Founding Diggers members Rod Kratz, innaugural captain Dave Heptonstall and Bill Mackay enjoy the nostalgia as the ‘legends’ match begins at Fitzroy Oval.
Founding Diggers members Rod Kratz, innaugural captain Dave Heptonstall and Bill Mackay enjoy the nostalgia as the ‘legends’ match begins at Fitzroy Oval. Bruce Thomas

Cricket celebrates 50 not out

IT was a weekend for catching up with old friends and celebrating the wonders of cricket.

A sell-out crowd attended C-ex Coffs on Saturday night as the Diggers Ex-Services Cricket Club celebrated a milestone of 50 years participation in the Coffs Harbour District Cricket Association.

Formed as an off-shoot of the famous Diggers Rugby League Football Club, the cricket side was established when league captain-coach Dave Heptonstall and his footballing mates decided they needed something to keep the team fit and together over the summer months.

So the team to wear cream-coloured clothing was formed and Heptonstall became the obvious choice for inaugural skipper, eventually leading the team to three straight premierships starting with the 1961-62 season.

A legend in local sporting circles, Heptonstall attended the weekend's festivities.

Later the ‘Ex-Services' tag was added and further titles followed in 1969-70 (captain Les Rollins), 1973-74, 1978-79, 1979-80 (Rod Kratz), 1980-81 (Dudley Cockburn), 1983-84, 1984-85 (Ross Haworth), 1985-86 (John Rowe), 1990-91, 1991-92 (Ross Haworth and tied with West Coffs), 1994-95 (Paul Fredericks) and 2000-01 (Steve Meakins).

The club has won numerous lower grade premierships.

With the Bill Rae Medal introduced in 1997-98 to anoint the player recognised as best and fairest in the competition, Diggers' representatives Damien Webeck (shared in 1999-2000) and Troy Herbert (2006-07) have been listed on the winners' trophy.

The weekend started in the best possible fashion with the top-grade side taking first innings points against Bellingen.

At the Saturday dinner an all-star team from the first 50 years was announced before the party continued yesterday.

Current players took on an Invitation XI made up of ‘legends' of the half-century at Fitzroy Oval with activities planned for the juniors and a lawn bowls challenge to complete the festivities.



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