At the beginning of July the Barwon Heads Cricket Club and the wider community of the town lost a wonderful friend and player in William 'Billy' Spinks. We were all shocked and saddened to hear of Bill's passing and, having gained the permission of the family and thanks to the indulgence of the editor of this publication, we would like to extend these few words of tribute to him.
Bill was a member of the BHCC for 10 seasons. During this time he represented the club in all 4 grades, played a total of 76 matches scoring 1,518 runs at an average of 26.17 in 71 innings. He also took III wickets at an average of 16.24, won 1 batting average, 1 bowling average, took 1 hat trick and scored 1 century. As well as being a member of 3 premiership teams. Except for the premierships and the hundred, and maybe the hat trick Bill would never have known any of those stats though. It was all about the fun for Bill.
He first played for the club in season 1995-96 playing in C grade where he was a member of his first premiership team. This was the year when he scored his highest score of 117 for the club on that now folkloric occasion where he hit an Elephant in the behind.
The circus was in town and the Elephants were penned in an area adjacent to the little ground at Barwon Heads. As the years went on though those Elephants migrated to an area further and further from the pitch until, I'm pretty sure, the one Billy hit was actually in the car park at the pub, such was the size of the six.
During that year Bill was more than just a bit player in that Premiership team. He scored 248 runs at an average of better than 27 with a highest score of 117, as well as taking 28 wickets at an average of 14.82 with best figures of 6-33. He also featured in a memorable partnership with Jimmy Condon, of almost 200 in the semi final of that season when the team was in a little bit of bother.
In 2003-04 when he was a member of the "Sheep wash 11" D grade premiership he scored 392 runs at an average of35 with a highest score of71 not out and took 28 wickets at an average of 12, with best figures of 4/10.
The best figures for the team in that season. It should be remembered that these were all one day games.
In the C grade premiership of 2004-05 Bill was a little quieter. He played only 9 games but still managed to score 140 runs at an average of 28 and take 11 wickets at 20 with a best of 5-31. He also had the honour of scoring the winning runs in the grand final with a cut shot that was the best stroke played in the days play. The delight on his face as he realized that it had pierced the field and was headed for the fence, was fantastic to see. Bill really enjoyed the game. Bill was also coach of the under 11 team for 2 seasons in 04-05 and 05-06 so he took the time to pass on his love of the game as well as some of his special talents to the younger fellows. We all hope that he taught them to value their wicket a little better than he did, but then again it worked for him so why would he have? Hitting the ball was fun. For Bill the game was never serious and always fun. It must have rubbed off too, as one of those teams remained unbeaten for the whole season. This prompted Bill to take some drastic action with his hair as payment for the team's feat.
In anybody's terms he made an enormous contribution to the performance of the teams he played in, and the fact that he played in three premierships in his time at the club was in no short measure due to the fact that he was in the team. And it was not only his ability with bat and ball that set Bill apart form the pack as a player. He had an unmistakable swagger and presence as both a cricketer and as a bloke. There was hardly ever a dull moment when Bill was on song. His great strength as a player was that he knew when the game was serious and when it was fun. Never serious and always fun. Having a bloke in the team like that makes a huge difference when the chips are down, as they invariably are, when its 40 in the water bag and there's a bit of leather to chase. He never took it too seriously and always, always had time for a beer with the opposition after the battle. No matter what the state of the game on the field, he never let that get in the way of the fun he could have playing sport with his mates.
I remember in a C grade game just last season when I was fielding at point. Bill bowled a rank half tracker outside off stump which the batsman duly cut hard in my direction. More in shock than anything, I moved downward and to my right and took a catch at bootlace height which just stuck in my hand. Bill was very amused and simply said "Shite gets wickets." I was wrapped though, as I thought my days of athletic catches were over. "Did you see the catch Bill?" I said. "No Teddy I missed it. You were bent down so low that the sun was reflecting off the top of your head right in my eyes. Didn't see a thing." Funny Bloke Bill. Never serious. Always Fun.
My favorite cricket memory of Bill however, will always be the day he bowled the first ball of a D grade match in 03-04.
The "Sheep wash 11" had 2 traditions.
Firstly they always needed a sub for the first over because Matty Walter was invariably late. On this day I was the fellow who got to sub for the first over. The second tradition was that they used to field a keeper and 9 slips from the beginning of the innings until a run was scored off the bat. So Bill steams in, first ball of the match, flat out, and bowls a half volley a yard outside off stump. The batsman slashes hard as he can and the ball flies hard and high to about 4th slip. Maxy Schaller is standing at slip and the ball hit his outstretched arm about in the middle of the forearm, it lobbed gently up and over me at 3rd slip. I couldn't quite get my hands on it, but just as I was about to grab it the second slipper, and Billy's great mate, Andy Bree snatched it out of my grip and claimed the catch. I thought Bill was going to laugh himself sick and I'm sure that if the catch had been dropped he would still have gleaned the same pressure from the spectacle that he had just witnessed at the other end. He just saw the game like that. Never serious and always fun. Not to be outdone, he enticed a similar shot from the next batsman a couple of balls later and this time Andy executed a more conventional dismissal, bringing only a wry smile from Bill.
Our club was a better place for having Bill's colorful presence, our teams were the better for having his cricketing talent and team spirit and our lives were better for having known him. It'll be a different place without Billy. We also extend our sincerest condolences to his family.
We'll see ya later Spinksy. Thanks for sharing your cricket with us.
Thanks so very for making it never serious and always, always lots of fum.