Declan’s a hit with everyone

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Peter SweeneyGeraldton Guardian
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Declan Thill is a big hit with teammates and rivals.
Camera IconDeclan Thill is a big hit with teammates and rivals. Credit: Arctic Moon Photography

Sam Thill has no idea what 2020 will bring for her son — but she only hopes it’s half as amazing as the past two months have been.

Declan Thill, 17 next month, is a cricket tragic. He lives for the game, but because he has intellectual disabilities, he cannot play it like most other kids.

Not so long ago, Mrs Thill inquired if there was some way her boy, who has just finished Year 11 at Geraldton Senior High School, could have a go.

Sportsmans and Towns have a composite side in the under-17s Sunday morning competition and coaches Bruce Gillingham and Gerard Marquis devised a plan.

With some A-grade cricketers and others chasing a spot in country week, they had to keep the contest real, but they wanted Declan involved.

Declan Thill is a cricket tragic, who lives for the game.
Camera IconDeclan Thill is a cricket tragic, who lives for the game. Credit: Supplied

Each week, Declan has been the last to bat and bowl. He makes a few runs and takes a couple of wickets — with the umpires even being in on the fun. He gets a standing ovation from his side and the opposition.

“I just hope we're giving Declan a great experience, but the reality is we learn a hell of a lot more from him than he does from us,” Marquis said.

“Everybody likes his company, he is enjoyable to be around.

“And he joins in with the other lads and makes jokes and has fun.

Declan Thill hits out.
Camera IconDeclan Thill hits out. Credit: Arctic Moon Photography

“We hope there is some inclusive program at the WACA (WA Cricket Association) he can get involved with.”

Mrs Thill said she only had one regret — that she didn’t get him involved earlier. “It’s been an amazing experience, amazing,” she said.

“He has really enjoyed it, and we hope he can stay involved with a club.”

“The boys Declan plays with and against have all taken him under their wing. I cannot thank them enough.”

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