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Kensington favourite Mark Barber has hung up the boots and will return to his home club Payneham to finish off his career.
Barbs has had an enormous impact on the club, taking over 200 A Grade wickets and playing in two A Grade flags, three one day flags and a Twenty20 flag.
Whilst a wonderful cricketer, his personality is what will be missed most. He would have a chat, a laugh and a beer with anyone. He possessed a never say die attitude and became the A Grade spiritual leader. No one sung the song with more enthusiasm and he took over from JP as the song-leader after JP hung up the gloves.
Mark Barber batting in the 2010-11 Twenty20 grand final and with fellow Kensington legend, Barry "Nugget" Rees
What makes his performances so remarkable is that he was blessed with the worst hamstrings in grade cricket and sometimes played with less than ideal preparation. He didn’t always get his 8 hours of shut-eye but a quick energy stick before play and he was always right to go
His journey began as a fiery left arm quick in the juniors at Payneham. He switched to left arm orthodox spin which was to become his forte and when he was in his late teens took a punt on the Browns, coming across with talented Payneham team mate and best friend James Stagg to try his luck. The move proved to be a good one and within a season he was an A Grade regular, mixing it with the best cricketers in SA.
He is regularly described by his skippers Dean Waugh and Jake Brown as the best spinner in South Australia. In fact not a single player has ever got hold of him in over a decade of A Grade cricket (except Adelaide and Redbacks left hander Ben Johnson!). He was exceptionally difficult to score off and excelled in one day games.
Barbs… Cheech… Gollum… Tony… Ali… Tooch… he will be remembered fondly by all those fortunate enough to have played with him and we wish him all the best with the “Dukes” next season.
A few of his team mates have chipped in with some of their favourite memories including John Palmer, who described Barbs as the closest and LOUDEST talker when on the gas of all time. “One or the other please, Tooch!” requests JP.
Mark Barber in the 2008-09 losing one day cup grand final. The game finished poorly for the Browns but even worse for Barbs,
who did his ACL when landing after jumping up for a catch.
Barbs took England by storm in a couple of memorable winters over there. He performed some heroic deeds with bat and ball but perhaps his most memorable weekend was when he made both the back page and the front page of the local paper on the same day.
Back page headline: Aussie cricketer spins us to victory
Front page headline: Aussie cricketer kicked out of night club
Barbs has always stood up for his mates. Just prior to one of these trips to England, he weighed in to a fight at the Alma one time after one of his mates was targeted. Somehow he got hit on the elbow with a pool cue and almost missed his trip to England as a result!
Many years ago on an MCC Melbourne trip, Barbs and Buck were chatting up the same girl for quite some time. In an attempt to impress her, Buck gave a painfully long-winded explanation of his job with Senator Birmingham. Quickly losing interest, the girl then turned to Barbs and said, "...and what do you do?" to which Barbs shouted from close range, "I kill bugs!" Neither was successful.
Barbs once found himself in Hong Kong due to a stop-over flight. This happened to be during a SARS outbreak so to avoid delays, Barbs would cough his way to the front of queues in the airport where possible.
As part of the 2010-11 premiership celebrations, Barbs completed a Rainbow (7 x vodka's in 7 minutes, all the colours of the rainbow, ROYGBIV) at a local sponsor's hotel. This was completed without a shirt on whilst simultaneously stroking his nipples.
Barbs was bowling at Parkinson Oval and got hit for a huge six towards The Parade. "That one can catch the bus home," Barbs remarked.
Barbs came in at No 11 with just two balls to go in the first innings of the 2010-11 grand final. He had had a poor year with the bat (six ducks!). He had a mid-pitch conversation with Jamie “Sticks” Panelli who told him “Mate - see ball, hit ball.”
“Cool, Sticks,” Barbs replied.
Dylan Thompson was steaming in with the second new ball and speared a length ball in towards middle stump. The response from Barbs was to hit him for the cleanest, biggest six you’ve ever seen up into the new member’s grandstand. The crowd erupted. This was not a cow corner shot – it was text book. Barbs calmly strolled towards square leg to wait for the next ball and Dylan walked back to his mark, eyebrows raised. “Is that Barbs at the other end?” he asked umpire Paul ‘Blocker’ Wilson who had a massive smirk on his face. “When did he start to bat like that?”
Mark Barber batting against Woodville at Parkinson Oval in 2011-12 season
In 2011-12 against Sturt at Parkinson Oval we were 9/63 batting first. Barbs came in at No. 11 and shared a 90 run partnership with Sam Willis, which took our total to 153. It was nearly enough to win us the game as Sturt fell to 9/141, but unfortunately they scraped over the line. Incidentally, this was the same season that Barbs wasn't dismissed until round 8, at which time he was averaging 101. He finished the year with 135 runs at an average of 45 which was a fair effort considering he made 19 runs from 14 matches in the 2010/11 season.
A Twenty20 game at Campbelltown Oval was going down to the wire. In fading light, the Browns were 9 down needing four runs from the final four balls. East Torrens journeyman quick Andrew Watherston was bowling with Barbs on strike and big Jughead Campbell at the other end. Barbs played and missed at three balls in a row before scorching a drive through extra cover to the boundary off the last ball to win the game.
A one day semi final versus Southern Districts at Parkinson Oval was going down to the wire. The Stingrays were 9 down and needed 6 runs off the final over, to be bowled by Barbs. Scott Heywood was smashing them everywhere and got a single off the first ball exposing No 11 Simon Hatji. Next ball Barbs bowled a horror delivery that stuck in his fingers and barely landed half way down the pitch. Simon Hatji waited and waited… and with the ball on its way down somehow managed to bottom edge it into JP’s gloves. Game over!
In an A Grade one dayer at University Oval, Barbs and Jason “Yup” Neumann got in an argument over who would be the No 12 “non-batter” and who would bat at 11. Captain Dean Waugh couldn’t decide and suggested a rock, paper, scissors contest. Yup won and Barbs was spewing. Yup went on to make a crucial 21 not out in an amazing 85 run partnership for the last wicket with Jamie Panelli and we won in the last over, making the semi finals as a result.
Barbs was to make his A Grade debut in Round 1 of the 2001-02 season. It was at Glandore Oval against an Adelaide team featuring Jason Gillespie. The Browns had a very young team as quite a few regular players were unavailable. In fact there were four players in total making their A Grade debut in this game. (Pop quiz: Who were the other three? Answer: >>>
Chris Delaney, Ben Johnswood and Alex Hart
Day 1 of the Saturday-Sunday fixture was washed out but we were some chance of playing on Day 2. Needless to say, no one was particularly looking forward to facing Gillespie on a raging greentop. With an under-strength team we would have gladly taken the draw! We stood nervously around the pitch in a huddle with the umpires in a typical “we’ll have another look in an hour” mode.
Another passing shower went over the ground and skipper Dean Waugh went straight over to shake the umpires hands. “Oh well boys… we gave it a crack.” The umps bought it and called the game off. We were so happy we nearly sung the song. That day we spent the afternoon at the Maid & Magpie as sunshine blazed away outside. All other games got away.
Mark Barber with Shaun Tait prior to the 2001-02 grand final and leading the club song after the 2005-06 one day grand final win
Barbs was batting with Sam Turner in an A Grade game and was copping a bit of sledging. Between overs a fielder said, “Let’s get this f***ing muppet out… he can’t bat for s***!” In their mid-pitch conference, Hooch told him not to worry about it and just to focus on what he needs to do. Barbs: “Nah, he’s right... but f*** ‘em.”
After one of his many match-winning performances, Barbs was awarded man of the match honours. He went up to collect his prize but they had run out of awards. Everyone was searching around for a suitable replacement prize that Barbs would like. Greg Blewett piped up with his suggestion: “A Cheech & Chong DVD?”
We were trying to stave off an outright loss against Adelaide at Parkinson. Barbs had been badly injured during the week when he fell through a roof (working for Murray’s Pest Control) and wasn’t going to bat. He was at the game watching but could barely walk. He was quite happily perched on the balcony in his jeans and thongs, having a smoke and enjoying his 4
A few wickets started falling and suddenly it looked as though we might get knocked over. Skipper Dean Waugh suggested that Barbs should perhaps pad up just in case he had to hobble out there to survive a ball or two. “Nah, we’ll be right,” Barbs replied.
The wickets continued to fall though and at the start of the last over we were 8 down, effectively 9 down with Barbs not batting and Adelaide were 1 wicket from an outright win. James Harford kept out the first five balls of the final over (bowled by Jason Gillespie) but the last ball of the day squeezed between bat and pad and rolled on to the stumps. With Barbs not batting we were all out and the Buffalos went nuts celebrating their outright win.
Later they found out that because Harford got out on the last ball of the game, there wasn’t a ball for Barbs to be absent from. Therefore technically we weren’t all out and it wasn’t an outright win. Adelaide were outraged, adamant that Barbs was never going to bat and in fact was not even in his whites, instead up having beers on the balcony. SACA ruled against them and ironically the lost 10 points meant that they missed out on the finals (the Browns made it).
Barbs was picked to play one State 2
XI game, at Adelaide Oval No 2 vs Queensland. He had some trouble getting time off work for the game but finally told them that he’d quit if they didn’t let him play! They relented after realising what the game meant to him. When he arrived at the game he realised that he would need cream pants – not his usual whites. So he had to rush to the shops to buy a pair before play!
He fared well in the game and did himself proud, snaring the prized scalp of Martin Love along the way.
In the changerooms (cap on as always) after the 2001-02 grand final win and bowling in a T20 against West Torrens in 2010-11
Barbs is the sort of person that drama just seems to follow. He was working for Murray’s Pest Control and was up in the roof of a house baiting a rodent trap. He accidentally stepped in between the boards and put his foot through the ceiling. The ceiling gave way and he crashed through the roof and onto some old lady’s bed. He tore the cartilage in his knee and missed the 2006-07 grand final as a result.
The only pub open on a Sunday night/Monday morning following our 2010-11 premiership win was the Brittania. Barbs had a small misunderstanding with the publican and unfortunately also with the local constabulary who had been called. He was arrested and taken to the city watch house along with a team mate.
Once processed Barbs was stripped of shoes, belt, wallet, phone and most important his premiership medal. The cells are a quiet, lonely place where prisoners spend time contemplating the errors of their ways.
With this in mind, a call of “Ahhhhhhh…” from Barbs’ cell broke the cold silence and he and a neighbouring Kensington cell mate launched into the club song in a version that would rival any sung at any time in the club’s history. The song echoed through the building, with half a dozen police officers entering the viewing area of the cells to witness this great rendition and the dancing on beds that went with it. Healthy police laughter and a round of applause greeted the two songbirds, with a long night ahead of them.
Barbs earned the nickname “Spider Monkey” during Mad Monday celebrations following a premiership win. We decided to walk from the Kensi Hotel to the Robin Hood. Barbs was accepting a range of challenges, filled with the juice of courage. As we walked past a fence enclosing a tennis court, a player said to Barbs I bet you can’t climb to the top of that fence. Although Barbs would have blown a DUI bag to smithereens, he stepped back to size up the task ahead.
He started with a huge run up and leapt onto the fence – landing less than two feet off the ground! But that leap started an impressive climb of which any spider monkey would be proud. When he reached the top of the fence he let out a mighty roar.
In his final season or two, Barbs started to talk to himself while he was bowling. This surprised the umpire and non-striker no end. If he was bowling badly he’d talk to himself even more. In a game against Glenelg he said: “F***ing hell, Barbs! Bowl properly, get it up there…” and then in the next breath, “Oh well, at least you’re trying. That’s all you can do.”
Mark Barber bowling in the 2012-13 A Grade Twenty20 vs Uni and helping to escort a dog off the field
Premiers in 2001-02 and 2010-11!
South Australian Cricket Association
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