Pride and emotion encapsulated the face of Spring Creek captain-coach Daniel Buck as he soaked in his side's back-to-back premiership glory in the aftermath of a thrilling grand final finish on Saturday.
Cricket clubs are not only a place to merely hit and chase a cricket ball, they are a home away from home and a place of genuine community spirit.
The club - with a loud and proud legion of supporters behind them - soared to glory in the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association division three tier against Russells Creek at Mack Oval, and Buck's passion for his side, his community and how it all intertwined was written all over his face.
"It's not just us blokes on-field, it's a whole club effort," he told The Standard.
"It runs right through the club. At the start of the year we struggled for numbers and we pushed and pushed and got there in the end.
"We got the ultimate reward in the end which is really satisfying.
"The great thing about this place is we're a mixed bunch. We're obviously a merged club and for me coming from the South West league, they couldn't have been more welcoming to me.
"We love each other, it's a club of great mates. We gel as a club so well together. It's unique to have two clubs combine and move leagues and I'm loving my time here and can't wait for next season already."
Buck said his group managed to hold their nerve despite a late surge from Creekers gun Andrew Prisco, who put together an extraordinary performance to make 110.
The Creekers champ nearly won his side the game after being set 189 for victory, rattling the boundaries late in a stunning masterclass to bring the game down to the final ball of the match.
"It's probably the most nervous I've ever been on a cricket field," he said of the final over in which Tim Wells managed to seal the match with two wickets.
"Ultimately I just backed our boys in, six or seven of them have been here before and they stand up in the big moments and got the job done in the end."
Young gun Jackson Hansford was awarded the player of the match medal for his incredible and unbeaten 76 not out and 3-41, capping off a sparkling season of more than 450 runs and 20 wickets.
"He's only 18 and he bats a lot older and plays the game a lot older than what he is," Buck said, with a beaming smile on his face.
"He's so mature. All year he's stood up when we've needed someone to stand up and for a kid to do that in a grand final it's a wonderful effort. He's the first to training every week and always bowling his heart out. He's my key all-rounder."
Hansford said he was honoured to be recognised for his performance.
"It means a lot, there's 22 blokes on the ground so to be named the best one you have to pull your weight," he said.
"To be recognised by my mates and by the league itself, means a lot so I'm really happy."
Mortlake brought home the premiership cup in style, meanwhile, in division four down at Purnim's Peter McDonald Oval, with the Cats putting in a commanding performance against Nestles to win by five wickets.
The Cats were largely untroubled in their chase after being set 140 for victory, with a blistering knock by man-of-the-match Paddy Drake (88 not out) the standout performance of the day.
Drake also took two wickets in the win with Hamish Hobbs and Mark Lehmann combining for four wickets.
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Sports reporter with The Standard
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