Within reach of the Hill of content

Three and a half years ago, I donned the whites for the first time in over a decade as I took to the cricket field representing Clifton Hill’s 5th XI and began to forge a new nickname for myself – Chicken Man. (You can read the full story of that here.)

I had only wanted to play for a bit of fun and to try and convince my kids to play cricket too, but it wasn’t long before the competitive side of my psyche emerged from a long slumber (more on that awakening here). I decided I’d keep playing until I (a) won another flag (having last been part of one in 1986) or (b) died, whichever came first.

As I type these words it is apparent that I am not dead yet. And I have not yet played in another flag. But the time is nigh. This weekend, the Clifton Hill 4th XI, of which I am a regular member, will take on Wyclif in the Grand Final of the Merrell Shield. I don’t know who Merrell is or was but I do know that I want his or her shield.

My three and a half season journey has been the proverbial roller coaster ride. I’ve scaled the heights of our Second XI (for one match last season) and plumbed the depths of our Sixth XI. (Not depths really, there are some pretty good old-timers out there playing at that level – a one-day comp.) But most of my games have been in our Thirds or Fourths – probably about right for a 48-year-old bowler of inswinging “dibbly dobblies” who can hang around with the bat when required. (There are times when my ego tries to convince me that I can still play good, consistent cricket at a higher level than this, and other occasions when my body asks my ego who it thinks it’s kidding. I’ll let you know who wins that battle as time goes on.)

At one point in that period, I even “branched out” and captained the inaugural (and thus far only) Footy Almanac XI to an honourable loss against the Overland XI on a sticky Sunday wicket in Brunswick. (My captain’s report on that match can be found here.) Part of the Footy Almanac XI on that occasion was one David Bridie who, as fate would have it, is a regular member of Wyclif, our adversaries-to-be this coming weekend.

David’s musical commitments mean that he is a doubtful starter for the Grand Final, which is a shame. As much as I enjoyed playing with him for the Almanac XI, it would be an interesting experience to cross swords (or in this case cricket bats) with him. Circumstances have dictated that David and I have not met on the field of battle since the Almanac XI played. Clifton Hill and Wyclif have met twice this season for one win and one loss apiece. They were our only losses for the year. I was part of the first win, a one-day match which David missed due to touring commitments. Wyclif won the return match. David was part of that game but I was not, having briefly been elevated to our Third XI.

(Side note: My elevation to the Third XI that match was the result of a number of players being unavailable on the Australia Day long weekend. I was the second-top scorer and took 3/37. It was enough to earn me another ‘man of the match’ award – Chicken Man lives! – but I was back in the Fourths the following match.)

My time at Clifton Hill has been successful on a personal level. I took my 100th club wicket in last week’s semi and have won a few awards along the way. Far more importantly, I’ve met many wonderful people and made some great friends. Although my “win-at-all-costs” side has resurfaced in my time at the club, the over-riding pride and happiness I’ve derived in that time has been via the friendships and being part of the club spirit. Whether we win or lose over the coming two Saturdays, I’ll celebrate the fact that I gave my all and rejoice in being part of a truly wonderful cricket club.

But between now and that moment I’ll be fighting like hell to win. And I know that Wyclif’s David Bridie, if he plays, will be doing exactly the same thing. Bring on the Grand Final!

About Andrew Gigacz

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


  1. Go Gigs, may the ball find the wicket when you bowl and may your bat find the ball and boundary when you bat. May you enjoy all that is good in life and sport and may you be in the winners circle (whether your team wins or not, you are a winner to me!)


  2. What Yvette said. xx

  3. Funny, lovely stuff Gigz. And make sure you do your wellness report and other homework the night before the game .. no cramming!

  4. Thanks Yvette, Lou and T Bone.

    T Bone, here’s my wellness report: dodgy shoulder, dodgy elbow (gout), dodgy hammies and dodgy knees. But I’ll be right for the game!

  5. Brilliant!

  6. Good luck Gigs.

    You never know, if you show some form, they might be blooding players in the fourth test, expecially part time bowlers and psuedo batsmen, if Steve Smith is any example.

    Make sure your passport is valid and remember to do your homework


  7. The very best of luck Gigs, bowl between that cone and stump mate, swing it a mile, York the buggers, chuck in a slow one, bring your whole repertoire and success will be yours,



  8. Thanks Sean. Always do my homework, but it’s almost always at the last possible minute.

    Thanks Fred. I’ll be doing my best!

  9. DBalassone says

    Good luck Gigs, I hope that whippy action of yours confounds the opposition batsmen.

  10. Good luck, Gigs.
    Grand finals do not come around all that often,
    so enjoy!
    By the way, it frightens me somewhat that the
    Chicken Man story was 3 & 1/2 years ago!

  11. Thanks Damian. It’s a terrible bowling action. It’s not for nothing that my other nickname at the club is Tangles.

    Thanks Smokie. I know! I was a spritely 44-year-old when I wrote that!

  12. Rick Kane says

    Best of luck old man. I’ve never met a Wyclifian I trusted, particularly on the cricket field. So give em hell, in a gentlemanly manner of course. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’d recognize a Wyclifian if I fell over them.


  13. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Good luck Gigs. Whatever happens, I’m sure you will hold your head up high. It’s been great fun playing alongside you and MOC in the VETS this season. In 2013/14 we will hoist the veterans flag for the Hillers too!

  14. Phil, where’s your hat?

    Very strong side, that Clifton Hill 4th XI. Selectors have gone for experience and Almanac writing credentials. Crucial in a hot GF kitchen.

    Rick – we are confident we can overcome the Fiscal Wyclif.

    All roads lead to Myrtle Park East, North Balwyn. Well, Belmore Road does, anyway.

  15. Well said Gigs
    All the best in the Grand Final. Keep ’em bamboozled mate.
    Nice hat MOC

  16. Good luck Gigs! Hope you get your flag. Enjoyed the read.

  17. Thanks Phil, Action and Luke.

    As alluded to above, MOC will also be in the side, so the Almanackery will be well represented. Game starts at 12:30pm. Bring booze, banter and barracking.

    And yes Phil, vets (or as we prefer to say, “legends”) premiership next year!


    On a rain-shortened first day, Clifton Hill won the toss and batted. We squeezed 54 overs in before rain put an end to Day 1 and the score at stumps was a more-than-healthy 4/310. Almanacker Matt O’Connor put on a short but superlative 20.

    We’ll start early next Saturday and face another 18 overs. Wyclif will then have 72 overs to knock off our total. Sadly David Bridie will not be part of the chase, because of a gig. As he so eloquently put it, “who says we don’t suffer for our art?”

    Head on down to Myrtle Park in Macassar St, North Balwyn from 11:30 next Saturday to see the season come to its climax.



  19. 4/310 looks a very strong position for your boys Gigs.
    Much more likely that DBridie has been sent to India as replacement for Watto. Just too humble to say.

  20. Wow 4/310 off 54 overs, great going in any game, let alone a GF. With 18 overs still to bat Clifton Hill would be very short priced favourites.

  21. Bring the ice buckets filled with bubbly Gigs, barring something extraordinary, it’s all over!

  22. Gigs

    Match report from Saturday’s GF game???

    How did you go?


  23. Match report pending, Sean. But briefly… WE WON THE FLAG!!

    Clifton Hill 10/374 (Gigacz 1 – very dodgy LBW decision in my opinion!)
    Wyclif 10/176 (Gigacz 3/52 off 15 overs plus two spectacular – I mean easy – catches)

  24. Fine fielding from Matt O’Connor, too! A great team effort.

  25. Well done Gigs, terrific stuff. I still cherish the memories of my St Mary’s-Tyntynder C-grade grand final win in 1995/96. It’s a great feeling.

  26. Thanks, Cookie. It sure is a great feeling. And there’s a bond between me and 10 other blokes that’ll never be broken.

    I wonder how many clubs with three “Y”s in their name, other than St Mary’s-Tyntynder, have won a flag.

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