I was very fortunate to come across a club like Clontarf. I had taken 6 months off for the Australian winter in 1988 to play cricket in East Kent having played for the University of NSW in the Sydney grade competition.

As luck would have it, the UNSW Cricket Club had organised a UK & Ireland tour that Northern summer and upon joining the tour, one of the games we played was in Dublin against Clontarf. Well, the game was great but afterwards the fun we had in the club and the hospitality was just incredible.

There were people like JB Bunworth, Keith Lewis and Vinnie Savino the club president who were all determined to ensure we got a good old Irish welcoming. At one point, well into the late hours and early morning, one of our players, John Gallagher, perched himself up in the rafters of the clubhouse ceiling and despite concerns for his safety from the audience, proceeded to recite a famous poem by Australian Banjo Patterson "The Man From Ironbark".

Predictably we lost the singing to our Irish counterparts but we won a camaraderie within the space of 24 hours! Having stayed longer in the UK than I intended, I decided that I would spend some time in Ireland and of course, if I was going to play cricket, there was only ever going to be one club if they'd have me and that was Clontarf! 

University of New South Wales tour 1988 at Cambridge (inc Geoff Lawson and Michael Atherton)

It took me a while to get used to Dublin and getting on the DART with a Symonds cricket bag over my shoulder each week for training brought various stares (at one point I was going to see if I could fit my gear into a hurling bag) but quickly I settled in and would end up enjoying the Irish experience which would end up being some of the best times of my life.

In 1990, we had a very good side which had some superstars who had played for Ireland such as Deryck, Michael Rea and Enda. Then we had guys coming through with talent such as Brian MacNeice and Mighty McLean and then the rest of us just sort of gelled.

Brenny Bergin was our captain and instilled in us the importance of fighting when things got tough and we all got on so well together. If someone had a bad day, there would be someone usually who had a good day and this went on week in and week out and put us in good stead for most competitions.

We managed to make the semi-final of the Irish Senior Cup and had to travel to Belfast to play the highly fancied Woodvale. I was told that in the past with cricket trips to the North this would usually mean stopping for breakfast at the Brighton Grand Hotel in Dundalk but as it had been the scene for various bombings in earlier years, alternative measures for sustenance before the game were adhered to.

We hired a bus with a driver from a company and off we sailed on a July sunny morning. We fielded first and I thought it was strange that all these dressed up soldiers would be marching around the ground playing drums for the crowd as additional entertainment whilst we played. in hindsight it must have been the forerunner to 20/20 atmosphere. I think I said to Bren, "How good is this?!" and he informed me it was the Orange Day Parades and in those days probably not the best thing to have the bus parked outside with Dublin number plates!

As is well known, we recorded a famous victory in the last over and then it was straight to the Woodvale clubhouse after the game to celebrate hard. After a few hours, it was time to get on the bus. The old bus driver who we didn't know from a bar of soap seemed in very good spirits and later on we would discover what good spirits they were - whiskey, vodka and anything it seemed he could get his hands on whilst we were in the clubhouse! We took off for Dublin about 9pm. After about 2 hours and with Enda giving us a rerun of his first 25 dotballs before he started to let loose with willow (& crucially that day with Deryck and then Bren!), someone noticed that we should have been in Dublin by then. We had missed the turn!

Whilst a very worried Bren tried to figure where we were, we all got off the bus to find a tree for a much-needed stop. I remember thinking at the time how funny it was but Bren said "Pete - this is NOT funny. Of all the days to be lost at night along the border was bad. I think I realised it was more dangerous than my running between the wickets so we were in a fair spot of bother. Eventually we made it home about 1am I think, and we drank it out at the club until about 4.30am. What a day we had!

Another brief story was when we played our fierce rivals YMCA in a Wiggins Teape game. We played very well that day and happened to smash them off the park. Brian MacNiece got 9 wickets I believe for very few and after the game near the dressing sheds the phone rang and it was Sean Pender from the Irish Times wanting a match summary. With us all listening and hiding our laughter, Brian took the phone and made out he was the scorer and proceeded to tell Sean about the win by Clontarf and what an amazing player Brian MacNeice was!

He rattled off some other noted performances but ended the call with another round of Brian MacNeice deliveries including one which swung in, dipped, held its line and then moved off the seam to claim Alan Lewis! The next day, there it was, plastered all over the back page with MacNeice this and MacNeice that. None of us got to buy a paper though, as Brian had bought the lot right across Dublin City.

Yes - 1990 was very successful on the field but it was just as successful off it. We all got on well and the wins we had were a bonus. I eventually went back to Sydney and my parents picked me up from the airport. My mother recalls that when she saw me get off the plane, she thought to herself my only possession as a 25 year old was a dirty old cricket bag and what would become of me.

Many years later when she told me this, I said "That was right mum, but I was a millionaire in life experience" and my time in Clontarf was to serve me so well later in life in so many different ways!