AS we approach the 150th anniversary of the Queanbeyan Cricket Club, The Queanbeyan Age takes a look back at the incredible history behind the baggy blue cap.
The period 1980-92 was the most prolific and successful era of the Queanbeyan Cricket Club in its 150-year history.
During this 12-year period the Bluebags won the Douglas Cup – the trophy awarded to the ACTCA first grade premiers – a record seven times.
No other team in the history of ACT Cricket has been able to maintain such dominance over such a prolonged period.
The appointment of Gary Samuels as head coach and first grade captain in 1978, the brilliance of Neil Bulger and the recruitment of John Bull and Daryl Stevenson were all key factors in the club’s run.
At the same time, the arrival on the scene of the remarkable Peter Solway and an emerging crop of highly talented local juniors all coincided to usher in a decade of success.
Off the pitch, Steve Bailey, Ray Hatch and the club committee had a blueprint and a vision for Queanbeyan from the late 1970s.
And their good work was built on by the likes of Richard Carruthers, Greg Mann and Phil Moon who were the principal architects of the club’s success in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
In this famed 12-year period the Bluebags could do no wrong as they dominated with bat and ball. Opposing teams struggled to keep pace with Queanbeyan’s endless supply of brilliant junior players and a steady stream of players from overseas or interstate who wanted to be part of something unique.
In this mix were two undeniably talented left arm quick bowlers. Frank ‘Handbag’ Hansby and Mark ‘Reefer’ Steel were as different as two players could be.
Then a builder by trade and now a servant of the law, Steel was nearly 200cm of raw boned, pure pace and power through the crease.
Hansby by contrast, was a mild mannered school teacher who would deliver the ball furiously with arms and legs flayed wide and no one fully aware where the ball would end up.
Those who played with or against Steely and Handbag knew that when they got it right there were no quicker bowlers ever to play the game in Canberra and perhaps throughout the land.
Both were fearsome on their day. Hansby reeled off the amazing figures of 9/32 in the 1983/84 season in a display that was breathtaking.
Steel on the other hand did not get the returns his bowling deserved. Often he was simply too quick with his height and the bounce generated taking the ball over the stumps or thundering into his opponents.
Former English International, Neil Fairbrother commented at Kingston Oval that Steel was the quickest, most dangerous bowler he had encountered in his long and distinguished first class and international career.
Both players are fondly remembered by all at the Bluebags. They are both characters and champions and their stories, their talent and their friendships are etched into the history books.
Those who are interested or want to offer any information about the Queanbeyan Cricket Club and the past 150 years please feel free to contact the cricket club directly at their website – www.queanbeyancricket.com
Next week we take a look at the exploits of two of the club’s lower grade players in Baz Hassall and Graham ‘Crusher’ Cleal and former Canberra Raiders player and gun Queanbeyan cricketer Terry Regan.