Most land titles in Melbourne’s northern suburbs still cite Jika Jika as the parish in which they are located. The name dates back to the original ‘treaty’ signed by John Batman and some local Aborigines in 1835. The name Jaga Jaga appeared on the treaty, and was later converted to Jika Jika. When Melbourne was surveyed and divided into large sections, Jika Jika was the name given to the northern section.
The Jika Cricket Association is aptly named, as the clubs that make up the association have always been drawn from the northern suburbs of Melbourne. The Association was first mooted in 1921, prompted by the secretary of the Wood Street (Preston) Club, W. Kerr. Wood Street would later be renamed East Ward, and would win the inaugural competition. Kerr’s club was playing regular social matches against a group of other local clubs, some of which were representing local industries. An initial meeting between representatives of five clubs made preliminary arrangements for an association, to be called the Preston District Industrial Cricket Association.
Mr Kerr chased other local clubs to invite them to join the proposed new association. The first Annual General Meeting was held on July 12th 1922, where representatives of four clubs (the only four in attendance) resolved that the Association be formed, and that it be known as the Jika Cricket Association. Another meeting was convened two weeks later with seven clubs in attendance. On this occasion officials were elected as well as a vote of thanks offered to Mr Kerr for his effort in organising the association.
By the start to the Association’s second season there were 12 competing clubs, drawn from Northcote, Preston and Reservoir. The third season saw further expansion to 14 clubs, which required the competition to be split into two sections. In the 80 years since over 250 clubs have played in the Jika Cricket Association.
The premiership winning clubs serve as a demonstration of Melbourne’s sprawl. In the first 44 years of the Association, only two clubs based north of Murray Rd won A Grade Premierships. However since that time, only one club based south of Murray Rd has claimed a Premiership. Keon Park, Thomastown and Lalor are some of the newer suburbs to have successful clubs in the Jika Association.
One of the features of the Jika Association has been some of the unusually named teams to take the field, including: Anode Latex, Gwalia, Henry of Melbourne, 3KZ Socials, Merry Makers Socials, Pastrycooks, Pineapple and Sherry Socials, among many others.
The Jika Cricket Association is now one of the largest and most competitive in Victoria with in excess of 2000 players taking the field each week in competitions for all ages, including Under 13s and even a Veterans competition.