Two Grafton United Cricket Club stalwarts are retiring from premier cricket tomorrow and they can go feeling satisfied after helping their side to a Tom Hellaby Minor Championship title with a weekend to spare.
Dilan Peris and Alan Burton have played 11 and six seasons for the club respectively with Burton starting his tenure in 2007 and doing the odd stint back in the UK.
Both had a vision three or four seasons ago to build a team capable of winning promotion for their beloved Grafton premier side and after securing a first innings victory last weekend against Birkenhead they have realised their dream.
“Yeah that was the plan four years ago, we started to change and push for a title and get Grafton back in the top half, we’ve done that now, so pretty happy,” says Burton.
“We started with a young side, school kids, and we have the same team now. It’s good to see these guys grow up and take the next step,” says Peris.
The timing couldn’t be better for Peris, who hangs up the bowling boots with his wife expecting a baby girl at the end of April.
When asked what Peris’ future Saturdays hold, his mate Burton is quick to interject, quipping “changing nappies!”
However, Burton is looking to prioritise family and work following his departure also.
“Bit more time with the Mrs, more time relaxing, probably have to do a few more chores too,” he says.
“But the immediate future is about focusing on work, get my head down a bit and figure out where to buy a house in Auckland!”
“I’m getting married in December, so kids won’t be too far away I’m sure…”
So, while it appears both men may be trading their whites for wipes and bats for baby rattles their service to Grafton cannot be questioned, coach Ian West heaping praise on the pair.
“They have put in huge time and effort into the club and have managed to send us off on a winning note,” says West.
“The experience that they bring, that’s the biggest thing we will miss. In tough situations this season they have been able to stand up. Some games have got pretty tight and having guys that have been there and done it year in year out has been the real key.”
West was also quick to note both men were selfless team players but says tomorrow’s match may be more about them.
“Both would be much happier with the team going out on a high note and couldn’t care less about individual performances. We’ve tried to stay as professional as possible and focus on the team but now we’ve won the title maybe it will be a bit more of a celebration of those guys [on Saturday].”
West, by the admission of Peris and Burton has been the glue Grafton needed to get them over the line this season, both men lauding the work of their coach.
“He’s a good guy, we’ve missed him in the past because I can be pretty abrasive at times and can be hard on the boys, so ‘Westy’ is good at mellowing me out and keeping the boys together,” says Burton.
“Most of the boys would agree, he’s a coach first but actually a really good mate too. If you have any issues you go to him and can talk about it openly and honestly,” says Peris.
So, while life takes on a few new and exciting challenges for these two Grafton legends, they still have one more day of cricket to attend to.
However, with the Tom Hellaby trophy already in the cabinet, you get the feeling they may have one eye on Saturday’s celebrations, and after years of loyal service who could deny them that.
Grafton complete day two of their match against Birkenhead at Victoria Park this Saturday, first ball at 11am.