There was little choice in the matter for Sam O’Sullivan.
Both in Newcastle and overseas.
The Cooks Hill 18-year-old has family ties with City going back at least two generations, featuring grandfather Bruce who has the club’s Empire Park nets named in his honour.
A few weeks back O’Sullivan returned from a season playing in England, having linked up with a former Sabres import, teammate of dad Michael and roommate of uncle Paul as many as 25 years ago.
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“One of our [City’s] English imports from ages ago was in Australia for the Ashes and he dropped into Newy to say hello,” O’Sullivan said.
“I just got my red P’s [license] so I drove a few of them out to the vineyards. He knew I was thinking about heading over and he said so Sam’s playing with us. And that was that.”
The mutual connection was Russell Collard.
Only last month O’Sullivan and Collard opened the batting together for Gidea Park and Romford Cricket Club, located around 30 kilometres north-east of London, in the Shepherd Neame Essex League.
They put on a partnership of 122 with O’Sullivan hitting 10 fours on his way to 68 while Collard eventually made a century. It was part of a crucial relegation-saving victory over Orsett.
O’Sullivan, a right-arm seamer, was the team’s leading wicket taker for 2018 with 27 at an average of 25.22, but it was his work with the willow that most improved.
“I ended up leading wicket taker, but by the end of the season I was opening the batting,” he said.
“It took me a couple of innings to get used to it, and I had to get rid of the drive early because I got caught at cover the first couple of times, but I enjoyed spending some time in the middle.”
O’Sullivan recalls starting cricket with City aged 11, moving into the senior ranks shortly after and making his first grade debut in 2014-15.
The former Merewether High School student, who finished his HSC last year, had limited game time in the first half of 2017-18 because of study commitments.
After a promising start to the campaign, unbeaten in the first seven rounds and reaching top of the table, City only recorded one more win and missed the semis.
O’Sullivan said City have a younger squad in 2018-19.
City are set to visit Wallsend on Saturday for round three of the Tom Locker Cup followed by University on October 27. In between the Sabres host Charlestown in a 40-over, one-dayer at No.1 Sportsground.
They were washed out against Stockton on Saturday after opening with a bonus-point loss to defending champions Wests at Learmonth Park on September 29.