Almanac Obituaries: A toast to Pubby Dave

 

 

We lost Pubby Dave this week.

 

When he arrived at Clifton Hill Cricket Club, we had a couple of Davids at the club already. Dave had been playing cricket in the Sunday pub league, so he was bestowed with the moniker ‘Pubby Dave’ — by Jonesy, I think.

 

 

From the moment he arrived at The Hill, it felt like Dave had been part of the club forever. I’d like to think this is in part because we made him feel welcome and comfortable from the very start. In fact I’m sure that was part of it, because I remember feeling just the same way when I turned up in 2009.

 

But it was also because of Dave himself. As much as we embraced him, he embraced us straight away, without a hint of judgement. He accepted us for who we are.

 


Dave’s other talent

 

Dave wasn’t just a good friend. He could play cricket, too. He could move the ball both ways when bowling medium pace and he could handle a bat. Dave was also willing to learn. He was constantly asking for advice from his teammates, looking to improve, without ever taking himself or the game too seriously.

 

Later, Dave switched from bowling medium pace to off-spin. Some of us wondered whether he actually ever did spin the ball, but he certainly knew how to land it on the spot, and he continued to pick up wickets.

 

Dave took to bowling off-spin partly to expand his repertoire but also because his back had been giving him trouble when he bowled pace. Dave always seemed to have an injury. A sore back, a dodgy knee, shoulder trouble — you name it, Dave had it. Mind you, he was in his 40s, so none of these complaints were really a surprise, but Dave always seemed to have more injuries than the rest of us old buggers.

 

We used to joke about it. “Which part of you isn’t working this week, Dave?”

 


Clifton Hill Vets Premiership Team 2016-17.
Dave is in the back row, second from the left.

 

It was good-natured ribbing, but now I wonder whether some of Dave ailments weren’t signs of something more serious. A bit over a year ago Dave was diagnosed with cancer.

 

Dave approached his illness in the same way he approached his cricket — with a smile, and with an attitude of trying anything that might make him better. His attitude reminded me of that of Jim Stynes all those years ago.

 

In cricket you will occasionally play a great game but don’t get the win. Sometimes the other team is slightly better, just that little bit stronger. You fight bravely and give it all you’ve got. You lose, but you do so with honour and integrity.

 

When cricket season rolled around last October, I hadn’t seen Dave for a while. I sent him a message: “Hey Dave. How are you travelling? Will we see you down at Rammo [Ramsden Street Oval, Clifton Hill’s home ground] soon?”

 

Dave’s reply came before long.

 

“Hey Gigs, yeah, I was down at Rammo today for a couple of hours with Jeff and Jonesy watching the twos, which was fun.”

 

“I’ve just had a pin put down centre of left femur from knee to hip, which should hold it from breaking (there’s a fair bit of disease in it, which can undermine strength and structure). Lost lots of strength in right arm too due to nerve damage, so quite restricted…can’t bowl or field, but could play Pub cricket and maybe Vets from late Nov perhaps. Physios and I are working towards playing some cricket this summer.”

 

?

 

Dave did manage to get down to watch us a few more times, and he came to the club Christmas party. He continued to fight and give it his all. His health deteriorating, his teammates and friends at The Hill remained in his thoughts. As it became harder and harder to get to the club, he continued to send constant messages of support and congratulations to the club Facebook page during games.

 

In late February the Over The Hillers (our over 40s team, which Dave was part of) played in a Grand Final. Before the game I sent Dave a message: “How are you travelling, Dave? We’ll try and get the win for you today!”

 

Dave’s response was typical, with no concern for himself, or even us winning for him.

 

“Thanks Gigs, just enjoy day and don’t pull a hammy. Unfortunately I’m not travelling too well at the moment, otherwise I’d be down there supporting from the sidelines. However I’ll be keeping an eye on the updates.
Cheers
D”

?

 

That was the last message I got from Dave.

 

We went into that Grand Final confidently. I had played in six previous Grand Finals and won them all. I was hoping to make it 7-0, if not for my own sake, certainly for Dave’s.

 

We started strongly but faded badly. Just as Dave used to, several of us suffered some untimely injuries. I tore a shoulder muscle, Benny B did his hammy and several others joined the ‘walking wounded’. We fought on bravely, and we gave it our all, but on the day the other team was slightly better, just that little bit stronger.

 

We lost, but we did so with honour and integrity.

 

Our thoughts turned to Dave as we shared drinks with the victors. Looking back through our Facebook updates of the match, each and every one of them was ‘liked’ by Dave, even the one relaying the news of the loss. He couldn’t be there in person, but he was with us, right until the end.

 

Dave’s own end came this week. He fought bravely. He gave it his all. But in the end the cancer was just that little bit stronger.

 

Dave lost his battle, but he did so with honour and integrity.

 

******

 

Over the past year I’ve been to six funerals. Some were inevitable, for want of a better word. I’m 55 now (that means I can retire, yeah?) and the parents of some of my friends have succumbed to old age (as have mine). Sadly, so have several of my friends themselves — some around my age, some even younger than me. I still often think we’re young, but we’re not really. And the law of averages decrees that some of us won’t make it into our 80s, or even our 70s or 60s.

 

Funerals, it seems, are becoming an increasingly common part of my diary. Recently I attended the funeral of a relative and caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen for some time. As we chatted, she said, “It’s a shame we only seem to catch up at funerals.” My response was, “Well the good news is that they’re likely to become a more frequent event for us.”

 

They are a strange things, funerals — both a happy and sad occasion. And, indeed, a chance to catch up with friends you haven’t seen for a while, or perhaps for many years.

 

Sometimes it’s difficult to recognise the ones you haven’t seen in years. So to help me out at funerals I use what I call the ‘equation of life’. This involves looking at the person who might be approaching you and in your mind’s eye adding weight and subtracting hair (at least for males). Sometimes it works.

 

******

 

Sadly, most of us won’t be able to do that for Dave in this time of coronavirus. We won’t be able to meet up, hug and swap stories. But we will do so via distance.

 

We won’t forget you, Dave. I’ll think of you whenever we play cricket. We’ll be out there to win every match, but sometimes the other team might be just that little bit stronger. Even then, we will fight bravely and give it all we’ve got. Whether we win or lose, we will do so with honour and integrity. Just as you always did.

 

See ya Dave.

 

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About Andrew Gigacz

Well, here we are. The Bulldogs have won a flag. What do I do now?

Comments

  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Beautiful tribute Gigs. Sorry for your loss, sympathy to everyone at Clifton Hill CC.

    Plenty of cricket left in you mate at only 55. I’m sure the over 60’s selectors are monitoring your progress, having you fully in their plans for the 2025/26 season.

  2. Lovely Gigs. I’m sure your equation of life is tellingly accurate. And yes, weddings are now infrequent while funerals are gathering pace. Keep playing too!

  3. ROCKET PETERSON says

    Thanks Tangles, you’ve said what all his team and clubmates are thinking. Well done mate.

  4. Good one Tangles, you’re always able to capture succinctly those many thoughts flying around in our heads. As you have described, Dave was a shining example of what is good about local clubs, and he will be missed. Thanks Andrew, RIP Dave.

  5. Grant Bel says

    A fine tribute Gigz. I had no idea. He was a top bloke, good cricketer, and fine musician, was Dave.

  6. Absolutely superb,Gigs

  7. Chris Hanlon says

    Very nice tribute to a great teammate…

  8. A wonderful tribute to Pubby Dave, Gigs.
    With him having joined Clifton Hill after 2009, aged in his 40s, Dave was dismissed far too young.

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