North Ballarat player Jeff Horgan celebrates a milestone 300 games

WHEN Jeff Horgan reflects on highlights from his 300 games with North Ballarat, he prefers to think more broadly than premierships.

Premierships elude many players and, while Horgan has won two club thirds premierships in the Ballarat Cricket Association (the Roosters did so back-to-back in 2002/03 and 2003/04), he says if flags are your sole purpose for playing cricket you will rarely be happy.

His premierships offer fantastic memories – in his second, the Roosters had been out of the four all season and needed to win outright on the last game to break in, they did (Horgan took six wickets), they won the semi-final on the last ball of the day and captured the flag on day four in the final.

A little like what the Roosters’ firsts are trying to achieve this round.

But the prime cricket career was being made a club life member 15 years ago.

“Those who know me know I talk a bit but when they did that to me, I was lost for words for quite a while,” Horgan said.

“I’ve had great fun and played with – and against – some great characters and it’s been great to play in a couple of premierships.

“Obviously you have your good days and bad days in cricket, but the main thing is to contribute and enjoy it.”

The 58-year-old has taken his game into division five and relishes the chance to help develop young, promising players develop into good senior players.

He is pleased to see exciting youngsters really start to consistently mark.

The Roosters have been forced to be patient through a lull period – even if at the detriment of winning – but that has gradually turned about the past three seasons under coach and firsts captain Bobby Hind.

Off the field, Horgan says a highlight was, as a board member, building the new electronic scoreboard for Northern Oval (where North Ballarat Roosters play football).

Horgan said it was a great achievement because it was such a sizable donation – close to $48,000 – for the cricket club, especially knowing if the city pursued AFL games that the cricketing Roosters would likely move with the turf wicket.

But it was all about working as a community.

Horgan, who has captained the club extensively, is ready to chalk up game 301 in the Roosters’ division five team this week, a one-dayer against East Ballarat.

This is his 35th year at North Ballarat.

Horgan picked up the game with Wendouree City in the early 70s and his clearance to the Roosters in 1978 was approved half an hour before he was to face his old club in the seconds.

He got the call to play while concreting his driveway and made his club debut covered in cement dust.

His statistics with the Roosters are impressive – Horgan has chalked up three centuries with a best of 116 runs and 5633 in total, he has taken 442 wickets with best bowling of 7-62 in his 17 five-for hauls, and he has taken 150 catches.

But Horgan’s best day out was 169 runs with Wendouree City.

Being competitive and the feeling he is making a contribution is what keeps Horgan in the game.

“If you can’t contribute something in coaching, bowling and taking wickets or making runs, then you wonder what your worth is out there,” Horgan said.

“Our cricket club has got a very bright future ahead after we’ve weathered a quiet period, and that’s exciting.”

melanie.whelan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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