Seasons in the Sun – Part Twenty (The Denouement (?)): The Panton Hillbillies and the Mark Marshall Fan Club

69 runs. That’s all that stands between the mighty Lower Plenty Thirds and a Grand Final berth against Montmorency.

The Benevolent Leader turns to Bronty and I as he arrives.
“Where’s my kit?”
My stomach drops out.
The Leader’s kit was entrusted to me… and I’ve left it at home. If you’d told me I would stuff up in this final, I would’ve expected dropped catches, leg side bowling or a duck. Forgetting the captain’s kit is something else.
“Well, I’ll use yours,” suggests The Leader, glaring and daring me to protest.
“Nah, that’s cool,” I allow quickly. “I did have to pull my kit out from under yours to bring it here anyway…”
I hastily call Mum, who grumpily arrives. She blames me, but adds, “Tell your uncle to take responsibility for his kit.”
I decide to pass this on once The Leader isn’t in battle mode.
“Well, we’re off to our normal start,” says The Leader as I lay his kit at his feet. “The Panton Hillbillies have forgotten something.”

The Stars welcome the return of Steve, who was kept out of yesterday’s play due to his brother’s wedding.
“Clearly not raised in a cricket environment?” grins Catesy.
“Hope you got him a rubbish present,” says Bronty.
“I did,” huffs Steve. “I turned up.”

The Stars warm up with urgency, rolling their arms over in between chain-smoking to a level that would put Catesy to shame. Even Griffo, still nursing a nasty hangover, gets in amongst their preparation for a desperate defence.

Wellsy, having travelled halfway across Victoria and back this morning to pick up his daughter after having been run out last night, sits nearby in a relaxed mood… until Brian the Umpire tells him the run out was his fault because he runs “like a pregnant duck.”

I take up the scorebook with Stars rep Freddy and watch as Jacko and AT assume their posts.
“I’ve told him that if they win and he’s not out, I’ll wipe $400 off what he owes me,” says Jacko’s Dad Ron.
“Oi Jacko!” yells Freddy. “Go out and we’ll give you $500!”
“AT’ll make plenty today,” predicts Bronty. “Missed out last week, not here next week…”
“What, AT’s not here next week?!” gasps DK.
“Yeah… his brother’s wedding? We’ve been talking about it for the last two weeks?”
“Oh yeah…” “God Dylan,” grumbles Captain Grumpy. “You’re not only my unloved son, you’re my stupid son as well.” We’re expecting a steady-as-she-goes grind… but AT clearly has better places to be. The first ball of the day is hit inside out through cover for four and you can feel the Stars wilt. Soon, Jacko and AT are putting on a clinic – every chance is being put away but nothing is forced or slogged. Captain Grumpy, Huddo and Maestro keep tabs on a scoreboard that just keeps on going north bound.

“We’re the victims here,” bemoans Freddy as another AT boundary is entered into the scorebooks.
“Firsts and Seconds made finals and took some of our good players…”
“Like Marshall?” I grin.
“We’ve been the Mark Marshall Fan Club,” I confess. “As long as he was making runs, we knew he wouldn’t come back to us.”

The Stars change bowlers at a desperate rate, but there’s nothing so much as an indecisive leave going for them. Within 45 minutes, AT has driven his fiftieth run through mid-off, Jacko has clipped his half century off his hip and we’ve reached 113 to the delighted applause of the assembled crowd, including Club Secretary Tsappa, Senior Coach Dick and stalwarts Bowie, Lutty and Jika. We’re through to the Grand Final!

Dragi Vasilev decides to roll the arm over for the Stars’ final stand. Vesuvius grabs AT and Jacko and engages them in a mid-pitch conspiracy.
“Was he telling you to go out?”
“No, he told us to not go out under any circumstances or they’d never hear the end of it… but if one of us went out the other had to go out the next ball and then they’d call the game quits with Dragi on a hat trick.”

There seems to be no risk of the latter taking place: Dragi comes around the wicket and delivers a slow full toss that may as well have been gift wrapped. Six. A clone delivery for another four. A leg break that he actually manages to land. “That almost turned!” exclaims The Leader from over the fence.
Next is a straight, ambling full toss that AT actually gets under to deep mid-off; it won’t go for six, but will the staggering Griffo get there in time? He looks like he’s collapsing under the weight of his hangover with every step, but gets there, falls to his knees and clutches a catch. Dragi sets off in a delighted lap of honour – but his teammates stand still.
“You can celebrate that on your own,” barks Vesuvius. “That was shit.”
Hands are shook, happy laughs are had and the Stars all troop off the ground as we gather around The Leader.
“Not to put too fine a point on it boys – but we’re in the fuckin’ Grand Final!” he whispers deafeningly.
“Enjoy this boys,” agrees AT, “we play for fun and for each other, but this is why we play to win. These chances don’t come around too often.”
Especially at Lower Plenty – this is Bronty’s seventh campaign for his maiden semi-final victory.

“So Steve,” I ask as the Stars all pack up their bags. “Who’s the best Vasilev?”
“Well,” he says thoughtfully, “Johnny’s probably the better player ‘cos he’s an all-rounder but if you’re talking about better human beings then Johnny’s just a complete waste of space.”
Vesuvius chuckles, his cigarette waggling happily in his mouth.

We all return to the Lower Plenty Oval, where the Elder Statesmen of the Thirds pass judgement on one G Cates for the crime of unjustifiably promoting his contributions to the success of the opening bowling partnership.

 “You bowled too short for the first five overs,” accuses Bronty before turning to the Leader. “You told him to pitch up in the first over and next time you went to say it AT said something to you. What was it?”

“AT said I had to be nice, it was the finals.”

“Rubbish,” shrugs Catesy, looking to Wellsy for support.
“You bowled too short, they didn’t have to play,” replies Wellsy. Catesy, now sweating on a brother in arms, asks Captain Grumpy, who never is should be seen as a safe harbour in rough weather.
“You’re on your own champ, you bowled too short”

At this point there is a close run out in the middle. Catesy looking to steer the topic away, opines “I reckon I am more accurate when I bowl the ball instead of throwing it at the stumps”.

Wellsy quickly points out, “Given the way you bowled yesterday, they would have to be five feet high for you to hit them.”

The Seconds defeat Banyule to give us three sides playing off for a premiership, including the Under 16s. Put March 8 2015 as a great day for Lower Plenty. Here’s hoping March 15 is just as good.

Lalor Stars 112
Adam 46
The Benevolent Leader 5/29
Catesy 3/30

Lower Plenty 3/138
AT 54
Jacko 52*


About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.


  1. And I was hoping it would get down to you with 2 runs still to get. Maybe next week. Well played. Well told.

  2. Callum O'Connor says

    You were the only one hoping that PB…

  3. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Well done Callum and good luck in the GF ( can you put score updates on lower plenty cc facebook page ? )

  4. I love reading these updates Callum.

    They make me want to don the whites after 20-something years out of club cricket and head down to Lower Plenty and have trundle with the thirds.

    Good luck in the grand final. I’m with PB – I want you underneath the skied delivery at 9-fer with the cry of “THERE IT IS!” to win the match. You can do this!

Leave a Comment