The Cricket Club’s Eulogy for Phil O’Sullivan OAM Life Member

02-Sep-2020

 Delivered by Peter Lovitt (Vice President: Life Member). 21st August 2020

 

 

AN ODE TO PHIL

I do like to be by the seaside, I do like to be by the sea, down at the junction there’s a cricket ground and that’s where the Waves all like to hang all around.

So let’s give three cheers to good old Waverley, for this year the Premiers we will be, and all though it’s not yet in the bag we have hopes of winning the flag, beside the seaside beside the sea”

When Dennis Hourn called to inform me of Phil’s passing, I thought  NO. NO NO. HE’S TOO YOUNG TO DIE. Such was Phil’s stature, strength and energy. Phil never dies.

Today is a SAD DAY….but amongst the sadness is a celebration of a great man and a great life, and a huge acknowledgement of Phil's achievements for his cricket club and his local community.

Now I am sure Phil is up there now, somewhat jittery, wondering how he could somehow include himself into today’s order of ceremony. Such was his passion in talking about his club and his community.

Sadly this time Phil, you are just going to have to listen.

Phil's contributions to the cricket club and his community include:

- Phil first walked onto Waverley Oval in 1927.
- He was Vice President of the club from 1967-1979 and President 1979-1987.
- He was a Delegate to NSW Cricket Association 1979-1986.
- Phil was a Player and Manager of the club’s tour of New Zealand in 1968.
- Phil was ahead of his time, when he saw the potential to grow cricket in China, when he devised the Australian-China Friendship Cricket Tour of China in 1988.  (The ICC has partnered China since 2004, some 16 years later. The Chinese Cricket Association’s moto is “A Better Tomorrow”. How appropriate for Phil).
- He was a Patron to the South Eastern Junior Association. (SEJCA). Each year Phil would present, at the SEJCA Awards the “Club Championship Phil O'Sullivan Perpetual Shield”
- One of Phil’s greatest legacies were his Saturday Morning Junior Coaching classes at Waverley Oval which he started some 40 odd years ago. Today they are still in existence and are still the backbone of our grass roots junior cricket programs. The club has now over 750 Junior Cricketers (boys and girls).
- He worked at the family garage since 1938, and was still seen there up until early this year.
- Phil has been a member of The Rotary Club of Bondi since the 1960’s (and for some of us who were lucky enough to attend some of those Rotary dinners would have seen first hand Phil's great sense of humour as he bantered with some of his close mates John Morrison, Henry Hootman and John Wright!)  
- Phil was a Benefactor to Little Sisters of the Poor (Randwick) since 1966
- He was made Life Member of the Australian Red Cross 1985.
- He was the Vice President of Waverley College Old Boys Union for 6 years. Executive Member since 1990. 
- He was named an Icon/Honorary Membership of the Waverley Historical Society 2005.
- He was a long time member of the AJC and of course supporter of Randwick Racecourse. On Race Day he proudly paraded his duck egg blue Safari Suit as he cut a swathe through the Members Area.
- He has a plaque in his name on the Bronte Beach Promenade Walk of Fame.

Phil's other notable achievements include:

- He was awarded the Australian Sports Medal in 2000 and The Centenary Medal in 2001
- In May 2012 the grandstand at Waverley Oval was named the Phil O’Sullivan-Bob Horsell Grandstand.  (Bob is here today, as is Phil's great mate Tom Deen) .
- He received an OAM in 2013 for service to the Waverley region through a range of sporting and community organisations.

Wow! That’s our Phil!

I first met Phil in December 1984. I had just joined the club from school. It was a Tuesday afternoon after my first grade training at Waverley Oval.

I was invited up to the famous Back Room (the club rooms behind the grandstand) by a few of the senior players. I was on debut.

As we were walking behind the grandstand an older camouflaged ute came rumbling down the drive way.  So camouflaged I’m surprised we saw it.

Anyways, on the side of this ute was written O Sullivan Garage. On top of the ute was written “we are gunning for your business”.

The ute pulled up, and stepped out was this handsome strong jawed gentleman. I thought Lordy….Clint Eastwood is running the show here at Waverley!

You must be Lovitt. Phil said

Yes sir I replied.

I’m O Sullivan. Come with me.

He took me into the back room and we sat for some time and chatted over a beer or two.

Phil was engrossing and engaging as he spoke of his beloved club, its history, its traditions, its culture and the great people that had been involved at the club both on and off the field.

The Back Room stood for many things to many people. But it was Phil’s domain. A centre of great comradery, fun and friendship. Many of those friendships as strong as they are today as they were some 36 years ago.

Phil over the years spoke fondly of the likes of  KIPPAX, FINGELTON, CARTER, BUTLER, GREGORY, McGILVRAY ,POIDEVAN, BROOKS and ALTERATOR.

In more recent times the Hourn brothers (Dennis and David), Gibson, Francis, Boycott, Boyd, Marshall, Matthews, Patterson and Haddin amongst many.

He formed a great friendship with Tony Greig and his brother Ian.

Tony was a very special person for Phil. Tony arrived to the club as a young man from Sussex, England. Phil had encouraged Tony to come and play for Waverley in 1975 . Tony delivered a 1st Grade Premiership for Phil. During that season Tony met Kerry Packer. The rest is history.

He took a young South African cricketer under his arm who went on to play for Australia and Sth Africa. His name Kepler Wessels.

He also watched a young cricketer David Warner come through the South Eastern Junior Cricket Association (SEJCA) to Easts Cricket Green Shield and 1st Grade Teams and into his selection for Australia.

Off the field Bob Wilson, John Chapman, John Morrison, Rod Foord, Peter Mackenzie and Geoff McMah were amongst many of his great mates.

Phil was inclusive. From the 5th grade number 11 through to the 1st grade number 1, and everyone in between, he spoke to them all.

He just wanted the best for everyone and for cricketers to challenge themselves to achieve the best out of themselves.

Phil was a pioneer.  He did what ever he could for the cricket club, always looking for ways to raise valuable funds….from his:

Club Raffle Tickets

Chocolate Wheels

Telephone Book Deliveries

Thursday Night Player of Week Presentations at Billy the Pigs Hotel at Bondi Junction

His weekly cricket articles in the Wentworth Courier

Everything was important to Phil and in any-way he could better the club he would.

Phil was a walking Memorabilia Display Case. I can only imagine what the family has found tucked away at home and at the family garage!

In January the club won the U16 Green Shield Competition. Phil was most excited, as the club hadn’t won it for 43 years, a time when Phil oversaw young cricketers coming into the club at that time.

In March of this year, the Club celebrated its 125th Anniversary, at a Luncheon, in the city. Phil was at the Luncheon and he spoke about his club and showed the crowd a photo of him as a 7 year old playing cricket with his Waverley Blazer on.

Sadly 2020 wasn’t to be the end we had all wanted for Phil.

97. Gosh I can only imagine if a batsman was dismissed for 97 under Phil’s watch. Phil would have been ropable. Why didn’t you get your 100 would have been shouted around the old Waverley Oval dressing rooms!!!

We say the same to you our old dear friend Phil. You should have got your 100!

To his life partner Joan of over 74 years a huge thank you from all of us. Thank you for your love and support of Phil. Our sincere condolences and thoughts are with you today Joan.

We are sure you wanted him out of the house on a Saturday, as much as we wanted him at Waverley Oval at the same time!

…and as Phil mentioned at his club Tribute Luncheon a few years ago at the SCG your words that  “Phil was indeed married to you and that cricket club at the same time!” 

To Phil’s son Chris, and Grand Children Phil, Paul, Stephen and Chris and the extended family, our thoughts are with you all. You should be very proud of Phil, the man and his achievements.

Phil is the ultimate definition of Community.

To Cricket Australia and Cricket NSW, we hope there is room in your trophy cabinets for a gold-plated case, and it placed Phil’s legacy and memories.   Phil stands for all the right reasons this great game of cricket is played and the importance of community whatever the sport or organisation is. He is your benchmark.

In closing , I was reading many of the comments on the clubs social media platforms re Phil’s passing and this Post on Instagram from Trent Griffiths grabbed my attention…

It said…”A Legend, so many kids in the Eastern Suburbs over the last 50+ years can credit their love of the game to this great man”

A PART OF THE CRICKET CLUB DIED TOO WITH PHILS PASSING.  WE HAVE A REPSONSIBILITY TO PHIL’S LEGACY TO ENSURE THAT THIS GREAT CRICKET CLUB AND INDEED PHIL’S LOCAL COMMUNITY, REMAINS STRONG AND STANDS FOR EVERYTHING THAT IS RIGHT, IN THE GREAT SPIRIT THAT PHIL WOULD HAVE DEMANDED.

RIP PHIL. YOU LEGEND.


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