NEPALESE HATS -v- BLUE STAR at Sutcliffe Park 2/8/94
Having successfully, maintained our 100% record in midweek league matches, we entered the final hurdle of this year’s competition without the services of both, the temperamental starlet Slack Timms and the ever reliable Grey Person, but remained optimistic that we could avenge last year’s Semi-Final defeat.
The prolific run scorer Webb replaced Steve, whilst the flamboyantly enigmatic Gordy Schultz was the perfect replacement as our overseas representative, for the absent Timms. To add to these pre match worries, Spud managed to lose his much loved boots and was forced to rely on a borrowed pair from Softy. Somehow the boots enabled him to play in a manner almost the equal of their mentor!!! From feeling fully fit and raring to go, he suddenly developed a series of career threatening tweaks and strains, along with a nagging compulsion to go and play for another club. Fortunately an inbuilt sense of loyalty to The Club overcame any egotistic desires.
Good fortune prevailed in our direction, as Blue Star called incorrectly, allowing us first use of the batting strip, but more importantly the prospect of the best of the light. All best intended plans have a habit of back-firing, but Spud had reckoned without the loss of both his openers with only eleven runs on the board. Accurate and at times hostile bowling, forced us on to the defensive, with the top order putting survival before flowing stroke play. Runs gradually began to accumulate, with double-figure contributions from Moyse, Whale and Morrison, vital in establishing a foundation to our innings. The mainstay was the stolidly correct Tubby Clark, whose tight defensive technique was perhaps best suited to the position we found ourselves in. Relying on his speed off the mark, he acquired his tally with the deft flicks and nudges, typical of the wily old campaigner that he is.
That we totalled 95 at the close of twenty overs, was due in no small part to an innings of stark contrast from the aggressive and at times wholly unorthodox LSC Clements. His swots and swishes were the perfect accompaniment to the more subtle endeavours of Neil Clark. Having learnt the hard lessons of sloppy fielding in last year’s meeting with Blue Star, there was a determination that mistakes would not be the reason, if we were to lose again this time. Blue Star had spurned several gilt-edged chances during our innings, that had they been accepted, would surely have lessened appreciatively their eventual target.
Spud and Jim, aided by an oppressive hunger from our fielders were at their economical best. At the end of their respective spells, Blue Star had been reduced to 22-3, with Spud adding two wickets, to his hand in the vital early run out of the opposition’s star player. Although Jim failed to maintain his extraordinary record of taking at least two wickets every time he bowls, he kept almost unstintingly to skipper’s orders, allowing the batsmen little room to effect scoring shots.
Darren’s response to being hit back authoritatively over his head was a selection of deliveries designed solely to decapitate anything that was unfortunate enough to intercept. The fact that we had already arranged for all the houses in Eltham Road to switch off all lighting at the end of our innings, only served to highlight Blue Star’s predicament. Spud’s inwardly kept fear, that the loss of Silver Fox and Limp Timms, would have a detrimental effect on our ability to starve the opposition of run scoring fodder, was to prove totally unfounded, as Rhino Lewis laid to rest the ghost of a previous Final to mop up the tail. Lardy Wilsdon completed our bowling quintet, crawling from his sickbed to complete four tight over With everything going according to a fairy-tale script, it would have been easy to ease off the pedal, but it was a delight to see that we remained focussed from first ball to last, never allowing Blue Star anything other than a bit part role in proceedings. The key, that had for some time been positioned in the lock, was finally turned by way of a running return catch from Rhino, who despite some serious dieting, still has some way to go before he can claim not to have the biggest arse in the club. Although some people were on the pitch, several of our players were in need of ‘downers’ before they could fully contemplate our victory.
After a much needed shower and the normal clucking and locking-up noises, we preened our feathers and headed for the Civic banquet and presentations. Perhaps the experience of three previous victories had mellowed our normal obnoxious and arrogant appearance; instead we conducted ourselves with a calm reverence, which was slightly eerie. Niceties over, the smart man’s money was on a more rowdy time back at the Queens Head, where the deadly combination of Gold Label and Tetley Bitter were blended.