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James King recalls watching a NSW Country Championships final at No.1 Sportsground.
Newcastle just defeated Illawarra, by one wicket, in a tense run chase to claim the title for 2013-14.
Seven seasons down the track and King will play his maiden state decider, but the Wests captain never imagined he'd be on the other side of that fence.
"I remember watching one final down at No.1 Sportsground and [now Wests teammate] Joey Price got a few runs down the order to get Newcastle home," King said.
"I was sitting there thinking 'these blokes are so much better than I am'.
"I never imagined that one day I'd get the chance to play in one myself."
King has since established himself as a proven performer and after earning selection in the representative squad for 2020-21 will now line up with Newcastle against Riverina in Goulburn on Sunday.
It comes on the back of a milestone achieved recently at club level.
The left-handed batsman is believed to be the first player in Newcastle District Cricket Association history to score a century in all three formats - two-day, one-day and T20 - during the same season.
King started by making 125 in a man-of-the-match display in the Tom Locker Cup final with Wests overcoming two-time defending one-day champions Hamilton-Wickham at Harker Oval on November 15.
He followed up with an unbeaten 117 in a T20 Summer Bash outing against the Kookaburras (Toronto) at home on January 14.
King capped it off by notching up 154 against hosts Waratah-Mayfield in round 10 of the two-day competition on January 23.
"I didn't even piece it together until [Wallsend scorer] Jack Brown mentioned it to me that I was the first person to do it," he said.
"It's pretty special but at the end of the day you just want you're team doing well and winning games."
King feels like he has a few more runs to offer for Newcastle in the upcoming showdown having largely missed out in the preliminary rounds of the NSW Country carnival and T20 Regional Bash.
"There's been some great players play for Newcastle and it's always been a goal of mine so it's an honour to wear the cap," he said.
"But I haven't done that well so far this campaign and I feel like there's a bit more I can do."
King, Ryan Van Kemenade, Dan Bailey and debutant Aidan Cahill weren't part of last year's victory.
Newcastle have collected 16 NSW Country Championships finals since 1986-87, including four of the last seven with captain Nick Foster and recently recalled Jeff Goninan playing in each of them.
NEWCASTLE: Nick Foster (c), Jeff Goninan, Daniel Arms, Jed Dickson, James King, Nathan Hudson, Adrian Chad, Ryan Van Kemenade, Ben Balcomb, Aidan Cahill, Jacob Montgomery, Brad Aldous, Dan Bailey.
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