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By Jeremy Sollars

As we put the finishing touches on Spin this week, I have one foot and a new hip half way out the door on my way to the Gabba for the opening game of the Ashes tour. Previously, you would have an eye on the sky trying to read the weather patterns. Now even I can operate the weather app on my phone and have my fingers crossed that there are only minimal interruptions to play if any.
For Aussie cricket fans, it has been a week of revelations following the announcement of the side for Game 1.
While it is unfortunate that we won’t be seeing Matt Renshaw at the crease, his replacement Cameron Bancroft literally has the runs on the board.
I can’t think of a recent selection that has caused as much controversy as the inclusion of Tim Paine and Shaun Marsh. Paine has been for years widely regarded as the best in the country with the gloves and gets a left field call up after struggling with hand injuries for several years. I doubt he will let the side down.
Obviously, the selectors see something in Shaun Marsh that many of us are missing. Personally, I think he is fortunate to be there, but that’s probably why I’m spectator and not a selector. This must be make or break for the Marsh who has made more comebacks than Dame Nellie Melba.
The likely Australian game breakers at the Gabba, I feel, could be Usman Khawaja and Peter Handscomb, and on the bowling front it is hard to go past Mitchell Starc and, of course, Nathan Lyon. It would be foolish to underestimate the value of Josh Hazlewood who has shown a previous liking for conditions at the Gabba.
Don’t doubt that the Poms will be up for the challenge with or without Ben Stokes. There are some top class wielders of the willow in this side if they get going.
Ashes series always bring out the best in both sides, there is just so much history involved and every series adds another layer. 2017/2018 will be no exception.
So as the batsman takes mark and the umpire calls bowl – the fun will begin and there will be another chapter in the making.
My new spare parts and I are hoping we can successfully navigate the grandstand stairs by the end of play and don’t become an unintentional part of this latest chapter.
– Casey

CLARKIE – GONE BUT UNLIKELY TO BE FORGOTTEN
Many on the Granite Belt and Southern Downs were shocked and saddened to learn early last week of the unexpected death of Graham Clark or Clarkie as he was better known.
If you didn’t know Clarkie personally, but are a regular reader of Spin you would have seen and read of his exploits at Sporters golf in Stanthorpe. He was a stalwart of the club for years, and it is only several months ago that he pulled up his tee and retired his clubs.
To say Clarkie was a character is the greatest of understatements. He and his sexy black Volkswagen breezed into Stanthorpe from his home town Murwillumbah in the late 60s and never left. I fondly recall trips to the football in Tenterfield in that black VW with Clarkie.
I wonder how many realise that golf loving Clarkie served as secretary of the Stanthorpe Rugby League back when the earth was flat and there was the odd dinosaur roaming the streets.
There would not be one acquaintance that wouldn’t have at least one or more Clarkie tales – most of which would definitely not make the cut in this column for censorship reasons.
Clarkie was certainly not an advocate for political correctness and like the rest of us had his fair share of foibles. He will however be remembered as a bloke with a big heart, fair and helpful in business and a larrikin on and off his beloved golf course.
His wife Shirley is herself not in the best of health, and the O’Connor family extend our sincerest condolences to both her and her daughter Fiona, son-in-law Damian and their children.
A memorial gathering will be held on Sunday at the Stanthorpe Golf Club from noon where family friends, Sporters and Clarkie’s many customers will have the opportunity to share some of those untold stories.
I have no doubt that Clarkie rocked up to the pearly gates last week with his favourite golf club in one hand and a glass in the other asking for directions to the nearest fairway and bar.
R.I.P. Mate

MEDALLISTS BEAT CONDITIONS AND ALL COMERS
Winners of the Month Medal competitions over the past 12 months played off last for the Medal of Medallists. Hayden Smith played another consistent round to claim the win and added his name to the Roy Carnell trophy sponsored by the Carnell family. Smith who won the July monthly medal finished the front nine in Saturday’s competition with a score of 39 and had an inward nine of 40 to wrap up the win. It was a very good score when you consider the entire back nine was played in continual rain.
In The ladies’ Medallist of the year, it was Madeline Jarman who handled the conditions best to finish with nett 81.
Not only did Jarman have to contend with the rain she also had to last out a countback when fellow qualifier, Nikki Waterworth, also returned a nett score of 81. Madeline, by the closest of margins, collected the honours and the trophy sponsored by Tom and Tric Fittock.
Competition for the day was also the first monthly medal of the new season players vying for the Poole’s Produce trophy sponsored by Howard and Adele Poole.
Hayden Smith has started the new season on a winning note ensuring he will be in the firing line in another 12 months.
Runner up to Smith was Charles Seeto with nett 69. Jennifer Spark won the Ladies division with a nett score of 76 for the round. Both winners, Hayden and Jennifer, returned best gross scores on the day as well as least number of putts for the round.
Pin shots at three and 17 went to Charles Seeto. Max Hunter held the pin at 12. Pro-pins went to John Spiller at 1/10, Angelo Maugeri at 5/14 and Darryl Boekholt at 9/18.
Neta Thouard had the best approach at17 for the ladies.
It was a day of finals on Saturday with the final of the Captain’s match also decided. It was young gun Billy Webb taking on the more experienced Mark McCosker in the final match of the event. After a very close match, it was Billy Webb who took a narrow 2/1 win over McCosker.
There are only two major winners on the Stanthorpe Golf Club calendar that are yet to be announced and they are the Men’s and Ladies’ “Golfer of the Year”. The winners will be announced at the club’s Christmas party which will be held following play on Saturday.
Those eligible for consideration are the players who have played regularly through the year and scored consistently according to their playing handicap. The men’s Player of the Year is sponsored by the Apple & Grape Motel and the ladies’ by Gracious Giving.
The event this Saturday is the Delaney Family 4BBB medley Stableford. It is a shot gun start at 11.45am with registration closing at 11.30 am.
For catering purposes, organisers remind those planning to attend the Christmas party to add your name to the list on the noticeboard at the clubhouse.

GREENS IN TOP ORDER
The greens at the Stanthorpe Croquet Club are looking sensational following the work that was done on them recently and of course the more recent rain. It was a group of enthusiastic association croquet players who stepped out onto very green greens last week. Pat Schnoor was called on again to coach newcomer player Bron Southgate around the court.
Jenny and Peter Tunbridge scored 16 hoops, to win their game against Joy Newman (12). Play was a little slow, as Peter a relatively new player, was ably guided around the court by his experienced wife Jenny. Grace Howard partnered Sharyn Roser to score 17-16 win over Andrea Denkewitz. Grace in great touch, Sharyn not so much, but they combined nicely to claim a narrow win.
The keen golf croquet group played last Wednesday. In the first round, Justin Liddy (8) and Sharyn Roser (5) beat opponents Val Fancourt (4) and Elaine Brown (2). Liddy played some outstanding shots scoring hoops from long distances and at acute angles.
Shirley Page (8) and Di Wren (2) outlasted Marian Castle (6) and Bev Sullivan (3) in a very tight game to claim a victory.
Judy Lock took Val Fancourt’s place after the morning tea break to even up the numbers and partnered Marion Castle in a game against Elaine Brown and Justin Liddy. Brown (10) and Liddy (3) scored a comfortable 13-5 win. Di Wren scored some very fancy hoops in her second game of the day. Her partner Bev Sullivan also had some well-aimed long shots for a total team score of 13. They too had a convincing win over their opponents Shirley Page (6) and Sharyn Roser (3).
Another small group of players took to the court on Thursday in the newest format played in Stanthorpe, ricochet croquet. As is to be expected with a newly introduced game, there were a few queries regarding the rules in the unfamiliar situations. Players are learning on the fly but seem to enjoying the challenges of the new format. New faces are always welcome to join players in any of the formats.
WARWICK FIXTURES ABANDONED
The weather gods played havoc with many sporting events across the Southern Downs last weekend. In the Warwick cricket competition, all teams shared points as there was not one game where a result was achieved due to the weather conditions.
In the game scheduled for Slade Park on Saturday between Wheatvale and Sovereign Animals, Sovereign scored 6/93 off 20 overs before play was halted. Tim Drennert had top scored with 22 while S. Jones had bowling figures of 2/6 from only four overs.
Maryvale’s Mitch Drayton was 44 not out when rain interrupted the game and Rascals Jake Christensen had picked up 3/97 from seven overs. Players, officials and organisers will be hoping for a brighter outlook this weekend.
ROSER CLAIMS A WIN
On a morning where Sporters were equally as keen to beat the rain as they were the scoreboard, it was Terry Roser who did best claiming another Sunday morning win. Tony Steele was next best, claiming the runners-up spot while the run downs went to Rod Pettiford and Dick Hilton.
Paul Armstrong also had a good round finishing with the Best Gross. He also took the pin shot on the third hole and the pro pin. Terry Roser topped off the day by winning a meat tray. Dick Hilton didn’t leave empty handed leaving with the other meat tray.
All members of the Sporter Golf Club were saddened to hear of the passing of long term member Clarky and attend their sincere condolences to the Clark. (R.I.P Clarkie.)
If you do not already have December 10 in your little black book as the Sporters Christmas party then it is time to do so. It is sure to be another fun filled day and if you are planning to attend please advise organisers by December 3.
All members of Sporters Golf offer our sincere condolences to the Clark family on the passing of Clarky, a long term member of our Club. R.I.P Clarky.
WATTLE BE WILL BE
The Wattles Rodeo was another event to fall foul of the weather. A great deal of planning and preparation by the previous and new Wattles committees had gone into the event, but of course there is little you can do if the weather gods are against you despite an army of volunteers being ‘shovel ready’ last weekend, according to club president Glyn Rees,
Rees commended rodeo organisers Scott and Chantelle Keogh for their extraordinary hard work in setting up the Rodeo and in particular the very novel ‘Rodeo Clinic’ for youngsters. Despite the conditions, it proved very successful with 60 kids participating in a variety of activities highlighting the popularity of the sport. There were a group of highly credentialed rodeo riders who assisted, providing tuition in the clinic and Rees was full of praise for their efforts.
The Junior Rugby league clinic organised by A Grade Coach Travis Burns also proved popular with youngsters despite being forced indoors due to the wet weather.
Burns and many of the current A Grade players passed on their skills and knowledge to the large group of young footy enthusiasts. Special guest at the event was former New Zealand International and former Eagles team mate of the coach Steve Matai. Matai and his family drove from Pottsville especially to assist with the clinic and proved a hit with the kids.
After much discussion and a great deal on weather watching, the decision to cancel the rodeo was made, however organisers were thrilled so many people stayed on in the clubhouse and enjoyed the evening.
The Wattles committee had earmarked this event as their major fund-raiser for the upcoming 2018 season and while it was in some ways a disappointing result, financially a fuel raffle arranged by Travis, Kristal and Mandy Burns in conjunction with Black Toyota provided a welcome spike in the financial outcome.
President Glyn Rees thanks all those who had assisted and there were plenty none more so than past president Neil Phelan who did a lot of work towards the event with the past committee and also provided his own cattle for the event.
The committee will consider a rerun of the Wattles Rodeo over the coming months, and promise to keep everyone informed…..It will be a case of “Watch This Space!”

VALLEYS PICK UP FRIDAY NIGHT WIN
The Stanthorpe cricket fixtures last weekend were just another sporting event to be disrupted by the weather. Saturday’s games were cancelled, however, Valleys and Wanderers were able to get in a catch up game on Friday night under lights at the CF White Oval.
After continuous drizzle for most of the week and some heavy showers, players faced a sticky surface that was always going to be tricky. Valleys gambled on the state of the wicket and sent their opponents in after winning the toss. It proved to be a good move with runs proving hard to come by early on. However, as the game progressed the ball got wet and muddy and lost a lot of its early venom.
The highlight of the Wanderers innings was the return of Andrew Einam who with some uncharacteristic big hitting notched up 51 runs.
Wanderers captain Mitch Drayton once again proved a lynch pin for the side scoring 20 runs. Wanderers finished with a creditable 8/122 – in trying conditions. Bowling honours were shared by Steve Martin and Damian Anderson both snaring a pair.
It was not all smooth sailing for Valleys and there were some jitters throughout the innings when their run chase looked a little vulnerable. Reliable batsman Alistair Middleton held the innings together, scoring 60 not out while Anthony Marino added a handy 27 runs when they were needed. In the end, Valleys chased down the target in 23 overs losing only four wickets on their way to what turned out to be a comfortable win.
HOW THE TEAMS ARE TRAVELLING IN STANTHORPE
Midway through the Stanthorpe season, Souths are looking like the team to beat. After a couple of seasons of solid rebuilding, Souths now have a good balance of youth and experience. Star of the Souths show is undoubtedly Jordan Lanza. Lanza poses a threat to all sides with both bat and ball in hand. This is no one man band however. The youngest of the Lanza brothers, Liam was the leading wicket taker last season and has improved with the bat. Another youngster to shine with the ball and gaining a reputation as a game breaker is Harry Williams. Although he is regularly mentioned for his efforts with the ball he is another who is handy with the bat. The side is capably led by Captain Ben Staley whose always somewhere near the top of the table as a run scorer. Paul Carriage is another who has been a noticeable run scorer at the top of the order.
RSL is fortunate to have at the core of their side the experience of the Dowie brothers, Luke Brady and Duane Lihou. Added to that line-up are several younger players who are quickly coming of age this season. Josh Wren is one such player and now opens the bowling for his side. Jason Lawer and Greg Mackenzie when they are available also add strength and experience to the side. As some of the younger players in the side gain more experience through the season, expect to see RSL’s name there when it counts at the pointy end of the season.
Valleys have a very strong bowling line-up headed by Damian Anderson and Steve Martin. Sandro Steffanon, Kirby Morunga, Anthony and David Marino ensure that opponents rarely get a reprieve when batting against this side. The majority of the side can hold their own with the bat but with top order bats Alastair Middleton and Curtis Allen someone needs to step up and fill the void. The batting skills of this pair are sorely missed.
Tenterfield have been a fixture in the Stanthorpe competition for several years now, and in that time have shown a good deal of improvement. Once considered the competition easy beats, they have progresses to a side that can beat anyone on any given day if they look a little brittle.
Wanderers are a side that will need all the stars to align to threaten this season. New captain Mitch Drayton has be very consistent so far this season. There are a couple of youngsters who will in time develop into match winning players. Waylen Aldridge and Brock Patti spring to mind. The return of Andrew Einam for last week’s game added some much-needed starch to both the batting and bowling line-up. Wanderers desperately need a few of their former game breakers to pick up the bat and ball and give the younger generation a hand.

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