Muskets welcome that winning vibe to Tivoli
THE Claxton Shield might be safely in Brisbane but the winning feeling has made its way to Ipswich.
After claiming the Brisbane Bandits' second straight Australian Baseball League premiership, Wade Dutton and Andrew Campbell returned to training tonight with the Ipswich Musketeers.
While it was the second time Campbell has lifted the coveted trophy, for Dutton the experience of rejoining the Bandits was one he wouldn't soon forget.
"It had been three or four years since I was last with the Bandits, so when I got the call-up I wasn't sure if I should be excited or nervous," he laughed.
"Once I got there it was like they had all been there for 10 years.
"Being alongside 'Soup' (Campbell) was good and they helped me settle in."
With a number of high-profile imports joining Brisbane for the season, there was plenty of competition for spots in the reigning premiers starting side.
"It's always good to have depth in a side like that," Dutton said. "We've got so many players that can play really well and if you weren't performing well you would probably get a game's rest.
"I think that's why in the back end of the season we went on a roll. Everyone knew they had a job to do and what was expected of them."
To achieve back-to-back premierships is a huge achievement in any top grade competition in modern Australian sport.
With fans and the media speculating about whether Brisbane could claim a second-straight Claxton Shield, Dutton said the Bandits players had kept themselves humble.
"We just took it game by game," he said. "No-one said anything about going back-to-back."
The signs were good early for the Bandits. A 6-2 victory in game one gave Brisbane a perfect start against the Melbourne Aces, culminating in Saturday's 3-1 game two win.
Describing the win as an "epic'' victory, Dutton said it looked as if there were two different teams on the field.
"That was my first playoff in the Championship Series so I was a bit nervous," Dutton admitted. "But the boys around me were relaxed and there was a good vibe around the team.
"After game one there was so much belief that we could win it all in two. Once we struck early we just kept going from there."
Keeping things light and enjoyable was more than about creating a positive atmosphere inside the Bandits camp.
With plenty to play for on the line, Dutton said the same principle which works so well for the Ipswich Musketeers had kept the nerves in check leading into the Championship Series.
"The last three weeks we were playing footy and cricket and just having fun," he said.
"We do that all the time at the Musketeers and I think it really does help with your hand-eye coordination.
"You certainly don't lose track of the fact that you are playing a game but it helps with the nerves when you are playing those big games."
The Musketeers Old Boys Day is being held on Sunday for Ipswich's clash with the fourth-placed Pine Hills. On such an occasion, Dutton is looking forward to pulling on the Ipswich uniform again.
Up against the fourth-placed Pine Hills outfit tomorrow night and on Sunday, the veteran hitter isn't expecting the Musketeers to rely on their Bandits contingent to get them home.
"There's noone who really leads because it's a team effort in Ipswich," he said. "We have so many good players and everyone does their hob. That's the way it should be.
"Hopefully this time around we can change what happened last year and take out the Championship. I think Windsor are the team to look out for at this point.
"They have a lot of depth in their pitching but in saying that we have 11 or 12 guys who can hit so it's going to be a good match up if we come up against them in the final again."
Brian "Ziggy" Zeidler and Musketeers president Jon Campbell have called on all Musketeers old boys and supporters to attend.
Foundation members, Neil 'Tango' Bradley and Ken "Pud" Hogan will open the day and former Olympic players Coogan, Vogler, Jessop and Wood from the 1988 Seoul Olympics will be there along with the members of the great 80s team.
"It's going to be good," Dutton said. "I'm looking forward to getting back and having a beer with the boys."
Tomorrow: A Grade v Pine Hills from 7.30pm.
Saturday: U10 White v Stars from 8.30pm; U10 Blue v Stars from 8:30am; U12.1 v Redlands from 8am; U12.2 v Wests from 8am; U14 v Wests from 10:15am; U16 v Redsox from 12:30pm; U20 v Redlands from 3pm.
Sunday: Seniors v Pine Hills at Tivoli; A Grade (1.30pm), B Grade (10.45am), C Grade (8.30am).
Monday: Masters v Stars from 8.15pm at Tivoli.