Country Week tradition still alive in Bendigo
IF you love your sport in Bendigo, you certainly can’t complain of being bored this January.
It has been a bumper start to the year for sport in the city, with the recent running of the School Sport Australia 12-and-Under Cricket Championships and the Oceania Masters Athletics Championships.
We’ve also had the 50th anniversary running of the Bendigo Pacing Cup at Lord's Raceway - well done if you backed I'm Corzin Terror - and now, another major sporting event is about to get underway across Bendigo.
And it’s one that has been held since 1934 – Bendigo’s time-honoured annual Country Week cricket carnival, which runs from this Monday to Friday.
The fact this carnival marks 80 years since Northern United won the inaugural title in 1934 is a chance to give recognition to all those volunteers who have kept this tradition running for so long.
Apart from 1941-46 when the carnival was abandoned because of World War 2, cricketers from across the state have continued to flock to Bendigo each January for a week of on-field action and sporting camaraderie.
Sure, there’s both team and individual trophies to be won, but they are just the icing on the cake.
Ask any of the Country Week veterans who have been coming back year after year and they’ll tell you it’s all about the friendships.
As Upper Loddon’s Peter Scullie (pictured) said two years ago after playing his 100th Bendigo Country Week match: “It’s just a great week…. playing this long you make a lot of friends. If you ask most of the sides that travel, they just really enjoy it.”
While there’s five days of action on the field throughout the week, there’s also plenty after hours for the players to enjoy, which is why the week is not just about sport, but a financial boom for Bendigo.
With most of the teams travelling, accommodation places are booked up, while pubs and eateries do a thriving trade nightly.
After all, what’s better after a day of cricket than relaxing with a nice meal out on the town washed down with some cold beers.
This year 20 teams will compete across three divisions, with division one to feature Goulburn Murray, Ferntree Gully, Castlemaine, Gisborne, Murray Valley and the newly-promoted Northern Districts.
Well done on keeping one of Bendigo’s great sporting events alive
Ferntree Gully enters the carnival as the defending champions after defeating Goulburn Murray by 53 runs in last year’s grand final at the QEO, and will now have to deal with carrying the tag as the hunted?
Good luck to all teams across the three divisions.
To all the players, enjoy your cricket and well done on keeping one of Bendigo’s great sporting events alive.
Oh, and count yourself lucky that the weather Gods will be much kinder next week.
Temperatures forecast in the high 20s and low 30s are much more cricket-friendly than this week's ridiculous mid-40s.