Two Blues News
1st Fleet - 2nd Coming
THE RETURN OF A FAVOURITE SON
This summer, the Two Blues welcome the return of a favourite son, with his son.
Four time premiership player and former First XI captain Darren Fleet is returning to the club after a decade and more absence.
One of the reasons for his return is to allow his son Archie to develop his game via our quality junior program, maintaining a rich Fleet family link to the club.
“He can only be coached by his Dad for so long,” Darren said.
Darren’s father, Arthur, and his brother, Brad, are also premiership players at the club, and his wife, Millie, also served on the committee.
Two Blues Media spoke to Darren as the news of his return broke.
10 QUESTIONS WITH DARREN FLEET
Q1: Fleetie, welcome back, what brings you back?
A1: There are TWO parts to that question. I have coached my son Arch's team at Drysdale for three years and have really enjoyed seeing the kids evolve and sharing my knowledge of the game with them. We played in back-to-back grand finals and last year the boys improved to a division one level, where we played against the two NCCC U/15 teams. I got to catch up with Rod Kiddle and Ian Hastie and talk about what they were doing and how the junior program worked and thought it would be great for Arch (he can only be coached by his Dad for so long).
The second part is that I put my hand up to play a few games if they were short last year and nearly played the whole season. I loved being back in that competitive team environment after nine years off and had a ball but I think the fact that my NCCC baggy blue still lives in my cricket bag helped me realise that when I play my last game of cricket, I want to be wearing that cap!
Q2: Your father and brother, as well as you, are premiership players with the club, your wife, Millie, also served on the committee and Archie is about to become a Two Blues player: what does this club mean to you?
A2: In a word, Home! So many of my fondest memories come from Queens Park and in particular NCCC. Even when I have played for another club, I have always followed the NCCC and still referred to myself as a Two Blue. Arch is super excited to become another Two Blue Fleet as well.
Q3: The facilities at Queens Park have improved a bit over the past decade, we even have ice baths: have you checked them our recently?
A3: I have had a look and can't wait to check out the Ice Bath!! I don't pull up after a game as well as I used too! The facilities including the playing surface on Stinton Oval have come such a long way, in my last season the ground was being resurfaced and the nets were still upstairs. I only played one game on Stinton Oval after it was redone, it really does look magnificent!
Q4: You and your brother Brad feature prominently in Barnso’s Bible, in both the real cricket department and the social awards, when you once won the award for worst player to make a score. What turned you into a century-scoring, average-winning, 500 runs in a season batsman?
A4: That was a funny one, I was still pretty new to the club and was really quite offended because I knew that I could bat, reality was though that, at that time I wasn't making any runs on turf at all. I couldn't play the first week of a game so Gav Clark picked me to play a one day game in the 5ths and I was lucky enough to make 114 no, then I went back to the Seconds and still couldn't make a run so the award was justified. What changed my batting was advice from Rod Kiddle, Russell Mitchell and James Duff, they told me to stop listening to people who were trying to get me to play a technically correct game and start trying to score the way I wanted to. I started to back my ability and attack the bowling and managed to get a few scores.
Q5: Your best bowling performance came into the Second XI, 7-30, tell us about that, and what sort of bowler you are.
A5: That was at Highton, I was still pretty new to bowling leg spin, Russ brought me on to bowl and my first ball was an awful long hop that got smacked straight to Heath Middleton at deep mid-wicket who took a great catch. In the huddle I remember Russ saying I was going to have a day out if I could get a wicket with a shit ball like that!!! (Battler reference Number 2.) From that moment on I felt like I was going to get a wicket every ball. I bowl leggies (or fast straight breaks), I get more drift and dip than I do spin which can help me out with LBW's and bowling batters, especially early in a spell.
Q6: You played in four premiership winning teams, one in the Thirds, three in the Seconds, the last of those as captain when you were dubbed Fleet the Magician, what’s the story behind that?
A6: All four flags were great, but that 2005/06 season was amazing. Sorry but this will be a long story.
We had struggled for the first half of the year and the equation at Christmas was pretty simple; if we want to play finals, win every game, and hope results go our way. It was all going to plan until the second last game of the season when we lost to East Belmont. In the end though, that loss won us the grand final. We only got about 120 and overnight East were cruising at 2-90 odd, the second week though, Scott Mullen went berserk with seven wickets all up and nearly won us the game. They passed us nine down and when they did, their wicket keeper stood up on the side lines and shouted, "Seasons over C#@$%'s". We took the last wicket and said we were going back in to try and reverse outright them, every one of us eye-balling their keeper as we walked into the rooms. I told the boys we have nothing to lose and that we were batting for 25 overs and declaring no matter what. We declared after 24 overs on four for about 180 after I was lucky enough to get 100no. We got about four wickets chasing the outright before they shut up shop, but after the game, the East captain told me they felt like they had lost the game.
We then had to win the last game against Newcomb outright, they knew it and they won the toss and sent us in, we declared at tea on about 185 odd then got to work, Ian Hastie got four wickets but we couldn't get the last two. I brought Chucky Clark on to just try something different and he took the two for the win in the last over of the day, we then set ourselves 20 overs to bat but declared on 163 off 14 overs when Chucky got his hundred, after that, everything worked. Scott Mullen got 6-15, Battler set a plan for their best bat and it only took two balls to get him (Battler reference Number 3) and we won outright setting up a first final with East Belmont.
The finals series seemed easy after that, I don't think we ever thought about losing after that, we chased down 167 against East Belmont in the first final, then defended 150 odd against St Joeys with Budget getting 5 wickets and then chased 167 against East in the Grand Final. I still think back at that seven-week period as my favourite time in cricket
Q7: Who is the best Two Blues batsman you have seen or played with?
A7: Really hard question but would have to say Ben Neville, his ability to make runs in big games was Freakish.
Q8: Who is the best Two Blues bowler you have seen or played with?
A8: The King - Gav Castle, his second spells bowling reverse swing at heat were incredible
Q9: You have had the honour of captaining the First XI, what are your memories of that?
A9: It was such an honour to captain the most successful club in Geelong. Even though it was in a really difficult time for the club, we had lost quite a few Senior players to Grovedale and had to play a lot of kids probably before they were ready, the hardest part about that year was that Stinton Oval was being resurfaced and we had to play all of our home games at the opposition on Sundays. We still managed to have a few really good wins though and see our younger players develop ahead of time. It was a really tough year but something I am still very proud of
Q10: Everyone has skipped the first nine questions to come to this one first because you captained him in a premiership winning side, so would have a whole book of Russell Mitchell stories. Let ‘em rip.
A10: Seriously, there are way too many, I have already referenced Battler a few times. I can recall my first playing memory of Russ. In my second game in the Twos at Queens Park Battler asked me to come into the slips with Dev Royce and himself. After about three balls Russ told me I should play Kamikaze slips with them. For the next over I had to shut my eyes as the bowler let the ball go and listen for the nick, scariest thing I've done on a cricket field and I have no idea if they had their eyes shut or not.