DAVID Rout has been involved with Russells Creek Cricket Club for 35 years, but could easily have walked away after one match.
His side — “a group of footballers who wanted to keep together over the summer” — had entered B grade for the 1978-79 season more hopeful than confident.
“Our first game was against Port Fairy, if I remember correctly. Unfortunately division one was washed out,” Rout said.
“My memory isn’t that good but we came up against a few Leskes, a young skinny Gibb — some of the ones we looked up to as very good A grade cricketers.
“They decided to have a roll against us. I think we made 100, 120 but they were three or four for 300 or 400. That summed up the day, I think.”
Rout and his teammates persisted — “We laughed and said it can’t get any worse” — and laid the foundation for the club as it is today.
Russells Creek has the most players of any Warrnambool and District Cricket Association club and has become a powerhouse at junior level.
Players and officials have come and gone but Rout, a handy leg-spinner in his heyday, has been one of the constants.
He has held almost every position at Russells Creek and today runs the club’s In2Cricket program, helping develop budding cricketers.
His efforts have earned him recognition from Cricket Victoria, which has named him one of 20 “outstanding volunteers”.
“I was really rapt to be nominated,” said Rout, who turns 60 on Sunday.
“You don’t do it for these rewards but that’s just what the club is about, we try and recognise the workers.”
Rout said he was proud to be a part of developing the club. His greatest joy is watching players he guided in In2Cricket emerge into seniors.
“Back in 1978-79, when there were 12 of us running around in B grade having a bit of fun, it wasn’t taken too seriously,” he said.
“I think we won a flag in ’81-82 and it got a bit more serious. A few years later we introduced colts. I was the colts’ coach. And it’s kept growing and growing from there. One thing has led to another.”
Cricket Victoria chief executive officer Tony Dodemaide said volunteers were “the lifeblood” of cricket clubs across the state.
“We congratulate this year’s recipients and thank the thousands of volunteers across the state for the endless hours they give to cricket,” he said.