He is a Life Member, Has been part of the club for over 27 years, held every position on the club’s committee, holds multiple records for the club as was part of the very first game our club played with Auckland Cricket.
Chris Stevens is a club legend and he shares his thoughts on the history of the club, how the club logo came about, his favorite match and much more!
Oratia United Cricket Club has gone through a few transformations in your time with the club. Can you tell us a little about the History of the club from your perspective?
The club started in 1992 as just one team, a group of us who played Indoor Cricket together, at the time I was the Manager of Indoor Cricket in New Lynn where several of the original players were also from. We all played Indoor together but at different outdoor clubs so decided to band together and do things a little differently from the clubs we were from.
One of the ways we keep costs down is we do not have clubrooms of our own, so we have relied on partnering with other clubs over the years, so we have been a bit of wanderer over the years moving from place to place as the club has evolved.
We originally played under the banner Crusaders Cricket Club the later changed to Avondale Cricket Club, we played out of the Avondale racecourse which was our home for many years, It was there we teamed up with the Crusaders Club, Suburbs Rugby Club and the All Golds Club at various times
How has the move to Parrs Park helped the club grow?
At Avondale, we had 7 senior teams at our peak at the racecourse but no junior teams. It was always our goal to establish junior cricket but having Suburbs Cricket just down the road made this near impossible at the racecourse. It was Auckland Cricket who over a coffee meeting in Titirangi Village one afternoon suggested we move to Parrs park as there was no club in the area, we put it to the members who agreed, and we moved that same year.
The move to Parrs was the best decision we made as a club, I was so excited to see the very first junior team take the field under Rob Geaney’s tutorage just a few short months later and now our junior numbers are swelling, the previous and current committees have done a fantastic job.
One of the founding values of the club was that all members are equally valued and get treated the same regardless of grade, we had come from clubs where there was a clear difference in the quality of gear some teams had over others despite paying the same fees, we thought there was a better way. This is why all teams get team awards and all players are eligible for overall club awards at both senior and junior levels.
Our name and clubrooms and even our home ground may have changed over the years, but the club has remained true to its original core values, making cricket available to as many as we can by doing it smarter and keeping the cost to players down. We still see these values in play today and I was very proud of the seniors of the club being willing to give up the convenience of clubrooms on the grounds, in favour of keeping the junior fees lower by the move to the RSA.
Talk us through the club logo and the inspiration behind it?
We had a competition to design a logo in the second season (1993/94) when we grew to 2 teams and formally incorporated as a club. As it happens my entry won the most votes from members and was adopted as the club logo.
I am not much of an artist so I cheated a little and copied the logo of my favourite rugby league team at the time the St George Dragons, I adjusted it a little to look like a Crusader which was our name at the time, and it seemed to fit with being based out of the racecourse.
The colours were influenced by my favourite superhero growing up the Green Lantern, hence Green and Black.
You have played the most matches for the club; can you pick your favourite and why?
That’s a tough one there have been many amazing games and milestones that are special 100th Game, 400th Wicket, Captaining a team to an ACA championship win, but it’s none of those If I have to pick one it is actually right from the first season.
I have been lucky enough to influence the outcome of many games as a bowler but I wasn’t a bowler until about my third season with the club, in the early days I just batted down the order and fielded so usually I didn’t have a bigger opportunity to influence the outcome of games.
But then one day, I did! We were in a must-win game in the very first season and we had collapsed to 79/7 and I came into bat. My job just to stick around and see if we could get some more runs on the board, I batted in a partnership of 79 run partnership with Nigel Hyndman one of the more established batters of the club at the time, I think he scored 70 and I edged about 9 but I hung on to my wicket , the partnership took us to a far more respectable total which was enough to see us win the game and the championship in our very first season as a club.
As the current coach of the First Hits program, what part of coaching do you enjoy the most?
Seeing the improvement in the kids over the season, and then seeing them go on and play in the higher grades.
Being a life member of the club, how does it feel to see the growth in the junior section in recent years?
It is fantastic! I remember introducing one young fella, still at high school back before we had juniors he played in the seniors he went on to become our most successful club batsmen and a chairman of the club for many years, and one of his mates he dragged along is now asking me these questions as Club Captain, so I hope among the current new crop to see similar stories.
Where do you hope the club is at in 5-10 years?
I think we are well on the way to where I want to see the club be, which is the community hub for cricket in the Oratia area. I would love to see us expand on the youth cricket to keep players within the club over those high school years.
It would be amazing to see some of our current juniors and youth taking the reins of the club and taking it to the next level, I would urge slow steady growth so we don’t get ahead of ourselves and we should always remain true to our founding principles of a club where every member is valued and it’s all about a bunch of mates playing and enjoying cricket at the end of the day.