"Six years is a long time between premiership drinks, but surely the tide has turned with the magnificent winning effort produced by our C1 team. I believe the standard set by the Blackburn team was far above that of a class 4th eleven.....I congratulate Roy Main and his team... To the other finalists, Shield 1, Shield 3, D1 and under 14, I believe that all is not lost if some knowledge is acquired which can be put to productive use in 1980-81 - let us all think positively in that regard... the Club is strongly placed to face the challenge of the '80s and I confidently look forward to a continued premiership run in our favour."
So an understandably excited and optimistic President John Cotter commented when the first season of the new decade brought the Club its first flag in six seasons.
Part of that optimism was fuelled by the recruitment of a young Terry Sacristani from East Burwood to coach the Club. In his debut season, Terry led the 1st XI to the semi-final.
Branded one of the Clubs "bridesmaids" in the Seventies for its regular finals appearances without taking out the flag, the 3rd XI was undeniably the Club's glamour side of the Eighties. John Cotter himself was a significant contributor to the Three's success as the team seized four flags during the decade.
Having narrowly lost the battle for the Shield Thirds title against Nunawading in 1980-81. John Cotter's team reversed the result the following season. Keith Hall top scored in that match with 82 and combined with Henry Plucinski to put on 125 runs for the 3rd wicket. Ray Elliot and a young Wayne Geradts also paired well to produce 65 for the 7th wicket.
Seven of the Club's 11 teams made the finals in 1983-84; however the Thirds were the only team to enjoy ultimate success. The Thirds again defeated Nunawading to claim the B1 flag.
The 3rd XI successfully defended its B1 crown the following season in defeating East Burwood Uniting. Chasing 225, Blackburn "reeled in" the target with three wickets in hand.
In the final season of the Eighties, Russell Punton led the Thirds to the A3 premiership. Having finished the home and away season in third place, the team trounced Vermont South in the Semi-Final. A 109 run 3rd wicket partnership between Ian Cullen (55) and Paul Callanan Jnr (57), 55 from the skipper and a 63 last wicket stand between Mark Paterson and Tom Debney saw the team amass a formidable 277, which proved 135 too many for the Vultures.
In the Grand Final the irrepressible Keith Sturgeon's 6 for 27 led to Nunawading Church of Christ being routed for 136. The Thirds had six wickets in hand when it overhauled that total.
The 4th Eleven repeated its success of the first season of the Eighties in the 1981-82 when George Lipsfield led the team to the C1 flag against Nunawading. Graeme Pitt's exceptional season with the bat earned him the Association batting averages (564 runs at 54.6); Jamie Moore won the Club's bowling averages with 21 wickets at 9.7, including a 9 for 32.
With the Committee deciding to field the Club's 3rd XI in the stronger B1 grade in 1982-83, the task of defending the Club's Shield 3 title fell to Ray Elliot's 4th XI. Accounting comfortably for Mitcham in the Semi-Final, the team faced Nunawading at Heatherdale in the Final - the two Club's third consecutive Grand Final clash in Shield 3 grade, with the honours evenly shared. In a tight contest, Nunawading eventually prevailed by two wickets.
In 1987-88, with Denis Johnston in charge, the Fourths finished the season in first place and advanced to the B1 Grand Final when rain prevented a result in the semi-final against Nunawading. However the teams good fortune came to an abrupt halt when it was humbled by Vermont South - 162 to 4/428.
Nevertheless, the Fourth's two Premierships and two Runners-Up places represented a marked improvement on its one Runners-Up result in the Seventies.
The sole Fifth XI Premiership in the Eighties came in 1982-83 against Nunawading in the B Grade Seconds. President Michael Long described the result in the following terms:
"Jeremy Beard's all-conquering 5th XI performed magnificently, and any result other than a Grand Final victory would have been a travesty of justice. All members are appropriate subjects of praise, but none more so than Jeremy (who took 5 for 6 and figured in an 87 run stand with Jamie Moore in the Final)."
Frankly, to continue the "Judge's" judicial theme, had this team not won the Premiership with the calibre of the players at its disposal, a Royal Commission would have been called. And here is some of the evidence:
"Greg Baulch, who had stepped down from his regular role as the Shield team's bowling all-rounder as he intended to pursue his football career in Queensland, ended up playing the full season and duly won the Association batting averages".
"The Coach "Doc's" brother, Lance Medson, won the Association bowling trophy (45 wickets at 7.6 from 107 overs) and contributed a handy 337 runs at 42.1 with the bat";
Captain Jeremy Beard finished the season with 250 runs at 41.6 and 41 wickets with his left arm swingers at 14.3 runs apiece"; and "Jamie Moore and Ray Poynter amassed 379 and 320 runs for the season respectively."
The Club's Junior Section's Premiership "yield" also improved markedly in the Eighties in Contrast to the lean Seventies. While development of the "kids" in terms of skills and sportsmanship is the primary aim of the junior program, the improved results reflected great credit on the Club's two Junior Section Managers for the Eighties, Allan Berry and Paul Callanan Snr, and also provided some positive signs of the increased depth for the Senior XIs in the future.
The Under 16s were Premiers in 1980-81 and 1985-86 and Runners-Up in 1981-82 by one run. The latter victory over Bulleen-Templestowe is particularly memorable for the inaugural Allan Berry Shield winner and team captain, Andrew Moore's 225 not out from the allotted 75 overs.
The Under 14s won flags in 1981-82 (D), 1982-83 (C), and 1988-89 (A) and the Under 12s in 1985-86 (C) and 1986-87 (A and C). In the late Eighties and early Nineties Tom Cullen's eldest son, Brad, lead a remarkable squad of junior players, which at various times included brother Mark, Lachlan Head, Campbell and Gavin Sheane-Smith and Robbie Willis, through a series of Premierships in each age division in the competition.
The 2nd XI had two tilts at a flag in the Eighties.
The first was in 1981-82 when Peter Cullen led the team against Forest Hill at Blackburn North. Batting First, Blackburn made about 190 of which Michael Long's 65 was the main contribution. Forest Hill won reasonably comfortable in the end.
The second opportunty came in 1983-84 when it played Nunawading at Mahoney's Reserve (now the Bob Saker Oval) for the Shield 2 title. It had defeated Mitcham in the semi-final on the strength of a solid batting performance. A key partnership in that victory was a 89 for the 2nd wicket between Raj Wilson (44) and Mick "Judge" Long (78).
Batting first in the Final, the team compiled a defendable 190. Things looked promising as Blackburn scythed through Nuna's top order to reduce them to 5/51. The balance of this match was slowly swayed to Nunawading's favour by an extraordinary batting display from its captain Colin James. He batted for over 300 minutes to pass Blackburn's total at 27 not out.
The 2nd XI's failure to appear in another final series for the Eighties is partly explainable by a bold decision the Committee took in 1985 to field the side in A1 grade. President Peter Cullen explained the rationale for that decision in the following terms:
"After analysing the cricket resources at our disposal, the Club decided to break new ground in this competition by entering sides in both the Shield and A grade sections. In retrospect this move may have been lacking in short term goals but we feel it has strengthened the Club in the longer term. It has provided a higher standard of cricket for players and given us a broader base."
What that decision meant was that, through 1985-86 and 1986-87, the Club's four senior XIs played in the top four grades in the BHRDCA's 11 open age competition. A number of other Shield Clubs followed Blackburn's lead in 1986-87 by entering their Seconds in A1 grade, which compelled the Association to temporarily abolish Shield 2 and 3 grades. The 2nd XI continued in A1 grade through to and including the 1989-90 season.
Like the 2nd XI, the 1st XI also had two opportunities to bring what had become known as "the elusive Shield" to Morton Park. It unfortunately lost Semi-Finals in 1979-80, 1983-84 and 1985-86.
In 1983-84, the Committee had appointed Alan Peach as coach. A talented sportsman, "Alfie" was already a well known figure at Blackburn through his involvement with the Football Club.
Under Alfie's guidance, the side finished the season in second place with nine wins, one tie and one loss. In an ill-tempered and spiteful semi-final against Heatherdale at Walker Park, the team struggled to 160 with only Terry Sacristani (57) and a young Darren Croft (44) showing much resistance. However, the next day was all Heatherdale's as some early chances went begging and they made their way to 6 for 256.
In the 1986-87 season the team advanced to the Grand Final on the basis of its superior ladder position after rain forced a draw in an evenly poised semi-final against Bulleen-Templestowe. Unfortunately the team fell 17 runs short of Mitcham's total in the Grand Final, the Club's first tilt at the Shield in 11 years.
Bob Parry (Coach) retired at the end of the game and went on to become an International Umpire, disappointed at the result, but "proud of the way the side contested the Grand Final". Bob "enjoyed (his) two seasons immensely. (His) only regret (was) that (he) did not discover the Club years ago."
In Bob's departure, the Committee secured the services of Tom Cullen as coach. With its strongest team in seasons, the 1st XI won their way through to the 1987-88 finals. Rain forced a draw against Mitcham and with Blackburn's higher ladder position, progressed into the Grand Final.
Against Heatherdale, Blackburn had ripped them "on the ropes" at 7 for 114 at tea, however Heatherdale consolidated and went on to amass 288. Blackburn slumped early in reply to be 3 for 37. Fighting through the rest of their innings Blackburn only went on to 209 - a bitterly disappointing result as the 1st XI finished back to back Runners-up and the Shield again eluded the Club's grasp.
With the demolition of the Morton Park Hall in the early Sixties, many of the Club's social functions were held away from Morton Park in players' homes, restaurants, reception centres, etc. During the Eighties, primarily through the unstinting work of Trevor Sloan, the pavilion was progressively upgraded to make it more amenable for members after matches and hosting social functions.
Despite Trevor's magnificent efforts with limited resources, there was a recognition of the need in the longer term to develop social facilities that were discrete from the players' change rooms. This problem was even more vexing for the Football Club during the winter season; therefore, it was logical for the two Clubs to combine their resources, especially given their seasonal nature, to pursue their shared dream of a stand-alone social facility. Despite both Clubs greatest endeavours, it would be several more years before it would manifest in a concrete and mortar outcome.