Prior to the forming of the North Ballarat Cricket Club, there was a club playing in Ballarat under the name North City Cricket Club. From 1910-11 until 1919-20, North City played in the Ballarat Cricket League, winning the premiership in 1912-13. At the end of the 1919-20 season, the Ballarat Cricket League ended to pave the way for the new Ballarat District Cricket Association. This saw Ballarat divided into districts and the formation of new clubs. Players could only play for the district they lived in, and if they moved to another district they were also forced to change clubs and play for their new district. With the folding of the North City Cricket Club, both players and financial support were provided to the newly-formed North Ballarat Cricket Club, which as the name suggests was zoned in North Ballarat. The North Ballarat Cricket Club was formed during 1920 and played its first season in 1920-21 in the Ballarat District Cricket Association.
Success was only around the corner with back-to-back First XI premierships in 1921-22 and 1922-23, and others in 1925-26 and 1927-28. The star player of this period was Joe Stabernack who played a major role in all of these premiership wins. Stabernack was regarded as the best cricketer in the district throughout his career, which also saw him play in a further two more premierships in 1938-39 and 1940-41.
The two doctors, Dr. A. Curtis and Dr. N. Longden, both fine all-rounders, formed the backbone of the team along with Joe Stabernack during the 1920’s. The great Jack Wunhym captained the 1938-39 and 1940-41 premierships and runners-up in 1939-40, and dominated the competition during his time. The first 21 years of the club, until the competition was put into recess due to World War II, definitely will be regarded as the golden years. The club won 6 premierships, a runners-up and contested 8 other finals series (The finals system was not introduced until 1927-28, before then the team who finished the season on top of the ladder was awarded the premiership).
After the completion of World War II, the North Ballarat Cricket Club joined the newly-formed Ballarat Cricket Association in 1946-47. Relying on players returning to the club from active service in the war, and no longer boasting the likes of Wunhym and Stabernack in the team, the club struggled to produce the same consistency it had enjoyed in the past. In fact, the team was actually relegated to B Grade for the 1948-49 season after finishing last in 1947-48. This is the only time that the club’s First XI hasn’t played in the highest competition in Ballarat. Determined to get back into A Grade, Peter Heinz led the team to victory in the 1948-49 B Grade premiership and in the process returning the club back to A Grade the following year. The 1950’s and 1960’s would prove to be a lean era for the club. As perennial “cellar dwellers’ the club tasted very little success but players like Ron Hall, Harry Elliott, Ron Janson Snr and Jnr and Trevor Haintz shone during these times.
The 1970’s would see the re-emergence of the club as a force mainly due to the arrival of Terry Davies and a new-found professionalism at the club. The club would contest grand finals in 1971-72, 1973-74 and 1974-75 and unfortunately lose all three. Although no premiership success was achieved in this decade, the foundation had been laid and a new-found belief acquired by all.
It would be a heart-breaking 42 years from the 1940-41 premiership before the club won another First XI premiership. Under the guidance of prolific wicket-taker, Peter Thompson, the club won the 1983-84 premiership against Ballarat-Redan. This was a fitting reward for many players and officials who had endured lean periods in the past and who had not experienced finals success. None was more fitting than for Doug Anderson who played his last First XI game in that grand final, after making his debut some 24 years prior. The club would contest another grand final in 1987-88, going down to Wendouree.
In 1991 the club entered a new era with the construction of the Northern oval and the opening of the North Ballarat Sports Club. The new Northern Oval hosted its first game on February 2, 1991 between North Ballarat First XI and Mt Clear.
It was another twelve years before the club won its next First XI premiership. With a blend of experience and youth, the Alan Jenkin-led side emphatically took out the 1995-96 crown over Brown Hill. The formidable bowling attack of Darren Wilson, Craig Wright, peter Chapman and Simon Irving along with the brilliance of Sri Lankan recruit Peter Hamer paved the way for the stellar year. Many still regard the semi-final win two weeks prior, over the much-fancied Golden Point side was one of the club’s finest moments. In the dying moments of the low-scoring tight tussle club folklore would be created. A valiant last-wicket partnership between opening bowlers Craig Wright and Darren Wilson reeled in the Golden Point total which was passed when Wilson hit a boundary back over the head of Golden Point’s Neil Lee. What followed were scenes of euphoria and jubilation as players and spectators streamed onto the Eastern Oval. The Second XI was also premiers that season, giving the club its first “premiership double”.
Prior to the commencement of the 1997-98 season, Ballarat district club Midlands Cricket Club disbanded and joined the North Ballarat Cricket Club. With the two clubs joining forces they were able to rationalize players in the area, administrators and resources. From that point on, the North Ballarat Cricket Club would go under the playing name “Northern Roosters”.
Another “golden era” loomed during 1998-99 when the club arguably fielded one of its strongest-ever teams. With a batting line-up led by David Thomson and Peter Cartledge and the bowling by Darren Wilson, Peter Dredge and Craig Wright, the team took all before them during the minor rounds. Finishing undefeated four wins clear on top of the ladder, disaster was to follow with a loss to fourth-placed Mt Clear in the semi-final. The club won its first ever BCA Club Championship that season and teammates David Thomson and Darren Wilson finished an unprecedented first and second in the E.J. Cleary Medal. The following season the team again powered through the season, only losing two games before heart-breakingly going down to Brown Hill in the grand final. This group of players who definitely let back-to-back premierships slip through their fingers missed the window of opportunity.
A tight-knit group led by Peter Cartledge and Daniel Hopkinson surprised all when they turned the recent fortunes of past years and took out the 2002-03 premiership over Napoleons-Sebastopol. In a big year Hopkinson made over 600 runs and took over 30 wickets, which saw him win the E.J. Cleary Medal. He was ably supported by Simon Irving who also made over 600 runs and Matthew Cations with 44 wickets (including 8-17 in the first innings of the final). The club’s second “premiership double” was achieved with the Third XI coming out victors.
In season 2003-04 the club reverted its playing name back to North Ballarat Cricket Club, Peter Cartledge tied for the E.J. Cleary Medal and the First XI lost their semi-final by one run to eventual premier, Wendouree.
From humble beginnings way back in 1920, the club now boasts first-class playing and social facilities that all are very proud of. In 1920 the club had one senior team and today has 4 senior teams, 3 junior teams and has recently introduced a new side competing in the Melbourne All Abilities Cricket Association (MAACA) giving opportunity to people of all ages and abilities.