CHAMPIONS: Clarence River are back to defend their over-40 title from last season.
CHAMPIONS: Clarence River are back to defend their over-40 title from last season. Contributed

Veteran rivals share one final tradition before battle

REP CRICKET: After a number of false starts, the Clarence River Cricket Association over-40 side is finally ready to get its quest for a third straight Neil Frame Shield under way against arch rivals Lower Clarence at Yamba tomorrow.

But not before the two sides share a glass of port together to remember past players.

"It is just a tradition we have always shared with the Lower Clarence boys,” Clarence River opener Craig Woods said.

"We commemorate our fallen and have a glass of port for those who aren't with us. There are a few who don't mind going back for seconds.”

While there is a long-standing rivalry between the neighbouring associations, Woods admitted that no player was going out with the intention to play for "sheep stations”.

"We are only over-40s cricket at the end of the day, this is about having a good time and enjoying ourselves,” he said.

"Mind you we are always up for the fight with the Lower boys.”

It has been a tough start to the representative season in the over-40 ranks, with a number of game changes and field changes affecting the interdistrict challenge.

"There has been three changes of teams and four changes of venues for our opening game,” Woods said. "It is frustrating for our blokes. A lot of them have been taking time off work and switching rosters around and it is just a real pain.”

The change in dates means Clarence River will be missing several players, including frontline seamer Phil Nelson, but they may be buoyed by the return of Troy 'Zinga' McLaren.

Lower Clarence will be led by Harwood Premier League fast bowler Mark Valette, who has put together a classy line-up filled with Maclean Bowling Club LCCA first grade players.

"They will definitely be good, there is no worry about that,” Woods said. "Valette is still doing a great job for Harwood in Premier League and he has a lot of blokes at his disposal for this game.”



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