all three). He was a delegate of the Club at City & Suburban Association level, as well as being a C&S officer himself. At the “old” Barrack Street Club, he collected the Pokie money from the machines, occasionally calling me from some losing Court case to help him carry the multitudinous coin- bags up the Club stairs. The penultimate finite Treasurer! He helped organise Club Tours, a legacy for which CCNSW is still famous. Often, he arranged, or unsuccessfully tried to influence the design of, Club clothing, but usually got right Players’ sizes right, even allowing for inconsiderate Player off- Season gorging. All this, and more, despite, it might be added, intermittent health challenges occasionally challenging him. Indeed, were there a Turnstile at the old Club entrance, it surely would have registered daily, out of hours, and week-end entry. Such was also JR’s Club function attendance record. The Testimony of JR is the very definition of Stewardship. “Thanks JR” in one sense may not be enough…but in another, perhaps says it all.