TOPICS: Don’t let old age bowl you over

GROWING up isn’t easy, and most of us have to step up. 

Childbirth, for instance, is reportedly a tough gig. 

But it can’t be much harder than giving up cricket.

You swear you’ll play forever, then your weekends are devoured by work, kids and trips to Ikea.

Life gets in the way, and that’s understood by a group of mates who’ll play 25 overs a side today, weather permitting, at New Lambton’s Regent Park.  It’s the 25th year they’ve done it.

‘‘There have been a few blokes retire through old age, injury, family and what-not,’’ founding member Aaron Lentfer said.

 ‘‘But there’s a core group of 15 guys who have played most of the games.’’

The tradition was born during a session at the Duke of Wellington Hotel. 

Two teams are involved: the Chrons XI (short for ‘‘Chronics’’) and Asim’s XI (after some long-forgotten Pakistan player).

The teams began, says Aaron, as a squad of ‘‘young guys’’ aged 17 to 20, and a line-up of ‘‘older blokes’’ (23 to 26). Everyone’s a lot older now. 

Three of the originals have passed away, and the remaining players hold a minute’s silence before each match.

Each year is a reminder that they’re getting slower, and that some things never stop being fun.

Like hitting your mate back over his head, or blocking the ball straight to him and taking off for a run. 

Eeyore still a  beloved character at the show

DONKEYS – just clumsy horses, right? 

Wrong, according to the donkey-lovers who compete at the Maitland Show, year after year.

Donkey class co-ordinator Christine Berry says her favourite animal is a hit with the kids.

‘‘Children are drawn to donkeys, they just love them.’’

Topics suspects the casting of Eddie Murphy as Donkey in Shrek might have something to do with that, but they are compelling creatures. 

Black Caviar couldn’t get you down the Grand Canyon. And it’s not Simpson and his llama, is it?

Mrs Berry says the Hunter and donkeys are a good match.

‘‘The Hunter is a marvellous environment for donkeys with its climate,’’ she tells us.

‘‘Donkeys don’t need the richness [in the grass] that a cow would need.’’

Evidence reveals network of control

OUR interest was piqued last week when Bryce Gaudry, the former state member for Newcastle, showed up at the ICAC in Sydney. He was there as an observer.

The ICAC is investigating whether former Labor minister Ian Macdonald corrupted the tender process in the Bylong Valley, and how that might have profited party powerbroker Eddie Obeid.

Mr Gaudry was a member of the Labor left. Obeid was an influential cog of the right. Hello, we thought. Is there some history there?

Mr Gaudry agreed to answer our loaded question. We

 agreed to run his response unabridged.

‘‘[Topics], like you and the majority of people in NSW I am appalled by the allegations of corruption revealed in the current ICAC hearings.

‘‘As a former member of the Parliamentary Committee overseeing the ICAC, I have always followed its hearings with interest.

‘‘The ICAC is a great vehicle for laying out the trail of potential corrupt behaviour and hopefully will enable the prosecution of those responsible for it.

‘‘If the corruption allegations are proven in a criminal court, those involved should be jailed and their illegally gotten assets returned to the people of NSW.’’

Mr Gaudry said the evidence  helped reveal the control exerted  by Eddie Obeid

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