STAND-in captain Joel Charles scored a heroic 94 to set up Wanneroo Districts Cricket Club’s maiden first-grade premiership, 29 years after the club joined the WACA’s premier competition in 1983.
Playing Subiaco Floreat at the WACA, the Roos restricted their opponents to 210 on Saturday and then saw out a nerve-wracking Sunday contest to emerge victorious on 9-214.
Subiaco Floreat, heavy favourites to win the match, boasted WA bowlers Nathan Coulter-Nile (3-71) and Jason Behrendorff (5-76), who did their job magnificently.
With Coulter-Nile having already contributed 68 with the bat, he combined with Behrendorff to tear into the Wanneroo batsmen with the ball in the twilight of day one. The duo sent six of Wanneroo’s best back to the shed in quick succession, leaving the Roos floundering at 6-45.
But with number six Charles displaying sheer doggedness as wickets fell around him, number eight Leigh Millar’s arrival at the crease marked the beginning of an incredible Wanneroo fightback.
The duo began day two at 6-83 and set about building an 118-run partnership to put Wanneroo in sight of an unlikely victory.
Millar had never scored a half-century before and if ever there was a right time to do it, this was it.
He eventually went for 50 and Gary Atkinson soon after on 12, with the Roos again looking shaky at 8-189.
Charles’s quest for a grand final ton was cut short by the dangerous Coulter-Nile, leaving tail-enders Martin Paskal and Chris Quelch to be the unlikely batting heroes at 9-201.
Behrendorff and Coulter-Nile threw everything they had at them, but the pair continued to tick the runs over, eventually pulling the match even at 9-210.
Paskal then hit the winning four and Wanneroo supporters, holding their breaths, leapt into the air in a state of disbelief.
Clearly the underdogs, the Roos had been seventh on the league ladder and had to beat Joondalup outright in the season’s final round to finish in fourth place.
They defeated Subiaco Floreat, which was without Behrendorff and Coulter-Nile, in the preliminary final, then downed Joondalup in the semi-final at Iluka Sporting Complex to make the season final.
Coach Andy Oram said the victory was amazing and was fulsome in his compliments of the players.
Fourth grade went down to Joondalup at Iluka in their grand final.