1965 – A Banner Year


When future generations look back over the history of the Club, they will look at 1965 as being a successful year. After all, in that year we won out fourth State Premiership, defeating Melbourne 7-1 in the Grand Final, but a closer examination of the ‘entire’ Club’s performances that year, reveal that 1965 was indeed a banner year in the Club’s history.

The best and fairest winner in the first nine that year was Ken Morrison, one of the greatest players ever to pull on an Essendon uniform. After his retirement as a player, Ken continued to serve the Club for many years as a Committeeman and was made a Life Member of the Section in 1989. (He even made a contribution to the Club as a ‘Sire’, with his son Bruce being a long serving member of the first nine, a Club Champion and now a Life Member.)

The second nine best and fairest winner that year was a 17 year old named Robert Rowan. The seconds was merely a stepping stone for Rowan on the way to Club, State and National honours that would bring great credit to both Robert personally and to Essendon. One of the best pitchers in the history of Victorian Baseball, Robert appeared on countless State and National Teams, coached the first nine into third place in 1976 and is presently involved as a pitching coach with the Club.

The third nine best and fairest award went to a 15 year old Garry Bitmead, the current Club Coach and a Life Member of the Baseball Section. Bitmead, (a modern day ‘Doc’ Smith) seems to spend his entire life at the Club. He has been an outstanding performer on the field throughout a distinguished playing career and is virtually single handedly responsible for the development of many of the outstanding junior players to emerge in the Club over the past ten years.

The under 16 side of 1965 included a skinny kid catching with an unusual name – John (no, that’s not the unusual part!) Gavienas. Gavienas was selected in the State Under 16 Team that year and went on to play Claxton Shield ball, coached our Club for number of years, won the Club Championship and was made a Life Member in 1989. We know him now as John Pate, and his involvement in the Club continues today through his two sons, Damian and Jayson.

When the trophies were being handed out to the respective winners at the 1965 Presentation Night, I wonder if anyone present suspected that four of the recipients would still be having a profound influence on the Club nearly 50 years later.