THREE long-suffering Russells Creek stalwarts are relishing the chance of a lifetime as they gear up to compete in the club’s first division one two-day grand final.
Coach Jayaweera Bandara, president Nathan Divall and long-time all-rounder Paul Walker are in line to play in their first Warrnambool and District division one grand final in Creek colours this weekend.
Brett Nuske is set to play a key role in the club’s division two grand final campaign after years in blue and white.
They face a formidable opponent, however, in two-time reigning premier Woodford.
For Paul Walker, the chance to play in a grand final is one that hasn’t arisen often over the course of a decorated career.
“We want to soak it up because it does mean a hell of a lot,” he said.
“We’ve been training and hard at it for the last nine months. We’ve been at it since July.
“I feel very privileged to be a part of where the club is at the moment.”
Walker, who coached Creek last season, said the Jetty Flat outfit had shared the workload around and had not relied on one player to do the damage as it climbed to the top of the table in 2016-17.
“We bowl as a group now. There’s no reliance on one player to do the damage,” he said.
“Whether it’s Pepsi (Matt Petherick) and Jimmy (Elford) or even Blake Evans and Izzy (Yaddehige), everybody contributes.
“It’s the same with the bat. We were in trouble last week at 6-80 and then Joe Kenna and Izzy put on 60 for the ninth wicket, which I believe is a club record.
“There’s even competition between guys like Joe and Pepsi to see who can get the gig as number 11 and not 12th man bowler. We’re a tight bunch of mates but competition is fierce.
“It builds a strong team and culture and creates drive to be successful and to win.”
President Divall believes the club’s grand final berth has come on the back of immense depth through each grade.
The 300-gamer said training standards and commitment had improved as the club ramped up its chase of the elusive two-day flag.
“We have belief. We’ve had a positive attitude all season,” Divall said. “Woodford got one over on us in the one-day grand final and we certainly don’t expect them to lay down and let us win.
“At the same time, they probably don’t think they’re unbeatable either. Everybody at the club wants to be a part of the positive atmosphere.”
Divall was thrilled to be lining up after years of dedication on the training track.
“It’s definitely what you play every season to do and what I haven’t been lucky enough yet to do,” he said.
“It would be a major achievement for all of us.”