By Casey O'Connor
Welcome to the 2020 and a new decade. I hope you have recovered from your Christmas excesses and that the New Year’s resolutions which seemed such a wonderful idea at the time still seem so appealing.
While many of us were happy to see the back view of 2019 few could have foreseen what the opening days and weeks of the new decade would bring.
There has been little joy for Australians since the new decade rolled over and I doubt there is anyone who does not know someone impacted by the bush fire situation.
It makes sport and many other things in our lives insignificant.
But as is often the case there can be an important place for Sport in times of crisis.
Everyday Australians not directly affected by the Bushfire have been quick help those badly affected. Likewise our sports men and women have responded to the situation. Unable to help in a physical sense they are digging deep and hitting and smashing big in a bid to assist as best they can.
Our tennis players are acing for the cause. Nick Kyrgios led the charge, calling on tennis Australia to arrange a charity match while donating dollars for aces and making us want to like him just a little.
Ash Barty will donate whatever prize money she collects at the Australian Open. This after already making a significant donation to assist injured wildlife. Just one more reason to love this lady. Let’s hope we see her in the final and not just because of an impending donation.
Cricketers are slamming sixes and boundaries for more than a winning chance in the BBL and so it goes on.
The Aussie cricketers and Cricket Australia are working to host a celebrity fundraising charity cricket match in coming weeks.
Our Aussie Cricketers donated $1000 for every wicket taken in the last test. Nathan Lyon chipping in $10,000 for his record 10 wicket haul.
On the final afternoon of the Australia NZ test Shane Warne announced he was offering up his beloved “baggy green” for auction with funds to go to the Bushfire victims. The response was swift and when bidding closed had reached $1million plus. The winning bid coming from the Commonwealth Bank one of Cricket Australia’s major sponsors. It is their intention that the cap will tour the country raising funds for the Bush Fire appeal and then go on permanent display at the Bradman Centre in Bowral. Surely a win-win all round.
Away from sport big business and our acting and entertainment fraternity coming to the fore. And so the list goes on as it should.
As we look forward to a new year and new decade, although we may have taken an early battering, the Aussie spirit is as strong as ever.
For now though Spin would like to take you on a quick trip back to look at 2019.
Here are some of my highlights during 2019…
The Australian Cricketers were showing glimpses of better days on the world stage. The BBL caravan rolled on and on before the Heat rose to a competition win.
It wouldn’t be summer without tennis action.
Federer exited the Aussie Open after an upset but the Barty Party was just getting underway and had us all enthralled early in finals week.
Warwick Turf Club kicked off their first race meeting of the year with a seven race programme including the running of the inaugural Basil Nolan Jnr Memorial. The winner Cool Drafts was breed by the Nolan family. Perhaps some divine intervention was at play.
Dave Walker returned from injury to lead Warwick to a win over Stanthorpe in Rep cricket and retain the Bourke Hendry Trophy.
34 teams and several crazy umpires braved the heat at the Australia Day Cricket Carnival. Overall winners Ring Ins scored a knockout blow in the final defeating Bears XI by 50 runs.
The Warwick Bulls celebrated back to back wins in the Davis Shield for the first time in 43 years.
Matt Campbell who cut his motor racing teeth at Morgan Park starred on the world stage.
The Australian Davis Cup team scored a great win for the good guys.
Australian cricket fans had a series win to cheer about after the Aussie’s cleaned up Sri Lanka.
The racing world was rocked when the Victorian Racing Integrity Unit and police went through champion trainer Darren Weir’s stables like a packet of salts uncovering banned devices known as jiggers at his Ballarat stables.
Pat Cummings became only the fourth bowler to take home the prestigious Allan Border Medal while Alyssa Healy wrapped up a stellar year as the popular winner of the Belinda Clarke Medal.
Champion mare Winx was back in the racing headlines with a successful return to racing in the Apollo stakes.
The Brisbane Broncos wrapped up a visit to the Rose City with a trial game against South’s Logan at Fr Ranger Oval. Plenty of emerging talent on display in the trial.
Racing Queensland announced another TAB Battle of the Bush series. The Warwick Turf club one of the club’s selected to host a qualifying event on May 11
Netball Warwick received $321,793 in Fed Govt funding. Courts to be refurbished and facilities upgraded.
Warwick Little Athletics Centre received a $2900 grant from Coles to purchase brand new sports gear.
200 competitors ensured the Rodeo at the Stanthorpe Showgrounds was an event to remember. For many riders it was their first time at the Stanthorpe event. Many vowing to return.
Stanthorpe golfer Matt Waterworth found good form with his golf club beginning March with a winning feeling in the Monthly Medal event .
Tanny Two got off to a flyer. The Tanny classic proving another winner for the Tannymorel Bowls Club.
Finally a good news racing story after scandals surrounding trainers Weir and Smerdon. Less than 24 hours after winning the Group 2 Blamey Stakes, jockey Ben Allen was driving from house to house in dangerous conditions moving horses under threat from the Victorian bushfire. Well done young man.
Wattles Warriors and the Warwick Cowboys went head to head in the pre-season clash for the Barrett Shield. Wattles got the chocolates and the trophy.
Good news for Australian crickets fans, the national one day side came from two nil down to take out the ODI series against India at home.
It was back to back glory for Maryvale Condamine when they won the Warwick Condamine Cup A Grade premiership. Colts’ John Cleary was named Warwick Player of the Year.
In the Reserve Grade competition young Allora captain Sean Bryson led his side to a premiership win with a Man of the Match performance.
Schedule a Stanthorpe cricket grand final and you can almost expect rain. The Game postponed to the next day. Valleys made it back to back wins after defeating Minor Premiers RSL. Cameron Crestani was named player of the final
The Warwick Cowboys and Wattles Warriors opened their TRL seasons playing for the inaugural Basil Nolan Memorial Trophy.
Members of the Nolan family and friends travelled from far and wide to lend their support to the event acknowledging Basil Nolan Jnr, a stalwart of the Cowboy’s The score at the final siren 22-18 in favour of the Cowboys. Divine intervention again?
NRL 2019 kicked off and early results caught many tipsters off guard – a trend that was set to continue for most of the season.
A rivalry that spans untold years was reignited at Sullivan Oval when the Stanthorpe Gremlins hosted the Texas Terriers in the TRL Clive Berghofer 2nd Division game. Gremlins winning the bragging rights.
The Water Rats had to live up to their name in their opening game of the season against St George as rain teemed down prior to kick off. The Frillies going down 21-19.
Plenty of action as Morgan Park served up a smorgasbord of National level events The Australian Motor Racing Series (AMRS). The program also included Australian Formula Three Championship.
Welcome rain interrupted the annual St Mary’s race day at Allman Park. No complaints when the meeting was cut short after two races.
On the world stage Tiger Woods won his fifth Masters. Those words simply don’t do justice to his win at Augusta. It may just rate as the all time sporting comeback
Closer to home Bunnies and Maroons fans were processing the news that injury had forced GI, Greg Inglis into immediate retirement.
Winx went to Randwick for her finale and it was as breath taking as expected. The mare turned it on for the 43,000 plus devotees within Randwick and the hundreds who lined the Allison Street fence to capture a moment like no other in racing history. Undoubtedly one of my highlights of 2019.
Adding to the April excitement Australian Fed Cup duo of Ash Barty and Sam Stosur did us proud. The Barty Party rolled on as the pair booked a place in the Fed Cup Final in November. The first time in 33 years.
A resurgent Parramatta Eels returned to their spiritual home for the first time in 38 years for the opening of the BankWest Stadium. It proved a happy hunting ground for the team in 2019.
Early Easter celebrations for Stanthorpe Junior golfer Andrew Burgess. Burgess had an excellent round in the Easter Saturday event and got the chocolates.
The alarm bells began ringing at Red Hill after the Broncos slumped to their worst start in a season since 1999. It was a sign of what was ahead.
April was tinged with personal sadness after the death of close friend and mentor and cricket legend Lew Cooper. He was farewelled in fine style by a classy call up to the team. Queensland cricket will never be the same.
Warwick hosted the hugely successful Polocrosse World Cup. The victorious Australian team did the green and gold proud. Congratulations to the organisers who did such a magnificent job.
Jockey Hugh Bowman stood himself down from rides announcing he was mentally exhausted and would be taking an indefinite and extended break from racing.
Bowman did not however shirk a commitment to friends at Julia Creek who suffered during the flood disaster earlier in the year.
He joined radio personality Alan Jones and “Queenslander” Billy Moore as special guests at a Charity Flood Relief luncheon at Julia Creek along with 240 farmers and their families who had been to hell and back.
Australia’s fastest athletes on two wheels raced into the Southern Downs for the 2019 Motul Pirelli Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) at Morgan Park.
Scott Constable withstood all challenges to claim the title of Club Champion at the Stanthorpe Golf Club.
The ICC World Cup kicked off and Australia had a positive start to the tournament.
Many were left wondering whether the golden girl of World Rugby Sevens Charlotte Caslick was Maroon’s coach Kevvie Walter’s elusive TBA selection when she was drafted into the oppose session between the Ipswich Jets and Maroons early in the week.
Caslick, no stranger to rugby league had a run in an oppose session for the Maroons at Davies Park prior to game one.
Good things happened in June. The Maroons scored an upset come from behind win in State of Origin. There was another Raffa master class at Roland Garros but the big news was Ash Barty’s first Grand Slam victory becoming only the fourth Australian woman to win the French Open title.
A first class performance from a young lady who showed that not only has she arrived as a world class player but that she is full of class.
Wattles had their revenge over Valleys in the Madsen Rasmussen Trophy – winners at last.
The window of opportunity for NRL mid season trading was drawing to a close. The merry go round had everyone giddy as players jumped ship or were shipped out by June 30.
I’m Invincible out of WINX – – but only after a lot of research. After much analysis and expert advice domestically and internationally the sire was deemed a match made in heaven for the champion mare Winx was announced. I’m suggesting the offspring should be called – Big Shoes to Fill.
Channel surfing was in full swing in our household. Wimbledon, the Cricket World Cup and the Southern Stars 2019 Ashes Series.
The news was not good for Maroons supporters as those pesky Cockroaches got us again.
Most NRL tipsters; definitely this one were in free fall midway through the season as upsets became the norm.
There was a great post script to the 2019 Confraternity Shield for Mick Mahoney manager of the 2019 Assumption College side.
Mahoney was named as Manager of the Honorary QISSRL Rugby League team.
Following the success of the Polocrosse World Cup, Polo arrived on our doorstep. The Downs Polo Club hosted three successive tournaments at the Clifton Recreation Grounds.
It was not the Barty Party we hoped for at Wimbledon but the baton in Ladies Tennis looks to have been passed to the next generation of players.
The men’s final was a classic as Novak Djokovic defended his title and defeated everyone favourite Roger Federer in an extraordinary game.
Australia exited the ICC World Cup. There has possibly never been a more absorbing cricket game than the final between the Poms and Kiwis. It was riveting stuff; decided by a rule many of us had no idea existed. Advantage Poms. Cricket was the winner outright.
The Southern Stars flexed their cricket prowess putting England to the sword in the Ashes.
The Titans flicked yet another Coach.
The Aussie Cricket revenge began. Thanks in the main to Steve Smith and Nathan Lyon the Barmy Army are were busy trying to swallow the sandpaper they were so quick to flash about at the beginning of the Ashes series. The Pommie press quickly jumping ship declaring Steve Smith the “Best since Bradman”.
The Ashes back in Aussie hands. A budding superstar unearthed in unlikely circumstances. Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith’s concussion replacement would soon be a name on very cricket fans lips.
Stanthorpe Rugby League celebrated 100 Years naming the Team of the Century at a function at the Stanthorpe Civic Centre.
In the race for the TRL Premiership it was the Cowboys who were first to the Grand final.
The battle between Valleys and Wattles going the way of the defending premiers Valleys – an upset in many eyes.
The Ashes series proved to be riveting – where are the naysayers who said Test Cricket was dead. Fascinating contests in England meant little sleep was had but the Ashes were heading back down under.
A big contingent of Warwick Cowboys fans flocked to Clive Berghofer Stadium for the TRL Grand final and at half time they had plenty to cheer about. Unfortunately the GF was a game of two different halves and Valleys had the better run to the line winning 24-16. They (Cowboys) vowed to be back in 2020.
The Stanthorpe Gremlins celebrated the Under 17 Girls League Tag grand final win over a formidable Goondiwindi side. The win capped off a stellar season for the girls who earlier won the President’s Cup.
The AFL Brownlow was won by Freemantle’s inspirational captain Nat Fyfe; a clear cut and popular winner of the Award.
Ricky Stuart’s men played their way into the NRL grand final and despite having plenty of support could not match the professional Roosters side. Cooper Cronk exited the NRL stage with yet another premiership ring. A fairytale they said. Fairytale it may have been but there were a couple of Cinderella’s ugly sisters masquerading as referees who almost spoilt the party for everyone.
October the racing season gallops into full swing locally and further afield.
Warwick hosted their Cup meeting under threatening skies but there were nothing but smiles from connections when Rosie Posie saluted in the Cup. Another successful Warwick Cup day and another country cup for Max Kropp.
The Stanthorpe course was presented in perfect order for the big crowd attending the Stanthorpe Cup meeting the following weekend. As they revelled in the upgraded facilities at Armstrong Park Matt Kropp’s love affair with country racing continued. Top weight Splitz streeted the field in the K & A Building Stanthorpe Cup. The following week Ritchford saluted in the Clifton Cup.
In the lead up to the Melbourne Spring Carnival a documentary on the slaughter of ex racehorse aired on TV. The vision deplorable; the fallout considerable and ongoing despite some questionable aspects of the show.
Japanese galloper showed the field a clean set of heels in the Caulfield Cup and in the Everest it was Glen Boss, Chris Waller and YES YES YES.
No joy for Wallabies fans who were hopping mad after the team’s dismal performance in the World Cup. Exit stage right Coach Michael Cheika as Rugby Australia dealt with the fallout and the impending Israel Folau court case.
In Stanthorpe Brendan Barker proved nothing beats local knowledge when he won the Stanthorpe Open Golf Championships. David Reeves another local successful in the A Grade championship.
We donned our finest and set about finding the winner of the 2019 Melbourne Cup. Among a field of internationals it was an Australian bred horse owned by a bunch of knock about racing tragics, including a school teacher from Warwick who proved once again racing is the greatest of all levellers. Gympie may still be celebrating the win of Vow and Declare.
The 2019/20 cricket season got underway in Stanthorpe and Warwick. Stanthorpe premiers Valleys started well but Maryvale Condamine were a little slower out of the blocks to find their winning form.
Ash Barty continued her stellar year. She finished the year with a Number One ranking, winning the WTA finals in Shenzen and collecting a massive pay cheque along the way. And all she wanted was to get home to family and relax and have a beer – Any wonder Australians love this girl.
The Rugby World Cup was hoisted by South African captain, Siya Kolisi. The first South African black man to captain the team.
The winners of the previous 12 Stanthorpe Monthly Medals lined up to play in the Medal of Medallist round. Taking the honours in a hot field it was the February Medal winner Michael Thompson. In a tight go, Nikki Waterworth was awarded the honour of Ladies Medal of Medallist winner.
Santa was preparing for his visit but handed the Aussies an early present when they wrapped a series against Pakistan
It was not the start to the Rep cricket season that the Warwick Davis Shield side was hoping for as they attempt to defend the 2018/19 Davis Shield title.
The Women’s T20 BBL final wrapped up at AB Oval in Brisbane and was a feast of great cricket. This cricket tragic is a convert to the Women’s game and well played Brisbane Heat who defended their title.
Hard work and hours following the black line in a swimming pool could be set to pay dividends for Stanthorpe swimmer Ben Armbruster.
The 17 year old2019 performances have qualified him for the Olympic trials in Adelaide in 2010. Armbruster who has a heavy training schedule is looking forward to many more hours following that black line if it leads to a berth on the Olympic squad come July 2020.
With the count down on to the big mans visit on December 25 a group of young Southern Downs cricketers were making their mark representing the Darling Downs in various cricket rep sides. The lads all played well and will be better for the experience. The future of cricket on the Southern Downs looks to be in safe hands.
The Stanthorpe Boxing Day Golf Classic has been reported as another outstanding day well supported by past and present Stanthorpe Gremlins and a host of regular golfers.
Warwick patrons flocked to Allman Park for the Boxing Day beach party and some even found some winners.
The Aussie cricket side put the icing on the Christmas cake, the crackle on the Christmas pork and the gobble in the turkey when they smashed the Kiwis off the park in the Boxing Day Test and went on to a three nil series win.
The Aussie cricketers are BACK and so the sporting world is back on track.
Bring on 2020. Let’s hope things improve dramatically across the board and quickly.
We will bring you up to date with all that is happening in and around the district in the next edition of spin.
Happy New year all.