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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.

As the celebration of 150 years as a cricket club nears reality and also with the opening of the new pavilion at Freebody Oval it is timely to think more broadly about those that make up a sporting club and in particular the Queanbeyan Cricket Club. Over the past few weeks great players and dedicated officials have captured the headlines and stories. Whilst these very important sections of the club are vital to success, it can be the ‘lower’ grade players that form the backbone and ensure that a social scene is played out after each match. That is not to say that each lower grade player does not give 100% each and every week on the field, because they do. There is just more scope to have a few diverse personalities among the lower grades.

Over the years there have been many characters that have donned the baggy blue and creams and ventured out to the middle to represent Queanbeyan and District. Today we run our eye over two local identities and passionate former Queanbeyan cricket players but still ardent supporters of the Bluebags.

Graham ‘Crusher’ Cleal and Robert ‘Baz’ Hassall played from about the 1986 season to the early to mid Nineties. They commenced as teenagers in 5ths, playing alongside the likes of Mark Woods, Neil Baker, a very young Robert Regent and the ever green Fred Wilton. Captained by Life Member Phil Moon, Cleal still recalls those first few years, playing at the then synthetic Freebody Oval for every match of the season and on occasion spending the drinks or lunch break picking a winner at the Kangaroos Football Club during the Spring Carnival and also ensuring they were adequately hydrated.

Cleal went on to play in several lower grade premierships, had a season or two in the 3rds with Graham Hannaford and other very good players and still talks of the exploits of Hanna and Bulger as they tore attacks apart. Cleal was a genuine swing bowler who whilst barely medium-fast lacked nothing for cunning and guile. He was of course a champion rugby player for the Mighty Whites, Captaining 1st grade for many years and he brought his will to win and toughness to the Cricket Club.

Baz still recalls his best ever score of 17 not out when asked to open the batting by Moon. He strode to the crease very determined against a wilful attack and with Woods keep them at bay till stumps, taking the score to 0/27. Perhaps not the heroic efforts of the 1st grade legends but for Baz a very fond memory which forms an integral part of the pride and history that flows through the veins of the Queanbeyan Cricket Club.

Crusher and Baz are champion blokes, something that gets mentioned a lot about many players through history at all clubs but a tag that is always deserved at the Bluebags. That’s the sort of club it is.

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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