Bennett Hotel Centurions win C&S D5's grand final without Brian Lara

WINNERS: The Bennett Hotel Centurions after Saturday's grand final win.
WINNERS: The Bennett Hotel Centurions after Saturday's grand final win.

THE Bennett Hotel Centurions – the lower-grade cricket team that made headlines last year when they signed West Indian great Brian Lara – have won the Newcastle City and Suburban D5’s grand final. Now imagine if they’d had “The Prince” batting at No. 3? The Centurions chased down Waratah Mayfield’s 77 with five wickets in hand on Saturday to claim the major premiership to go along with their minor premiership.

But absent from the score book was one B. Lara, who signed a registration form to play with the Centurions back in November.

Quick thinking from some of the players – who are known for getting celebrities and sports stars to pose for photographs in their team’s cap – combined with Lara’s laid-back and approachable nature led to the Centurions snaring easily the biggest signing in competition history at the Albion Hotel at Wickham. “What time do we play tomorrow?” Lara, 47, asked his new teammates after signing on the dotted line.

Lara – who has nearly 12,000 Test runs to his name, more than 10,000 runs from 299 one-day internationals and a top score of 501 not out in first-class cricket – was in the Hunter at the time for a number of scheduled appearances. 

The paperwork was submitted to the Newcastle C&S Association, complete with an email stating “this is not a hoax” and pictures of Lara signing the contract to prove its authenticity. “Given our teams recent good form, he may find it difficult to force his way into our top 11 players,” the email addressed to the association read. They weren’t wrong. The Centurions were on fire most of the season, dropping only two games. But Lara never padded up, despite a real push from a sports betting agency to make it happen. Oh well, the Centurions have got the silverware and they can always say they didn’t need the help of one of the world’s best batsmen. 

SIGN: West Indian great Brian Lara with members of the Bennett Hotel Centurions.

SIGN: West Indian great Brian Lara with members of the Bennett Hotel Centurions.

OLD RIVALRIES LONG DEAD

TOPICS likes its rugby league, and the more bitter the enemies, the better the clash.

Think Parramatta versus Manly.

Queensland versus New South Wales.

Brisbane versus anyone. 

The NRL might be a national competition but it grew out of the old Sydney suburban competition, where some of the fiercest battles were between the working class heroes of the west against the supposed silvertails of the northern beaches.

Even if Narrabeen had its share of housing commission hardness back in the day.

Fans loved it whenever the Western Suburbs Magpies or the Parramatta Eels were up against the Manly Sea-Eagles.

You could smell the hatred from outside of the ground.

Which is why we could hardly believe our ears two weekends ago when a round-up of scores on the radio mentioned a lower grade game involving Blacktown, which was described as "the feeder team for Manly".

At first we thought the commentator must have slipped up but we heard it again on Saturday, and a quick check online revealed it to be true. Blacktown as the feeder team for Manly! Generations of league fans - rest their souls - are spinning in their graves as you read this.

Then again, Parramatta fans always used to accuse Manly of buying premierships - with Parra players, of course - back in the day, so in this case, they're simply cutting out the middle man, and going straight to the wholesalers.

ORIGINS OF THE PHRASE

SPEAKING of spinning in your grave.

Have you ever wondered where that term comes from? We know we have.

Checking online, Wikipedia says its earliest known use dates from 1801, when a parliamentarian in the House of Commons said "if our old Whig politicians were now to hear [what England was doing in a war at the time]  they would turn in their graves".

Topics thinks it must have been used before then. We like to think it might have had something to do with so-called premature burials, which used to happen a bit back in the days before doctors had modern devices to pronounce people dead or alive.

Back to Wikipedia again, and it cites the "almost certainly apocraphyl" case of a philosopher, John Duns Scotus (1266-1308), who was found, when his tomb was re-opened, "outside his coffin with his hands torn and bloody after attempting to escape".  

Now being buried alive would make you turn in your grave. If there was room.