Brierly Christ Church life members (from left) Dale Mitchell, Michael Murphy and David Ryan will line up in today’s division three grand final, 28 years after being part of the Bulls’ last premiership side.TWENTY-eight years ago, Michael Murphy, Dale Mitchell and David Ryan savoured premiership success.
Nanjing Night Net

Today, with a strong bond forged through cricket, the great mates are hoping to once again win the game’s ultimate prize.

They may not move as fast as they used to and the grade might be a rung or two down from where their careers peaked, but the Brierly Christ Church life members, who have played a combined total of more than 1080 senior games, are as excited about today’s division three showdown with Russells Creek as they were all those years ago.

The trio played in the Bulls most recent premiership, the 1983-84 A reserve flag, and would dearly love another one as the end of their careers near.

Murphy, who turns 50 in two weeks, is adamant the grand final is his swansong.

“I had retired . . . several times,” Murphy said.

“But (son and coach) Nathan talked me into playing a few games because they were short of players. A few games turned into most of the season.”

But it’s been far from a chore for the paceman, who now describes his speed as “slow medium”.

“I just enjoy playing with mates — Mitch, Dave Ryan and Gary Stonehouse. To come back and have a year with them has been great.”

Murphy said his knees were “buggered” and he had to use his personal relationship with the coach to not bowl at training during the week.

“Normally I don’t bowl at training. If I bowl at training, I can’t bowl on Saturday and he understands that. He sees the way I hobble around at home.”

Murphy said his years of experience had taught him to be wise in the field.

“I try and get young blokes fielding beside me. You get them to chase the ball when it gets past you.”

While Murphy is set to retire regardless of the grand final result, it’s a different story for opening batting partners Mitchell and Ryan.

Ryan, 48, said he hadn’t considered his playing future yet and Mitchell, 47, said he would bat on next season.

Ryan said he loved the game and the club.

“I enjoy playing with the kids and obviously want to keep the club up and going,” he said.

“You put a lot of work in over the years and it’s important to keep the club viable.

“It’s all about the club and its survival and keeping it where it belongs.”

Ryan said the friendship between the trio had stemmed from that 1983-84 flag.

“It’s amazing that we get another chance to win a grand final 30 years after we won the club’s last one.”

Mitchell said he was 19 when he played in that flag.

“You thought we would have a few of those successes,” he said.

“It doesn’t always happen. But we all have fun. If you don’t enjoy it, you may as well play something else. There are plenty of other sports you can play.”

He contemplated how experience changed perceptions of the game.

“It’s quite amazing. As you get older you see some young blokes get worked up and animated when they get out,” he said.

“I guess we used to do that, but as you get older you mellow a bit and don’t take it quite as serious.”

The Bulls enter the grand final as underdogs, with Russells Creek winning their two encounters this season and finishing on top of the ladder. Mitchell said he was confident his side could win, despite failing to chase down Creek’s 121 a couple of weeks ago, being dismissed for 105.

“We’ve got to bat a lot better,” he said.

“We had them 6-20 but we should have got the 120.”

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