Magpies still soaring with fifth-straight GCA flag

March 28, 2024 BY

North Geelong were crowned Geelong Cricket Association premiers for a fifth consecutive season, with a draw over East Belmont. Photo: VINNIE VAN OORSCHOT

PERSISTENCE was the key for North Geelong after securing its fifth-straight Geelong Cricket Association (GCA) Division 1 flag on Sunday at South Barwon Reserve.

The gutsy, well-fought draw by the Magpies was enough to win the side another premiership based on ladder standing, despite trailing East Belmont by 70 runs.

North Geelong captain Tom Mathieson said he could not be prouder of his side after a well-played 2023-24 campaign.

“We not once played for a draw all year, and it’s a credit to us to be able to get it done today,” Mathieson said post-game.

“We didn’t care how we got that cup, as long as we got it. We haven’t had a pressure moment like that for a long, long time, and it’s just truly a relief at this moment in time.”

East Belmont did everything it could on Day 1, scoring 2/276 behind Sean O’Neill’s 177 not out off 222 balls and skipper Shane McNamara’s score of 69.

North Geelong’s openers in Ned Cooper and Sam Hall could only muster 31 runs between them on Day 2, but it was eventual man-of-the-match Phil Visser that steadied the ship in the last hours of the day.

Visser faced 153 deliveries and finished 88 not out as he wound down the clock to ensure a draw and ultimately the flag.

“It was a nerve-wracking time, but you back your teammates in,” Mathieson said.

“Phil, he’s got that dog in him, he’s an absolute warrior, and to be not out on the day is truly a nod to his character.”

The win for North Geelong is also unprecedented in the GCA, with the Magpies becoming the first side to crowned two-day and Twenty20 champions in the same season.

“The last three flags were all one day wins due to the format selection, but to go out and prove we’re not only the best two-day side in the comp as well as in T20 is an amazing feeling,” Mathieson said.

“So much work goes into the season behind the scenes, especially with Craig Biddiscombe as coach, but this team bloody deserves it.”