For the first time in almost 50 years Oak Flats Cricket Club will not participate in the South Coast District Cricket Association first-grade competition.
The once mighty Rats, who have seen former players such as the Lee brothers Shane and Brett, and more recently Blake Nikitaras and Nathan McAndrew go on to bigger and better things, will only field teams in the lower grades when the SCDCA 2023/24 season starts on October 7.
It's a sad day for the club established in 1975 by a number of founding families and individuals that all contributed to the initial creation of the club.
Though the writing was on the wall last season that the Rats were struggling on and off the field.
Last season's Oak Flats first-grade captain Scott McAndrew told the Mercury it was getting tougher and tougher to encourage young people to take up cricket.
"Unfortunately there has probably been a steady decline for two years across the board, of juniors playing cricket," McAndrew said.
"I'm a teacher at Lake Illawarra High School and we barely get any kids who play cricket anymore."
SCDCA secretary Chris Geer said it was disappointing to see such a big club like Oak Flats pull out of the first-grade competition.
"It's very unfortunate and a big loss," he said.
"It's definitely concerning with player numbers dropping but that also is a bit of a sign of the times as well.
"Hopefully Oak Flats can return soon."
While the Rats are out, Bay and Basin Cricket Club will play in the South Coast competition this season for the first time.
Ten clubs will contest the one-day competition running from October 7 to March 23.
They will also take part in a T20 competition each Friday night from November through to January next year.
"We are hoping for another tight season like last year," Geer said.
"Last year was one of the closest we've had in a long time.
"It's early days but all the clubs look pretty evenly spread with talent so it should be another close year."
Meantime the first round of the new season will be dedicated to long-time SCDCA board member and Oak Flats Cricket Club life-member Dave Yates, who passed away earlier this month after a long battle with cancer.
Yates served on the SCDCA board for 17 straight years, 15 of those years as secretary.
A minute's silence will be observed for Yates at all first round games.
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