The Club had its genesis on April 6th. 1960 when a group of key Ballarat Sportsmen met at the home of Trev Negri. Those present were Cr. Arthur Martin, Ken Mackenzie, Ray Pierce, Rex Hollioake, Bill Dunstan, Stan Burt, Trev Negri, Keith Rawle and Dr. David Morton.
The meeting was chaired by Ken Mackenzie and after general discussion it was resolved to form the ‘Ballarat Sportsmen’s Dinner Club’. Officers were elected and Arthur Martin was named as President, Ken Mackenzie Vice-President and Trev Negri Secretary/Treasurer.
Craig’s Hotel was selected as the Dinner venue with the Inaugural Dinner held on July 6th. 1960. Cycling entrepreneur Ted Waterford was chosen as the first Guest Speaker. The Club commenced with some 60 Members.
Dinner meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month of the year except for January when there is not a dinner held. The Sportsperson of the Year Awards are now held on the second Wednesday of February each year. Dinner meetings are currently held at the Ballarat Golf Club, 1800 Sturt Street, Ballarat commencing at 6.30pm for fellowship and dinner at 7.00pm. The Committee endeavour to arrange high profile speakers who are entertaining and interesting to the broad membership.
In 1960 the Club decided to introduce the Sportsman of the Year Award. In February 1961 the first Award was presented to champion golfer Neil Titheridge. Since this time the Wunhym Trophy for the Junior Sportsman of the year has been introduced, the Hollioake Medallion for the Team Player of the year, the Mackenzie Award recognising those sportsmen who made a major contribution to sport outside the sphere of competition in administration and now the Widmer Award recognising the outstanding contribution by a Mentor,Coach and or Trainer. The Club now also makes an annual financial contribution to the Ballarat Sports Foundation and the FedUni WestVic Academy of Sport both providing their athletes with greater opportunities for growth and development. The Club looks to the future and the betterment of sport in the region.
In accordance with modern practice the Sportsman of the Year Award was renamed the Sportsperson of the Year Award.
The late Ron Casey, the late Jack Dyer and the late Lou Richards MBE became involved with the Club and were honoured with Life Memberships. The 3DB and later the HSV7 Sports panel became a regular event every year for 25 years following their initial visit in August 1963; people like Ron Barassi, David Parkin, Bob Davis and other TV Football personalities became guests of the Club over the years.
The Club Tie was produced in 1962 and is still required to be worn by Members at all dinners. Keeping up with fashion a new updated version of the tie was introduced recently and is popular with Members.
Over the years special nights have been arranged like the Christmas Dinner Ladies Night in December each year, the annual Masters Night usually held in November where the Club honours the sporting achievements of older Members or sometimes non-members and the Mick O’Neil swimming Award made to a promising junior swimmer each year at the April dinner meeting. When there are Olympic Games on the Club usually has an Olympic Night where the current local Olympians are celebrated along with past Olympians.
The Ballarat Sportsmen’s Club currently represents 68 sports and has 127 Members with membership expected to keep growing.
Sports Represented in Club Membership
- Amateur Athletics
- Cricket Administration
- Cricket Coaching
- Fly Casting
- Football Administration