Kialla Knights-Toolamba players intended to enjoy their cricket after combining before the Cricket Shepparton season, but they did more than that, they also made the B-grade grand final.OLIVER CAFFREY March 26, 2014 4:15am
Kialla Knights-Toolamba player Joe Dwyer was one of a number of players to lift the combine to the B-grade final.
Kialla Knights Cricket Club was in trouble at the start of the season.
No A-grade side, players leaving the club, not even enough players to field a stand-alone B-grade team.
However, the combined B and D-grade teams with Toolamba proved to be one of the more remarkable stories of the Cricket Shepparton season.
Barely given a chance of winning a game in October, the B-grade combine collected six wins, including one outright victory on its way to the minor premiership.
The Knights are proud of their achievements during the past six months, despite comfortably losing the Clyde Young Shield grand final to Mooroopna on Sunday.
Kialla president Grant Rowe said it had been a struggle to find players on a weekly basis, which made for low preseason expectations at the club.
‘‘It (making the final) was well above our expectations at the start of the season,’’ Rowe said.
‘‘We’ve had it tough at times and we even had a (B-grade) side that I played a game in earlier in the season.
‘‘The fact is we’ve been up against it every week to find enough players, even from the two clubs.’’
But out of the hardship has bred friendship and success.
While the combine agreement between the Knights and Toolamba finished following the season, Rowe said there had been lasting bonds built among players.
‘‘The deal we had with them is over, but there’s no hard feelings, it’s just the way it is and we’ve got to start again and try something to get the club back up,’’ Rowe said.
‘‘Whether we look at doing something similar next season will be decided over coming months.
‘‘It’s been a great season and it’s been played in good spirits, especially for guys that didn’t know each other that well before a few months ago, there is genuine friendship now between so many of the players.’’
Kialla’s Callan Mears, who led the B-grade team this season with Toolamba’s Cameron McGregor, said the side did not take itself too seriously and that paid off.
‘‘The people from Toolamba — Cam McGregor, Jordan McGregor, Justin Dimond and Mick Burgess, it’s been really good with them,’’ Mears said.
‘‘I think I’ve had more fun with cricket this season than I’ve had for a while.
‘‘Not only are they good cricketers, but they’re really good people who are fun to have around.
‘‘We were pretty laidback throughout the whole year, we just made the decision pretty early on to just have fun with our cricket and see where that takes us, and luckily enough it took us to the final.’’
While it was a successful season for the combine, Rowe said the ultimate goal was for the club to return to Cricket Shepparton’s top-flight.
‘‘It would be a dream to have an A-grade team back again, but we would need to have a few guys come to the club to boost numbers,’’ Rowe said.
‘‘We’re not not ruling it out, but to be honest at this stage a lot would have to go right to get us back in there for next season.
‘‘We’re pretty happy with how this season has gone and it’s been a success, so hopefully the grand final appearance spurs people on.
‘‘We do want an A-grade back and hopefully we can attract people to the club to make that a reality.’’
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