Mark Littlewood remembers missing his school formal to debut for Newcastle in 2002.
Outside two stints in Adelaide the all-rounder has been part of the city’s senior representative ranks each summer since, featuring the last decade as captain.
But now the 33-year-old father-of-two, including newest addition Alby last month, has decided to step down from the leadership role and, for the time being at least, all playing commitments.
“I’ve loved every minute of playing for Newcastle,” the former South Australia Second XI member said.
“But with the family and a few other commitments, I just haven’t got the time anymore. I want to be in 100 percent or not at all.”
It means Littlewood finished his career for Newcastle on a winning note, leading the team to victory at the NSW Country Championships at Bowral in November.
This was the sixth time he’d tasted success at the annual carnival since being appointed skipper in 2008-2009, following the unexpected resignation of then captain Simon Moore.
“I was probably thrust into it a little bit early,” the four-time Bush Blue said.
“But I feel like I grew into the role and ended up doing a job I was pretty proud of.”
The most recent challenge had been introducing Newcastle to Sydney’s premier T20 competition.
Wallsend’s Nathan Price will be the most likely replacement.
There will also be a leadership change at club side Belmont in 2018-2019 with wicketkeeper Marcus Hainsworth taking over from Littlewood, who won’t play the early parts of this campaign but may consider returning later in the summer.
“He [Hainsworth] will be great,” Littlewood said.
“I think the guys probably need a different voice and it will be refreshing for the club. I’ll just see how the golf is going and if I can’t hit them straight then I’ll probably be back.”
Meanwhile and Wests premiership-winning all-rounder Joseph Price claimed 2-48, scored 10 runs and took a catch on Saturday in his first game for English side Bracebridge Heath just 24 hours after the 35-year-old arrived in the country.
Price, who was named player of the tournament at January’s Australian Country Championships, will take part in the Lincolnshire Premier League during the off-season after confirming his visa on Thursday and flying out of Sydney that same afternoon.
Bracebridge beat Louth by 59 runs and picked up 17 competition points.