Almanac Cricket – A view of Australia from fine leg: Match 5, Northern Suburbs District Cricket Club, Saturday 14 December 2019

The ‘A view of Australia from fine leg’ tour visited Brisbane on the weekend for match 5


A great day was had at Northern Suburbs District Cricket Club – some runs (finally), wickets and a chat with the great Ian Healy.


Again, a big thank you to the Almanac community for the ongoing support.


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I arrived at Norths home ground complex by Taxi, where I was greeted by Terry McSweeney – a tireless worker behind the scenes and the proud grandfather of club first-grade captain and current Queensland first-class player Nathan McSweeney. Terry looked me in the eye, shook my hand with a vice like grip and told me, ‘There is no way you are going home in a bloody taxi tonight mate, I’ll drive you home.’ Welcome to the Northern Suburbs District Cricket Club.



I was a tad apprehensive about pulling on the whites for a Grade Club – essentially the pinnacle of club cricket for the State. I had sampled Grade cricket in NSW a few decades and 20kgs ago and didn’t quite find my feet.



This match was always pencilled in the diary as one to look forward to. I was to be playing for the Maher 11 in 6 grade, which would feature Queensland Cricket legend Jimmy Maher and his son. As happens occasionally to us cricketers who push the envelope past 40, Jimmy had pulled a quad and hamstring a few weeks earlier, which in his words ‘felt like being shot by a sniper’. Jimmy would not be able to make it out on the park today unfortunately.



The Maher 11 would though be captained by Jimmy’s brother Greg – an accomplished cricketer in his own right and a ripping bloke to boot.



A slight diversion to the usual 6 grade pre-match preparation took place, with Channel 9 News and QLD cricket popping in to say hello and give my project some exposure. Norths finest cricketing export and current club patron, the great Ian Healy, was on hand to give me a hand in front of the cameras and say a few words of support. I’ll remember spending a few minutes chewing the fat with Heals for a long time to come.



Other than lending me a hand, Ian is also eagerly looking over the fence (of Ian Healy Oval!) to watch his son Tom with the gloves in the firsts. At that moment he is simply a proud Dad watching his kid, like thousands of others on any given Saturday.



I am playing on Geoff Dymock Oval today – another club legend. A bit of rain fell last night and got under the covers and we are inserted in on a ‘sporting deck’.



A few club legends over 40 have been roped into playing today, as several regular junior players are unavailable. A few traveling quite some distance. There are some impressive first 11 CVs in the bunch. The hamstrings appear to be slightly less than supple among the group and there is the familiar scent of Deep Heat. Banter is flowing at an impressive level and side-bets are made on likely performances. Make no mistake though, the competitive gene will kick in when needed.



I’m called to the crease at 3 for not too many. As seems to be the case in every match I play I am greeted by a ‘mature’ bowler who is just putting it in perfect areas (with no real pace) and asking you a question with every ball. If I miss – he hits! I long to face a sharp kid who sprays them, so I can at least have a moment or two of rest.



As has been the case most of my career I fancy the gap between second slip and gully – nothing beats the feeling of a perfectly timed guide that runs to the boundary. I get a few away early to settle the nerves.



Jimmy has generously donated one of his old bats, from his last season in first-class cricket, for me to use for the duration of the tour, before auctioning off. Its hard not to laugh when I look down mid-over and see the word ‘players’ engraved into the wood. Let me tell you the middle of a ‘players’ grade bat (albeit 10 years old) is still a thing of beauty. I managed to also knock in the edges.



It is fair to say that the Melbourne ‘summer’ had not prepared me for a long stay at the crease in the Brisbane heat. On about 20 I felt like calling for the defibrillator. I am sweating out fluids from a month ago. My heart is racing. It feels like 5kgs (no harm, no foul) have fallen off me in the last 45 minutes.



On 25 my theory that there are plenty of gaps in the air finally lets me down. It feels good to get a few and make a contribution.



A number of valuable contributions are made and we knock up a very decent 7/233 of our 40 overs.



After consuming 46 litres of water I am good to head back onto the field.



As Bill would say, ‘its all happening’ early as Cam claims 2 wickets with the first two balls! The hat trick is avoided, however the boys from the University of Queensland are scrambling for the pads.



Greg takes a superb one hander shortly after in the slips and at 5/36 the game is in our keeping. Cam takes five, while the opposition dig in and fight it out for the full 40 overs.



I am called on for 7 overs of straight-breaks and take 1/21. It is a thrill to watch former first grader Andrew McIntosh roll out his leggies – such a complex task performed with such ease.

Uni fall short of the target and we rack up a good win. A fantastic day spent with good cricketers and blokes to boot.



After the match I catch-up for a beer with Freddie McFadyen – a mate of a mate and the connection that got me to Norths. Put simply, he has played a massive role in the success of my project. He has opened doors everywhere and no favour too big or small is beyond his reach. The generosity and spirit of people like Freddie is what makes this project possible.



I say a few words of thanks in front of the club gathering – which, were slightly delayed as Club President Paul Keller has run out of petrol on the way back from his game! Knowing Paul through this project, he is a ‘solutions’ man and its no surprise that he gets himself out of the tricky situation.



The XXXX and snags are being consumed at a cracking pace, with all proceeds supporting my fundraising. This combined with the raffle raises $660 – A fantastic result!



I hope to be back one day soon to Norths – no doubt the surroundings will change with a major redevelopment soon to occur. Thanks to the support of Cricket Australia, QLD Cricket and Federal, State and Local governments the Norths cricket grounds will be turned into an $18m National Cricket Campus – a hub for international female cricket, domestic first-class cricket, high performance programs and junior participation. Norths will still proudly play and call the hub their home.



The new hub will be fantastic, however, what I have learnt from my visit today is it’s the people that make the Northern Suburbs District Cricket Club such a place to remember. Cricketing stars like Heals, mixing with volunteers like Terry, PK and the like. Shield players sharing a drink with 6 graders. The cricket is played hard on the field and the laughs flow off it.



Norths get the balance right. I jump into the passenger seat with Terry at the wheel and leave Norths behind in the rear-view mirror, on our way to the city. I arrived at Norths as a stranger in a Taxi and leave 10 hours later feeling every inch a part of this fantastic club.



Read more of Craig’s cricketing journey HERE



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About craig dodson

Born in the sporting mecca that is Wagga Wagga and now reside in Melbourne with my lovelly wife Sophie and son's Jack and Harry. Passionate Swans supporter and formally played cricket at a decent level and Aussie Rules at a not so decent level! Spend my days now perfecting my slice on the golf course and the owner of the worlds worst second serve on the tennis course.


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Well played Craig. I see that you are in Tassie this weekend. I guess the family will all be getting stubby holders for Xmas this year, as you won’t have time for shopping.

  2. Luke Reynolds says

    Magnificent Craig. Northern Suburbs sound a cracking club.

    Could do with your runs at number 5 in the Pomborneit 2nd XI!

  3. Awesome Craig really enjoying following your adventure

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