3 September, 2015, Ormond Uniting Church, Ormond, Melbourne, Australia
The notice of Barry’s passing, which the Club placed in the newspaper, could not be more accurate. It said,
“Barry Todd, Toddy
The Committee, members and friends of the Elsternwick Cricket Club mourn the passing of our standard bearer, conscience and father figure. His unwavering commitment, passion and contribution to the Club will never be matched. Will be sadly missed by all. A true legend of the ECC.”
I will get to some figures later, but more important is Barry’s impact during more than 60 years of cricket involvement.
Barry had a philosophy which guided his treatment of people on and off the cricket ground. It may not be fashionable in competitive sport, but he would not speak any less respectfully to an opponent on the ground than he would socialising in the pavilion. You could say he was successfully immunised against white line fever.
That the Club won the Spirit of Cricket award in the association this year, is a reflection of his influence.
I, with many others, looked to Barry for his Christian approach, his social concern and his wonderful sporting understanding. He lived all that with a great commitment. In difficult times, Barry was a source of understanding and support.
If you went with Barry to a sporting or related event, it was difficult to leave. From the MCG to a subbie meeting he would always find a familiar face and seek a lengthy chat. It wasn’t small talk. He sought new information, provided valuable comments and he remembered personal facts and both would walk away enriched. A mention of Elsternwick CC would prompt the comment, “You’d know Toddy then."
If he didn’t talk face to face, he would ring. Boy, would he ring.
It could be difficult to return a call from Barry. His home phone could be tied up for hours while he made cricket related calls. Pre-season preparations and recruiting probably created spikes in Telstra’s profits.
Club records will have reams of Barry’s hand written notes and lists for all occasions. Every MC or presenter at social functions and award nights will have received a detailed running sheet with no detail spared. There would be a list of people to thank, omitting his name as the most important. He was the master of recognising the efforts of others while down playing his own contribution.
Through the power of his relationships with all those players passing through the Club, he was able to establish the Wickas as a thriving past players’ group. It will have a subdued 20th annual dinner this year.
At committee meetings, we would turn to Barry when it came to general business. He invariable had an important point which the rest of us had overlooked. It often showed a thoughtfulness for a player or member or an appreciation of our civic responsibilities.
The feelings of others were usually paramount in Barry’s thoughts. That made the selection of teams a potential minefield. If he was forced to drop a player, Barry was more likely to require consoling than the dropped player.
Barry looked forward to the Club hosting country week games. He would spend the day chatting to the players and officials from the country teams and was always determined to present them with the best possible experience with his organisation of conditions, afternoon teas and hospitality. At Elsternwick home games, he would take the first round of drinks into the opposition’s dressing rooms.
Over the last 35 years, since returning from Benalla, Barry has been instrumental in recruiting every captain, coach and most senior players to the club. Three current players and office bearers at the Club were recruited through his Benalla.
connections. Others have been cold called and seduced by his mix of genuine sincerity and enthusiasm. Those same qualities produced close and trusting relationships with people dealing with the club, such as council staff and sponsors, who in some cases became close personal friends.
As a Club Delegate to the VSDCA for 24 years, he ensured that Elsternwick CC was a respected member of the Association and gave inordinate amounts of time to organise the Association’s 90th Anniversary celebration at Elsternwick Park, the centenary dinner and entertainment and when hosting the Championship Final in 1985/86. He contributed passages to the centenary publication, relying on his passion for and experience of the R.M. Hatch junior competition.
While coach and manager of the Hatch team, he was keen to give country players an opportunity and visited Gippsland, Shepparton and other towns to conduct clinics and recruit players. It wasn’t his principle aim, but the result was three premierships in six years. A remarkable achievement. Some Association members thought that country recruitment shouldn’t be allowed and suggested a rules amendment. We referred to it as the Todd amendment.
Barry’s self-effacing nature was summed up when he would do something well and suggest it was “good for him.” If it was good enough for Barry, it was usually exceptional by any standard.
He was awarded an Australian Sports Medal in 2000 for his contribution to cricket. Despite the significance of that award, it seems trifling as a recognition of his efforts.
After the force of his deeds, the statistics almost seem unnecessary. For the record, he debuted in the Elsternwick CC first XI as a 13 year old and played a total of 445 games, of which 115 were in the firsts. He won the batting average in all four grades, including the significant 1965/66 season when the firsts played in their last final for 27 seasons. He made a century in the fourths at age 55.
He also played seven seasons for Benalla CC while teaching there. I had the privilege of starting my senior cricket career in that team captained by Barry.
As an administrator, he has been on the Committee since 1980 and was President for 15 years from 1980/81. An award for the most outstanding contribution during the season was recently named after Barry. In truth, he could have won it almost every year.
During nearly all of that time, Lenore has not only supported Barry in his cricket passions, but has been a club stalwart in her own right. They have been a model for couples in all aspects of life. It was always a delight to have Neil, Jenny and Kathy at the club in their early years and we understand their enormous loss. I now know how much interest Barry has taken in encouraging his sporting grandchildren with the construction of a special pitch at home and finding individualised equipment.
I am pre-empting an official announcement, but informal discussions started recently with a view to naming a cricket facility after Barry. There can only be unanimous support for a Todd Reserve or a Todd Pavilion in the not too distant future.
Barry was a joint author of a publication about Elsternwick Park’s history. He particularly liked the reference in 1921 to a long term secretary of the Club who helped create Elsternwick Park. The same words can now be used to say that Elsternwick CC which he has so successfully developed, will forever be to members a lasting monument to his great and generous works on their behalf.