Magpies' Isaac Borg, bowling in under-16s, is now playing first grade.
Magpies' Isaac Borg, bowling in under-16s, is now playing first grade. Samuel O'Brien

Experience, youth combining to build a Magpies dynasty

Cricket: Rome wasn't built in a day, but it was Magpies strong foundations for the future that helped coax a champion Mackay cricketer out of retirement.

Preparing to lead a young Magpies side out for a DBCT Poole Cup double-header this weekend, former Souths and Norths talisman Brant Attard wasn't expecting to be padding up for the black and white.

But looking at the talent around him, he's glad he is.

"I thought I was done,” said the long-term Norths talisman, who finished up after leading Souths to a T20 premiership last year.

"I'd pretty much achieved what I wanted and thought 'that's it, I'm nearly 40, and the eyes are starting to get a bit funny'.

"So instead of carrying on and embarrassing myself, I said 'let's pull the pin now', but with the (Magpies) vision and being around the boys, I didn't realise how much I missed it until I did.”

It was that vision, sold by Magpies coach Peter Blanchfield, that got the ball rolling.

Attard's former first grade captain from "back in the 90s”, Blanchfield knew that his young Magpies side was loaded with talent and future first grade stars, but was missing a critical element.

"It only really came about in July... Pete got appointed coach and he approached me to come and help the kids,” Attard said.

"They've got some really, really good young cricketers, but they're all 15-16 year olds, so he wanted an old cricket head to guide them around the field.

"I said 'give me a week to think about it' and I talked to the boss, my wife, and she was happy for me to go back and play.

"I'm loving it. It's the best decision I've made.”

Former Souths captain Brant Attard was coaxed out of retirement to lead Magpies into a new era.
Former Souths captain Brant Attard was coaxed out of retirement to lead Magpies into a new era. Madolyn Peters

Combining Attard, who hammered 104 not out last weekend, new additions in former Souths' player Todd Dixon and Norths' Brenton Polzin and young guns the likes of Ben Zurvas, Isaac Borg and Jacob Werder, the nucleus is in place.

After going winless last season, Magpies defeated Brothers last weekend and added a bonus point after a tough opening round loss to Pioneer Valley. While Attard said patience was needed, he saw a bright future ahead.

"I definitely think we're going places... I don't see premierships this year or probably next year, but in two years, I think this team will really push for premierships,” he said.

"Once these boys get some more experience and get a bit older, I think we'll be getting very competitive. We're still in a transition period now, but we're working towards the future.”

While Magpies are well placed to snare its second consecutive win against a winless Sharks on Saturday, Attard said the side wouldn't be defined by wins or losses, but rather its ability to build consistency and maintain a standard.

"Souths will be desperate for a win and could be dangerous for us,” he said.

"In our first games, we bowled and fielded really well, but being young, there's periods our players drift in and out and we need to work on that.

"I've still got a lot of mates there (Souths) I'll be playing against, and they'll be keen to knock us off, but we're just as keen to go two and one, so it should be a great game if the weather (holds) out.”

In the second phase of the double-header, Magpies will need to back it up in their sternest task yet against an undefeated Walkerston on Sunday.

Admitting it was a "tough” schedule for older players, Attard expected his young charges would bounce straight back from a full day of cricket.

"Walkerston is the benchmark, so it'll give us a good gauge of where we sit against the best and we're excited to see where we sit against them,” Attard said.

But regardless of the outcome, Attard said the side would be looking for little wins as it tracked its way to a future loaded with promise.

"It's not about results, it's about improvement and being competitive, and not being the whipping boys of Mackay cricket any more,” he said.

"We've got goals and targets, but if we see improvement with the boys, we've done our job.

"These young guys are the future, so in a couple of years they'll be pushing the likes of Walkerston hard for premierships.”

DBCT Poole Cup schedule

Saturday: Norths v Brothers, 12.30pm at George Gorrie Oval; Magpies v Souths Sharks, 12.30pm at Jack Lancaster Oval; Walkerston v Pioneer Valley, 2.30pm at Ray Mitchell Oval.

Sunday: Brothers v Pioneer Valley, 12pm at Ray Mitchell Oval; Walkerston v Magpies, 12pm at George Gorrie Oval; Norths v Souths Sharks, 12pm at Jack Lancaster Oval.

Ladder after round two:

1. Walkerston 18

2. Norths 10

3. Brothers 9

4. Magpies 9

5. Pioneer Valley 9

6. Souths Sharks 0

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