They might no longer be in the prime of their careers but the passion for the game remains strong for Tamworth’s over-50 cricketers.
So much so that players have “come out of the woodwork” for this weekends NSW over 50 state championships in Armidale, and from two teams at the inaugural championships at Port Macquarie in February, Tamworth will have four teams competing.
The Gleesons and Hazlewoods will feature in Division 1 while the Osbornes and Barbarians will play in Division 2.
The latter are a mix of Tamworth players and a few recruits from out west.
“We got on the blower and said right boys it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in the past it’s a matter of getting in and having a go,” Gleeson’s skipper Barry Everingham said.
One of the driving forces behind getting the over 50s up and running, Everingham said they’ve “got a range of blokes from a range of different experiences”. Some are still actively playing in the local grade competition. Others haven’t played for a few years up to in excess of 10.
“That’s been the good part about it, blokes have got wind of it and all these blokes have come out of the woodwork,” Hazlewood’s skipper Richard Rowlings said.
He described his side as ‘a good balanced team’.
“There’s plenty of options with both the batting and bowling, which is good particularly when you get to the third day - it’s survival of the fittest,” he said.
Wicket-keeper batsmen Bronte Reed is one he expects to go pretty well. David Smith will also be pretty handy with the ball, although he is unavailable for their clash with defending champions Port Jackson on Friday.
The way he was smacking the ball in the nets on Wednesday Wally Allen also looms as a trump card.
“He’s been batting beautifully at training,” Everingham said.
Osborne’s captain Jono Smith can attest to how hard Allen can hit the ball after copping some friendly fire at the first session and ending up on crutches.
“There’s always a few unknowns as well,” Rowlings said.
Just back from the over 60s championships, one of the biggest challenges Everingham said will be surviving the three days.
“Playing three days of 90 over cricket is very wearing on the body,” he said.
“We’re expecting a few twinges,” he added.
His side boasts the likes of Steve Wilson, Steve Newman, Craig Salter, Mark Skewes, former Barraba rugby star Doc White and Pirates 1985 grand final hero Stu McFarlane.
He is coming down from Brisbane to play as he did at Port earlier in the year.