I created my first ever memory with Melbourne University Cricket Club during an unseasonably warm afternoon in September 2006. The smell of freshly cut grass permeated the air and excitable University students roamed mask free with gay abandon.
The flurry of warm introductions, firm handshakes, and military-like discipline was unlike anything I had ever witnessed.
“I like this” I thought to myself.
Since then, many amazing moments have transpired.
I’ve been mentored, coached and counselled on many important subjects, but most especially, how to improve as a human being.
I’ve witnessed unimaginable selflessness, humility and generosity.
I’ve witnessed young men blossom into outstanding leaders for their club, their careers and in society.
I’ve witnessed heart-breaking moments and delirious elation.
I’ve witnessed athletic genius and forgettable sodas that would make your eyes water.
I’ve witnessed off-break, leg-break, hamstrings and “that’s definitely hit something?”.
I’ve witnessed runout, timed-out, washout, not out and “Hey lads, it’s my shout”.
I’ve witnessed Club Championships, Premierships, Life-memberships, partnership and friendship.
I’ve witnessed boat races, red faces, Cardinals, Interstate trips, Overseas tours, and even inspired a fancy-dress costume for an opposition skipper.
I’ve swallowed lime cordial, previously frothy’s, now on the coffees and my pride frequently.
I’ve attended tribunals, funerals and even played when it’s monsoonal.
I’ve witnessed the growth, development and year on year improvement of a place that left me better than when I started.
In that time, I found my purpose and reason for being on this planet.
I’ve confronted head-on and conquered habits, beliefs and addictions that did not serve me well.
I’ve learned how to listen, observe and empathise better.
I’ve been called on a Sunday morning by MUCCers that were checking in on my welfare.
I’ve been humbled to tears with the generosity of so many individuals.
I met, got engaged and will soon marry the love of my life whose last name is legitimately “Maiden Over” (well, spelt Maydonova, but you get the gist). Will I take Anna’s name you ask? Well “Ditchburn-Maydonova” might be the closest to six dot balls that I’ll see in a while…
They say “you’re never too old to learn and never too young to teach” and what I have learned from my 14-year-old teammates will simply blow your mind. Pay attention to your kids, they’re bloody smart.
Whether you’re reading this as a parent, supporter, volunteer, administrator, selector, club President, scorer, partner, player or simply a fan of the great game, I need you to know something.
Whether you realised it not, your passion, tolerance, joy and sacrifice provided a safe space for me when I needed it most.
Thank you for giving me that.
Laban ‘Doitch’ Ditchburn – Outgoing 4XI Skipper and proud life-member of MUCC