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GALLERY: Cricket legend Jim Brennan’s brilliant innings honoured


He’s dedicated more than seven decades to the game he loves – as a player, a mentor, an official and an administrator.

So, it’s apt Jim Brennan’s involvement in local cricket was this week honoured by the powers-that-be.

It comes after a stellar career on the paddock, many years as a representative selector, in excess of 1,500 games as an umpire and, even, duties at the Special Olympics in 2016.

And, with proud family members and friends looking on, the Newcastle Junior Cricket Association renamed one of its assets at Hamilton’s Smith Park the Jim Brennan Nets on Tuesday.

“We’re delighted to acknowledge his contribution,” Dave Wild said.

“It’s certainly well-deserved.

“Jim’s volunteered in some capacity to the game of cricket almost continuously for 72 years.

“He’s been in every single role imaginable during that period, too.

“It is an amazing achievement.”

Brennan started playing cricket in 1947, at the ripe age of eight, with Cooks Hill Primary School under the guidance of sportsmaster Noel McCaffery, eventually making grade with Newcastle City at 14.

Six years later, he transferred to Centennial CC in the City and Suburban competition.

He was then elected to the committee of that organisation in his first season.

“Who would have thought that at eight years of age, I’d still be involved?” Brennan told the Newcastle Weekly.

“I haven’t missed a season until 2021/22 because of a cancer in the leg and a couple of other ailments.

“But, I’m touched by this presentation [today] – it’s a real honour.

“I’ve never done it for the recognition, however it seems to follow me.”

Together with good friend Ron Arendts, they coached a team from the Murray Dwyer Orphanage when it was located at Mayfield West.

He continued that mentoring role for many decades at club level as well as with dozens of representative squads over numerous seasons.

Not to be outdone, he also stood as a rep selector for more than 40 years.

“I just love the game,” Brennan said.

“Even when I was six, my next-door neighbour – who played grade cricket for Newcastle City – would take me to the ground.

“Every time the ball went to the boundary, he’d yell ‘righto Jim, go get it’.

“I cheated my way into the school side, too,” he added with a laugh.

“When I was still in infants, I was actually picked in a primary team.

“I don’t think anyone realised how young I was.

“However, I thought I’d be right because I was going from infants to primary over the Christmas holidays, when the match was scheduled to be played.

“I’m there with my brother, who was in the seniors’ side, and the teacher threw me the ball and said ‘have a bowl’.

“So, I did what I was told.

“The one stump was a block of wood and I knocked it out of the ground.

“The teacher turned to me and said ‘ok, you’re in’.

“I must admit, I had a ‘colourful’ playing career.

“As an opening bowler, I earned rep honours, which was terrific.

“I also snared six or seven hat-tricks.

“But, I don’t have those balls [as souvenirs] because I’d take them off the trophy and play cricket with them.

“That’s how much I love the game.”

In 1976, Brennan pursued another course, umpiring.

He passed his certificate and, amazingly, remains a member of the Newcastle City and Suburban Cricket Umpires Association (NCSCUA) to this day – a total of 46 years.

In 2018, he was nominated for, and awarded, the Distinguished Service Award at Parliament House for his dedication to the sport.

Twelve months later, he gained Life Membership with NCSCUA.

“When I became an umpire, they sent me to the Newcastle Cricket Committee and I was elected assistant secretary,” Brennan said.

“Four years later, they made me president, which I held onto from 1980 to 1995.

“In 1987, I became the first public officer of the Newcastle Junior Cricket Association when it gained autonomy.

“I’ve been in every role on every committee I’ve been involved with.

“And, my passion’s still strong.

“What many people don’t know is that I also raised more than $10,000 over 18 months – enough to put young kids through the umpiring [system], paying for their membership, a hat and shirt.

“My aim has always been to help the youngsters.

“I had assistance along the way.

“So, I thought as a player why can’t I give something back to the game.

“It’s not that hard when you love it as much as I do.

“And, I’ve seen some wonderful talent come through.

“I honestly feel blessed.”

When asked about the current state of affairs at national level, Brennan didn’t hold back.

“I think Cricket Australia is in turmoil,” he said.

“It’s disgusting what they did to Justin Langer.

“They appointed him to do a job after the sandpaper scandal in South Africa.

“He did that and then went on to win a T20 World Cup and the latest Ashes series 4-0.

“What more could he do?

“The biggest problem is the guys playing resented authority and they didn’t like being told what to do.

“They had too much to say.

“Pat Cummins disappointed me, too, with his statement.

“He made out he wasn’t involved but should have been more upfront when asked.

“I truly hope the Poms pick up Langer over there to pull them into gear.

“Within two years, they’d be a real force.”

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