By LIAM DURKIN
MORWELL Tigers Yinnar Raiders Cricket Club pair Jamie Winters and Liam Maynard were recently bestowed with the highest honour, with the rewarding of life membership.
The duo have given lengthy service to the club and both qualified for life membership after playing their 200th match during the 2020-21 season.
Winters came to MTY Raiders in 1997-98 and found success almost instantly.
“I knew most of them from footy and pretty much was thrown into the firsts with the awesome team that we had,” he said.
The phrase ‘awesome team’ is an accurate description of how Raiders fared in the early 2000s, as the team made seven Traralgon and District Cricket Association grand finals in a row from 1999-2000 to 2005-06.
Raiders picked up five premierships in that time, including four on the trot from 2000-01 to 2003-04.
Reflecting on the time, Winters, who is also on the cusp of 200 senior games with Yinnar Football-Netball Club, said those moments stood out as great highlights.
“It was a bit of a thing you’d go from footy to cricket and there was just no break because you were playing finals for footy and finals for cricket,” he said.
“I was really lucky to be playing there at a time when we were really good.
“You don’t appreciate until you get older that they (consecutive premierships) don’t come around like that all the time.”
As well as premierships, the man known as ‘Tubby’ pointed to another match that stood out.
“There was a game against Centrals – they needed three runs to win and we needed four wickets and we ended up getting the four wickets to win the game outright,” he said.
Those four wickets may well have been a reflection of the sheer quality of the bowling stocks Raiders had during Winters’ early years, which saw the Knowles trio of Jeff and his sons Brad and Brett, as well as Les Brown terrorise many batsman.
“Our bowling line-up was just unbelievable, we’d probably have the lowest scores of the round week-in-week-out and somehow manage to defend it,” Winters said.
“Les bowled big in-swingers and was just always at you. Jeff could do anything. I would have loved to have seen him when he was younger, he would have had some fair wheels about him.
“He played until he was 50 and still … what he could do with the ball, both ways, make them jump, he had that effort ball as well.”
Not surprisingly, Winters pointed to Jeff Knowles and Brown as two of the best he had played
alongside, as well as current Raiders all-rounder and former Victorian and Western Australian player Brad Knowles.
Winters has also played against no shortage of gun players over the years, and rated TDCA legends Kent Hammond and Grant Switzer at the top of the list.
Of modern day players, he rates Churchill’s John Keighran and Trafalgar’s Rhys Holdsworth highly.
In terms of funnier times, Winters said one moment involving Chris Stanlake had teammates in hysterics.
“Bruiser opened the bowling back when we were struggling a bit. He went to bowl a bouncer and it bounced three times,” he said.
Having played around 300 games in total for the club, been on the committee for 15 years and served close to 10 years as assistant curator, Winters said it was an “honour” to be inducted as a life member.
“There has just been good times as a team … you spend that much time together,” he said.
“It’s a great environment, the ground is looked after really well and the pitch is one of the best in the league.”
As for the nickname ‘Tubby’, it has been a simple case of something that has stuck ever since a young age.
“I’ve had it since I was eight, I got it given to me at Latrobe and haven’t been able to shake it – even when I was skinnier,” he said.
Winters has indicated he will play on next season, while current Raiders first grade captain Liam Maynard still has plenty of cricket left in him.
At just 26 years of age, Maynard’s dedication and loyalty to the club has seen him inducted as one of the youngest life members in MTY Raiders history.
“It was something I wasn’t really expecting, it’s not something you play for but definitely a proud achievement,” he said.
“Raiders just has that homely feel to it. All the playing group and supporters, it’s pretty much everyone’s all in, everyone enjoys spending their time together whether it’s socially or playing on the weekends.
“Over the years you make a lot of good friendships that are life long.”
Maynard has been a one-club-player since starting out in the juniors, representing the town he grew up in with great pride.
Coming into the firsts under the leadership of Jeff Knowles was something Maynard remembers fondly.
“When I first started off that was pretty exciting as a young bloke, something that you always strive for, getting into the side and playing with the guys that had been around for a long time,” he said.
Since then he has blossomed into one of the best current day players in the Latrobe Valley and District Cricket League, and led Raiders to the Premier A Grade premiership in 2019-20, a moment he counted as a career highlight.
“That was a really successful year, that was my first year as coach as well as captain … that was something I was really proud of,” he said.
As well as the flag, the right handed said his first ton was also a moment he’d never forget.
“I remember it was 40 degrees, we batted first and batted our full 80 overs. I batted 60 and ended up getting my first and most memorable century,” he said.
Like Winters, Maynard said playing alongside the calibre of players such as Jeff and Brad Knowles was a great experience.
“Brad Knowles coming back (from Shield cricket), I got to play under him and learn a lot of things whether it’s to do with captaincy or with my bowling and batting,” he said.
“There has been lots of great Raiders players. Jocka’s (Jason Macfarlane) probably a little bit older now, but in his heyday he was a top-end player. Mick Higgins has made some big hundreds and is always a good one to be batting with.”
When it comes to opponents, Maynard rated Ex Students pair Greg Munro, Lee Stockdale and John Keighran among the top flight, as well as those in the Gormandale sides of the late and early 2010s.
“Playing against Gormy was always a big challenge playing against the likes of Adrian Burgiel, Kent Hammond and the Switzers – they were always prized wickets,” he said.
As for the famous MTY Raiders clubrooms, which carry a great deal of character, Maynard said they were just another part of the Raiders ‘homely feel’.
“There is a lot of history and a lot of good nights had there,” he said.
“It’s something we hold onto because it’s got that side of history. Putting up a new building probably wouldn’t be the same.”
Those who know the Raiders club rooms will know the history of the club is literally written on the walls in permanent marker.
These markings have encapsulated the very essence that a club is more than just a general assembly, and Winters and Maynard are now added to the fabric of the building, yet their names won’t be written in permanent marker, but in gold lettering on the life members honour board.