CRICKET: While incumbent host of the Clarence River Cricket Association presentation night Tim Kinnane was on an overseas holiday, Tucabia Copmanhurst president Derek Woods stepped up to the plate.
And the curly haired, larrikin wicket-keeper was on form for the night, giving organisers good reason to ask him back next year.
Woods did a great job keeping the audience of 100 entertained throughout the night, but it was NSW first class cricketer and CRCA special guest Jay Lenton who truly stole the show.
Lenton delivered a passionate speech in the middle of the festivities about the work off the field and behind closed doors being most important, then took questions from both host Woods and the floor.
For Lenton it was not his first time in the Clarence Valley after he attended July races last year, but it will also not be the last.
"I love it up here in the Clarence Valley," he said.
"It is a great community, a great people and has a really great vibe about it.
"The local cricket association are excellent here. I was only just commenting on the dinner and some of the prizes that were had on the night. They put a lot in to make it a great presentation.
"There are some quality young cricketers up here and the competition looks like it is in great stead."
Lenton, who grew up on the NSW central coast at Toukley, said his journey to a first-class debut was long and not too different from what a country cricketer might experience.
"I think one of the biggest things I can say with coming from Toukley is be patient," he said.
"Don't worry about what the Sydney kids are doing in the 16s.
"I went through the stage of being 16 and not being picked in a NSW side, being 18 and again not being picked in a state side.
"It was not until I was about 19 and I thought I could go down and give it a crack and I am 25 now and only just made my first-class debut.
"In hindsight it is just all about being patient and knowing when to go down, knowing when to move and knowing where your opportunities are."
About two years ago Lenton was let go from a rookie contract with the Blues and returned to grade cricket.
After a stellar season with the gloves for Manly Warringah, Lenton earnt a call-up to the NSW first- class side.
"I personally believe it is never too late to have a go," he said.
"If you want to head down there and have a crack in Sydney cricket and get picked on merit then you should do it.
"I will try and get up here for the July Carnival event this year. I know it is a big event on the calendar up here and I definitely want to experience it again."