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Maitland cricketers catch $1.9m windfall

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The memory of local cricket legend Harold “Mick” Hinman will forever remain etched in the Maitland sporting landscape.

And, it’s all thanks to a $1.9 million facelift.

The pavilion, renamed in his honour back in 2003, was among the recent upgrades undertaken at the city’s historic venue, Robins Oval.

The Maitland Park project, jointly funded by the NSW Government, Cricket NSW and Maitland City Council, included reconstructed tiered seating, enhanced changerooms for male and female athletes, a new canteen, amenities building and storage area.

Mayor Philip Penfold said the latest work befitted the exceptional deeds of Mr Hinman.

The talented sportsman snared 94 wickets in 1949-50, including 16 poles in one match and nine in an innings.

For good measure, he was handy with the bat, too.

On five different occasions, 1938-39, 1943-44, 1944-45, 1947-48 and 1949-50, he bagged 50 scalps and scored 500 runs in a season.

“Mick was an all-rounder who played against the West Indies in 1951 and represented Northern New South Wales Cricket as well,” he said.

“I’m told, that as a 12-year-old, he dismissed Sir Donald Bradman in 1933 as a schoolboy, which is no mean feat.

“So, he was a pretty special cricketer.”

Cr Penfold admitted the improvements were a “big win for local sporting groups – particularly cricket – and the wider Maitland community”.

“There’s a lot of history behind the facilities at Robins Oval, so it’s great to see them finally upgraded to modern standards, while maintaining their heritage nature,” he said.

“To say it’s long overdue is probably an understatement.

“We’ve heard no end of this need from City United Cricket Club… and rightly so.

“The standard of the facility they had prior was not appropriate.

“But, Paul Brownlee, the organisation and cricket manager Hunter/Manning and Infrastructure Northern NSW Gary Fisher have long advocated – and lobbied – for upgrades.

“It’s taken many years, and lots of discussions, to get here [today].

“Thank you, to City United in particular, for your patience in the delivery of this.”

Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison acknowledged it was terrific to see all the parties working together for the benefit of the community.

“I’m sure these upgrades will improve sporting events for local clubs and spectators now and into the future,” she said.

“It also highlights the importance of sport in uniting people.

“I’d like to pay tribute to the former Minister for Sport for the work they did to get things off the ground.

“I know that under the new government, we’ll continue to invest in Maitland because we view it as an important regional centre in NSW.

“It’s also great to see the kids playing cricket out there.

“I’m very pleased to hear about the naming of the facility because I have a very long and distant relationship with Sir Donald Bradman.

“So, it’s good to know that Maitland did get on top of him at some point.”

Mr Fisher added Cricket NSW was “proud to invest in the project”.

“It’s a true collaboration,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“However, I must recognise council’s Community and Recreation Department and its staff for their work on the project over many years.

“The upgraded Mick Hinman Pavilion will be a great asset for cricket in Maitland and the wider Hunter.

“These improvements will help the region attract more carnivals and other events from across the state.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by City United Cricket Club president Mick Randall.

“We’re looking forward to hosting tournaments here again,” he said.

“It is Maitland’s premier ground.

“Our club’s quite successful around this area.

“But, you can see out there [today], the young kids playing cricket.

“That’s what our club is all about and this facility now gives them something to strive for as they get into the senior ranks.

“It would be great to stage carnivals and big competitions in Maitland, too.

“I’d like to express my gratitude to City United members and team who put countless hours into undertaking this project.

“It’d be remiss not to mention Paul Brownlee, who really headed that up.”

The project was funded by $150,000 through the NSW Government’s ICC T20 World Cup 2020 Cricket Legacy Fund, $200,000 via the Australian Cricket Infrastructure Fund (ACIF) and council.

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