A snapshot of 6 club legends spanning the generations
Born Robin Kelvin Cole, in the land of the long white cloud, he didn’t grace the bowling crease at the Richmond Cricket Club until the age of 25. Once his services were gained, Rob was a one-club man and in the next 23 years, secured a club record 1014 wickets at the amazing consistent average of over 40 wickets a season. Along the way, he became the first Adelaide Turf cricketer to take 1000 wickets.
With the late Jeff Niemann as his “into the wind” partner, Robin was a part of one of the most feared bowling attacks in the history of ATCA cricket. In a stellar 1965/66 season Rob collected the association bowling trophy with a mammoth 71 wickets, only beating his opening partner by two wickets (Jeff Niemann took 69 wickets). At one stage during this season, in a two game period, Rob took the dominating figures of 26 wickets for 116 runs, including a hat trick. Naturally both games resulted in outright wins. Before moving across the Tasman Sea, Rob was a New Zealand U/20s player, keeping upcoming tests opening bowler Dick Motz from national representation at this level. In one district match when playing for Canterbury against West Coast, Rob collected 7 for 35 (all bowled).
Highly competitive, as strong as an ox, and off a shortish run-up, his all shoulders action with a cocked wrist was penetrating and unnervingly accurate. Included in his bowling armoury were a lethal off-cutter and a deceptive change up ball, with a high proportion of his victims having their castles dismantled. Rob loved to bowl and was never known, no matter what the circumstances, to say he was tired.
Occasionally he would also get some quick-fire runs, driving the ball over the bowler’s head and even over the fence. Also being a good team person and a competent fielder, he was a great player to have on your side.
A regular Adelaide Turf Cricket Association player, Richmond’s and the ATCA’s gain was the Adelaide District Cricket Club’s loss. Robin trained with them on three or four occasions when he first arrived in Adelaide, but found them unwelcoming and standoffish. In the 60s, Richmond’s outstanding bowling attack included Robert Lee, Bob Roxby, “Red” Emmel and the Niemann brothers, as well as Rob. Unfortunately, on occasions, the team didn’t have the batting line-up to supplement such a great bowling attack. This did not stop the club from obtaining back to back premierships in the 1967/68 and 1968/69 seasons.
A Richmond Cricket Club honorary life member, Robin is still seen at the club on occasion, helping behind the scenes, as well as having an extensive administrating career with the ATCA, after finishing as a player. Robin met his forthright and straightforward wife Helena in Townsville while both were
travelling around Australia. They settled in our city of churches and had three daughters, Julie, Jenny and Alice. The girls have, in turn, given their parents five grandchildren. With Richmond being a great family club (many players bringing wives and children to games), this helped Rob’s longevity in the game, with him finally retiring at 48. This was due to many injuries, which made it impossible to continue playing the game that he loved. In his work life, Rob had a variety of jobs, from being a sales representative to running a family snack bar and a fruit juice franchise. He now restores old Australian furniture for some spending money. Helena still rides her motorcycle and is a member of the Ulysses club that gives them both an opportunity to continue their passion for travel. (Ulysses MCC is a cycle club for people who have reached the age of 40).
Since retirement, Robin and Helena have seen a large part of our island continent, camping and biking around it. Their aim is to find a different route for each adventure. With passion, Robin tells the story about one of his heroes, Sir Edmond Hillary. When at the south pole, instead of stopping at the designated position, Hillary sent a message back to NZ that they were going to attempt to reach the pole to complete the task before the British party attempting the same feat.
Robin is an ornament to the Richmond Cricket Club and the game itself. Undoubtedly he is also one of the legends of our club.
Still making runs and securing wickets, Jeffrey Donald Emmel, universally known and respected through Adelaide Turf Cricket as ‘Red’, is into his forty-first season of senior cricket. Forty of those seasons were as a playing member of the Richmond-Clarence Park cricket club. His father took him along to the Richmond Oval as a seventeen year old in 1961. His many years in turf cricket were only punctured by a season with Student Teachers at district level in the mid sixties. The late Neil Hawke losing his middle stump signified his first A grade dismissal.
Lean, fit and spritely, his health and sense of humour have led to his longevity in the game. Although, with recent back problems, he is finally starting to show some signs of mortality. A man that could certainly be classed as “alternative”. With a mop of curly auburn hair, greying at the side, and a distinctive gait, he could have some claims as the original “Doctor Who”, from the English series of the same name.
Twenty-five year playing life membership of the ATCA and honorary life membership of the Richmond Cricket Club are amongst at least 5 premierships and many other accolades he has received. Still with plenty of competitive juices running through his veins, he is entertaining to play cricket alongside of.
For the statistically minded, Jeff has taken more than 750 club wickets and made over 7000 runs. Many players in recent years are happy to play in the lower grades just to experience an afternoon playing in the same side as ‘Red’ and “talking cricket”. It must also be said that punctuality is not his
strong point and grabbing a lift to a match with him can be an experience in itself. Amateur football occupied his winter Saturdays, where he was an outstanding footballer with the Riverside Football Club (now Portland F.C.) in the tough western suburbs. Life membership was also bestowed upon him there. He retired from senior football at forty one, but returned to the super rules version of the game at fifty and is still playing.
His football included state representation between 1966 and 1970, and he was delighted to inform the interviewer that it didn’t include a loss against the Big ‘V’. Scholarly and with a sense of fairness, Jeff’s work life has been in education. After finishing his schooling at Adelaide High, he gained an Arts Degree in International Politics and History, and then did his postgraduate work in Education Psychology. Also filed away somewhere is a P.E. degree.
Another passion is music, where he is an accomplished and keen member of a classic rock ‘n’ roll band called “Red Emmett and the Katz”. They have been together for almost 25 years, and have just released a CD of their work in the last month. Occasionally when the rain interferes with a Saturdays Cricket, Red will start strumming away on his trusty guitar, often much to the bemusement of younger team-mates.
Leading a full and diverse life (evidenced by a rendition of a 1919 poem of “Chow En-Lai” at the end of the interview) it’s surprising he has time to spend with his attractive partner, Libby Round, or either sets of children: Tony (also a current RCPCC player) and Katie or the younger two, Marnie (who at 187cms is an accomplished junior basketballer) and Hilary.
He is an extrovert, teacher, philosopher, leader of men and a true Australian. He is happy and content, especially when having a cleansing ale with team-mates and opponents at the end of a day’s play.
Being the captain of Clarence Park’s first A1 flag in 1965/66 was the culmination of a brilliant season for Bob and the C.P.C.C. Apart from being captain, Bob scored a then club record 686 runs, which included a century in the grand final as well as another 100 and a 99 during the minor round, and in the process, winning the association batting trophy. To top this off, he was rated by many as the best cover fieldsman the club ever produced.
After a brilliant schoolboy career, where he played for the state in both cricket and football, Bob had a near fatal accident while in the navy that rendered his right hand nearly incapacitated. At that time, he was informed that he would never play sport again. Convinced by a school friend, Ron Hewitt (who was the best man at his wedding), he returned to the crease for Clarence Park, mastering the art of batting with a strong top
handgrip, using exquisite timing and placement of the ball. Making more than 6000 runs, he is still the fifth highest run-maker on the amalgamated list of batsman for both clubs. Before joining the navy, he was given A grade district experience as a seventeen year old at Sturt Cricket Club and after returning from his accident, he spent two seasons with the Sturt Football Club as a slightly built wingman, playing alongside the club’s great Gil Langley.
Bob’s father Vic was a long serving player with the Sturt C.C. and also recorded two Sheffield Shield games for South Australia before being struck by a cricket bat while keeping. This stopped him competing at this level, and for a while, there was some concern about his mortality after his accident. Because of his slight build, Bob turned his hand from playing to umpiring footy and spent approximately 30 years blowing the whistle. He was a man in white in many grades, from league football in the Ken Aplin era to suburban and country league matches, over the years.
In Jack Oatey’s first year at Unley, Bob also spent a season as coach of the senior Colts (now U/19s). He was also Clarence Park’s curator, groundsman and jack of all trades for the second oval, at the “home of cricket”, Sir Lewis Cowan Avenue, for more than ten years.
In the mid 1970s, Bob and his wife Betty went down to Hallett Cove to build a family house. Bob continues in a hard wicket association with a local club, playing and scoring runs well into his 60s.
After 40 years as an area manager in the steel industry for William Adams Pty Ltd, he is now happily retired. His strength of will has helped him fight through some recent sickness as it did when he returned to cricket after his accident. Considering his physical deficiency with his right hand, Bob’s efforts and outstanding results should inspire even the most cynical of human beings.
There is no question that this Clarence Park life member is a legend of the club and you can see when you look into his bright hazel eyes and listen to him reminisce, you begin to understand his fervor for life and his love of sport.