By Jed Lanyon
The Yarra Valley Cricket Association will merge with the Ringwood and District Cricket Association in a move that will alter the sport in the Yarra Valley and the 114 year old association.
YVCA president David Peel told Star Mail that cricket had been diminishing in the Yarra Valley for quite some time and that it was no longer a growth area for the sport.
“In the current economic times, we’ve found that people who live in the Yarra Valley in the 18-26 age bracket are now working a six day week meaning saturday cricket is being lost to them,” Peel said.
“We have used methods to try and retain teams but they haven’t worked, so we approached our neighbours in the RDCA for assistance to put together programs to help Yarra Valley clubs have a sustainable future.”
While Peel said he wished a merger wouldn’t have taken place, he acknowledged it was the best move for the future of cricket in the region.
“We need options for Yarra Valley cricket to survive and this was the best course of action to execute that we thought would be appropriate.
“It’s not a situation that anyone wanted to occur, not for the YVCA or the RDCA. We’d like to be a stand alone association and to prosper, but given the feedback we’ve received over the last few years, it just wasn’t a viable option any longer.”
Peel estimated that the YVCA could have continued to lose clubs year after year and may not have existed in just five years.
“We had to swallow our pride a bit. We’ve got a healthy competition on our boundary and we’ve got enough funding within our own organisation to allow clubs to prosper. As responsible managers for cricket in the area, we made the hard decision to explore that option (a merger).”
On 27 July, the YVCA collective voted in favour of amalgamating with the RDCA. Then on 5 August, RDCA held a special general meeting to vote in acceptance of the proposal.
The YVCA first formed in 1906 as the Lilydale Cricket Association, then as the Lilydale and District Cricket association, prior to the YVCA name change in 1939.
Despite the sadness around the announcement, Peel opted to take a positive outlook on the future for cricket in the Yarra Valley, while ensuring that the history of the YVCA would not be lost.
“There will be cricket played in the Yarra Valley going forward.”
Peel said that stronger YVCA clubs can enter into RDCA Shield Grade for the upcoming cricket season, while a ‘Yarra Valley zone’ would be set up for other clubs who could potentially play against RDCA clubs on the Yarra Valley’s boundary such as Montrose, Mooroolbark, Mount Evelyn and Chirnside Park.
“That Yarra Valley zone will retain the Yarra Valley name and the DJ Strachan Shield and RA Finger Trophy will remain.
“Throughout the whole process, all of the Yarra Valley history and what we honour was taken into consideration. It’s not a takeover but a mutually beneficial program.
“All the medals we honour people with in the juniors and seniors will be retained and if your name is on the Shield, it will always be on the Shield.”