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The Snick - Queanbeyan Cricket – 150 years strong......

As we approach the 150th anniversary of the Queanbeyan Cricket Club, we take a look back at the incredible history behind the baggy blue cap.

The period 1980-81 to 1991-92 was the most prolific and successful era of the Queanbeyan Cricket Club in its 150 year history. During this 12 year period the Bluebags won the Douglas Cup, the trophy awarded to the ACTCA 1st grade premiers, a record 7 times and were runners-up once. No other team in the history of ACT Cricket has been able to maintain such dominance. There are many contributing factors to this success. The appointment of Gary Samuels as head coach and 1st grade captain in 1978, the brilliance of Neil Bulger, the recruitment of the likes of John Bull and Daryl Stevenson or the emergence and development of the remarkable Peter Solway and a group of highly talented local juniors. Others will look to the administration. Steve Bailey, Ray Hatch and the committee from the late 70’s had a blueprint and a vision for the club while John Solway, Richard Carruthers, Greg Mann and Phil Moon were the principle architects of the success in the late eighties and early nineties. Numerous other players, officials and supporters can claim they were the catalyst. The real answer is there was no one reason.

History is defined by actions and in this 12 year period Queanbeyan could do no wrong. They dominated with bat and ball and had the opposing teams struggling to keep pace with what appeared an endless supply of brilliant junior players and a steady stream of players from overseas or interstate that wanted to be part of something unique.

In this mix were two very special, undeniably talented left arm quick bowlers. Frank ‘Handbag’ Hansby and Mark ‘Reefer’ Steel were as different as two players could be. One 6ft 5, raw boned, pure pace and power through the crease, a builder by trade and now a servant of the law; the other a mild mannered school teacher, arms and legs flayed as he delivered the ball furiously with venom and fire as neither the batsman or the bowler knew where the ball would end up.

To be fair they both struggled to know where the ball was travelling but those that played with or against Steely and Handbag knew that when they got it right there were no quicker bowlers ever to play the game in Canberra and perhaps even beyond. Both were fearsome on their day. Hansby reeled off the amazing figures of 9/32 in the 1983/84 season in a display that was breathtaking. Steel on the other hand did not get the returns his bowling deserved. Often he was simply too quick and his height and the bounce generated taking the ball over the stumps or thundering into his opponents. Former English International, Neil Fairbrother commenting at Kingston Oval that Steel was the quickest, most dangerous bowler he had encountered in his long and distinguished 1st class and international career.

Both players are fondly remembered by all at the Bluebags. They are both characters and champions from this famous club and the memories and stories of their deeds, their talent and their friendships are etched into the history books. For Baz and Crusher Cleal next week looms as we take a look at some lower grade player exploits. Terry Regan, former Canberra Raiders player and gun Queanbeyan Cricketer also gets a start!

It is not long until the Queanbeyan District Cricket Club holds the 150th Anniversary weekend celebrations.

The celebrations, to be held February 22-24, promise to be a wonderful chance for players from across many eras to be able to catch up with friends, share reflections of past performances. It will also provide a chance for the legends of yesteryear to mingle with the current crop of young players whom look to their more senior cricketers for inspiration and guidance.

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