WHEN Greg Goss started playing cricket, his batting stance resembled that of a new-born giraffe.

His left-handed grip didn’t match his right-handed stance.

Luckily his first captain, a similarly aged youngster by the name of Steve McNamara at St Laurence’s, gave him some timely advice.

The problem was solved, and both went on to lengthy and distinguished cricket careers that saw their paths cross often.

Throw Peter Miller into the mix and it’s not surprising that all three found themselves in formal company at the MCG recently.

On an auspicious day that saw Scott Boland devastate the Poms, all three were awarded 50-year cricket recognition awards by Cricket Victoria.

Many years after that first school cricket episode, Gossy was at Town CC and McNamara at OMK.

They spent every ball of the day’s play (75 overs) in close, measured verbal combat. Gossy as the typical staunch wicket keeper and McNamara as the opening batsman that faced both the first and last balls of the day’s play. McNamara won that battle – 155 not out.

Greg Goss remembers the malthoid wickets, the friendships with Stuart and Gary Young and many others, and his (Greg’s) dad playing with the fire brigade.

He remembers the raffles run in the name of the fire brigade but destined to benefit a cricket club. He remembers his Town CC life membership in ‘98 and his wife Jenny’s identical award the following year.

He’s a one club player, 44 years at Town, only a three-year dalliance with Foster when he went there to work as a 16-year-old junior on the railways. We all remember the rules of cricket exam (about 1981) when Gossy scored 98.5 per cent. This guaranteed his transition to umpiring many years later. Greg Goss was nominated by Geoff ‘Spic’ Wyatt and the LDCA Umpires panel.

None of the three were aware of the others’ nominations. And with masks at the 7am breakfast appointment in the Members Pavilion, the surprise of familiar faces added to the occasion.

Peter Miller and Greg Goss went to Leongatha Tech together. At one stage they drove buses for the same employer. They played representative cricket together. They both now play over 60s cricket for the South Gippsland Kookaburras.

Peter started with Poowong, and later Ranceby (the club) in the Ranceby Association. He went on to bigger and better things at OMK. Forty years later he has 16 flags and 600 games under his belt. Rest assured, it’s all documented, which makes occasions like this easy to write.

Many of those games were played alongside lifetime friend Steve McNamara. Together they blunted many opening attacks. Peter remembers the ‘93 LDCA grand final. Started okay, copped a bouncer, broke a jaw, spent a night in hospital, followed by a return to the game… and a flag.

At 63, Peter has taken on two not insignificant challenges. The first is trying out for the Australian over 60s team. He’s in the squad, but COVID may well interrupt any plans for games against visiting countries. The other challenge is a return to his home ground. His appointment at Poowong Loch sees him playing and coaching every Saturday. He leaves no stone unturned when he’s calling the shots. Poowong Loch CC nominated Peter for the award.

Immediately preceding Steve McNamara at the awards ceremony was Brendon McArdle.

Brendon has introduced more than 1000 Australian cricketers to English clubs, amongst them Hodge, Warne, O’Donnell and Reiffel. How does that compare to Steve’s 24 years as OMK coach, 32 years on the OMK committee, 18 years as treasurer, and having the club best and fairest medal named in his honour?

Steve mentioned the common thread amongst all 30 recipients at Tuesday’s ceremony was their love of the game and the friendships created by playing cricket.

Steve paid tribute to his wife Trudi and his three daughters who constantly found themselves at cricket matches and cricket wind-ups throughout his all-consuming cricket career.

He’s come a long way since starting as a nine-year-old in an Under 16s Leongatha Town team. He remembers not getting a bat for his first three seasons… that’s a long way from the MCG Members Pavilion, in a suit, on day three of the Boxing Day Test. Well done to all three… and their wives.