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The village was Villers Bretonneux and our boys have won it back

The village was Villers Bretonneux and our boys have won it back

On Anzac Day 2018, we will again commemorate the Gordon cricketers who fought in all wars. This year in particular we will hear a lot about about the Battle of Villers Bretonneux. Two Australian brigades took part in the counter-attack to stop the German spring offensive on the night of April 24 in 1918. The Australian troops displayed great bravery, but also suffered a terrible loss. Some 2,400 Australians died in the battle to recapture the town. Many historians say it was the turning point in the war and one of our Gordon cricketers was in the vicinity of Villers Bretonneux and recounted in his diary details of the period surrounding the battle. 

That cricketer was Cliff Geddes, a third grader with the club who, on 19 August 1914 enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces 3rd Battalion. Cliff would be foregoing his cricket creams for an Australian uniform which would become his mode of dress for nearly five years.

The GDCC wreath for the Anzac day dawn service.

He was born in Warialda to William and Sarah Geddes. Interestingly two of his grandparents were convicts, one was from Ireland and one from England. Cliff and his family moved to Chatswood and lived in a cottage called Cyrene in Railway Street.  He was a bank clerk when he enlisted on 19 August 1914 at the age of twenty-eight and sailed on the HMAT Euripides to England on 20 October 1914.

Cliff, who had taken 54 wickets at 7.89 with the Vets team, and had just been promoted to Third Grade. It was near the end of the season and he took 7 wickets for 31 runs with his medium fast deliveries, off 24 overs with 10 maidens. His performance resulted in his promotion to Second Grade, where he took 2 wickets for 70 runs in the remaining three games of the season.

Cliff Geddes in 1914

Having enlisted only 2 weeks after the declaration of war, Cliff was destined to be part of the first landings of the ANZAC’s at Gallipoli and on the night of May 19, Cliff was on alert for an expected Turkish offensive that night. Throughout Cliff’s time in both Gallipoli and the Western Front he would make a diary note of the day’s events wherever possible and his first published entry was made on that night.

Cliff was sleeping in full kit when the attack came and the thunderous gunfire brought him instantly to his feet. His notes on that night detail the attack:

'Along with others I was ordered to lie on the ground above the trench. When we climbed out a startling sight met our eyes. The darkness of No Man's Land was lit by the fire of blazing rifles from the grass, and the Turks were within 25 yards of our trenches.

The orders of my particular group from Captain Austin, company commander, were that if the Turks got very close to jump across the trench and charge them with the bayonet, but on no account to fire our rifles and let them know we were there.

Thus I was a spectator of the most thrilling game I have ever seen'.

The Australians were magnificent. Every man who could was firing across the trench at the line of fire from the dark ground as fast as he could pull the trigger and pull back the bolt to reload. When the rifle got too hot to hold, or jammed, the man below on the floor of the trench handed up his with more cartridges. The machine-guns poured back their hail of lead.

The scene on May 19, 1914

Many of our grand chaps fell shot through the head, but immediately another man took the place of him who fell.

The dawn now began to break and what a sight lay before our eyes. It seemed as if an army lay asleep in the grass. So confident were the Turks that they attacked with blankets strapped to their backs, presumably to sleep the next night in our trenches, but the majority were sleeping their last sleep in No Man's Land. The remainder could stand the fire no longer, and raced back towards their own trenches.

I was struck by the magnificent running of an athletic Turk, who ran like a deer for his own trench. Bullets threw up the dirt all around his feet, but on he sped and I really hoped that he might get there as he was such a wonderful runner. Just as he reached his own line and was about to jump into the trench an Australian bullet ended his great effort, and he rolled back down the slope in front of the banked-up earth.

On 28 July, suffering from dysentery, Cliff Geddes was transferred to a hospital on Malta for treatment where he stayed for many months. Unfortunately, the strain of battle and the horrendous conditions he endured at Gallipoli saw his condition worsen and being further diagnosed with enteritis and cardiac strain he was discharged from his AIF duties and was transported back to Australia arriving in March, 1916.

The adventure for Cliff was over as he settled back into life in Australia, taking time to recover from his illnesses. Like all Australians over the next 18 months, he observed in horror the continued losses of Australian troops as they fought throughout the Western Front.

In October, 1917 Cliff surprised his family when he visited the AIF recruitment office in Sydney and offered to re-enlist and return to the war. Cliff of course had a major difference to the other recruits signing up in that he had already been to Gallipoli and knew what would be facing him in Europe. He knew the job wasn’t done and in his eyes who better than him to continue the fight.

I had the fortune of meeting Cliff’s son Geoff in July 2015 and when I asked about why he returned to the war he said that while he hated the loss of life, his sense of adventure was still stirred and his willingness to fight for his country in its hour of need was not diminished.

Viller Bretonneux on April 25, 1918

On his arrival in France, Cliff was posted to the 13th Battalion, which also included Gordon legend Jack Prowse, and fortunately he had brought a new diary with him enabling him to write about his daily experiences in the Somme. His early experience was totally different to Gallipoli, but certainly not better. His diary on April 19 1918 read as follows:

‘Passed a field where there were 11 dead horses & mules, poor brutes, that they should be victims of shells. The rain was running of the top of my steel helmet, & underneath it the perspiration was trickling. At last we halted by a sunken road, & the cooker was there, & we each got a drink of hot cocoa. Moved on again, & I thought we were about at our destination, but I’ve never had such a tramp in my life. Talk about hard work, the clay was sticking to our boots, the load on our back was heavy, & we were getting weary. Then we tramped across ploughed fields with the grain just growing, which the old Frenchies have had to abandon, & I thought we were never going to stop.

I don’t know how we kept going, no halt, on & on across the heavy ground. I was so weary I wouldn’t have cared if a shell hit me. Then we drew near a hedge on the side of a village, & the field was simply honeycombed with shell holes, there were thousands, & Lor’ knows how any human body lived in such a place. And yet, as we walked across the field, not a single shell was falling there. The village was Villers-Bretonneux, it was taken by the Germans last Wednesday, but our boys have since won it back. We got through the hedge, & came, without warning, on several dead Germans lying in the open, a most gruesome sight.

We had breakfast under difficulties, our hands were very muddy, but we extracted some bully beef, bread & cheese from our tucker bags, & then commenced to try & sleep. For a start the chats were biting me, I’ve had these clothes on for over a month, then it was pretty cold on the clay floor of the trench, & aeroplanes were droning overhead, not to mention shells. What a life, eh! I’d give many quidlets now to be back in Sydney harbour.

One of the pastimes of the Australian soldiers during the war was to play a ‘make up’ game of cricket. While there are no scorecards to record the various cricket matches that Cliff Geddes was able either to organise or be part of during his travels across the Somme, it is a clear example of the Aussie love of cricket and in particular Cliff’s passion for the game. There was even an Australia vs England match. It is probably just as well that it didn’t make the record books, because England won.

Cliff’s diary relates some stories about the cricket matches:

'After dinner I played in a cricket match, D Coy. v. Bn. Headqrs. We went to one field, & some chaps were having a practice, then we were told the match would be in a field where the Bn. parade ground is, so we went there, but the 14th Bn. were playing there. Then our band arrived, so we had a band & no ground or gear. Lt. Col Marks & the Adjt. came along then, & we adjourned to where we were first. Couldn’t persuade the others there to give up the wicket they made, so we played on the grass, it was a very rough wicket. I was sent in first with Wilkinson, & after I had scored 2, a shooter got me. We got 60, & they won by 3 wickets''.

'In the afternoon, I played cricket with the 13th Bn against the Honourable Artillery Company (Tommies) on their ground. We finished at 8 p.m. then there was the long trip back, so a chap is about knocked up. The Tommies won by 30 runs, they had a good batting team, one chap had played with Somerset, & one with Yorkshire seconds. They gave us tea, the usual army issue plus boiled eggs, very decent of them'.

During Cliff’s travels through France, he would have been encouraged by the many letters he received from his girlfriend Elsie Gall. In his diary, from 31 March to 5 September, he mentions Elsie twenty-eight times, either receiving her letters, writing to her or receiving parcels of ‘goodies’. In all, Cliff received over forty letters during his time in the Somme.

Elsie Gall in 1914

The following are examples of some of the references to Elsie and her letters and parcels:

Luckily I put some things out of Elsie’s parcel last week in my haversack, & I had a tin of salmon for breakfast.

'In the afternoon I got a lovely mail, 10 letters, 6 from Elsie, & I’ve now received every one of hers up to No. 30 which is splendid'.

'I got a parcel from Elsie, a tin of biscuits she made, coconut macaroons, & they were very tasty & acceptable'.

'I got a huge mail in the afternoon, letters galore from home. I also got letters No. 31 & 32 from Elsie'.

'Got a lovely parcel from Elsie tonight, butter scotch, chocolate ginger, figs & butter – won’t it be a treat here in the front line where there’s no canteen eh'.

'5 letters from Elsie, didn’t have time to read them before we fell in, so when we were allowed to break off'.

Cliff Geddes was becoming very concerned with the gravity of the fighting when he stated in his diary that he hated the sight of the dead and wounded lying about and hoped this awful affair would end soon. Fortunately for everyone, the end was coming soon and in September 1918, Cliff’s Battalion was sent behind the front lines to rest.

One of the final days of Australia's involvement in WW1 at Peronne.

Cliff’s final entries in his diary at that time read as follows:

Oh well, the 4th Brigade & the 13th Battalion particularly have suffered pretty severely in these big attacks against Fritz during the last six weeks but our losses are light compared to what we've dealt out to him. His prisoners alone exceed our casualties. As this big advance has continued on all fronts, day by day with ours, it is evident to all of us that the war has completely swung our way at last, & the German menace seems at last to have its back broken.

Who would have thought last April & May such a sudden change would come over things? The Aussies have more than done their bit in this great push. Just on our own sector prisoners constantly poured back & we advanced a terrific distance since it first began. We have lost some grand men though, part of war's hellish price.

God grant, there may never be another one on this earth! Our brigade are all out for a thoroughly well-earned rest, but there are French, English & Yanks galore to carry on the big advance unceasingly & Fritz will get no respite.

The whole of the Aussie divisions are to have a long spell, so I won't be destined to see any more German stoush & fireworks. Our numbers are so small now that I think the heads have brought our chaps out because they're too weak to carry on without being re-organised & several battalions have been cut out altogether.

This Rouen front, on which I conclude this diary, is certainly more cheerful than that celebrated "health resort", Villers-Bretonneux where I passed so many exciting moments, where gas & shells were as plentiful as rabbits in N.S.W. I am truly thankful to be alive & sound as I close this off.

On his return, Cliff married his sweetheart Elsie and they lived in Chatswood where he continued to play for the club from 1919 to 1924.

The inside of the front page of Cliff's Diary

After he finished playing, Cliff would regularly visit Chatswood Oval and following the Second World War, would take his teenage son, Geoff, who was playing Green Shield for the club, to the oval to watch the legendary Gordon cricketers, Ginty Lush, Sid Carroll and Jack Potter. During this period, Gordon won two First Grade premierships in the 1945-46 and 1947-48 seasons when crowds of three to five thousand were not unusual.

Tragically one Saturday in late 1947, while sitting near the Macartney Scoreboard at the oval, Cliff suffered a stroke. His distraught son urgently sought medical attention and he was rushed to hospital. Geoff still recalls that terrible day as if it were yesterday. Unfortunately Cliff wasn’t able to recover and he died one month later.

Cliff loved his cricket and his club before, during, and after the war and will be remembered as one of our true heroes.

Lest we forget

Paul Stephenson

Hickman and ritchard
They fought for their friends and family and the game they loved

They fought for their friends and family and the game they loved

Toward the end of March 1918, having been strengthened by the capitulation of Tsarist Russia, the German Army launched their Spring Offensive against the Allies with the force of a massive sixty-three divisions over a front of seventy miles. 

Colin McCulloch - Gordon cricketer

This would be the assault that would destroy the allied forces once and for all; or so they thought. The German command however, were not aware that of the 52 Gordon cricketers who had enlisted in the war, 40 of them were still on the western front and preparing to take on the German Army. If they had known that possibly the Spring offensive may not have happened and Armistice day may have arrived early.

Over the three years of the war to this stage, five of the seven Gordon cricketers who died had met their fate and their fellow cricketers were no doubt wondering when this hell would stop and they could return to their homes and that pleasant memory when they could look forward to their game of cricket at Chatswood oval on the weekend.

The remaining seven cricketers not on the Western Front who had survived, had returned home with major injuries that would see them unable to play cricket again and in some cases be in and out of hospital for the rest of their lives. But at least they were at home.

Harry Fry - Gordon cricketer

How remote that must have seemed for these battle-weary soldiers, many of whom like Harry Fry, Alister Maclean, Alan Bruce, Cliff Geddes, Dr. Claude Tozer, George Swan and Robert Prior had started at Gallipoli and were now into their third year in the trenches of the western front. Others, stirred at home by the need to keep volunteers coming to the war front, had only been there for a few months but they were soon learning the scope of the job they had ahead of them to firstly stop the German army and then somehow push them back.

Importantly, now however, the Australians were all together. The five Australian divisions, who had been split into the I Anzac Corps and II Anzac Corps alongside the New Zealand Division, were officially grouped together at the end of 1917 to form the Australian Corps. In May 1918, General John Monash would assume command of the Corp. 

All the Australian divisions, which had been stationed in the relatively quiet area of Messines since November 1917, were now called in to defend against the Spring Offensive. During the following months, they would fight at various levels of intensity through small French villages in the Flanders region which had avoided substantial damage over the three previous years, as well as the burnt-out or destroyed countryside around the perimeter of Amiens. 

Johnnie Moyes - Gordon cricketer

On 26 March, the Australian 3rd and 4th Divisions were positioned near the village of Hebuterne between Amiens and Bapaume and facing an onslaught from the German advance. Alister Maclean, who started with the club in its first season in 1905, and had been in reserve since Bullecourt following the losses incurred by the 4th Division, had moved back to just behind the front line with his 4th Field Company Engineers. Alister received a Military Cross for his actions that day which were described in his citation as follows:

On the afternoon of the 26th March, 1918, near HEBUTERNE and SAILLY–au-BOIS, for most conspicuous gallantry and coolness in pushing up to the villages, which were reported to be strongly held by the enemy. Although sniped at from the outskirts of the village he boldly advanced, and by a thorough reconnaissance, ascertained that the enemy only had a few scouts forward. He was thus able to furnish information which aided the Brigade, to which his unit was attached, to take up a fine position after cleaning the village of HEBUTERNE, and subsequently inflict heavy losses on the enemy.

After the brigade commanders had read Alister’s report, the 48th Battalion was called urgently into action. Johnnie Moyes, a future Gordon cricketer who had now been promoted to major, was in command of the 48th Battalion and was ready to take his men forward. 

Alister Maclean - Gordon cricketer

Due to the bravery of Alister, Johnnie and their fellow soldiers, the brigade was in a strong position to repel a counter attack the following day. From 30 March to 5 April, the German Spring offensive in the Somme was at its height as both armies centered their attacks and defense in the Amiens area and in particular around Villers-Bretonneux where one of the major turning points of the war was to occur later that month on Anzac Day. 

Colin McCulloch, who had written about his journey to the Western Front, his experiences at Bullecourt and a moving letter to the mother of a fallen comrade, had now arrived in Amiens. His battalion had arrived in preparation for moving out to the front line when they were loading a train at the St Roch Railway station. Seemingly out of nowhere, a number of enemy aircraft appeared above the battalion, ready to unleash their shells upon the unsuspecting troops. Sergeant Major T D Brown was nearby at the time and explained the event:

On 11/4/18 the company was in the St Roch Railway Station, Amiens, entraining back to Belgium, during the German push. Lieutenant McCulloch was supervising loading Army Services Corps wagons on the train, when a shell came over and burst about 5 yards from the Lieutenant killing him outright, together with about 4 others. I was about 100 yards away at the time,  and saw the explosion; I rushed over to the spot at once and saw the Lieutenant’s body; there was no doubt he was killed instantly. I had been speaking with the Lieutenant about half an hour previous to the explosion. I saw no more of the Lieutenant as I had to entrain at once, but a party was left behind to see to the interment.  The Lieutenant was the most popular officer imaginable. 

Colin had written several times in his letters about his concern for shells landing in his vicinity and ironically wrote the following in his diary during the Battle of Bullecourt:

The whole sequence of sights and sounds is a nightmare that one will never forget. In one way, it is worse to listen and see a bombardment like that at night, than it is to be actually in the line where they burst – for in the latter case, one has plenty to do and besides one thinks instinctively and yet unconsciously of one’s own safety and that of the others - but in the former case one feels a great fellow feeling and sympathy for the poor chaps who have to suffer the shells, and each shell as it is fired seems to send a sudden throb through one’s heart - and then one hears the shriek and burst of a shell coming from Fritz - and one’s emotions quickly change only to change again and again all the time. It is an awful conflict of emotions.

Colin was the sixth Gordon cricketer killed in the war and he is buried at the Saint Pierre Cemetery just down the road from the station. I had the privilege of visiting the grave site of Colin McCulloch in 2008 and took a photo of his head stone. His grave sits in the first row of the Australian War section of the cemetery, and reads:

LIEUTENANT C.V MCCULLOCH, 
2ND BATTALION AUSTRALIAN INFANTRY, 
11TH APRIL 1918, AGE 26
AN ONLY SON
FROM WARRAWEE SYDNEY 
THY WILL BE DONE 
  


Colin McCulloch had lived in Lane Cove Road, Warawee, and had been a student at the Sydney Church of England Grammar School in North Sydney. A recent Law graduate from the University of Sydney, he had spent three years in the Commonwealth Senior Cadets before enlisting as a reinforcement in the 2nd Battalion, in January 1916 at the age of twenty-four.

He played for the Club in the 1913-1914 and 1914-1915 seasons and, after scoring a couple of 50s in Second Grade, was promoted to First Grade for one game in 1914. He only scored 1 run in his debut match. Unlike so many talented cricketers who have played for the club since, he would not have a chance to regain his spot in the team. Having read his letters and diary, however, Colin would be the first to wish them well. He embodied the true spirit of our club.

In comparison to the overall number of Australians on the western front, the remaining Gordon contingent of 40 was small, but they formed part of an impenetrable wall that refused to be broken against the greatest of odds. The Gordon District Cricket Club has developed its culture and values from this group of men and also from the seventy cricketers who went to the Second World War. We will continue to play in their memory and for what they sacrificed for their families and fellow cricketers. 

They didn't fight just to be able to come home and win cricket matches at any cost, they fought alongside their New Zealand mates to allow themselves the opportunity to enjoy the freedom to play the game they loved and play it in the spirit of comradery under which the game was first established. As our Australian cricket team go through the recovery stage from their recent misdemeanors they only need reflect on what the members of Gordon and other grade cricket clubs endured to enable them the privilege to grace the same turf as our fallen heros.

Paul Stephenson



Not enough runs to make the grand finals as fourths, fifths and Colts finish season

Not enough runs to make the grand finals as fourths, fifths and Colts finish season

You could say the writing was on the wall with some below par batting performances in recent weeks by our lower grade sides, but with some solid practice we were hopring for a chance in fortune in the semi finals. As most experienced cricketers know, a semi final is not the place to try and find some form and unfortunately each of our three remaining sides in the final series were eliminated.

Liam Windell who had a fine game in fourths

Fourth Grade

Our fourth grade side put up the best performance almost catching the Manly total of 213, but we couldn’t get over that fnal hurdle. Maybe we need to bring back the Mal Hall Trophy for our fourth grade matches against Manly. I think we won 10 of those in a row. Mal we need your help. For those new to the club Mal Hall was the captain of our fourth garde side who passed away from a heart attack in the middle of a match against Manly at Chatswood. We played for the Trophy for about 10 years but it stopped through the lack of a volunteer with time to keep it going. We should never forget our past.

Will Calov bowled very well at Grahams

The minor premiers Manly were always going to be a tough nut to crack with 12 wins and only 3 losses during the season, but our bowlers werent going to be dominated and they kept at the manly batsman all day. You could see the Manly tactic was to bat for two days if they could, but by the end of the first day Manly had been bowled out for 213 afyer some fine bowling by Will Calov and Liam Windell who both took 4 wickets.  Liam too the early wickets while Will worked very hard through the middle stages of the day and his persistence on a good wicket eventually paid off. Will finished with 4 for 50 off 24 oevrs and Liam 4 for 60 off 19. They were well supported by Vikrant Nehru, Matt Keane, Manus Chauhan and Naba Haider.

Manly were in for a fight and most of our batsman got starts, but wickets just kept falling as te Manly bowlers could see their season slipping away withut a big effort on their parts. 

In the end it was a bridge too had with only two batsman getting inot the thirties with Liam Windell scoriong 36 and darren Jayasekera 37.While 194 is only 19 runs behind their score we couldn’t get that partnership going that would see us to a victory. Maybe just not enough runs over the last half of the season didn’t give us the momentum we needed. 

   
Matt Keane, Manus Chauhan and Naba Haider in action against Manly

Either way, the team fought very hard against a strong opposition and I am sure the manly team will go into the final with a good workout behind them.

Fourth Grade Scores

Manly 213 (Will Calov 4 for 50, Liam Windell 4 for 60, Vikrant Nehru 1 for 21 (12), Matt Keane 0 for 21 (16) Manus Chauhan 0 for 32 (15), Naba Haider 0 for 18 (8)

Fifth Grade

Rahul Krishna in action at Merrylands

On what was a big occasion for 5th grade, arriving at Merrylands Oval made the semi-final against Parramatta even more special. A ground with slick outfields, 3 groundsmen and a wicket to die for. Gordon won the toss and decided that batting first was the best way forward. Chasing in recent times had been tough and it was only fair that Gordon tried to dictate from the front early in the match. 

However, a common thread continued with two early wickets falling putting Gordon on the back foot. Full credit to Parramatta who toiled on a length all day that was hard to negotiate. Rahul Krishna batted superbly for his 56 and looked to anchor the innings in style. However, despite some resistant from Michael fletcher it was almost de ja vu for Gordon again being 6 for 86 after being 2 for 64 at one stage. The experience of Dave Monaghan and youth of Shiv Rana enabled us to get to 149, which while competitive in a lower grade finals match would take some exceptional bowling to gain a victory. 

Dave Monaghan at Merrylands

Dylan Hood started superbly bowling 5 straight maidens to start the innings including a wicket. Dave Monaghan was just as tight and Parramatta were 1 for 4 off 10. Two more quick wickets fell and at 3 for 20 Gordon was on top. Just when our momentum was on the rise the rain came and the rest of the day was lost.

The second day was just as picturesque with Merrylands looking a picture. Dylan secured the early breakthrough we needed and with Aaron Crofts following up with the wicket of the stubborn opener, we were looking good with Parramatta at 5 for 74.

However, a formidable 6th wicket partnership hurt Gordon with another breakthrough not happening and Parramatta reached the 150 needed without losing a further wicket.

As with fourths, the last few games had come down to not enough runs and unfortunately Gordon had lost its way with the bat. Nonetheless a top season with a minor premiership but our form deserted us when most needed. 

Fifth Grade Scores

Gordon 149 (Rahul Krishna 52, Dave Monaghan 33, Shiv Rana 28) were defeated by Parramatta 5 for 153 (Dylan Hood 2 for 38) 

Colts 

The Colts arrived at Chatswood Oval excited and keen to play on the first grade park; a first for most of them.

Lachlan Burrows at Chatswood

The sun was shining after 4 days of continual rain; the outfield was a little damp, but the majority of the oval and pitch were in perfect condition. The semi-final match was between Gordon and Penrith, a repeat of last season’s Grand Final and play off between the top two teams of the season.

Captain Oli won the toss and sent Penrith in. Our bowling attack was solid and precise from the start with Nathan Sequeira and Ayush Joshi opening with maidens. Lachlan Burrows then joined in and soon sent a catch to Dillon. With fast and aggressive bowling we had their openers out quickly. Prashan and Dillon kept the scoring opportunities to a minimum, with 8 maidens between them.  During this session Jay sent one off for a catch to Riley. With fast and aggressive bowling, strong fielding and agile keeping, the Colts had Penrith all out for 91 after only 42.2 overs. Any other game this total would have been easily achieved. 

 
Caught behind by Oli Williams off Lachlan Burrows

Who knows what happened but the Colts team couldn’t settle and after just 22.1 overs, one hour and 46 minutes we were all out for a mere 63 including 10 extras. We had it all, catches, lbw, run out and clean bowled.  Scorers had trouble keeping up and the ‘ping’ of the team app kept coming. The crowd was becoming concerned, the mood had changed dramatically and of course there were lots of points of view of how to stop the flow of wickets. “Just stay there”, easier said than done though. Not quite the game plan, but this was a two day match and it wasn’t over yet!

A fast change, few helpful and inspirational comments from the supporters and we were back on the field. Prashan and Lachlan went in hard again and with a brilliant third over by Prashan he was on a hat trick and had Penrith at 2 for 4. Dillon and Ayush joined in next and Dillon picked up the third wicket for the session. But by 5.10pm dark clouds had turned to rain, covers were on and Penrith was left at 3 for 37 off 16 overs.

Players went home to reflect and regroup. The game was not over yet and we could certainly dig our way out of this.

Sunday morning, the warm sunshine had returned and we started on time at 10.30am. Chatswood Oval is home to many other activities apart from cricket, including yoga, Tai Chai, exercise enthusiasts, and an older group of aspiring musicians. We did however have to ask them to either play an actual tune or move on as it became difficult for the players to concentrate on the field. 

Prashan Seneviratne - Why cant I get him out?

The 4th and 5th wickets came quickly to Lachlan, caught behind to Oliver, and Prashan lbw but it took another 16 overs to get the 6th, Jay had a catch to Nathan, and a further 34 overs and 84 runs to get the 7th and final for the day, bowled to Dillon. Penrith simply batted too well and no matter what we tried the Colts couldn’t get them out. At tea with Penrith 7 for 192 off 82 overs, the game was called. Penrith had an insurmountable lead of 221 and had defeated the Colts team, thereby moving into the Grand Final next weekend.

Congratulations on a brilliant season! You stayed focused and fought hard when you needed to, had fun and laughed together, celebrated the wins and reflected on the losses. The parents, selectors, committee and entire club, are extremely proud of your achievements and you should be too. First time captain, Oliver did an exceptional job; worked hard to keep the players on target, stayed calm and maintained his game plan each week. Well done! 

Colts Scores

Penrith 91 ( Dillon Amjad 3 for 20, Lachlan Burrows 3 for 13, Ayush Joshi 2 for 7) and 7 for 192 (Prashan Seneviratne 3 for 37, Dillon Amjad 2 for 35) defeated Gordon 63 (Ayush Joshi 17)

A big thank you too all our contributors to the wrap with both photos and reports especially Jennifer Williams, Catriona Coote, Damon Lesnie, Jim Wright, Peter Junk and Prasanna Punja. Also captains Max Newman, Pat Effeney, Stu Bromley, Aaron Crofts and Oli Williams for their assistance with commentary during the season.

And of course a big thank you to Tony Wilson for his contributions including photos and reports especially for our Green Shield and PG teams who certainly played a big part in an enjoyable season. 

Best regards

Paul Stephenson





1st Grade vs Blacktown - Round 15 - 2017/18

1st Grade vs Blacktown - Round 15 - 2017/18

It was an important last round clash for the First Grade toilers and big dogs, with a win and probably a bonus point needed against the Warrior Dolphins from Blacktown to lock down a spot in the finals. 

The Stags lost the toss and were asked to bowl first on a slightly cloudy and damp day at the home of cricket. 

The early signs were good for the spectators as Stobes channelled his inner Reagan and tried to fit as much cricket into his first spell as possible, it was all wides, wickets and boundaries from his end.

Stobes is purposely skipping leg day in the hope he'll too be nicknamed 'Pigeon'. 

At the other end, the complete opposite was happening as Patto tried to keep the amount of cricket to the bare minimum. It was a spell filled with leaves, maidens and a couple of meekly guided singles to third man. 

Charlie’s 2 wickets and Patto’s tight spell had the Warriors tied down and in trouble after the first powerplay, and once Elz picked up his 100th (97th on recount) First Grade wicket and removed the linchpin of the Blacktown batting order, the Stags were on a roll. 

The early introduction of spin worked a treat, as another 3 members of the opposition batting order fell to our former Second Grade opening batsman and the Warriors were reduced to 6 for 40. 

As is almost always the case however, a partnership was formed in the lower order between Blacktown’s skipper and their 15 year old wicket-keeper. 

But the re-introduction of Stobes quickly put an end to any real threat of a competitive total being posted as he removed both batsmen fairly quickly. 

The tail managed to get a couple of boundaries away, but they were no match for the flight and guile of Matty Junk as he picked up 2 wickets to clean up the tail. 

Blacktown were all out for 114 and the bonus point win was in the Stags sight.

Tym delivers the left-right-goodnight to Blacktown ensuring 3pm beers.
Tym got our batting innings under way in typical fashion, making hitting boundaries look really easy. He was well supported by Axel, until young Choppy decided to shoulder charge the ball and was sent to the sin bin. 

He tried to plead with the umpire to reconsider because its cricket and you usually need to hit the ball to be caught, however it is now footy season and you just can’t get away with a good old fashioned shoulder charge these days. 

Another couple of wickets went down in Harry and Tym (for a fine 41), and the threat of this reporter having to put his playing pants back on was looming. 

However, some good hitting from Steve and Elz put that threat to bed and saw the Stags home well before time to secure a vital bonus point win.

After 5 wins in a row, it’s now off to Old Kings next weekend for a Preliminary Final encounter with Parramatta. 

Fingers crossed for Axel at the judiciary tonight, despite most shoulder charges incurring an automatic one week ban, we hope his clean record will see him avoid suspension.

Scotty O'Brien

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4th Grade vs Sutherland - Round 15 - 2017/18

4th Grade vs Sutherland - Round 15 - 2017/18

4th Grade took the lengthy drive out to Whalan reserve confident they could come away with a win and make the finals for the 2nd year in a row. Blacktown were ranked 17th and with an outright win last week, we were confident that 6 points would keep us in 4th place. 

The pitch looked in good condition for batting but with long outfield and huge boundaries a score of 200 or more would be just what the team needed to put pressure on Blacktown.

Captain Bromley won the toss and chose to bat, and Liam Windel and Mitch Kleem looked to keep out the swinging ball. 

However, the pressure of a one-dayer got the better of our top order batsman. Dash Ratnam made 21, but the top order like it has in the last few weeks haven’t been able to post a big score and put the pressure back on the bowlers. 

We fell to 7-57, Nick Andreou and Vikrant Nehru the not out batsman. We were in real strife and the season was slipping away from us as all the team finals talk and finals plans were all blowing up in smoke. 

Luckily, Nick and self-proclaimed now all-rounder Vikrant saved the innings. 

They put on a great partnership of 74 to take it to 7-133 with still 8 overs left. 

Vikrant made some questionable running between wicket choices and a few run outs at the end cost us more runs but 166 in 48 overs was a decent total and one that we knew we could bowl to.

The Vicks Vaporizer takes care of business.
It has to be said that the 4th grade bowling attack and ground fielding have been the saviours and heroes of the team in the last few rounds. 

The start this time however wasn’t as fruitful as the Blacktown openers made it clear they wanted to get the runs well before 50 overs past. They snicked and edged their way to 50 not seeming to hit the ball in front of square. 

Matt Keane got an early breakthrough but 1-66 at drinks was not the start we were hoping for. 

After drinks the plan changed and rather than go searching for the much-needed wickets we bowled stump to stump, set straight fields and bowl maidens. 

The pressure built and there was nothing the below-par Blacktown 4th grade batsman could do. 

Vikrant bowled particularly well to take 4-24 in this period. Liam Windel made vital breakthroughs for his 10 over spell of 2-26. 

By this stage the Stags were on a roll. It was the spinners turn to claim the last few wickets and Jordan Hayes was the man. He bowled perfect lines with a perfect field to the tail enders and wrapped up the innings taking 3-7.

It was a relief that the boys had made it in to 4th position but everyone knew that to be competitive in finals the batting of the team has to step up. All it takes is a couple of good innings from 1 or 2 batsman and the 4th grade side could go all the way. 

Bring on Western Suburbs at Pratten.

Will Calov

2nd Grade vs Blacktown - Round 15 - 2017/18

2nd Grade vs Blacktown - Round 15 - 2017/18

A swift drive up to Blacktown saw the 2nd graders arrive at the pristine Joe McAleer Oval keen to finish their season on a high. The pitch was green, grassy but hard underneath offering the bowlers some assistance but enough pace for batters to play their shots if lengths were missed.

The Nerds won football warm up…nothing new to report there. Zaninno’s overhead bicycle kick was a standout highlight but was futile against the Nerd juggernaut who sunk 4 away to claim overall bragging rights for warm-up football for yet another season.

Gordon won toss and elected to bowl, hopeful of keeping Blacktown to a small total. With plenty of nip the opening batters started cautiously before beginning to free the arms. Searle picked up the first wicket with a delightful, yet unintended, slower ball deceiving the dangerous Hinds (who had made 140* out of 160 the last time these 2 sides met). Baker started his spell but briskly blew out his 15th shoe of the season, not even gaffer tape could help him and he was forced to borrow someone else’s right shoe. He looked a right pleb, but that’s Bakes and we love him for it xoxo

Wickets were frustratingly hard to come by, despite the pitch nipping around. Stickland and Cubbage then combined and bowled well in the middle overs restricting the batters and picking up 4 wickets between them. 

Stickland was on a hat trick but couldn’t convert (much like his Bumble account). 

Tinder* Not fooling anyone Stickers. P.S well bowled.

At 5/110 it was looking good for the Stags, however their number 8 had other ideas scoring 60-odd off as many balls which eventuated with Blacktown scoring 222. A par score we agreed, but lamented missing the opportunity to dismiss them for lower.

Tony Clarke, their miserly dibbly-dobber opener, only needed 4 wickets to bring up an unprecedented 1000 grade wickets. Our batting plan was to sit on Tony Clarke, deny him his 1000th wicket and cash in on the other bowlers. Unfortunately, Tony Clarke happened and he picked up 3 wickets in 4 overs, with the 3rd wicket bringing screams of “one more, one more”

Robert Michaels was a standout, hitting his 4 half-century in as many games and looking at ease on the helpful Joe Mac wicket. Other than that there was not a lot to report as Tony Clarke waited for the tail to enter.

Sure enough, Stickland entered at 8/120 and Clarke handed his cap over to the umpire sensing a golden opportunity to capture his 1000th wicket. Unfortunately for Clarke he decided to use all 32 seasons of sledging instead of all 999 grade wickets worth of experience in dismissing batsmen. Stickland picked up on this rather quickly and decided that an angry Tony Clarke was less likely to get him out and therefore seized every opportunity to antagonise the 52 year old veteran. I thought I’d share these with you for some light entertainment:

Tony Clarke: “Play a shot! Try and win the game! Play a f-ing shot! You're an embarrassment to 2nd grade cricket”
Stickland: *laughs and winks suggestively at him

Umpire: That’s over and drinks
TC: Do we actually need them!? These blokes aren’t playing an f-ing shot, what’s the point?
DS: Yer we do, I’m thirsty
TC: You’re f-ing kidding me

*Repeated demands of “Play an f-ing shot! Try and win the f-ing game!”
Tony Clarke bowls his 10th and final over to Stickland and fails to take the elusive 1000th wicket. As he silently walks past the mid-pitch conversation between Stickland and Searle: DS: “Gee it’s gone quiet all of a sudden”
TC “You’re f-ing kidding me! What a f-ing great achievement keeping me from a 1000, you must be really f-ing happy. I guess you’ll start playing some f-ing shots now”
DS: “You know what I think I will, just to make you happy” *winks

It was honestly so enjoyable to annoy this absolute flog of a cricketer and deny him his 1000th wicket. The fact he had to abuse and berate two tail-end batsmen in an attempt to get them out rather than use all his experience was, frankly, arrogant, disrespectful to the spirit of the game and marred his achievement as he was simply the most unpleasant person I’ve shared a cricket field with. If only he was humble, I may have left a straight one to help him out!

Stickland started playing some shots and nicked off 2 overs later and Searle followed not long after to finish all out for 141 and consign the under-performing 2nd graders another loss. It hasn’t been our season with either the batsmen or bowlers failing to fire, often at the same time. Winning is a habit and unfortunately it’s been a hard habit to break into. The team has plenty of talent, at least 5 of our regular players have 1st grade experience, we are learning after each loss and it will only be a matter of time before this team starts to consistently compete and play finals cricket. We did last season, remember?

Enjoy the off-season lads, recharge your batteries, stay fit and keen and see you all in August.

Dan Stickland

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