In the Sheds - ‘Changing of the guard’

This is my 8th season at SUCC and I can’t help but feel there is a real feeling of evolutionary change about the club. I’m not talking so much about the state of the art new facilities or the integrated fielding/fitness approach to training (which are all great by the way). I’m talking more about the evolution of the playing roster, the natural attrition of the older statesman and the rise of the young pups. I think it is an exciting time for the club and I’m excited to see where it takes us.

SUCC stalwarts Faraday and Theobald have relinquished their playing roles but continue to serve as the fat cats on the board. Hobson has begrudgingly succumbed to family duties despite continuing to enthusiastically suggest catch-ups at the Nags. Kierath is taking more of a backseat role after so many successful years at the helm of 2nd grade. The later start time in the lower grades means he has more time with his better half and little Charlie. Morning family duties are shortly followed by afternoon family duties as he kicks the new ball at 12.16pm.

The increased focus on fitness, physical preparation and player workload management at the elite level is mirrored in our Elite Athlete Program (EAP). The club proudly boasts an EAP program second to none in the country, but disappointingly, some EAP members still display sloppy rigs; look no further than Jack Holloway. These shortcomings are overridden by the successes of the program. Hayden Kerr is a great example - rising from an overweight pre-pubescent boy from Bowral to a premiership winning (ton in the 4th grade final) 2nd grade all rounder (+/- weak achilles/sore back).

In my first years at the club, AJ was the benchmark in the gym. His immaculate (albeit 5 foot) rig turned heads (both male and female). However, his strict dieting habits were controversial – vodka waters and purchasing McDonalds at 2am but refusing to eat it. With AJ’s once immaculate rig now hidden beneath a comforting layer of beer and biltong, Jono Craig-Dibbly-Dobson seems to be the leader of the fitness sessions. His rig definitely doesn’t do him any favours but the boy is strong. He can deadlift 160kg! Lets hope that strength eventually manifests in bowling speed and keepers don’t have to stand up to the stumps anymore.

It is encouraging to see the youthful age of players filtering through the grades. This was evidenced in our Round 2 4th grade side where I was fined for being the only player in the side to not qualify for PG’s the following day. Ironically, I was fined by Brodie Frost who looks like a 45 year old Bigfoot. I was also fined for devon that day and will continue to be. Visual deterioration of hairlines is well noted in my time at the club – TheoBALD, Toyer, Holloway (Jack), Hay and Henry Clark. The latter two have also deteriorated physically. Hayza has gained 20kg since I met him in 2008 and Henry has gained 15kg, lost 15kg (repeat x 3) and contracted multiple viruses.

Another new trend in the club is the rise of the middle tier. For those unfamiliar with the tier system you are most likely tierless (Jack Hill) but here’s a quick summary. Upper tier: high-paying job, married +/- kid. Middle tier: full time job (wage irrelevant), girlfriend +/- engaged, plus Will Hay (because he’s been shunned by the upper tier due to an unfortunate incident in the Hunter Valley). Lower tier: studying, single, poor. While the lower tier flounders and the upper tier remains static, the middle tier is thriving, with many of the members of the middle tier now in leadership roles at the club. Nick is the 1st grade captain, Funky Deef is skippering the scooby doos, Ben Joy has risen from a drunk 6th grader to top 15 all time club wicket taker and the club’s humble accountant and AJ is fostering his premiership-winning young pups in the dippy 4’s. AJ will need to keep on his toes as big Wilko will continue to torment his off stump in the dark on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

Despite the changes discussed above, some things have remained static in my time at the club. Smash Cowan is still a single beer mat, we are all still striving to execute our Gary Whitaker disciplines #howgood and the cats continue to congregate on the hill (except when Hayza reaches a batting milestone). Despite the inevitable evolution of the personnel and practices of the club, the vibrant SUCC culture steeped in history and tradition will remain constant for many years to come #upthestudents.