Special connection

NO matter where their playing days may take them, those who played in cricket premierships across the weekend will always have a special bond.

Premiership victories cap hard-fought campaign

In the case of Bendigo United's first XI there's the remarkable feat of gun batsman Heath Behrens who has played in six premiership teams.

Captain Leigh McDermott, opening batsman Matt Pinniger, spin bowler Nick Crawford, opening bowlers Miggy Podosky and Byron Perrin, wicket-keeper Harry Donegan, and key bowler and coach Marcus Smalley have achieved grand final success multiple times.

Redbacks team-mates such as Ben Gunn, Bryan Vance, Mark Di Fede all played in a first XI premiership with the club for the first time.

Gunn and Vance were the "big name" recruits following last summer's semi-final defeat.

The previous two years and BUCCs first XI had been runner-up to Strathdale-Maristians.

All of the players who took to the QEO for Bendigo United at the weekend had endured highs and lows throughout their cricket careers.

In the case of Di Fede, at left in picture with McDermott, there had been the disappointment of four years ago when he was not selected for the grand final.

The Redbacks won the first XI decider against Strathdale-Maristians by a run.

It was a day of high emotion for BUCCs as the third XI were premiers, and the second XI, which had Di Fede open the batting, was runner-up.

Amid the euphoria in the White Hills rooms after the first XI's win stood Di Fede.

For a short time the occasion became just too much and his eyes welled up in tears. 

I stood next to him not really knowing how to react.

I could not say "I know how you feel", because I did not.

Some wisdom delivered years ago of you don't always have to say what you think, or sometimes it's best to say nothing, rang true.

From that day Di Fede, aka Pino as he is affectionately called at the club, has kept on striving to be a consistent contributor with the bat and in the field.

For him to take the catch for the final wicket in Sunday's play was terrific reward for his determination and loyalty.

The beaming smile after taking the catch and then during the after-match presentations summed up what this victory meant to Di Fede.

The smile after the catch and at presentations summed up what this victory meant

Injury meant another of BUCCs top batsmen and loyal players, Wayne Fidler would not be on the field this time.

Fidler's grace and putting "team first" was not forgotten by the team's leaders and his team-mates.

Just as it is every grand final day there's the joy of victory and disappointment in defeat.

It was a long, hot summer, but for the premiers in all competitions what a season it was.

Roll on next summer.   

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