VALE ROBERT GEORGE “DUTCHY” HOLLAND (O.A.M.)
Southern Lakes DCC is deeply mourning the passing of our much loved life member, widely respected teammate, and great friend, Robert Holland.
Robert had been desperately fighting a very aggressive brain tumour for the past several months; his battle ending on the 17th September just 2 days after he and his family attended a highly emotional and well supported fundraising evening for brain cancer at Toronto Workers Club where some of Australia’s cricket royalty attended to support the Holland family.
Robert will always be remembered as the greying, knuckle licking, almost apologetic little leggie who debuted for Australia at age 38 against the legendary West Indies line-up of the mid 80’s. In the Sydney test he took 10 wickets and won man of the match honours along with a ticket to England to compete in an Ashes series.
At Lords he took 5 wickets in an innings and was honoured with his name being added to the all-time time greats to have achieved that feat. Robert later played in Tests against India and New Zealand and remains as one of the all-time leading wicket takes for NSW where he was a fixture in the Sheffield Shield side for almost a decade.
As a youngster Robert resided at Morisset, and debuted for Southern Lakes in 3rd grade as a 14 year old in 1960. He made 1st grade the following season and over the next 50 years and beyond he was a source of inspiration for the many hundreds of Southern Lakes cricketers’ fortunate enough to play and practice alongside him.
His only seasons away from Southern Lakes were one with the Bankstown club in Sydney where he famously played alongside the teenage tearaways Jeff Thomson and Lennie Pascoe and another after he had transferred to Grafton early in his professional life.
In all, Robert played 440 grade matches for Southern Lakes - 317 in 1st Grade and later a further 80 in second grade. In first grade he took 799 wickets at an average of 17.8 and remains as the clubs 5th highest run scorer. In 1963 Robert and fellow life member Garry Pinches, both 15 years old, put on 144 for the last wicket against Wallsend - a club record that still stands to this day.
Before achieving cricket’s highest honour of donning the baggy green, Robert had been a fixture in a very successful NSW Blues Sheffield Shield side for several seasons where his 228 wickets in 68 first class matches firmly places him up with the all-time great bowlers to have represented the state. From the mid 1960’s right through to his retirement from representative cricket ‘Dutchy’ had proudly represented our region and played in important matches against international touring teams at Newcastle’s No1 Sportsground. After retiring from representative cricket, Robert’s returned his focus to giving back to the sport that had provided him with so many marvellous cricketing memories.
Robert was the catalyst in unifying several local Junior Clubs in the early 90’s to form Southern Lakes Junior Cricket Club, and for many years was the dual president of both Junior and Senior bodies before they merged to form the one organisation in 2012, now known as Cricket Southern Lakes. JR (Ron) Hill Oval at Toronto is a living legacy to the countless hours of voluntary work Robert dedicated to the playing facilities at Southern Lakes home ground which virtually became his retirement hobby. He was instrumental in securing important funding and overseeing completion of improvements and modifications to a number of wonderful infrastructure projects including clubhouse extensions, picket fencing, sightscreens, practice wickets, and gear sheds. Robert also undertook similar projects at Awaba Oval and several junior cricket facilities in the Southern Lakes district.
The magnitude of Roberts’s commitment to the administration of Southern Lakes cricket spanning just on 50 years cannot be over emphasised. It is and must be seen as quite separate, but equally remarkable as his feats as a player.
In all, Robert held the following positions at our club:- Club President for 16 terms, Secretary for 5; 2 as Treasurer; while also numerous years as Committeeman, Delegate to the NDCA, Cricket Manager, Grounds Co-ordinator, Practise Captain, Gear steward, Selector and Curator – with many of these roles being held simultaneously.
In 1978 Robert was awarded Life Membership of Southern Lakes Club; and in January this year his lifelong dedication to the Club and indeed cricket in general was publicly recognised when he received the high honour of Order of Australia (OAM). Robert remained an active and integral part of the management of our Club right through to his diagnosis. He greatly enjoyed his role as curator of Ron Hill Oval and remained ever encouraging of our up and coming cricketers.
Words cannot explain the sense of loss currently felt throughout our Club. We feel proud to have had cricket’s gentleman as our favourite son. Each and every member past and present is more indebted to Robert Holland than could ever be repaid.
Our hearts cry out to Carloyn, Craig, Rohan and Naomi along with their partners and extended family who all rallied around Robert so wonderfully during his declining health. Robert Holland will be very sadly missed but his name will always be synonymous with Southern Lakes Cricket.
Written by Life Member Greg Singleton on behalf of Cricket Southern Lakes19th September 2017