WHEN Trent Copeland first joined St George Cricket Club as a third grader in season 2005-06, he dreamed of one day being a member of the first VI.
In the years which followed he not only fulfilled that, but has gone on to become one of the finest players to have donned a Saints cap.
Copeland won three Poidevin Gray premierships with the Saints (2003-04, 2004-05, 2006-07), enjoyed a third grade title (2005-06) and has been involved in four top grade grand final victories (2007-08, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2012-13).
Along the way he transitioned from a wicket-keeper to a crucial member of the bowling attack - taking more than 350 scalps in the top grade - and has even had the honour of skippering the Saints.
He is one of 49 New South Wales representatives and one of 13 Australian representatives that have come from the ranks of Sydney Grade Cricket's most successful club.
It is the sort of record which will see him bestowed with life membership on Tuesday, joining a list which features some of cricket's greats in Sir Donald Bradman, Ray Lindwall, Brian Booth and Arthur Morris.
It is an honour which Copeland ranks highly on his list of cricketing achievements.
"I've been really fortunate with a lot of things in my life in terms of a baggy green cap, a Blues cap before that, but I guess the history element and the culture of St George Cricket Club, the names like Bradman, Arthur Morris, Bill O'Reilly and then the more recent greats of Warren Saunders, Mr Booth - who is obviously from Bathurst," Copeland said.
"It is just genuinely mind-blowing that coming from a third grade wicket-keeping opening batsman who was just was playing because my mates were there in Sean and Jono Dean, that I could have got to a point where I've contributed anywhere near the likes of those people.
"So I'm very humbled by it."
WHERE IT BEGAN
WHEN Copeland initially headed to Sydney for university, his sporting focus was on hockey.
But the Premier League Hockey talent enjoyed cricket as well and as his mates - brothers Sean and Jono Dean - played for St George, Copeland took the first steps towards what would become an incredible career with Saints.
"Jono was there the year prior and then Sean and I went away on a Combined High Schools overseas trip to South Africa together. On the back of that, Tim Laws was there who was playing at St George as well, it just seemed like a natural progression," he said.
"It wasn't through ambition of ending up where I am now, it was to see where it took us I guess.
"I distinctly remember training as a third grader, looking at the first grade group in awe and thinking if I ever made it there it would be an unbelievable result.
"So to be where I am now - when people ask me 'Where are you from?' it's always 'I'm from Bathurst', but I can tell you the amount of pride I get in saying that I'm also the first grade captain at St George is really high up there."
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WITH 104 premierships across the grades since its formation in 1911, St George boasts the sort of record that other clubs envy.
Copeland considers himself extremely fortunate to have been involved in eight of them, but the Bathurst talent has certainly played an important role in those successes.
Copeland was skipper when the Saints sealed a third Poidevin Gray premiership in a row, having guided his side through the regular season undefeated.
In 2007-08 when he enjoyed his maiden first grade premiership, Copeland bowled more deliveries - 1,951 - than any other player in the top grade of the competition.
The following season when the Saints defended the Belvidere Cup, Copeland took five wickets in the grand final against Sydney University.
In the 2009-10 decider against Sutherland, Copeland took 11 wickets for the match, including a haul of 8-58 off 24 overs in the first innings. It saw him win the Benaud Medal for player of the grand final.
The Bathurst talent won that medal again three seasons later when hitting 62 runs and finishing with match figures of 9-102.
I think I am so fortunate that I've been lobbed in, just by chance really, to such a great culture.Trent Copeland
"We won a third grade premiership then PGs premiership three years in a row followed by four first grade premierships and quite a few club championships," Copeland said.
"At the mid-way point of those I remember sitting down with Warwick Hayes and having a beer and saying 'How good is this mate? We are just so successful at St George!'
"The words came out of my mouth that it was just so refreshing to be part of it and the culture that is winning. Wazza's reply was 'I've never actually won a premiership before this year'.
"So he was almost 40 and was playing first grade at the time ... and he'd never played in a premiership.
"It was quite remarkable and I think I am so fortunate that I've been lobbed in, just by chance really, to such a great culture.
"Then to have captained the club, just on top of that, I don't think people understand how much that means to me."
ON Tuesday Copeland will join Moises Henriques at Club Rivers in becoming the 59th and 60th life members of St George.
Copeland is delighted he can celebrate the day with his good mate, while he also said the acknowledgement will be shared with his family.
"To be able do it with Moises on the same day. He's someone who I've, in recent times, realised the influence he's had on me as a human," he said.
"He's always been a star in the teams I've played in and largely maybe at the start of my career for New South Wales, I overlooked the influence he had.
"Just inadvertently by being friends with him, I've realised he's a really special cricketer of his generation.
"The other thing I think about is that hard work my family - Mum and Steven and my brother Ryan, my grandparents - there's a lot of sacrifice.
"There's a lot of weddings I missed, a lot of missed birthdays, Christmas' that I still miss. A lot of that came through people supporting me and what I've tried to do in life.
"Things like this are not just a tip to me, they're also to those people as well."
COPELAND'S FIRST GRADE RECORD WITH SAINTS
- 364 wickets
- 18.02 average
- Best 8-58
- 13 five-wicket hauls
- Four premierships
- Competition's leading wicket-taker 2009-10 (67)