It took several seasons, heartbreaking near misses, plenty of high quality beer, a dislocated finger and a postponed Grand Final but, finally, the Goat Army is Victorian cricket premiers.*
In a nailbiting final that swung both ways, SUREFOOTed bowling and STOUT fielding kept opponents No Balls to just three runs off the final nine deliveries to deliver the trophy by a single run.
Having won the preliminary final by the same margin the previous week, the tension was almost unbearable. But, after topping the ladder during the season, victory was only fitting – even if it seemed highly unlikely when they were smashed by the same opponents in the double chance game.
Then, captain Glenn Harrison, the Hargreaves Hill brewer who went on to win the league’s best bowler, was unavailable, as was keeper and the season’s number one batsman Liam Griffiths. Goat brewer Shane Edwards was returning rusty from a lengthy back injury (being worked too hard!) while one last minute ring in turned up in sandals that fell off every time he tried to run. The result was a measly 19 runs scored and a 77 run defeat.
The following week, with a full team in place, and their TAILs held HIGH, they set a steady target of 100 with long-haired Kiwi teacher Seamus Robertson surprising everyone by not only failing to get out on the double score jackpot ball but hitting a maximum.
With three overs to go, the game was in the balance when the opposition struck a ball that was heading for a six. Occasional beer journo James Smith put his hands up for a catch, misjudged the flight and dropped the ball. But, just as he thought he’d put his BIGFOOT in it, the ball rolled onto the stumps for a runout. The Goats were delirious… then Smith realised he’d dislocated his finger: the bottom two knuckles of his little finger now sat on top of the third and he had to leave the pitch.
Unable to bowl the last over, he watched in a nauseous, sweaty panic as a catch off the third last ball helped the team scrape the win. They were due to play the final immediately but, claiming the need to go to hospital, opponents No Balls agreed to a postponement (and the team headed to the car park for a beer).
They say lightning doesn’t strike twice but no one told the Goat Army. FANCYPANTS Harrison hit a maximum off the last ball of the Goat innings, Griffiths HOPPED around behind the wicket and picked up a stumping off one of leg spin bowler Andy Carr’s GALAXY of perfect deliveries.
Yet still it got tense, the gathered ranks of spectators (OK, two girls there under suffering) could hardly bear to look. And, with two overs remaining, it looked almost lost but, with bandaged Smith and captain Harrison STEAMing in, the total was defended and the post-game beer tasted sweeter than ever.
All that was left was to thank the umpire and opponents. And wait for the freedom of the brewery, of course.
* Northcote Indoor Cricket Thursday Evening League, Division 4 (of 4)