‘HOWZAT!’ is a cry that you do not hear often in AFL Football, but our next ‘Where are they Now?’ profile, in Barry Royston Morrison, has used that appeal probably thousands of times whilst playing Cricket with the Northcote Cricket Club in the Premier Division of District Cricket. Now Barry, who with the VFLUA umpired at many country leagues over the 11 years he was on the list, has one claim to fame that he was a member of the 1965-66 Cricket Premiership, the team that chased down 9 dec. 514 by Essendon C.C. to win the match with a record score of 5 for 516. In this game, Bill Lawry the opening batsman, stated to his fellow teammates ‘If you get half the runs, I will get the rest’, and as it turned out, Bill was 282 not out at the end of play. Barry was disappointed that he did not get a chance to bat as he was next in but as the club’s wicket-keeper, contributed with three catches in the match. Barry played 123 games for the Northcote C.C. First XI from 1956-71.
Born in Melbourne on 7th May 1938 at the Queen Victoria Hospital to Norman Royston and Florence Elizabeth Morrison, Barry was as only child. The family lived in Gilbert Rd, Preston, where in 1944, Barry attended Bell State school until 1948.
He enrolled at Northcote High School in 1949 and completed his Matriculation exam in 1954. During his high school days, he loved his sport and participated in the schools Diamond House Cricket, Football and Baseball. Barry join the Northcote Cricket Club in 1952, where his first game was in the Northcote Fourths. He moved up the grades until 1956, where he achieved his goal playing his first game in the First-XI, and in this game, he faced Australian fast bowler Bill Johnston and one of the opposition batsmen was his Maths teacher from Northcote High School in Kevin Coghlan, who also played football with the Hawthorn Football Club.
In 1955, Barry attend the R.M.I.T. to study engineering. After two years, he applied for his first job with Hume, where a former VFL umpire in Ian Young was Barry’s first boss. Whilst working for Hume, he completed his degree in Civil Engineering. Barry was drafted into the National Service in 1956, and served as a Sapper in the Engineering Corp.
Barry who was a handy footballer. In the off-season, he played with the Ivanhoe Amateur in the VAFA, winning the ‘A’ grade premiership in 1956. His playing days at Ivanhoe lasted until 1962, where he was awarded life membership of the club. Barry decided to try out with Northcote F.C. in the VFA in 1963 and played one season.
Barry’s highest score for Northcote C.C. was in 1964-65 on a wet track, and in the game against Prahran, he scored 51 not out in the first innings, then opened the second innings scoring 62, that totalled 113 for the day. The wicket-keeper for the club standing at 6ft 1in, he had a long reach and was able to take many a fine catch that others would not get anywhere nearby.
The Semi-finals of the District Cricket in 1965-66 for Northcote to reach the Final saw a patient and defiant 21 by Barry and an Innings of 35 by Bill Lawry that totalled 56 runs, with the team only scoring 78 all out. Northcote’s opening bowler in Ken Walker was unplayable, bowling bombs that Richmond could not handle and they dismissed Richmond for 67. Walker finished the day with 9 for 28, the other wicket was a run out. Ken Walker is the father of AFL Grand Final Goal Umpire in Luke Walker.
Barry wasn’t the only umpire to play District Cricket and Umpire on the list of the VFL/AFL. Others were Alan ‘Froggy’ Thomson (Fitzroy Premiers 66-67), Stan Fisher (Northcote), Ian Huntington (Melbourne), Ron Furlong (Fitzroy Premiers 66-67), Graeme Marcy (Essendon), Scott McLaren (Ringwood) and Goal Umpire Luke Walker (Captain of Frankston). Geoff Morrow (Heritage No. 325) umpired Shield Cricket as well as District Cricket.
In 1965, Barry applied to the VFL Reserve Grade list of umpires, was accepted and completed two years on that list before being promoted onto the Senior List in 1967. His last game on the Reserve Grade List was the Eastern District 1st Div. 2nds Grand Final, with the Senior game umpired by John Sutcliffe. His first appointment on the Senior List was in the West Gippsland F.L. – Drouin v. Yarragon. In those days, the leagues that we officiated at were graded, ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’. with West Gippsland F.L. a ‘C’ grade appointment.
Eleven years on the list, Barry was appointed to 196 VCFL games, including 14 finals. The best final in 1973 was a Preliminary Final in the Waranga Nth East F.L., where Broadford 19.16 d. Mansfield 14.15 at Thornton. Other finals were – Farrer, Ovens & King, Upper Murray, Omeo & Dist. Bairnsdale & Dist., Southern Mallee x3, South West Dist, Murray, Northern Dist., Kowree Narracoorte and Alberton.
Barry informed me that the hardest physical game he had to umpire was in the Bendigo League at QEO, a clash between Sandhurst and Golden Square, who kicked 12 goals straight before a point, and both teams kicking 20 goals on a 30 deg. day. His last game on the Senior List in 1977 was in the Hampden F.L., where Camperdown 15.7 d. Colac 12.8. Barry then pulled the pin on his umpiring career, earning his life membership of the VFLUA. During his time on the list, Barry and Trevor Smith – training at Richmond – became the Table Tennis Champions at the training track, never beaten. Even with his heavy District schedule, Barry was still able to participate in the umpires’ cricket team, playing numerous games as a dashing opening batsman.
After his retirement, Barry was invited to join the VFA Umpires Appointment Board as Chairman – a position he held from 1978 to 1983.
When Barry retired from District Cricket in 1971, he took on the role as Captain/Coach of the Vermont Cricket Club. After several seasons with Vermont, Barry transferred to East Doncaster in 1978-79 season, where a newfound professionalism at an important stage of the club’s development was employed and the club began to prosper. He made the Grand Final once. Barry was then coaxed over to the Ashwood Cricket Club by the C.E.O. of Australia Cricket in David Richards and the Chief Executive Officer of the A.C.B. in Graeme Halbish, who were both playing members of the club. It was during these years at Ashwood, that because of the two members that I have mentioned, the club experimented with the white cricket ball, something that took off and is now used in International games.
Then a Waverley player in John Chambers asked Barry to coach his team in the District Cricket Scene, which he performed for four years.
It has me stumped that how Barry, who was a qualified Civil Engineer, had the time to play sport. Barry is qualified to build 50-stories high buildings as well as a structural engineer dealing with earthquakes. He has been Project Manager for many large buildings projects in Asia and Russia. He has also worked for B.H.P., and retired 20 years ago.
His nickname of ‘Spider’ originated from the cricket world but would not elaborate any further.
Barry now lives 10 kilometres from Bill Lawry and often catches up to reminiscence over their playing days at Northcote C.C. Barry was given the honour to write the foreword of Bill’s recently published book called ‘Chasing a Century’, a story of the last 20 years of Bill’s broadcasting career.
Stay well Barry.
Article written by AFLUA Life Member Graeme ‘Wizzer’ Fellows