Legends of cricket rub shoulders at Rainbow Beach
CRICKET: To some it may just have been another night out at Rainbow Beach but to Merv O'Neill and his cricket club, a talk from some former test cricketers may have been the catalyst for turning the Cooloola Coast into the state's next cricket hub.
Jeff Thomson, Doug Walters and Len Pascoe headlined a talk at the Rainbow Beach Sports Recreation and Memorial Club lat weekend.
The trio recounted their experiences as cricketers and gave listeners an insight into their views on the state of the game.
President and captain of the Rainbow Beach Cricket Club, O'Neill said it was encouraging to have high profile players wanting to come to the area.
"We had young fellow from the club who were in awe,” he said.
O'Neill and his club are pioneering the game on the Cooloola Coast.
He, along with a dedicated band of Rainbow Beach enthusiasts, are turning the Cooloola Coast town into a cricketing powerhouse.
Playing in the Gympie Regional Cricket Association's reserve grade competition, the side recently won the reserve grade one-day competition.
O'Neill said the support the club had received from locals was overwhelming.
"I am a cricket tragic,” he said. "You need that core group of players to move forward. We have managed to recruit some people who have a cricket background.
"When we set up it was just a bunch of blokes who were friends. We could have done anything - darts even.
"We all just enjoy each other's company.”
On the back of the high-profile visit, O'Neill is hoping to expand Rainbow's cricketing culture to the next generation.
"I want to see it (cricket) here for the long term.
"We get good crowds and we have a couple of older guys that always come down and score.”
However, while the game itself is thriving, O'Neill said the Rainbow Beach sporting facilities need a facelift.
"We really want to get the ground organised,” he said.
"There are very few sporting facilities in town.”