A special family sporting chance
By TONY WHITE
ASK any father and they'll all tell you having the opportunity to play sport alongside their kids is something pretty special.
For South Services third grade cricketing dads, John Frame, Greig Sutherland and Brian Heath, the family experience is one to be savoured and cherished.
Even age disparity and gender haven't hindered the trio's ambitions.
South legend John Frame retired from first grade cricket two seasons ago after a stellar career that netted numerous representative honours and premierships.
The 39-year-old elected to step down in grade however for the opportunity to play alongside his 12-year-old son Jake.
Greig Sutherland, another retired South player who celebrated his 50th birthday last week, took up the game again this season after nine years in retirement, for the chance to play in the same team as one of the Valley's most promising young cricketers, his daughter, 14-year-old Kara.
This season third grade captain Brian Heath, deputy principal at South Grafton High, has had the opportunity to play cricket with his 16-year-old son, Lachlan in the same team.
Lachlan is currently injured with a back problem, but hopes to rejoin his father in the new year.
It's become a real family affair and between them as the Frame's, Sutherland's and Heath's make up more than half the team.
Frame was lucky enough to also play alongside his late father, Neil, playing in the same South first grade side during the 1980s and 90s.
"It's something I will always remember," Frame said. "I really enjoyed playing with the 'old man'. He was pretty good at the game."
Jake Frame's middle name is Neil in honour of his grandfather.
Frame's easy going general persona is a far cry from his on-field demeanour, where his competitive spirit and expertise wielding the willow was legendary.
A double century in a recent game showed he had lost little of his renowned skill.
But down to earth family values, bonding on sporting fields or giving encouragement from the sidelines are paramount in the Frame family ethos.
"While the kids are growing up it's great to have a game with them," Frame said.
"Obviously third grade's not as competitive but it's an outing with the kids and there are some decent blokes there too. It's good fun.
"We're lucky here (Clarence Valley) to have a lot of promising kids. It's nice to try and teach them the rules and the right way to play the game. Hopefully some of that might rub off on them."
Just about the entire Frame family ? wife Robyn, daughters Kayla, 16, Laura, 14, Olivia, 8, and Jake are sporting minded.
Robyn, Kayla and Olivia are keen netballers and Jake also plays rugby league, where he shows well above average talent. Laura is the sporting 'misfit' but talented in other areas.
"Between putting the kids through school and spending plenty of time with them in their sporting endeavours it's a full time job," Frame said.
Jake, who played soccer for six years, made state level in running and North Coast in long jump, also plays touch football and starred in this year's Group One Under-12 Grafton Ghosts premiership winning team coached by Warwick Brown, scoring three tries in the grand final.
"I'd love to play first grade in cricket and rugby league," Jake said. "It's good playing with dad, really good. I like my cricket.
"He doesn't say too much on the field, but he tries to help and support me."
Sutherland never imagined he would have the opportunity to play cricket with his family.
"Having two daughters I never thought I'd have anything to do with the kids in cricket," he said.
"The opportunity to play alongside Kara was the only reason I cranked the old bones up again to have a run."
Sutherland played first grade in Taree and District cricket in Sydney before joining South when the family, wife Mandy, Kara and Jasmin, 26, moved to Grafton 14 year ago.
After five years with South in first and second grade, the all rounder retired.
"Back in the old days I was considered a bit of an all rounder, these days I only make up the numbers," he said modestly.
"I'm no where near in the same class as Framey.
"I'm really enjoying playing again, even more so with Kara. It's just great watching these kids.
"Like the other day Kara and Leah Macdonald opened the bowling for us and had the other team 5-50 after about 12 overs. That's just great.
"It's great from a family aspect, playing with them and watching them develop."
Kara's representative portfolio at indoor and outdoor cricket has stamped her as one of the most promising youngsters in the State, recently returning from the National Under-15 Championships as an integral member of the winning NSW team.
"Seeing the enjoyment she gets out of cricket, going to training camps and the game in general is fabulous," Sutherland said.
"Her goal this season was to make the country team but to make the state team was probably my proudest moment."
Junior cricket is not tarnished with sex discrimination as the male bastion first grade outfits.
Sutherland, a junior cricket organiser, credited local youngsters for their attitude.
"The respect the girls get from other kids is excellent," he said.
"I've talked to a lot of parents from other areas and quiet often the girls get a hard time from the boys but not here (Grafton)."
If Kara's bedroom is any guide to her passions, then cricket ranks highly on the agenda.
"She's got cricket posters all over her walls," Sutherland revealed.
"Michael Clarke, the NSW womens cricket team, Steve Waugh, all that sort of stuff," he said.
"Like all kids she'd love to one day play for Australia, but she's in awe of them at the moment.
"And she also gets a lot of inspiration from the Steve Waugh book. She sticks sayings like 'winners never quit' on the wall to keep her focus."
Typical of most sporting families, Sutherland's wife Mandy also plays a feature role.
"Mandy always goes and watches especially school matches," Sutherland said.
"It's like Sutho's taxi service. She loads up as many as possible and away they go."