A HISTORY OF BANKSTOWN PLAYERS : Mick’s Musings
I doubt if anyone deserves to be a Bulldog Life member more than Gary Crowfoot. First Grade captain, committeeman, prolific run getter, selector, medium pacer extraordinaire, lower grade skipper, publicity officer and the best coach by far in Sydney Grade Cricket Crowie has done it all. He had the nickname of Bentus presumably because of his ability to move the ball around so much with his mediums. Later on he was called The Bullfrog after Peter Moore the Canterbury Rugby League icon. Gary has turned coaching into an art form and has achieved so much in his 13 years at the helm. He lifted St. George from obscurity to premiership honours and then did the same with the Bulldogs. He coached the NSW. Under 19s and became the Cricket Manager at New Balance who specialise in elite sporting equipment and is the sponsor of some of the cricketing greats. They include Pat Cummins, Joe Root, Adam Zampa, Steve Smith, Aaron Finch and Dale Steyn. The footwear is state of the art and a lot of the boots are manufactured in England. If anybody knows the value of perfect footwear it is Gary who is renowned for his legendary road runs and has chalked up thousands upon thousands of kilometres. Crowie was a great friend of the Bankstown Legend Dion Bourne who was first grade’s leading run getter. Gary was second with 4977 and in all grades, he plundered 7314. Lunch was something of a mentor to Gary and pushed strongly for his appointment as Bulldogs Cricket coach. Years ago, when Brian Freedman was the newly elected President he made many enquiries re the different portfolios people had. He was told Gary was Publicity Officer but would be much better at coaching. Mick Stephenson looked after the Canteen but preferred to do the Publicity than sell pies and ales. Of course, Rosie Freedman and Eris and Margaret Dignam turned the Canteen into an art form and the lifeblood of the Club. It was renamed Rosie’s in honour of Rosie. During the 1981-2 season Gary captained the P-G side and was described as having a good cricketing brain especially for one so young. It was ironic that Crowie shared a fighting partnership with a guy who was to become a rugby league legend Steve Folkes. Bankstown cricketers would have loved to see him embark on a cricket career but with 245 first grade rugby league games and N.S.W. and Australian representation he no doubt made the right decision. Steve did average 49 and was a hard-hitting left hander but the rugged second rower must have found cricket a little tough as he was described as a good left arm bowler who struggled with a back injury. In 1983-84 Gary was recognised as a promising talent and represented the N.S.W. Colts. Crowie was a very stylish and elegant opening batsman who captained Bankstown for three successive seasons He proved an assertive and inventive leader and was respected by all. His teammates included the Waugh Bros, Rod Bower one of Sydney Grade Cricket’s most prolific run getters, Test batsman Steve Smith who played 28 one-dayers for Australia. Steve Small. the N.S.W opening bat, David Freedman NSW spinner and Wayne Holdsworth the speedster who went on an Ashes tour. With such a star-studded line-up Crowie made sure they were given every opportunity with many prolific starts. Bob Vidler was a great mate of Gary even handing over the reins to him as first grade skipper. They played Soccer together with the Milperra Vikings and won premierships in the big round ball game. Gary Crowfoot scored eight centuries in first grade with a top score of 135 versus Mosman. That total of tons made him equal with two other openers the legendary Mark Waugh and Steve Small who both scored 8 triple figures. Gary was a proud member of the first-grade premiership in the 1987-88 epic at Petersham. On the lighter side in the days of fancy dress parties Geoff Spotswood came as a discreet flasher, Kay Ferris as Dolly Parton but Crowie stole the show when he came as a not so heavyweight Cassius Clay!! The Bankstown Club has gained world-wide recognition for its Uganda donations with Brian Freedman instigating the collection of used cricket gear. Life Member David Clifton has the all abilities cricketers and also the poorly sighted players. However, there was a forerunner when Bankstown played the Blind cricket team back in the 1980s. Gary Crowfoot was heavily involved but did not come within a Bull’s roar of hitting the ball as all sighted players were required to wear blindfolds. Oh, what mayhem it was and the guys will never forget it. Gary delegated Andrew Divall to look after one fellow who had the least vision of all. Andrew did not make a great fist of his task. He slipped with the guy on an incline when taking him off the field. Then he tripped him over a bag and finally when Andy spilt beer all over him he said laconically you know mate I could probably do better on my own. Well that broke the ice and all relaxed and had a ball.