Park Ridge Panthers Cricket Club made history in March, hosting two grand final matches at home ground Hubner Park.
The B3 side won their grand final match with the C4 side narrowly losing by nine runs.
In both cases wet weather forced the games to be called early.
It was the first time in Panthers’ history that two teams played in grand finals on the same weekend.
Former player and coach Josh Henderson praised the success of the weekend, which was hampered by wet weather.
‘It’s amazing that the club was able to get two fields up and get so many supporters there,’ says Mr. Henderson.
The victory marked the B3’s first premiership together as a senior side, with most of the players being long-term club members who started together as juniors.
Throughout their cricket journey they’ve been coached to multiple premierships by Club President Lewis Mills, coach Josh Henderson and grounds curator Brett Casey.
‘It’s a massive win for the young fellas playing against men,’ explains Mr. Casey.
‘Some of them been playing at Park Ridge for eight or nine years.’
The weather was a factor on the weekend, with rain delays and damp conditions resulting in low scoring games for both teams.
The early cancellation meant that the C4 side were unable to chase a nine-run deficit, narrowly losing the final.
It was an unfortunate outcome for the players, who went undefeated throughout the season in a rare show of dominance.
As the undefeated premiers, taking the wet weather cancellation would have resulted in default victory, but the team pushed for the game to go ahead despite the difficult conditions.
Mr Henderson explains,
‘Both teams wanted to play and I think it’s a testament to those guys that they wanted to get the contest on.’
A Community Club
Community connections were on display throughout the season.
Local legend Daryl Joyce, known as ‘Joycey’ to his mates, is recognized in the subdivision from the Gold Coast to Northside. In his early sixties, he’s been a member for Park Ridge Panthers for seventeen years.
A few weeks before the final, Mr. Joyce suffered a heart attack on the field.
‘I just got a pain in my chest and I asked if I could go get a drink of water, and I got halfway off the field and the pain just got more and more,’ he explains.
In a fashion that might be unsurprising to his friends, Mr. Joyce adds,
‘I wasn’t scared, I was just more disappointed that I couldn’t continue playing cricket.’
Mr. Joyce, who began playing cricket in 1969, was devastated to find out that he would miss the grand final.
During Sunday afternoon celebrations, players presented Mr. Joyce with his shirt, signed and framed by members of the club.
‘There were a few tears running down my cheeks,’ he admits.
‘It meant a lot to me, because it showed that the boys appreciated an old fella still running around playing cricket.’
‘Park Ridge is a real family club,’ explains Mr. Casey. ‘He was lost for words when we presented him that.’
Mr. Joyce attributes the dedication of Club President Lewis Mills to the clubs’ success.
‘Before all these boys came along, Lewis Mills used to do it all, he used to do curating, he used to set the fields, roll the pitches, and captain a side.’
Mr. Mills’ coaching alumni includes test cricketer and umpire Paul Reiffel.
The return of Mr. Henderson to the club also played a vital role in the boys’ development. Park Ridge Panthers welcomed Mr. Henderson back in 2014 after first grade stints for Redland Tigers and a successful first-grade venture in England. While currently coaching elsewhere, he continues to keep close ties with the club.
‘He knows his cricket and he’s a very good coach and a good player,’ says Mr. Joyce.
Mr. Casey reiterates,
‘Josh is a legend. It’s probably a lot of his hard work over the last few years that a lot of these young fellas are at where they are.’
Mr. Joyce is going to stick around the club after his retirement, passing on his expertise. He plans to put his experience to good use by becoming an umpire, a move backed by the subdistrict.