CRICKET has given Geoff Stafford more than he's given cricket.
That's the Mortlake stalwart's assessment, despite more than five decades of dedication to the sport.
Stafford, who is still umpiring in South West Cricket, has been recognised for his long-standing involvement by Cricket Australia.
He was presented with a framed certificate at the association's Twenty20 grand final on Sunday.
His senior career, which started as a 12-year-old with Hexham, transcended generations.
While proud of his on-field results - which included countless premierships - Stafford said lifelong friendships was his biggest achievement in the sport.
"I've made some great friendships out of cricket," he said.
"In cricket you're at each other's face, but you can lighten up as well. It's banter without offending anybody.
"The highlight for me isn't my personal achievements, but the people I've met through cricket."
Stafford said the standard of batting had decreased slightly in his time, but fielding had lifted.
"I thought batting has dropped off a bit with Twenty20s and short-form cricket, but fielding is better," he said.
"There are some brilliant catches taken on the run now. Most weeks, batting, you'd see at least one or more make a century.
I've made some great friendships out of cricket.Geoff Stafford
"That doesn't happen as often. Bringing the shorter game in has done that, that's my tip."
Stafford, also a long-term footballer and administrator with Hexham, thanked south-west cricket identity Graeme Fischer for putting his case to Cricket Australia.
The 72-year-old, who lives just metres from Mortlake's D.C. Farren Oval, followed the Cats' fortunes closely.
"They're an absolute power side," Stafford said.
"They have three genuine all rounders in Shane Slater, Clinton Baker and Todd Lamont which is really hard to beat."
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