at ‘peace’ Mass
Archbishop’s advice lifts Papal Bulls
The Papal Bulls in prayer before a game
By Damir Govorcin
A few words of advice from the Archbishop of Sydney, Dr George Pell, have helped spark a rise from wooden spooners to finals contenders for a parish cricket team.
St Michael’s, Belfield, the only Catholic club in the NSW Cricket Association Churches Competition, fields teams - the Papal Bulls - in the A grade reserve and C grade divisions.
The A grade reserve side is riding high at the top of the table and is hot favourite to take out the premiership.
But the C grade side has been in the doldrums, finishing at the bottom of the table last summer.
Talented middle-order batsman Lyndon Cox came out of a 10-year retirement to help strengthen the side this year.
But, because he hadn’t played for such a long time, he was relegated to No 11, last man in.
That’s when the archbishop offered some advice to team captain Anthony McCarthy.
“I was meeting with Archbishop Pell for different reasons, but the topic soon turned to cricket and Lyndon’s place in the batting order,” says Anthony.
“Archbishop Pell suggested I quickly move Lyndon up the order to better utilise his talents.”
He took heed of the archbishop’s advice.
The results were immediate, with Lyndon - director of Catholic Youth Services - tearing opposition bowling attacks apart and emerging as the team’s leading run-scorer.
Anthony also gives no small part of the credit for the team’s turnaround to the bowling form of his brother, James.
The left arm quickie, who is in his second year at the Good Shepherd Seminary, Homebush, has taken 45 wickets so far this season in a lethal three-pronged pace attack with Anthony (40 wickets) and Daniel Housnell (37).
James may be a seminarian, says Anthony, but he shows no mercy to opposition batsmen.
“I wouldn’t call James a wimpy bowler … he likes to get up the batsmen,” he says.
“He doesn’t sledge and prefers to let his bowling do all the talking.”
The C-grade side needs to win its final round match to clinch a spot in the semi-finals.
The Papal Bulls have a pre-game ritual of saying a group prayer, which Anthony Gordon, captain of the senior side, believes has been a contributing factor to his side remaining undefeated in the past two seasons.
“Saying a prayer before the game unites our team and allows us to live and share our faith,” says Anthony.
“We invite our opponents to share in our prayer session, and they have responded to it.
“We say the Our Father together and we also pray to our patron St Michael.
“The prayer session brings our opponents and us together, and sets the tone for the match to be played in the right spirit.”
Anthony McCarthy says the pre-game prayer isn’t simply “praying to our Lord for a win”.
“Even though that can be tempting at times, I think it would defeat the purpose of what we are trying to do,” he says.
“We pray that no one is injured on either side, and also it is a good conversation starter about faith with the rest of the team.”
Although the games are played in the right spirit, Anthony Gordon says emotions can sometimes get out of hand.
“Although it’s a group of friends coming together to share their faith and play cricket, the matches are played in a hard, competitive manner,” he says.
“Sometimes there are incidents, but that is human nature.”
Anyone interested in starting a Catholic side or joining the St Michael’s Club can call Anthony Gordon on 0425 299 967 or email email@example.com