Cricket clubs come together in memory of Jeff Long

Plenty of laughs and memories were shared at the Jeff Long Memorial Match between the Yarra Junction and Powelltown Cricket Clubs. Picture: SUPPLIED

By Callum Ludwig

The inaugural Jeff Long Memorial Match was held on Sunday 4 March in memory of a much-loved community cricketer, father and grandfather.

The Yarra Junction and Powelltown Cricket Clubs brought the event together to celebrate the life of ‘Joffa’, who tragically died in a car crash in Coldstream in May 2023.

Jeff’s daughter Stacie Long said his family are appreciative of every single person who showed up, showed their respect or put their hand up to offer help in any way

“When Beau from Yarra Junction first reached out for my thoughts on it and how the family would feel, we were humbled by the suggestion and Powelltown soon jumped on board and didn’t even think twice to go out there,” she said.

“It was amazing, a very emotional and good day at the same time, he would be in disbelief that this was all happening for him and the impact he’s made in people’s lives.”

Throughout his life, Jeff was a member of both the Yarra Junction and Powelltown Football Netball and Cricket Clubs and never stopped playing cricket, even finishing his final season with another premiership medal at Powelltown, aged 63.

As the cricket season neared, Jeff would always tell his daughter, ‘One more season Stace’, no matter what hurdles he had to jump or injuries he had to overcome. Players in the match had their cricket whites adorned with a heat-pressed heart, with the initials JL and ‘1 more season’ underneath.

Ms Long said they had people dusting off their cricket gear that hadn’t played for years.

“It was so good to see so many family, friends and the wider community all sharing the sport that he loved and never wanted to retire from,” she said.

“The two clubs are normally rivals when they meet each other in the fixture, but they were just all there sharing memories and having a laugh,”

“Moments like this show you the reality of it, he would never miss an event or a special occasion for the world so it makes the reality hit that unfortunately, he is no longer here with any of us.”

Jeff’s grandson Beau and son Tyson were also in the car in the collision that killed their grandpa, with Beau participating in the game.

Ms Long said it was amazing to see Beau from where he was in a wheelchair to being back out there playing cricket and representing his Pop.

“We look forward to having the event as an annual thing in the future, with the proceeds being donated to a foundation related to road trauma and helping victims,” she said.

“Just getting back in a vehicle after being in such a tremendous accident is hard so we really feel that is an area that we would like to contribute to, we want to try and do more in areas to help other families that are impacted.”

One player who donned his whites for the first time in a while was Casey MP Aaron Violi, who donned the wicketkeeping gloves and made a ‘last over cameo’ of five runs not out.

Mr Violi said it was an honour to dust off the whites to play in the Jeff Long Memorial Match between Powelltown Cricket Club and Yarra Junction Cricket Club.

“It was special to see the sporting communities of the Upper Yarra come together in Jeff’s memory, the game was played in the spirit Jeff would have loved – at times serious but always good-natured,” he said.

“Jeff Long is sadly missed by many in our community and it was great of the clubs and community to come together and honour his memory in this way.”