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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.

OVER the past 150 years, the Queanbeyan Cricket Club has been blessed by the services of a number of high profile first grade and club coaches.

In the late 1960s prominent Queensland cricketer (later to be an Australian test umpire) Mel Johnson spent three years at the Bluebags.

A quiet and reserved gentleman, Johnson looked to build the club across all grades and lifted performances from the club's juniors, right through to the senior ranks.

He was a man before his time given his incisive decisions and strategy on junior development with a view to long-term benefits.

Terry Walters, brother of legendary Australian player Doug Walters, was only at Queanbeyan for a single season in 1970/71 but in that short time left an indelible mark on those he played with.

His 74 not out (including five sixes and five fours) in 35 minutes batting at number 10 to lift Queanbeyan to an unlikely victory against South Woden still sends shudders down the spines of his teammates.

During Ray Flockton's five-year tenure at the club from 1971-76, Queanbeyan had an outstanding player as well as a senior coach.

Flockton was a gifted all-rounder who played with distinction for New South Wales and was someone looking to forge a career in life after cricket. He led from the front with his focus on individual performances while also looking to maximize his talents for the benefit of the team.

1978/79 saw the arrival of Gary 'Captain Matchbox' Samuels, one of the finest players to ever play in Canberra and the surrounding district.

Already a premiership player and champion ACT representative, Samuels arrived at Queanbeyan following the club's extensive search throughout Australia to recruit a coach capable of taking the Bluebags to the next level.

Following his arrival, it did not take long for Samuels to make his mark. His strong character, fierce determination and will to win were only matched by his desire to improve each and every player.

He wanted players who would not only give 100 per cent, but who would play for the team. He led from the front. Opening the bowling at times and batting in most positions depending on the game situation and his playing credentials were second to none.

It was through his coaching, his leadership and his attitude however, that Samuels' left his most enduring mark on the club.

He got the best out of Ray Hatch, Steve Bailey, Gary Wall, Graham Hore, Phil Higgs and Billy Carters. He made them better players as did he with too many other players to mention.

He recruited Malcolm Allen and Lofty Matthews to strengthen the side and while he relied on the great Neil Bulger, he knew he could call on others as this was no one-man team.

He engaged with the club's juniors and provided a pathway for the likes of Peter Solway, Mick Carruthers, Tony Wynd and Chris Henry knowing they were Queanbeyan's future.

Queanbeyan's two premierships in 1980/81 and 1982/83 are Samuels' formal legacy, but those who know him better tell a tale that cuts far deeper in the fabric of the Queanbeyan Cricket Club.

Next week's article will feature Mark Thornton and Paul Nemes as The Snick continues to shed some light on those who have held the coaching reins at the mighty Bluebags.

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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