Most capped lion: Russell Wilcoxon breaks club record

Record breaker: Russell Wilcoxon.

Record breaker: Russell Wilcoxon.

When Russell Wilcoxon stepped onto Kensington Oval on Saturday he became the most capped Fairfield Liverpool player of all time.

His 450th game for the club - a three-run win against Randwick-Petersham in second grade - surpassed Anthony Clark's previous record of 449 games for the Lions in his 26th season for his local club.

Not bad when you consider game No.1 took some convincing.

"I was playing Green Shield and the fourth grade wicket keeper broke his hand so they had to convince the other captain to let me keep because you're not allowed to do that," he said.

"The following year I got graded in fifth grade and I have played ever since."

Wilcoxon is the ultimate clubman. Not only has he played in every grade and competition since he started in 1994/95, he's an active member of the committee and an integral part of the Lions' culture. The life member holds most of the wicketkeeping records at the club and has three times won the Russell Wilcoxon trophy for second grade player of the year.

The wicketkeeper has the crooked fingers of dedication to mark his commitment to the club - the by-product of keeping to quicks Don Nash, Grant Lambert and Doug Bollinger for a large part of his career (although he is quick to point out despite breaking almost every finger, his two worst dislocations came while fielding).

The Cabramatta United, Cabra Vale Diggers and Mount Pritchard junior credits hard work for taking him from his Wakeley backyard imitating Allan Border, David Boon and the late-Dean Jones to a mainstay at Rosedale Oval where he has notched up more than 600-dismissals and more than 7000 runs in the yellow cap.

Scoring most of his runs and catches has been mum Kay who started scoring to make sure she didn't miss any of his catches. She has gone on to score at the highest level including the Australia and India Test match in 2019.

He is one of the few players to progress through every grade including Green Shield and Poidevin-Gray Shield, where he won his first premiership for the club. Like most wicketkeepers of his era, he had to wait for injury or retirements to make his way up the grades.

He learnt a lot from his time in third grade playing with Richard Gerdes and Billy York and got his crack in first grade sharing the wicketkeeping duties with Sean Pope.

Second Grade celebrate their win on Saturday.

Second Grade celebrate their win on Saturday.

"I was very nervous for my first grade debut in 1998. Even though I knew a lot of the guys because I played PGs with them and trained with them, when I walked into the dressing room for the first time in first grade it was a different experience. I was the little kid in the corner," Wilcoxon said.

"The level back then you had to jump from second grade to first grade, it was like jumping three grades. It was such a high standard especially for a 20-year-old. Seeing how everyone played the game a lot harder, I had to grow up pretty fast."

He took over the gloves full-time in first grade in the 2003/04 season in what was a golden era for the club. He was part of the squad for the club's first grand final win in 2001/02 but didn't play in the decider. He was an entrenched member of the 2005/06 team that won the grand final against Manly.

"I remember I came in after Grant Lambert got out for 232. While I only made a handful of runs I remember that game as one of my best keeping games," he said.

"I took three catches and a stumping in the first innings and another couple of catches in the second, including a full-length dive off Doug Bollinger which is probably the best catch of my career."

After taking more than 300 catches in first grade - including a record 53 dismissals in 2004/05 - his career took on a second life after steeping aside for a young Jake Doran a decade ago.

Russell Wilcoxon the bowler. Picture: Geoff Jones

Russell Wilcoxon the bowler. Picture: Geoff Jones

Wilcoxon the bowler has taken more than 100 wickets to go along with his 2500 runs in first grade and 3500 runs in second grade. His highest score is 126 in second grade.

"I didn't want to be in the way of other young keepers, so I decided to captain and put the gloves away," said Wilcoxon, who went to Westfields Sports High School and lives in Chipping Norton.

"I guess I'm using the experience of watching other great bowlers I have kept to and it has helped me take some wickets."

Fittingly he had the gloves on in his record breaking game on Saturday where he opened the batting and scored 13 in the Lions' total of 8-154. In reply, the hosts were bowled out for 151.

"I'm proud and honoured to have played so many games for such a great club especially being a local junior," the 41-year-old said.

"I want to make sure that passion and club culture keeps going and that's one of the main reasons I keep playing each year.

"People have been asking for the last three years if this will be my last year but if I don't feel like it's a chore and I'm still enjoying it then I'll probably keep on playing."

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