SILVERWARE: Rival skippers Mark Littlewood and Josh Trappel with the first grade trophy before Friday’s grand final lunch. Picture: Marina NeilFor more thana decadeMark Littlewood has been chasing the prestigious player of the year award.
Nanjing Night Net

But even thoughthe 32-year-old Belmont skipper has now joined the who’s who of Newcastle cricket, including the likes of Gary Gilmour, Greg Geise and Mark Curry, he would give it away in a second to be holding aloft the famed major premiership trophy again after this weekend’s first grade decideragainst Hamilton-Wickham.

“One hundred percent I would swap them,” Littlewood said.

“It [player of the year]has been on the list, it’s nice to be recognised and it’s nice to be in some elite company, but you want the main trophy.

“We had a little photo shoot with it before and it was nice to have a hold, but you want it afterwards. I’ve been lucky enough to do it once before so it would be nice to make it two from two.”

Who was named #NDCA1617 player of the year? #DeCourcyLunch#MerewetherSurfhouse#[email protected]@CtryCric_NSWpic.twitter南京夜网/hgfArWa4fb

— Josh Callinan (@joshuacallinan) March 24, 2017

Littlewood, who won a maiden title as captain in 2008-2009, received the individual prize at the annual DeCourcy Club luncheon which was held at Merewether Surfhouse on Friday.

The Newcastle representative leader and former NSW Country all-rounder finished on 21 points, seven clear of nearest rivals Mark Dries and Ben Woolmer (17), after scoringa competition-high 772 runs at an average of 59.38 and taking 31 wickets at 12.06 apiece.

Counterpart Josh Trappel was also on hand for the presentation along with Hamwicks teammates Sam Webber and Mark Dries, who have collected the same gong a combined four times in the last seven summers.

Former club skipper Darren Herbert attended as well, sporting the Pumas tie, over 10 years since experiencing grand final glory himself on multiple occasions.

“It’s great to have guys like that around the club thatstill get involved and still send you messages saying good luck,” Trappel said.

“I know the young guys really feed off that kind of thing.

“But we have our own experiencetoo with the Webber boys, Drisey and Andrew Maher –it all adds up.”

Both sides are trying to overcome play-offpain –Belmont having lost both the Tom Locker Cup and T20 finals this season while Hamwicks went down by a run in last year’s big dance.

Littlewood has named English import Chris Whittock in the Belmont XI despite him flying home next week, which means he would be missing ifthe game continued into the spare weekend on April 1-2.

Play at No.1 Sportsground is scheduled to start at 10.30am on Saturday and Sunday.

Meanwhile,Wallsend product Jason Sangha has been named in the Australianunder-19 squad.

The boys in green and gold host Sri Lanka under 19s in a six-matchseries in Tasmania from April 8.

PREDICTIONS: Hamilton-Wickham favourites for grand final

FUTURE: Charlestown crowned under-21 champions

​Elsewhere, the Newcastle fourth grade decider between Hamwicks and Charlestown has been transferred to Hawkins Oval this weekend because Passmore Oval was declared unfit for play.

Second and third grade decidersremain as per program on Saturday and Sunday with Merewether meeting Toronto at Ron Hill Oval and University at University 1 respectively.

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