NORTH Albury champion Dave Castello appears to have played his last game for the club.
The star all-rounder, who is recovering from a broken arm, is relocating to Perth at the end of the month and his departure is a big blow for the Hoppers in their search for their first Cricket Albury-Wodonga flag since 2008-2009.
The 36-year-old said yesterday he would leave Bunton Park with a heavy heart but was looking forward to a fresh start in Western Australia.
“It’s a great club ... part of the family, almost,” Castello said.
“You can take me out of North Albury but you’ll never get North Albury out of me.”
Castello, a left-hand batsman and right-hand medium-pacer, was unlikely to play much of the 2012-2013 campaign anyway after breaking his bowling hand playing baseball with North Albury Bears before the cricket season.
He had a plate and screws inserted after being hit by a pitch while batting.
“It wasn’t so much painful, it’s just been difficult trying to deal with breaking your dominant arm,” Castello said.
“I would have struggled regardless because I don’t find out how it is until Monday and then they have to do an operation to get rid of the plates and screws.”
Castello’s absence will leave a gaping hole at the CAW power.
He has been at the club for almost two decades, won five premierships, captained and coached the club and also captained CAW and the Riverina.
Castello, who has also served on the CAW board, has won numerous club and association awards as well.
But Castello hasn’t closed the door com-pletely on his Hoppers career.
“You never say never,” he said of a possible return.
“There are plenty of good young blokes there and our batting line-up is fairly flexible.
“They had a good win on the weekend (against Albury) but there’s going to be a lot of young guys who will have to step up.
“We’ve had a reasonably high turnover of senior players but the club structure is pretty strong and I’m pretty confident the young guys will be competitive.
“It’s just a case of how long it takes to make that transition.”
North Albury skipper Greg Daniel said Castello would go down as a North Albury great.
“He captained three premierships in a row and he’s been one of the best in the competition for the past three or four years,” he said.