It was a forum Sam Loxton would have loved: a room full of cricket lovers revelling in the centenary of his birth celebrations.
Making it even more special was the banner on the fence: The Sam Loxton Oval, step 1 in Prahran and the Australian Cricket Society’s joint efforts to remember forever Sam’s extraordinary contributions to Prahran as cricketer, footballer and politician.
Sam was the local member at Prahran for more than 20 years. He won seven elections in a row.
He also captained the club’s famous 1954-55 premiership, his seven wickets and century being pivotal in one of the club’s greatest post-war days.
The City of Stonnington is considering an approach from Prahran CC and Toorak Park’s other member sports clubs to have the ground named the Sam Loxton Oval at Toorak Park.
The club hopes the naming ceremony can take place after the rebuilding and upgrading of the ground’s grandstand and social facilities – due to be completed in 2023.
Sam’s centenary biography Invincible was also launched at his birthday event, the author Martin Rogers flying down from the Gold Coast to speak.
‘Sam had wit, wisdom and good humour,’ said Rogers. ‘He was a fantastic, multi-gifted sportsman, a member of the most fabled Don Bradman team of all, the 1948 Invincibles.’
Among the special guests at Sam’s centenary were Evelyn Danos, Prahran CC’s patron in chief and daughter of David Mandie who also supported the club for more than six decades.
One year in the early ‘80s, Stonnington Council worked a new ‘user pay’ ground hire rate for the club’s use of its two grounds: Toorak Park and Como Park. The fee? $54,000. At the time the club’s annual grant from the Victorian Cricket Association was $8000. Mr Mandie wrote a cheque on the spot, allowing the club to survive.
Prahran ‘Legends’ president-for-28 years Ian Crawford, John Malligan and club coach Wiener were also present at the centenary celebrations.
Wiener said Sam deserves the recognition. ‘He was Prahran, on and off the field,’ he said, ‘He lived just around the corner from the (Orrong) hotel and from the time he was 11 and 12 the ground was his home away from home. Nothing would be more fitting than to see the ground named in his honour.’
Wiener also told some favourite anecdotes about Sam, then in his 60s, ‘coaching’ and directing the on-field happenings from high up in the corporate area. ‘Whatmore,’ he’d say to captain Dav, ‘time for the spinner.’
Wiener said the exciting upgrading of the Toorak Park precinct would see top quality sport played year around, including women’s BBL games.
The club’s state of the art new nets include hard wicket as well as two sets of turf areas with full run-ups.
‘It will see us continue the attract the best possible talent as the facilities are so good,’ Wiener said.
This summer, all four Prahran teams played in the finals, the club again finishing third in the club championship.
• For those wanting a copy of Invincible it is $60 posted from Ken Piesse, at 0419 549 458 or email ken at [email protected]