From the weekend’s thrilling grand final between Diggers Ex-Services and Park Beach Bowling Club Colts.
From the weekend’s thrilling grand final between Diggers Ex-Services and Park Beach Bowling Club Colts.

Chris Moran retires after 35 years

JUBILANT skipper Chris Moran yesterday crowned a 35-year playing career by leading Park Beach Bowling Club Colts to the 2009-2010 Coffs Harbour District cricket premiership.

After a pressure-filled season decider against minor premiers Diggers Ex-Services, Moran announced his retirement as a player, ending one of the most exemplary careers in Coffs Coast sporting history.

Not only as a participant but as a coach and mentor to young players, Moran has left an indelible mark on the game.

“This is it, it’s time to move aside and give one of the kids a go,” he said while accepting congratulations.

“I was a member of the last Colts side to win (in 1988-89) a title when the game was washed out and it’s great to finally be able to play in one.

“Having (son) Codey in the side is also thrilling but at last this is it.”

The match had one of the most exciting conclusions on record with Colts creeping their way towards Diggers’ total of 146 as their opponents made a late charge for wickets.

With the departure of Craig Haworth for 70 after he and captain Moran looked likely to graft their way to glory, the pendulum swung to Diggers with the total on 9-131 after Codey Moran was removed. At this point, Diggers’ boss Steve Meakins really turned the thumbscrews by surrounding the tail enders with fieldsmen and insisting on accurate line and length.

“The whole season came down to those last few overs and I’ve got to give credit to my boys for not losing concentration and for keeping the pressure on,” he said.

After numerous heart-in-mouth moments, veteran Matt Francis laid in to a loose delivery and while most thought it had gone for six, the four runs signalled was enough for the ‘first’ evidence of victory. Francis and Sam Hardes began dancing to the boundary to celebrate but Meakins called them back for another session.

The idea was for Diggers to bat out around 15 overs to see what sort of target they could set up, before inviting Colts for a second occupation of the crease.

With a slim chance of bowling them out there was some hope of snatching the most unlikely of victories.

But in the end the minor premiers ran out to 7-64 before their captain said ‘enough’ and let Colts off the hook.

“Hey, it was a long shot but this is a grand final and you can’t just walk away,” Meakins revealed.

“I was disappointed with our first innings of 144 and thought around 200 would have been good.

“The mini-collapse late in the session when we lost four wickets for something like six runs cost us a lot overall.”

Colts had their own problems on day one when they found themselves on 3-43 at stumps in reply but with Craig Haworth not out on 24 overnight, the second day held some promise.

Haworth took command early but victory was still a long way in the distance as he racked up his half century and the rest of the innings wobbled between nail-biter and ‘too close to call’, right to the very end.

Almost a year to the day after being shattered by a preliminary final defeat at the hands of Sawtell, Chris Moran finally found himself on top of the mountain.

“This is the result of a two-year plan put together when I came back to the club,” he said. “We did an analysis, set our goals and then went after them.”

“Once we hit the ground we weren’t perfect ... some easy wickets were lost early in the day ... but in those last few overs my boys soaked up enormous pressure and tried their guts out.

“I’m very proud of them all and it’s a great way for me to finish as a player and knuckle down to coaching.”

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