This Month Diggers’ Cricket Club marks their 50th anniversary. first grade captain Steve Meakins explains more about the club and how they will be celebrating this milestone.
Diggers’ Cricket Club will be celebrating 50 years in February. Give us a bit of background on the club.
It’s said that necessity breeds action, and from action springs forth opportunity.
Two mates, Dave Heptonstall and Don Easy were sitting on a bench at Brelsford Park one spring day in 1961 … contemplating. They had just finished football training and were discussing the prospect of another quiet off-season and the idea of keeping their team together during the coming summer months. The football season was not yet over, but both felt that some activity was needed during those months to keep the team active and involved. That team was Diggers’ Rugby League first grade side.
Dave and Don were current members of the Diggers’ Rugby League first grade side, and they had also both played cricket for the Coffs Harbour Cricket Club during the 1960/61 season – Dave in the No. 1 team and Doug in the No. 2 side. A friendship forged on the field had given the pair an understanding of the importance of club loyalty and commitment, and with rumblings of proposed boundary changes to the local rugby league competition in the back of their minds, it appeared obvious to both Dave and Don that there was a need to keep their team involved and together leading up to kickoff in 1962. An activity was needed to keep their boys fit and focused.
But what to do? Netball was popular, but it was a girls’ game. And besides, neither had any experience. Dave certainly had the height and reach, but he was a centre, not a goal defense and Don, as a fullback, tackled too hard! Cricket was the obvious choice. Was this an opportunity to enter a new team in the Coffs Harbour District Cricket Association competition? Dave and Don thought so …
And here we are, 50 years on, with a club that is stronger than ever.
> You’ve been with the club for much of that journey and are now the First Grade Captain. Tell us about your journey with the club.
I started as a 12-year-old in a fifth grade side headed by Bruce Grant in the 1986/87 season. We enjoyed some success in the early years, bagging a couple of premierships. I remember being in awe of the players that were in my present position and aspired to one day be just like them. Over the next four to five years I progressed up the ranks, and by the early ‘90s, cemented a spot in first grade.
Over the years I have seen the club evolve from a 5 team senior outfit to our current standing of 7 junior sides and 6 senior. We are now the biggest producer of junior cricketers on the Coffs Coast. From the time the junior competition was handed over to the clubs in the mid ’90s, Diggers has always had a strong emphasis on the development and retention of junior players.
> What are some of the stand out moments of your career?
Over the years, the club has given me many opportunities – probably the highlight of which would include the opportunity to play in representative sides, including North Coast Zone and Northern NSW Emus. I eventually found the game taking me to England to play for Windsor CC for three seasons – an opportunity that would never have presented, if not for Diggers’ Ex-Services Cricket Club.
I remember also scoring 100 runs in my 100th game – which was a nice touch on the day and made it that little bit more memorable!
> What are some of the challenges you face as Captain?
Having players turn up! Seriously though, it can be challenging, but also extremely rewarding. I guess in any people-management role you can feel like the world is on your shoulders. This only makes the triumphs more special, I guess.
> Why do you think it is that Australians LOVE cricket?
Well, up until this Ashes test I would have said, “Because we’re good at it”! It’s just a great outdoor sport that seems to fit with the Aussie outdoor culture. A game of backyard cricket is also something that all the family can join in with and enjoy, from the toddler to Granny.
> Who have been some of your cricketing idols, and why?
Steve Waugh is my ultimate idol. He’s a player who has learned his trade during a tough period in Australian cricket and has also had to adapt his game due to injuries and other setbacks throughout his career. As your mental state is such an important factor in a cricketer, Steve Waugh would have to be one of the greatest examples of mental toughness Australia has ever produced. Obviously Donald Bradman has to get a mention and also some other modern day greats such as Adam Gilchrist and Glenn McGrath.
> How is the club celebrating this 50 year milestone?
By hopefully playing some cricket! This season has unfortunately been very light on games and very heavy on rain. However, we have a massive weekend of celebrations planned for February 12 and 13.
The festivities will be kicked off on Saturday, February 12 with a first grade win versus Bellingen at Coffs Coast Sport and Leisure Park, followed by a 50th Anniversary party (for the adults) that will include a three-course sit down meal, live entertainment, special guest speaker Rodney Hogg and the announcement of Team of the Half Century.
The Sunday will see the Big Banana waterslide overrun with little Diggers, as all members and their families are invited to a fun-packed morning of slipping and sliding, free of charge. Some past and present stars will also take to the field at Fitzroy Oval and do battle in a Diggers’ Old Boys v Current players match, that could potentially create some fireworks.
Lunch for all past and present players will be thrown on the barbie around midday. It’s going to be a jam-packed weekend!
> How can people become involved with Diggers’ Cricket Club and / or the February event?
We are always looking for players and volunteers of any age or ability, and if someone out there would like to get involved, they should contact me on 0419 977 980 or email email@example.com
As for the 50th, tickets are still available for the evening bash and anyone with a love of the game is encouraged to attend, whether a Diggers-ite or not.
Information can also be found on our website at: www.diggerscc.nsw.cricket.com.au
Why not come on down to Fitzroy Oval on the Sunday and give those old boys a heckle!
> Thank you Steve.