2nd XI Grand Final vs Altona Roosters

17th, 18th & 24th March 2012 – Donald McLean Reserve, Spotswood

The Players

Leigh ‘Lethal’ Davies (c) aka Leigh Davids
Steve ‘The Hat’ Butera
John ‘JRW’ Rice-Whetton
Matty ‘Sting’ Rae
Craig ‘Snowman’ Stow
Jamie ‘Snake’ Wallace
Ani ‘K-Diddy’ Kakulapati
Neil ‘Groover’ Grieves
Glen ‘Glenroy’ Coyle (wk)
Chris ‘Harry’ Weitzel aka Chris Witzel
Paul ‘The Metronome’ Rowe
Liam ‘Darryl’ Braithaite (12th Man)

Prelude

After being relegated to West B2 despite making the Grand Final in North A2 the previous year, it was assumed that the Seddon 2nd XI would dominate in season 2011/12. It was somewhat surprising then that their performance up until round 9 of the home and away season could be described at best as underwhelming. 2 byes, 2 washouts, 1 first innings victory, 1 outright victory and 3 first innings losses. It had been difficult to attain any form of consistency or momentum. That all changed in Round 9. Ironically, it would be our ultimate Grand Final opponents who would provide the catalyst for an incredibly strong lead in to the final series. Playing away at Altona Roosters ground the home side batted almost all day for 175 after a large share of good fortune and some less than stellar bowling. Seddon fell 16 runs short in the chase after a late order collapse and invited Altona to bat again. What followed was a complete bowling domination which left Altona on 8/61 from 23 overs. Whilst we didn’t win the match, this innings kick-started our season……….the remainder of the home and away season went thus;

Rd 10: Seddon 107 & 5/91 won outright against St Andrews 49 & 61
Rd 11: Seddon 4/66 drew Avondale Heights 104 (washout)
Semi-Final: Seddon 139 defeated Barkly St United 90

The Grand Final – Seddon Cricket Club (3rd) v Altona Roosters Cricket Club (4th)

Day 1

The Seddon crew (minus ‘The Hat’ Butera who was typically late – something to do with polishing his new Mercedes) arrived at Don McLean Reserve in Spotswood expecting to see a Chevy, dry levees, pink carnations and pick-up trucks. Disappointingly, it turns out the ground was actually named after Donald McLean, Spotswood legend, not Don McLean the legendary American folk singer. Irrespective, the ground looked an absolute treat. A routine pitch inspection revealed otherwise however. It was apparent that the covers had failed to cope with the typical Friday night rain deluge. There were several large patches of soft, malleable turf that ran the entire length of the pitch, mainly in areas that would be troublesome to a left handed batsman. Amazingly, the rest of the deck was in pristine condition; hard, grassy and dry. That said, the general consensus among all present was that it would be advantageous to bowl first, particularly given that Seddon’s premier batsmen was a left hander. Skipper Lethal was implored to call on all his good karma and win the toss. Alas, when both Skippers and umpires convened and tossed the twenty, it was Altona captain ‘Mad’ Mick Nolton who spoke first, meaning the decision was up to him. The Seddon boys dropped their heads, knowing what was to come; Batting first on a wet deck. Then Paul ‘The Metronome’ Rowe noticed Lethal rolling his right arm over, something he usually only does when warming up to bowl or toss a caber. Could it possibly be? Surely Mad Mick hadn’t chosen to bat? The Seddon opening batsmen who had previously been heading to the changerooms to pad up hesitated and waited for Lethal to speak, like the Israelites awaiting Moses to deliver the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. Lethal then confirmed the greatest news since the day pubs were allowed to open after 6pm. We were bowling!!

Safe in the knowledge that no opposition had scored more than 104 against us in the past 5 innings, and that we had decimated Altona’s batting order in the previous meeting, it would be fair to say that there was a degree of confidence in our bowling attack. However, no one was prepared for what subsequently unfolded……

In the third over, Altona opening batsman and seasoned veteran Jim Sideris copped an absolute ball-tearer from Lethal that pitched on middle, cut away and cleaned up the top of off stump to be bowled for 1. Classic swing bowling and a sign that there was plenty of juice in the deck for the bowler that was prepared to pitch the ball up. Altona 1/2. The next over Harry Weitzel joined the party and trapped the remaining opener, Tim Culling, dead in front for 1 with a ball that kept a little low. 2/2. This brought danger man Jason ‘Dermot’ Brereton to the crease. Brereton had taken to Seddon’s flagging bowling attack in the home and away with his punishing pull shot. It was vital that we picked him up early. Fortunately, that is exactly what happened, with Lethal getting the nod from the umpire after an LBW appeal that only Lethal thought was out. Brereton out for a duck and Altona reeling at 3/6. Momentum was building Seddon’s way and the pressure was now on the numbers 3 & 5 batsmen, Elkington & Alanzy. Unfortunately for Altona, Elkington was cleaned up neck and crop for 5 with a fast inswinging yorker from Lethal which cannoned into the base of middle stump. 4/9. Alanzy didn’t last much longer when Craig ‘Snowman’ Stow was introduced into the attack. A leading edge was skied to mid-pitch where 2nd XI debutant Neil ‘Groover’ Greives was fielding. Itching to get into the game, Groover let out a blood curdling scream of ‘miiiiiiiiiine’ and swallowed the ball with a degree of vigour and acumen not seen since Linda Lovelace’s extraordinary performance in ‘Deep Throat 2 – The Aggot Chronicles’. Alanzy back in the sheds for 5. Altona 5/13. This brought young gun Clarke to the crease. After showing some intent with the bat which had been sorely lacking in the innings to date, he was dismissed for 9 by a corker from Paul ‘The Metronome’ Rowe that pitched on off stump, kicked, cut away and grazed the batsmen’s glove. The catch was easily gloved by ‘The Masters Apprentice’ Glenn Coyle. 6/22 and drinks.

With all the momentum running Seddon’s way and Altona in deeper trouble than Ben Cousins at Esperance Airport, Altona captain Nolton strode to the crease purposefully with the clear intent to get on the front foot mentally. In this context he delivered one of the best sledges heard all season to Glenroy (which was to start a match-long feud between the two agitators) upon his arrival at the crease: ‘I only remember good cricketers and I don’t remember you’. Simple but brutal in its effectiveness. After the Seddon fielders within earshot stopped laughing, Nolton and his partner, all round good guy Marty ‘Don’t call me Lleyton Hewitt’ Robinson knuckled down and displayed some determination in what was a severely listing Altona ship. However, they could manage only another 8 more runs before the Snowman cunningly fooled Robinson into swinging hard at what he thought was a full toss but was in fact a slower ball. LBW for 7. 7/30. Nolton’s siege mentality couldn’t mask a horribly flawed batting technique and he was duly caught by Harry Weitzel who reeled in a speccy at cover for 5 after the reintroduction of Lethal Davies. 8/48. Lower order bat Sluman decided that the best form of defence is attack and managed to get a few lucky boundaries away but he was let down by a long tail order. Number 10 El Hawli was bowled Davies caught Coyle for 1. 9/49. Sluman finally succumbed the next over after tickling a Weitzel pearler into the gloves of Glenroy. Altona all out 49 in 33.1 overs. It is worth noting that Lethal Davies contributed an incredible Grand Final spell of 5/7 from 9.1 overs. Further, the demolition was predicated upon bowling full on or just outside off stump. All bowlers followed this mantra with fantastic discipline and skill, evidenced by the fact that we fielded the entire innings without a fine leg and the author can recall only 1 or 2 scoring shots in this region.

A wise man once said ‘When all is said and done, make sure more is done than said’. With the knowledge that there was 4 days of cricket to play and we were less than half a day into the match, there were no illusions that the contest was only beginning. Seddon certainly had the upper hand but it was only a start. With that, opening batsmen Stevie ‘The Hat’ Butera and John ‘JRW’ Rice-Whetton arrived at the crease with instructions to bat all day but with intent. It was apparent that the pitch had flattened out a touch, and the Altona opening bowlers completed their spells without taking a Seddon wicket. With the score on 28, JRW was clean bowled by a good yorker for 4. This reunited old opening partners Sting Rae and The Hat Butera for what was to be a decisive partnership. Ironically, in the home and away match between the two sides, both Sting and The Hat had failed, making only 8 runs between them. They were both keen to make amends. The Hat was looking classy as always, and Sting gradually played himself in. It became clear to the Altona fieldsmen that both batsmen had placed a premium on the value of their wicket and would not be easy to displace, despite the volleys of ‘enthusiastic’ sledging being shot in their direction. Compiling risk free runs was the order of the day. The author noted the tangible disintegration in the Altona mood as the day wore on and it became increasingly evident that they were not going to crack the armour of the two old stagers. So, at stumps the Seddon innings sat at 1/77. 28 runs ahead and with 9 wickets in hand. A great position at stumps on day one of a Grand Final, but nowhere near a fait accompli.

Day 2

Another fine day full of hope and expectation greeted the Grand Finalists on Sunday…..except for The Hat who had aggravated an old back injury which had left him in severe discomfort and able to manage only a few hours sleep. Word came through that he would be late to the ground due to some emergency massage therapy that morning. No one was sure if there was a happy ending involved but there were quite a few raised eyebrows when 12.45 came and went with no sign of The Hat. Lots of hand wringing and mutterings of a potential timed out dominated the nervous Seddon change rooms. Fortunately we had our own happy ending when the big shiny black Mercedes was spotted tearing down The Avenue at 12.47. The Hat’s first stop was Leigh ‘Dr Feelgood’ Davies, the local Seddon Mobic ‘distributor’. Mobic is a prescribed drug that assists with muscle relief, and is the favoured remedy for the ageing Seddon 2nd XI veterans. Dr Feelgood is the chief purveyor and suggested to The Hat that a couple of pills would help him ‘feel better’. Not having imbibed previously, The Hat being the outstanding citizen that he is, was concerned that he might become addicted and asked Dr Feelgood what the chances of this occurring were? Dr Feelgood put a calming arm around The Hat’s shoulder, smiled, and reassured him that yes there were some addiction risks but it didn’t matter because they make you feel so gooooood. Of course Dr Feelgood had to advise The Hat that the first one was ‘complimentary’ but from now on he would have to charge $20 per pill, as it wasn’t fair on all his other punters if word got around that he was handing out freebies. He is a businessman after all.

The previous evening, the opinions of Seddon legends Jim Tzambazakis and Neil ‘Curly’ Greelish had been sought as to how they thought the match might unfold. For the first time in recorded history these two wily veterans were of a unanimous opinion, and agreed that if Seddon made anywhere in the vicinity of 200 – 250 then the match was as good as won. With these numbers in mind The Hat and Sting took up where they left off on Day 1, comfortably knocking up 2 an over with a view to putting the game out of reach. With the score on 103 and after a partnership of 75 The Hat feathered a great ball to the keeper finishing up with 57, a great knock in the context of the match. As often happens, 1 wicket brings 2 and a few overs later Sting befell the same fate, to the same bowler and departed for 38 with the scoreboard reading 3/104.

This left Jamie ‘Snake’ Wallace and Craig ‘Snowman’ Stow the task of building a partnership and taking advantadge of the good start. Snowman took the long handle and smashed the spinners around for a while before edging a tidy leg spin delivery to the ‘keeper. 4/127 and momentum had shifted to the opposition for the first time in the match. This momentum continued a couple of overs later when Snake Wallace played against the spin and top edged a ball to backward square for 5. 5/127. Was it possible that demons of the batting collapse in Round 9 were coming back to haunt Seddon? The answer to that question was starkly provided a little later when Neil ‘Groover’ Greives and Ani ‘K-Diddy’ Kakalupati were both dismissed with the score on 144.

The tea break provided some levity when Glenroy Coyle and Mad Mick Nolton squared off after Glenroy tried to remind Mick that it was just a game. Apparently Mick’s well documented white line fever actually extends to ‘tea room fever’ and he had to be physically restrained by his teammates from assaulting a cowering Coyle. Mick suggested they go behind the sheds but Glenroy must have misinterpreted the challenge because his response ‘I’m hetero, sorry mate’ was a little puzzling.

Upon resumption of proceedings Glenroy and Lethal Davies provided some brief respite until they both departed at 153 – a lead of only 104 and less than what had been expected over night. The momentum was now undoubtedly with the Roosters (also known as the Chickens to some) after taking 8 wickets for only 50 runs. With only one wicket remaining and only Harry Weitzel and The Metronome Rowe at the crease the author could not help but reflect on how profligate our batsmen had been. Not only had a fantastic start not been capitalized upon, but all the momentum we had built up over the first 5 sessions had been completely lost…..or had it? The best number 10 in the competition Harry Weitzel and self proclaimed red-ink chaser The Metronome showed the middle order how it was done. They dug in for 14 overs and put on 19 invaluable runs before the inevitable happened. In the authors opinion this was the most crucial partnership of the match. Not only did it take Seddon’s lead from 104 to 123, but remarkably it actually swung the momentum of the game back in our favour.

Well done to The Hat for yet another fine Finals innings, following up 100+ in the 2010/11 Semi-Final, 30+ (carrying his bat) in the 2010/11 Grand Final and 21 in the previous weeks Semi-Final.

With 19 overs to bowl before stumps on Day 2, Skipper Lethal Davies asked his bowlers for an extra effort, demanding a minimum 4 wickets. The expectation was that the Altona batsmen would come out fired up and looking to post a score of 200+ to make us bat again. The overwhelming feeling within the rooms was that we wanted to knock them over for less than 123 so we did not have to chase runs in a 4th innings. As expected, the openers batted with far more intent than in the first innings, opening their arms and playing their shots. But where there is shots being played there is risk, and risk affords chances….and the first one was taken with what may become a familiar scorebook entry in the years to come: c G Coyle b L Davies. Opener Culling gone for 7. A cunning ‘double gully’ field placement for the remaining opener and renowned cut shot player Sideris paid handsome dividends when Harry Weitzel held a sharp chance from a full blooded cut. Sideris curiously blamed the stumps for his demise and walked back to the pavilion for 5 with the score on 2/14 after playing a cover drive through middle stump. This brought skipper ‘Mad’ Mick Nolton to the crease. Looking distinctly nightwatchman-esque and having a technique to match, Nolton took guard. Glenroy remembered the first innings barb and decided it was an appropriate time to resume hostilities: He retorted to the skipper ‘Geez I hope the next batsman is padded up’. It would turn out to be a portentous comment as Nolton lasted only 3 balls, thick edging his 3rd (a seaming outswinger from Lethal) low and fast to Snowman’s right hand side. The big fella instinctively dived, stuck out his right paw and took one of the best reflex slips catches one is likely to see. The delight in the Seddon boys faces was only surpassed by the reaction of the big Snowman himself; as the author (at 1st slip) bent down to congratulate the fallen man it became abundantly apparent that the Snowman was in a state of Heightened Transcendental Ecstacy (HTE) and was to be avoided at all costs. According to the experts, HTE manifests itself in various types of unusual behaviour. Apparently in Snowman’s case, this behaviour is something akin to an African Elephant being shot in the arse by a Zambian ivory poacher. The big fella threw his arms in the air, roared and charged around the off side, starting at 2nd slip and finally coming to an exhausted, adrenaline drained halt at deep mid off. To say he was happy with holding the catch would be like saying The Playboy Mansion is an OK place for a bloke to pass the time if he has got nothing else on. Altona 3/14 with 5 overs left in the day. One more to make the captain happy…….

Alanzy walked to the crease with the following batting record against Seddon in season 2011/12: 1,2 & 5 averaging 2.66, with 2 of these dismissals at the hands of Harry Weitzel. This innings was to prove absolutely no different: Plumb LBW for a duck from a straight, fast Weitzel delivery that from the moment if left Harry’s hand was never going to have willow laid upon it. 4/15. Cue Seddon celebrations. Cue a happy Lethal. A few more overs were bowled without incident prior to stumps with Altona ending up at 4/21 and still 103 runs and an innings in arrears. The Seddon boys were very conscious however that the two gun batsmen Brereton & Robinson were still to bat after consecutive nightwatchmen were thrown into the fold at the end of Day 2.

Day 3

After a long week of contemplating what would probably be a Premiership victory, it was crucial that the Seddon XI were switched on mentally for what could still prove to be a challenging match. Various focus techniques were adopted pre-play; Ani ‘K-Diddy’ strolled a few laps of the oval wearing his oversized head phones listening to classic Indian gangster rap song ‘I shot the Sharif’. Groover endeavoured to recreate his most famous career football moment whereby he snapped an impossible blinder from the pocket for the winning goal – either that or he was the star in the latest ‘Famous footballing moments’ commercial (well, there is an uncanny resemblance to Wayne Harmes). Rowie devoured a ham and cheese sub the size of a football, and Stowie donned his infamous full body white skin suit that reminds the author of an old David Attenborough documentary about a Boa Constrictor swallowing a whole mongoose. Harry Weitzel mourned a large crack in his cricket bat which he optimistically suggested was from over use. His season run tally of 34 however suggested otherwise. Of course The Hat was late again, and disturbingly appeared to be showing signs of drug withdrawal, manifested in the form of gibberish utterances to himself: ‘Do you ever pick your feet in Poughkeepsie?’ He seemed to have calmed down by the time 1pm came around….as had the rest of the boys after a quick round of hilarious Poo and Wee gags lightened the mood.

Some nervous early bowling that was far too full saw the nightwatchman Clarke score easy runs from some well timed straight drives. With the score on 32 however he badly misjudged a run and was consequently run out by a great piece of fielding from JRW. 5/32. This brought danger man Brereton to the crease. After playing a few of his customary pull shots and looking fairly solid he fell foul to another 50/50 LBW decision from Lethal’s favourite umpire, Mark Wilson (editor’s note: it was actually umpire Robert Sinnott, and it was plumb). Whilst he was not happy with the call, he had no other option other than to join his mates in the shed. 6/55. Without another run on the board Elkington edge a sharp Harry Weitzel ball to Sting at first slip who tried his best to ricochet the catch to Snowman however they both ballsed it up and a chance went begging. Luckily for Sting, 2 balls later an edge from the same bat went a touch wider and found Snowmans welcoming mitts. 7/55 and only 3 wickets from victory. Harry Weitzel clean bowled the next batsman for 4. Robinson took the long handle and managed a few opportunistic runs however he was again let down by his tail order who feel cheaply. El Hawli caught at second slip by Snowman for 1. 9/74. Harry Weitzel decided he was thirsty and sent down a fast, straight, scorching exocet that cannoned into No 11 bat Singh’s knee roll. A huge shout went up and the umpire kindly obliged to confirm Seddon’s first 2nd XI premiership since 1991.

Needless to say there was jubilation in the air, however Glenroy Coyle perhaps got a little carried away when he tried to souvenir Spotswoods stumps. The umpires quickly poured cold water on his plans, much to the mirth of Liam ‘Darryl’ Braithwaite who brought reality back to the situation by reminding Glenroy that we had just won the VTCA West B2 flag……not The Ashes.

The surprisingly heavy premiership medals were disbursed and the boys adjourned to the changerooms for the first of many Carlton Draughts….from this point on the authors memory is somewhat hazy, however the multiple renditions of Seddon’s new club song (Oh we’re from Seddon-land…) will not be forgotten in a hurry.

What we learnt about each other

• Murray ‘Oh no, I’ve left my lucky stick at home!’ Grieves is a very superstitious man
• Glenroy Coyle is no Champagne connoisseur
• Snowman isn’t averse to mentioning himself in emails
• JRW will have to practice his beer drinking skills prior to next season
• Rowie moonlights as a member of an F1 pit-crew
• Harry Weitzel has developed into a very, very good bowler (ed note: and a loud & constant talker on the field, ready to offer advice at whim to the captain)
• Rowie can actually bat…a bit (ed note: one innings doesn’t make a season)
• The Hat should steer clear of Mobic
• Snowman knows some very strange songs
• Groover has the ability to channel Obi Wan Kanobi at will
• Weitzel can be a hard name to pronounce correctly
• Jamie’s ears are very small

What we didn’t learn about each other

• What is under Stevie Buteras hat

A big mention to players who played a role in the 2nd XI throughout the season but were not necessarily lucky enough to play in the big dance;

• David Ferry – 183 runs @ 46 & 5 wickets
• Jeremy Procko – 110 runs @ 27.5
• Sheldon D’Souza – 68 runs @ 17
• Nathan Greelish – 57 runs @ 28.5 & 3 wickets
• Liam Braithwaite
• Zoran Markovski
• Sandeep Alfred
• Nick Brudenell
• Alex Gill
• Mitch Nicholls
• Jason Grieves

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