Former Halstead skipper Matt Spatcher has played his last match for the club. The popular Australian has taken up the offer of a job in his home town of Perth, Western Australia and will be returning home with his young family in the near future.
It spells the end of a nine year playing career with Halstead, that started with him as a last minute overseas player and that developed into him joining the long list of captains at the club.
He arrived in 2002, the year following Halstead's relegation from the East Anglian Premier League, as an overseas player. His intended destination, East Bergholt had already filled their allocation and as such passed on his details to Halstead, who were yet to find a player. It transpired that East Bergholt's loss was to be Halstead's gain as Spatcher was a consistent contributor with both bat and ball.
He first played under the tenure of Robert Gregg in a side that struggled back in Two Counties Division One, but it was under the captaincies of Phil Toogood and Simon Steel that Spatcher feels had the biggest influence on him. Steel said this of Spatcher: “Matt was one of the most talented cricketers I have played with. He had the ability to take any attack apart. It was a credit to him that in an age where players often chop and change for financial gain, he has stayed loyal to Halstead, which shows to affection he has for the club”.
Spatcher played in Two Counties Division One winning sides in 2003, 2006 and again in 2008 as he led the side to promotion to the East Anglian Premier League and marks the final game of that season as one of his favourites: the victory over Wivenhoe ensured that Halstead were promoted ahead of their closest rivals, Mildenhall.
Spatcher faced the hard task of keeping his side in the league, with a relegation dogfight going down to the wire for two consecutive seasons. However he credits the team’s willingness to fight as the reason for not only their promotion, but also their successful battle to retain Premier League status. In 2009 there were two games left in the season and ultimately 39 points were required to stay up. It was away at Godmanchester that Spatcher won the toss and put them into bat. Had Godmanchester made 250 then Halstead mathematically couldn’t survive, but a spirited team performance saw them bowled out for 79, and Halstead then ensured their place in the league with victory over Saffron Walden the following week.
Spatcher handed over the captaincy to Tom Philp for the 2011 season, to spend more time with his wife Shari and daughter Grace.
Spatcher was presented with a commemorative silver salver by club president Peter Rawlinson and a shirt signed by current club members as mementos of his time at the club after the games on Saturday. It was a game that typified Halstead’s time in the Premier League, returning from the ropes to salvage a draw and very nearly a win.
Spatcher himself said a few words before saying his emotional goodbyes to a team, and town he called home. Everyone at the club wishes him the best in the future and hopes to stay in touch.
In his Halstead 1st Team career Spatcher scored 5,871 runs, with his highest score being 161 not out against Clacton earlier this season and his best season being in 2002 when he amassed 1,051 runs. He also took 242 wickets with his best return being 6 for 31 against Coggeshall in 2004.