Life, love, and cricket

Emerald Cricket Club president, and favourite son, Clinton Marsh. 191887 Picture: RUSSELL BENNETT

Clinton Marsh bleeds red and black, which can’t often be said for a mad Tigers supporter. The Emerald Cricket Club president and lionhearted fast bowler recently sat down with Gazette sports editor Russell Bennett for this special edition of Beer O’Clock – touching on everything from cricket, to life beyond the field with his family…

 

Russell Bennett: How long have you been playing at Emerald for now mate? 25 years?

Clinton Marsh: No mate, it’d be longer than that. I started when I was five, so 31 years maybe. We played at Worrell (Reserve) first, and a bit at the high school too.
Yeah, 31 years – they just keep rolling on. We’re at the end of another one, and then you start thinking about the next one.
I turned 36 recently, but I still really enjoy it – I still love sitting here having a beer after a day’s play.
I’d never put a time limit or age limit on playing – especially first XI cricket. You wait for someone to come up and take your spot, and then you go down the grades – I think, anyway.
It’s been great. There’s been a lot of ups and downs, but way more ups.
There’ve been a few really long days in the field, but you always learn a little bit more from those as well.

RB: So you started playing in the Yarra Valley Cricket Association?

CM: Yeah – the Yarra Valley, and we weren’t even in it that long, really. I was 14 when we came across as a club to West Gippsland.
There was only under-12s when I started – no Kanga Cricket, or Milo Cricket or anything like that. I was basically just tagging along in my brother’s side. I just loved it – I couldn’t get enough of cricket. You’d watch it on the weekend, you’d hear the Wide World of Sports music start and you’d be straight in front of the TV.
I’d tape it and watch it. Back then you’d have to get videos and there was a technique one the Channel Nine commentary team did and I had that one too. Mate, I’m a cricket tragic. They say there are cricket nuffies in the Australian team – I’m the same. I’d live and breathe it.

RB: And back then it was an era before phones and iPads, that kind of thing, so if you wanted to have fun you’d go outside…

CM: Yeah, you’d have to mate! You’d play cricket outside and pretend to be someone, and you’d probably do that on a PlayStation now.
You’d be outside for so long, and then you’d try to find a way to keep playing because you just wouldn’t want to come inside. You’d always find a way, and even then you’d go inside and play in the hallway with a mini bat and a bouncy ball, because there wasn’t another option – which was great. That’s how you’d learn – you’d just keep practising.
Kids these days have four or five other sports they could be playing so they don’t have the time, a lot of them, to practice maybe as much as they should.
When I was five it was cricket and footy. That was it.

RB: Where was your family from, mate? I know you live in Cockatoo now…

CM: We were just past the store there in Avonsleigh, so basically we’d walk to the ground. We were only about 800 metres away from Chandler Reserve. My parents are still there.
I’d walk my cricket bag, everything, up to the ground because they’d be at work. The bloody things didn’t have wheels then either, mate. You’d have to carry all your bags! (laughs).

RB: So you really did follow in your older brother Warwick’s footsteps, didn’t you?

CM: There’s eight years between us so, yeah, bits and pieces but we never played junior cricket together. In the seniors we were in different grades, but as I was coming through as a teenager Warwick would captain E Grade and I’d play under him. He still does it now – bringing all our juniors through the one-dayers.
It’s great. He’s hard, but fair.
We got into cricket because of our dad, but mum played sport too. We were all sport-mad – there weren’t too many we wouldn’t go near, or watch on TV.
Dad played his cricket in the complete opposite way to me! (laughs)
He thought it was a long way to go out there and bat just to go out quickly, so he’d score in singles all day and carried his bat a heap of times.
Some days I wish I could do that! But I take the game on. I just want to have fun with it, and I really like the attacking style of cricket.
Dad was a leg-spin bowler, and a left-handed opening bat and Warwick is somewhere in the middle (of the two of us).
I don’t even know where my fast bowling came from!

RB: Did you have anyone that you followed in the footsteps of mate, whether national or local?

CM: I was bowling leg-spin until I was 17.

RB: You’re kidding. Where’d your pace come from?

CM: In the juniors it’d be really wet in the morning with the dew on the ground so you’d hardly get a bowl as a spinner. It’d be too hard.
Then in the seniors you’d just have to wait your turn. Going back 20 years, they wouldn’t bowl the spinners until the over before tea! (laughs)
I reckon there were times where I thought about just turning up five minutes before tea and bowling my over to see if I could buy a wicket. After tea you wouldn’t come back on – forget about that!
I practised my leg-spin for hours and hours. We’d watch Shane Warne all the time. The thing is – you need to have big hands to bowl spin. I just found it kept getting harder because I had these really small hands (laughs), and then I’d get impatient about not getting involved in the game.
It was one of the D Grade captains who asked me to bowl seam-up because they needed another bowler. It just came out of nowhere. I was 17 or 18 and I was growing and filling out properly then. It was fun – you’d get the new ball and you wouldn’t have to wait to bowl! The ball would fly around, batsmen would jump out of the way of it, and that’s a bug. Opening the bowling and trying to bowl fast is fixating. That new Kookaburra ball with the shiny, hard seam…

RB: Be honest mate – you’ve got a bit of white line fever don’t you?

CM: Oh, totally. I tell all the young blokes at the club today – you’ve got to strive to bowl that first over. It’s just the best, and I won’t give it up. I got hooked on it as a kid, and I still do now.

RB: So I take it you never went back to spin, Marshy?

CM: God no. Good leg spin is an art form and it takes years of practice, but if I keep playing for long enough I’ll eventually bowl spin again – definitely. I’ll have to because the body won’t let me run any more! It’ll come full circle.

RB: When a lot of people talk about bowlers in this region over the journey, they talk about your pace – and the extra effort ball you had. You didn’t have the height, but you had the pace off the wicket…

CM: You hear commentators talk about the smaller bowlers skidding on to the bat, and being harder to pick up. But the other thing is – when there’s nothing in the wicket we’re a lot easier to hit too! (laughs)
There’ve been plenty of times I’ve put the ball in the wrong spot and it’s ended up in trees or over fences. I remember being cut for six at Worrell (Reserve) into the old pine trees after I’d gone down a grade!
When you’re bowling though, it’s hard to tell how fast it’s coming out. Every now and then when you see the ball go into the keeper’s gloves over his head you’ll think it’s coming out alright, but it’s for other people to judge. I’ve been talking to a few blokes over the past couple of years about how genuinely quick bowlers just don’t come along often. The league used to have heaps 10 to 15 years ago. When we won our B Grade flag in a day in 2002/03, there were a heap up here. There was at least one in every side then, but now there might only be one or two in the league. We’re on synthetic wickets with four-piece balls and we’ve got no genuine quick bowlers. It’s a shame, because it creates something special in the league when you’ve got genuine quick bowlers. If you’ve got someone who can genuinely hit a big ball it’s exciting and people will come and watch, but if you’ve got someone who’s lightning quick it’s special. The ball doesn’t even have to be as good because if you cartwheel one the other six batsmen start looking for their helmets.

RB: Do you remember the feeling you had when you first saw that middle stump cartwheeling out of the ground?

CM: Definitely. When it happens it’s almost like you’re sending a message. When you bowl it, you’ll just forget about it but the blokes sitting there waiting to bat next won’t. I reckon that’s how quicks get their big bags of wickets. The real good batsmen are the ones who sit there watching and just want to be out in the middle, but with some sides you’ve almost got a wicket before you’ve rocked up to the ground. It’s hard to describe, but bowling quick is intoxicating and I think it’s the best part of the game.

RB: When you first started playing, you obviously weren’t the biggest kid out there but I’ve heard you had plenty of lip – even back then…

CM: You have to know your place, but I’ve played senior cricket since I was about 14 and back then – even in the Yarra Valley days – there weren’t exactly too many blokes welcoming you to the crease. I’d always have a bit to say, within reason, and that’s never changed. I’ve always had this massive will to win – I’m super competitive, I’ll admit. I want to win every game I play. The boys at Emerald are always getting into me, saying I spend all day lipping off to these guys but then they’re the ones I’ll be having a beer with after the game. But they’re the ones I’ve had the battles with, and it’s about the respect you build up over the journey. I’m all for that. While I’m out there on the field, I’m playing for Emerald Cricket Club and I f****** hate losing.
I’ve never wanted to stand out there in the field for six hours just to lose, mate. The best 10 minutes after any game of footy or cricket is in the rooms following a win. Once you’ve celebrated that, you come up to the rooms and take the piss out of each other for what’s happened on the ground.

RB: We know you’re known for your competitive streak on-field mate. Are there any particular instances of sledging or banter that spring to mind when you look back over your career so far?

CM: There’s a really recent one I can think of – against Carlisle Park this year. Everyone notices that at the start of my run-up when I’m bowling my leg goes out to the side. One of their guys started calling me ‘The Duck’ and I couldn’t work it out – I hadn’t made a duck against Carlisle Park – so I started thinking about it. Our boys were laughing their heads off, and the guy explained it and all I could say was “Yep, good one. You’ve got me there!”. ‘The Duck’ stuck for a few weeks after that.
I don’t even really have a run-up though, Russ. I pretend to walk one out but I don’t have one. There just isn’t one – no one’s worked on it. I just run in about 10 metres and let it go as hard as I can, mate. There’s no art to it at all (laughs).
There’ve been a few great battles over the years though. I’ve had a few good ones with Budge (Ben Maroney), Barf (Neil Barfuss), Pents (Chris Pentland), those guys – they’re the ones who bite back, the ones who like it, and honestly the ones you shouldn’t do it to because it makes them play better.

RB: Are there any moments you can think of where the chat really backfired?

CM: I remember getting stuck into this one kid out at Catani – this young left-handed bat that I couldn’t get out. He just wouldn’t say anything, and I couldn’t get him riled up…

RB: It wasn’t who I’m thinking of, surely…

CM: Yes mate, it was – Russ Lehman. I was just standing there trying to work him out – he would have been maybe 16 and I would have been in my early to mid-20s. I remember it clearly – it didn’t matter what I said. He just wouldn’t have a bar of it, and I couldn’t get him out. That’s when I knew he could seriously play, and he hasn’t changed since either. He’s the one person I never bothered with.
We had nightmares against Catani back in the day – like when we went for about 430 off 110 overs in 38-degree heat after taking the second new ball. I remember most of my figures, but I don’t remember what I went for that day, funnily enough! I just remember it was the longest day I’ve had on a cricket field, and even now every time I see the Aussies take the second or third new ball a message goes around a few of the boys saying “they’ve taken the new ball – there’s a good idea!” (laughs).
Snags (Brad McDonald) and Closey (Nic Close) remember that one pretty well.
To make matters worse – you’d have a couple of beers at Catani after the day’s play, but it’s a good 45-ish minutes back to Emerald. You’d want a couple of travellers, but you’d get to the Bayles store and it’d be shut early! Not only had we been smacked for 400-plus – the nearest bottle shop was closed! That was really the worst part of the day – when the Bayles sign said ‘closed’.

RB: Mate, over the years you’ve been in really strong sides, and sides that’ve really battled. Talk me through a day or two where things just didn’t pan out in the field… the recent one that springs to mind for me was when (Cardinia skipper) Alex Nooy went bananas in that ridiculous ton…

CM: That was one of those things – we were on a hiding to nothing for those last few years in Premier. Every side wanted to go back out there against us.

RB: Did you feel like a sitting duck in the last few seasons Emerald had in Premier?

CM: You felt like people were almost circling their games for a big result against you. You knew you’d be batting first, put it that way. You were almost resigned to the fact, and you’d understand it as a side because there was an extra eight points on the line for these teams (for an outright win).
But with our side – you’d get more disappointed when you knew you had a good side but you had a bad day. When you have a really young side, the losses are going to happen. That’s cricket.
I felt sorry for the young boys bowling a good line and length who were part of a bad side, so the opposition batsmen would almost take a free swing. If someone from a top side bowls that same ball, those guys maybe don’t play those shots or take those risks.
But like I said to the boys recently – you do learn more from those heavy losses.

RB: When you guys were in Premier, did you ever think it should have been a two (sides) up, two down promotion-relegation system? The Emerald side you were in, which won the District flag, won promotion but could never have a real crack at it because you were outclassed and each season it almost seemed like you were second last by default…

CM: I see it as us getting by on our local talent, Russ. Rarely does someone come in as a big-name player – it’s just not affordable for us. You don’t want to have to go and find money for someone to play cricket for you. Hats off to the clubs that can, but up here at Gembrook and Emerald those players don’t just fall on your doorstep.
Two up, two down is an interesting one because you could be stiff and win four games and still have to go down. I’d hate to see that.
I’d like to see it maybe go by the amount of games won over a three-year period – if, say, you haven’t met the quota of six or seven wins in three years.
Would there be two clubs really ready to come up though? Nar Nar Goon/Maryknoll would’ve been pretty competitive in Premier because they’re experienced cricketers, those guys. But in Premier it’s the top two sides – Pakenham and Kooweerup – and then a big gap. I think you could even change up the divisions into two of 10 (sides) and then maybe have two up, two down.
In saying that though, everyone has the opportunity to win any game they play in. One of our best was when we beat that dominant Kooweerup side at Haileybury. I mean, even we beat Koowee in the past four years so to say it can’t be done isn’t true. They’re just a lot more consistent. If there’s 160 overs in a game of cricket, Koowee and Pakenham play 150 good ones. They might have 10 they don’t win. With us – we’d have 30 good ones, and 130 bad ones. That’s the difference.

RB: How many senior flags have you won, personally?

CM: There was ‘97’98 E Grade, ‘98/’99 D Grade, another D Grade one, a C Grade one, a B Grade one, and a fair gap and the District flag. They’re all my fondest memories, those flags. You remember the days, the grounds, the opposition players – all of it.

RB: Talk me through the grand final at Beaconsfield where you bowled most of a side out in a couple of hours…

CM: That was a funny year. The previous year, B Grade lost by a run or something like that. I remember we won C Grade so we were carrying on but B Grade had lost by a run or two. I was 18 or 19 so I was up and down all the time. I was in C Grade as an 18-year-old so the opportunity wasn’t just given to me. I’d taken nine wickets from 11 games in B Grade, but then we got to the semi-final and I took maybe three wickets. The weird thing about the final is that we were playing at Beaconsfield and we asked them if we could train there on the Thursday, and they said yes because we were playing Killy Bass so it didn’t really matter.
Most of the time after training had finished we’d have a couple of beers and we’d be gone.
But we trained at Beacy and my form had been up and down all year. I was bowling really well at training and wanted to keep going, but I was told to save it for game day.
It came to Saturday and I didn’t open the bowling back then. Killy Bass might’ve been 2/30 or something like that, and I came on and everything was caught or given out and before we knew it we’d rolled them for about 87.

RB: What’d you take, roughly?

CM: Nah, it wasn’t ‘roughly’, Russ. You always remember those performances. I took 7/17 off 18. There were good balls in there, but also a few bad ones that would just get caught. I was 20 at the time, I think.
You’d sit down after you’d bowl them out and still be nervous because you had to chase the 87.
The day went on and we were getting closer and closer, and we won and the talk was that Killy Bass would be coming back the next day. But no, we were 3/100 so that was it. We had the presentation that day. It was just a whirlwind thing. I remember mum and dad had gone away and they called on the Saturday asking how I went and what the state of play was. I was blind. I couldn’t even talk! (laughs).
They rang Warwick to ask what happened and he just said “they won in a day, and Junior took seven”.
They wanted to make sure I was being looked after, well that night we were downstairs and someone dared us to do a nudie run. So, the whole team ran from Chandler Reserve down to the Avonsleigh store.

RB: Funny you should mention this, because I was going to ask you about it mate…

CM: Look, the ground was nowhere near as good as it is now. It wasn’t as flat back then, but there we were – 11 nude blokes just standing there. I had the man of the match medal around my neck, and we got down the other end of the ground and it was a bit wet – maybe it’d rained or it was a bit dewy – so I did this big swan dive across the ground, got back up, and kept running down the hill. A couple of blokes had fallen over and there was just this red mud all over them. We got to the store and it was probably only 7.30 at night – it wasn’t midnight or anything, so there were still people everywhere. When we got back to the club one of the boys asked me where my medal was. I had no idea. I was still wearing the ribbon, but the medal had come off in the swan dive.
For a good two hours there were these 11 nude blokes looking for a medal on the oval and we still had our supporters at the ground. We ended up finding it, thankfully.
It’s funny, Russ – when you’re 20 you’re like, yep, that’s a great idea. It wasn’t, but those memories are the reason why you play. No one can take them away from you, and that’s why grand final wins are so sweet. Even now that medal still has dirt all over it.

RB: What about the time Ian Litterbach ran a bloke out when you were on one hell of a roll with the ball, personally?

CM: That only came up again recently. It was against Tooradin and we’d made a few runs. It was their innings then, and I took the first one, the second one, the third one, the fourth, the fifth, the sixth, and when you get to that point you think there’s a chance (of taking all 10) – ask any bowler that gets the first six, they’ll start thinking about seven, eight, nine, 10. They’re lying if they say they don’t.
I took the seventh and eighth, and then I bloody well took the ninth! There was only one left, and this ball came off the pad and rolled down towards the boundary – about 10 metres at most from the fence in front of the rooms. Ian Litterbach was a baseballer, and no one in the league really knew except us. I remember he was running after this ball, and he wasn’t slow, and they were trying to push for an extra (run). He picked it up, and they tried to run on his arm. He had it in his hand when they said ‘yes!’, and I was at the far end standing next to the stumps and I yelled out ‘no!’. Ian has a baseball stance, he turns around and throws it like a rocket at the stumps. It was a direct hit, and was never missing from the time it left his hand. Everyone was celebrating, and then they looked at me… I was filthy, and I was captain so I told him: “Mate, you’re never playing for us again!” (laughs).
I finished with 9/21, but it was against Tooradin’s second XI so you have to put it into context.
That day is still a great source of amusement for the boys – it’s almost like one of those things like the big fish that got away. I mean, even hat-tricks – you could potentially be on a couple in one given year. But all 10? That just doesn’t happen. You don’t get two cracks at it.

RB: And what about the time you hit your first six using your brother Warwick’s bat?

CM: I think it was down at the Kooweerup back oval – the primary school – and I’d always steal his stuff. I reckon I bought one new cricket bat in 35 years mate! I’d borrow them off people, or I’d steal them from Warwick.
The thing is – I bowled leg spin until I was about 17, and I opened the batting and wasn’t built that well so I actually played along the ground and scored singles and stuff like that. I wasn’t big enough to hit boundaries, but this ground had a short straight boundary.
Warwick back then lived at home, had a full-time wage, and a had a brand new limited edition Kookaburra Bubble… so I pinched it.

RB: You’re a loyal Emerald man through and through mate, but did you ever entertain the thought of going elsewhere?

CM: I remember Tubsy tried to get me to Koowee, and this is before I really even knew him – he was just Chris O’Hara, the gun Kooweerup batsman from the paper. There was a presentation night at the Cranbourne Racecourse and that year I went on my first Country Week, won the Glasscock Medal (for the best player at Country Week), and all of these things were falling into place – but I’d never played Premier. So, I was at presentation night and having a good night – I had these trophies, and plenty of drinks. I’d also won a cricket bat, but I had no use for it. I went out that night but I had a cricket bat with me so I had to throw it in the bushes at Blitz. I went into the nightclub, and when I came back out I picked up my bat and went home.
That night Tubsy was into me. I woke up the next morning to this message saying he’d love to have a chat. I had no idea who it was, and I had to write back asking because I hadn’t saved the number! (laughs).
Beaconsfield tried too, and Tooradin, but I never really entertained the idea. There were a couple of others, like I worked in Monbulk and played footy there for a year. I never really entertained the idea though. Pulling on the red and black is different. It just didn’t know if I could get used to pulling on a different set of colours.

RB: Mate that sounds pretty strange coming from a Richmond diehard…

CM: Yeah, well look the red and black goes alright.

RB: How many Country Week sides were you a part of mate?

CM: They’re all a blur, mate! (laughs). There were probably seven or eight Country Week trips that I went on.

RB: And you just loved the chance to represent the league and show what you could do?

CM: It’s good cricket, Russ. It’s fantastic cricket, and for a lot of us it’s our chance to play on turf and play with some genuine guns from across the league. Instead of having to worry about getting them out, you’re just sitting there wanting to watch them bat. It’s strange because Budgie (Maroney) and I would always clash on the ground because we were both competitive pests, and the next thing you know we’re on the same side and everyone’s wondering how that’s going to work. In the end we were inseparable, and the only reason you get so worked up at each other is because you’re so similar. I remember that changing my perspective of him. You’ve got no choice but to spend a lot of time with these blokes because it’s like ‘Big Brother’ – you’re in confined spaces and you’re not going anywhere. I’m telling you, Russ – it’d be the best reality TV show you could get! (laughs).
There were blokes like Cal (O’Hare), Huss (Tom Hussey), AJ (Walker), Sibba (Luke Sibley), Danners (Daniel McCalman) – it was fantastic. They’re great memories. I mean, watching Doigy (Dwayne Doig) do his stuff on turf was great as well. They’re all just cracking blokes. It was good to see last year’s group get the competition up into Provincial – that’s a massive effort.

RB: Do you remember your first Country Week on that bus?

CM: Absolutely. I was nervous as hell. I might’ve been 23 or so – there was Doigy, Sibba, Budgie, Mark Cooper, those guys – and there’s this rule where you have to sing a song on the bus on your first trip. I started looking for songs, and if you ask my wife Abby I’m notorious for getting lyrics wrong. I’ve got a terrible voice too, so I was worrying about what I was going to sing. The fines system is pretty brutal, and I didn’t want to pay my way out of it, so I ended up singing ‘Total Eclipse of The Heart’ by Bonnie Tyler. I didn’t even know the lyrics. Sibba was an a******* – I’d start and he’d say “No! That’s not the start of the song! Start again!” (laughs). I genuinely didn’t know the start of the song and everyone was laughing their heads off. Coops came up and he had the words, and it was that bad that he had to sing it with me. Russ, you’ve got to realise that it’s not until everyone else joins in that you can stop singing! No one would join in, would they? A*******s (laughs).
From then, I took it upon myself to make sure I was the judge of every other song for the remaining years I went on the trip. One of the best memories was one year with Jarrod Armitage and Kyle Brooke. Brookesy gets up and sings ‘Boom Boom Boom’ by The Outhere Brothers. It’s meant to be ‘Boom, boom, boom’ – three of them. He gets up and sings ‘Boom, boom – way-ooh!’. I just said “Mate, sit the f*** down. That is terrible!” (laughs).
Now there’s this video going around Facebook of this girl doing her version of it in front of a computer. Well, we send that to Brookesy all the time.
Jarrod Armitage got up and sang ‘Bloke’ by Chris Franklin. It was word for word, but god it was horrible.
When BJ Parrott came along as a reserve wicket-keeper as a young bloke he sang ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ by INXS and he bloody nailed it, the little prick.
There were other times like when we were playing Bairnsdale one year and both sides were at Crown the night before.

RB: We spoke about the red and black earlier, but what about another of your loves – the Richmond Football Club…

CM: I’ve always been mad Richmond, and I blame my dad. We still sit around talking footy all the time – you can ask Abby all about that. It gets our heart-rates elevated – it’s something we’re even more passionate about than cricket. I love cricket, but footy is tribal. I get angry, and I don’t watch footy with the family. I watch it with my dad, but we’ll be three goals down and he’ll just say “nope, we’re done”. Being a Richmond supporter, I’ve seen my side snatch victory from the jaws of defeat so often. The thing is – mum barracks for Hawthorn. The only person in the family. I was born in 1983. Richmond was fantastic until 1982. I was born in Feb ’83, and how many flags did Hawthorn win until Richmond’s next? (laughs). When Hawthorn won their three-peat a few years ago I would have been 30-odd. I congratulated mum on the first one, and by the second I was like “mum, couldn’t you have chosen one of us to barrack for Hawthorn?”. By the third one I just didn’t want to know about it. We’re all Richmond, and mum is Hawthorn.
Before we won a couple of years ago, I just couldn’t see it happening.

RB: Were you at the MCG for the game?

CM: No. That whole month was one of the better months you could have as a Richmond fan. Mitch (Daley), our captain now, is Richmond. Nelly (Michael Nell), our former coach, is Richmond. Trent (Rolfs) and Julian Scott are Richmond too, and Mitch Thomas as well. There’s six of our first XI – all Richmond. Mitch was getting tickets for us, and we were going. We got Camma (Andrew Cammarano) from Kooweerup a ticket to the Geelong game and he was sitting with us. Then we went to the GWS game, and we had a cricket practice match that day. Richmond was playing a twilight game at the ‘G, so we thought we’d start the practice match at 11am, get changed, and be in the city at the Precinct in plenty of time, have a few beers and then head to the footy. That whole year we got rolled a lot, but that practice match we wanted to finish early we couldn’t get blokes out! We were retiring blokes. Everyone was batting for their lives and we just wanted to get to the prelim. In the end we just called an end to it, jumped in a taxi, and headed straight there.
That roar when Lambert kicked the first goal of the prelim – it was insane.

RB: Did you think there was something special brewing at the time of that game?

CM: When you look back now, yes. But not at the time. For grand final day, I just couldn’t spend that much money on a ticket. I was so nervous that I didn’t know whether I should watch the game at home in peace or not. In the end I watched it at a mate’s place over a couple of beers, but the amount of times I’ve watched the replay since… mate, I’ve lost count.

RB: Marshy, your other great love is your family – Abby and the two girls. Your eldest daughter Izzy has had her battles over the journey…

CM: Yeah, that gives me a lot of perspective – with cricket, work, everything. The Royal Children’s Hospital became a second home to us. We don’t know any different. People tell us that they don’t know how we do it, well we don’t know how to not do it. We walk in there though, and walk back out. A lot of other kids don’t.
She has a condition that causes epilepsy, and for us that gives us a lot of perspective.

RB: And clearly that would only make you stronger as a family?

CM: By a mile, Russ. That’s the good thing about it – there are things you just know you can get through and you can help other people through too. It’s amazing what you can get through when you don’t have a choice. Every now and then I sacrifice something at cricket for home, but home just sacrifices so much more for cricket and I’m always wary of that. Cricket is almost a full-time job at times, and that’s why I’ve always argued that we should shorten games.

RB: Mate, you’ve been a long-term player at Emerald, you’re a former captain, you’re the current president, and you also coach under-10s on a Friday – even though you don’t have any kids playing under-10s?

CM: Yeah, that’s right. We were searching for a coach and some of the guys from the club we go away camping with as a family asked if I’d be interested. I said it’d just be another night away from the family, but my wife and two girls – who don’t play cricket and never have – come along with me and they’ve made themselves at home at the club too.

RB: Righto – light-hearted time again, mate. Tell me about the time you were at Crown Casino and one particular bloke took a liking to you…

CM: It was after cricket, and one of the older blokes lived down towards the city so we decided to go to Crown. We got there and somehow we bumped into Paul Marsh – the AFLPA CEO. We’re not related at all, but the next thing you know we’re all having a good night – at where San Antone is now – and this old bloke was going around pinching me on the arse. Next thing we know, he did it to one of my mates. It was backs to the wall for the rest of the night.

RB: What are your favourite TV shows and movies? Be honest here mate… there’s Married at First Sight…

CM: I watch that now, yes – mainly because Abby has to watch 70 or 80 games of footy a year and probably 100 days of cricket. It’s really hard to not watch what she wants to watch then, isn’t it? Thing is though, I’ve found myself yelling at the TV when it’s on! The Notebook is up there too – that’s a winner, mate. Abby hates it, but I love it!

RB: Where’d the nickname ‘Inchy’ come from?

CM: I was small in stature for a long time, but as you get older the nickname changes. I got it when I was 10 or 11, and then it stuck so you’d get some old blokes at the past players days come up and that’s all they’d call me. The younger players think it’s taken on a different meaning, put it that way (laughs).

RB: And ‘Bezza Boy’?

CM: Mate, I had blonde hair so I have no idea why I went with blonde tips but everyone else was doing it! (laughs). When Abby and I were first together, everyone had them at Blitz. There were tips everywhere. My great mate Jamie Smith still has them! He’s another one of the blokes on Country Week you just love to play with.

RB: You’ve lost a few things over the journey mate – wallet, keys, phone, wedding ring…

CM: Yeah, twice. I still can’t find it at the moment. I lost it for three months once, and I tried to hide it from Abby for ages. Next thing I know I’m at work pulling everything off the shelf and there it was. I don’t know where it is now. It’s in the house somewhere, I know that much. We look for it every now and then, but let’s say Abby is pretty confident I’m not going anywhere, Russ. I’m not really getting better looking now, am I?

RB: And what about your ‘dress’ sense, as a kid…

CM: Look, with my long blonde hair at the time, I could have fooled a few people that I was a girl. Mum and dad thought it was a good idea to put me in a dress for a party this one time.

RB: And what about when Abby would bring out the fake tan?

CM: Mate! I’ve never worn that once in my life…. Ok, maybe one time when I tried to be Ben Cousins but didn’t have the rig – or the tattoos. I’m too hairy for fake tan, mate.

RB: We’ve spoken about your great loves mate, but there’s another one – beer. What about the time recently on a camping trip where you refused to let one float away in the river…

CM: Look, we thought instead of dragging the esky to the river we’d have the beers in the river – it was that cold. Next thing, the cans were floating away. I was sitting there contemplating life…

RB: But mate you left one of your daughters in the river so you could catch the runaway beers!

CM: Priorities, Russ. Priorities. She was safe, but if you run out of beers on a camping trip it’s bloody hard to get more.

RB: Mate, I reckon the subject of beer is a great way to end a ‘Beer O’Clock’. Thanks so much for the chat – I’ve loved it…

CM: Cheers, Russ.

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