Thornton's legacy of success

As we approach the 150th anniversary of the Queanbeyan Cricket Club, The Queanbeyan Age takes a look back at the incredible history behind the baggy blue cap.

As we approach the 150th anniversary of the Queanbeyan Cricket Club, The Queanbeyan Age takes a look back at the incredible history behind the baggy blue cap.

IN 1985 the Queanbeyan Cricket Club made the huge decision to recruit three very formidable players from the Woden Valley Cricket Club.  In Mark Thornton, John Bull and Daryl Stevenson, Queanbeyan snared three ACT Representative Players in a move that rocked ACT Cricket. 

Thornton was coming back from a snapped Achilles tendon, Bull from a stint with Wests in the Sydney Grade competition and Stevenson felt it was time to try something new and joined his mates at the Bluebags.

All three would become premiership players in their first season.  Bull would go on to be a five-time premiership player and club champion while Stevenson only played the two years before work and family took him to country Victoria. 

It was Thornton however, who set the platform and as captain/coach he inherited a fine side.

The legend Neil Bulger played on for a number of years, Peter Solway, Michael Carruthers and the Frost brothers (Michael and Stephen) were all emerging and subsequently made representative sides.

They were joined by a string of highly committed and talented players, all of whom played their parts in the club’s triple premiership run from 1985-1988.  It was an unheralded period of success for Queanbeyan and Thornton was the unassuming genius behind the formula.

He was an ACT opening batsman who could also produce long spells of accurate and high quality medium fast bowling with a sneaky quick bouncer. 

For the benefit of the team (to fit both Frosts in the side) he dropped down the order but his desire to win and ability to extract the best out of all of those around him were his greatest strengths. 

Everyone liked him; he enjoyed a beer and wanted the players to play hard on the field but to celebrate the successes. 

He gathered around him a number of players who he could rely on when times were tight.  In Geoff Woods, Mark Lynch, Graham Hannaford and Tony Wynd, Thornton knew he could ask them for a specific role and they would deliver. 

Time and again the quartet would get the side over the line with a late partnership or a crucial wicket.     

Thornton finished his time at the club in 1989.  He had delivered three premierships in four seasons and he had continued the great work of Gary Samuels and set the club on the path to more silverware.     

It was a different story for Tuggeranong stalwart Paul Nemes when he was lured to the Bluebags in 2001 to be head coach.  With his playing career behind him, Nemes was an ideal fit for Queanbeyan. 

A former opening swing bowler, he had a great work ethic and was desperate to teach a new young breed of player. And at the Bluebags, he had a very good side. 

Stephen Frost was still a quality player while Adam Heading, Peter Coleborne, Ryan Collier, Simon Fahey and Dean Mansfield were finding their feet in the higher grade.

Michael O’Rourke and Jason Swift meanwhile, were recruited from Sydney and both had wonderful seasons over the next few years.

Two narrow losses in grand finals however were as close as Nemes could get the Bluebags.  Swift and O’Rourke both relocated overseas and the window for success closed for another six hard years.  

Those who are interested or want to offer any information about the Queanbeyan Cricket Club and the past 150 years please feel free to contact the cricket club directly at their website –

www.queanbeyancricket.com

Those who are interested or want to offer any information about the Queanbeyan Cricket Club and the past 150 years please feel free to contact the cricket club directly at their website –

www.queanbeyancricket.com

Next week, The Snick tries to uncover the myth that is the ‘cricket widow’ and take a closer look at the role of the players’ wife or partner.

Next week, The Snick tries to uncover the myth that is the ‘cricket widow’ and take a closer look at the role of the players’ wife or partner.

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