You will not find a man more committed to his franchise than the one pulling the strings for the Kyabram-based Hurley’s Hotel Hounds.
Over the journey he, along with his group of valued helpers, have consistently gone about sourcing the best talent across the region and further afield, asking them to don the Hounds’ light blue.
This hard work behind the scenes has culminated in a lot of on-field success, with the franchise qualifying for all three of the tournament’s deciders.
But when West Coburg import Jack Potticary crushed the winning runs through extra cover on Sunday afternoon, Sheppard finally got his crowning moment.
After two unsuccessful grand final attempts, the Hounds had finally jumped the last hurdle, thumping Jarvis Delahey Crushers by seven wickets at Deakin Reserve.
A day of great satisfaction for Sheppard and all involved with the Hounds, he said it was a surreal feeling to finally be the champions.
“It is a wonderful feeling, it’s a little bit sombre at the minute just because the game was a bit of a fizzer, but once it sinks in it will be something I’m very proud of,” Sheppard said.
“A lot of work goes into bringing together the best talent and we thought we did that at the start of the year.
“So to see that come together on the field this season and get the reward of a premiership at the end, it’s such a great feeling.”
For Sheppard, GVBBL grand final day had not been a happy hunting ground in the past.
Having qualified for the big dance in the past two seasons, the Hounds were beaten on both occasions by SRP Mud Dogs, making this year’s decider all the more important for Sheppard and his men.
“It’s the better side to be on no doubt about that,” he said.
“We play sport to win premierships and to have achieved that is pretty special, especially having lost on this stage before.
“But what is more special is being able to share it with this group of guys, we’ve become a really close group of mates and that has made the season all the more enjoyable.”
The grand final demolition served as the culmination of a dominant home and away season where the Hounds won all four of their matches.
He said watching the boys go to work each game was nothing short of a blessing.
“We’ve been blessed to be honest,” he said.
“Paulo (Newman) has been in some rare form with the bat, averaging around 250, so having him at the top of the order has been very handy.
“Our bowling attack has been fantastic, everyone played their part from the top down all season to make this possible.”
As for what the future holds for the Hounds, Sheppard said he was keen to see the franchise and the competition continue to evolve.
“There will always be a side from Kyabram that’s for sure,” he said.
“What it looks like in terms of ownership and sponsorship I’m not sure, but we will always represent.
“It (the Bush Bash) is such a great concept and I can’t wait to see it continue to grow.”
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