HAMILTON-Wickham captain Kirk Mullard knows Mayfield Colts founder Ron Arendts would be smiling down at the progression of Rhys Hanlon, Ben Balcomb and Callum Single.
All three have become first-grade regulars this season and are helping to underpin the success of the competition leaders.
Arendts, who died in March at the age of 71, was instrumental in the creation of junior club Mayfield Colts in 1964.
In 2010-11, Colts aligned with Hamwicks after they were identified as one of six Newcastle district sides at risk of expulsion due to dwindling player numbers in the lower grades.
Hanlon, 17, Balcomb, 16, and Single, 18, are the first products of that union to make the top grade.
‘‘They were very close to his heart, as was every single junior,’’ Mullard said of Arendts.
‘‘He used to come to games and tell me he had these kids coming through who’d be right to go.
‘‘Unfortunately, Ronnie passed away earlier this year and it’s sad he wasn’t here to watch the three guys play first grade.’’
All three have played important roles in Hamwicks’ undefeated start to the season and qualification for the quarter-finals of the SCG Country Cup.
Balcomb’s wicketkeeping has been safe, Hanlon has shown glimpses of talent with the bat in the middle order and last Sunday Single ripped apart Tamworth with a spell of 6-30 off 5.2 overs of medium pace in the Country Cup.
Rival clubs Toronto Workers, Newcastle City, Waratah-Mayfield and Belmont all have young squads and are struggling to win matches.
Mullard has the luxury of easing his trio to the top grade in a winning environment with quality teammates in Andrew Maher, Sam and Matt Webber and Josh Trappel.
‘‘Our club is very lucky to have these blokes coming through,’’ he said.
‘‘Not only the three in first grade at the moment, but there’s a handful throughout second grade and third grade who are definitely future first-grade players.’’
Balcomb, who is a NSW Country under-17s rep, said he had gained a quality education behind the stumps at Hamwicks.
‘‘With how good our team has been going, it’s a lot easier to make that transition,’’ Balcomb said.
‘‘Keeping to Sam [Webber] and Maher has been a good challenge.’’