The Isle of Wight

The Shoreham touring party set out on yet another sunny summer’s morning and enjoyed a speedy journey to the Isle Of Wight. Our game with Ryde was played under a blazing July sun and we narrowly defeated our hosts in a thrilling and high scoring game. We weren’t allowed to pay for our drinks all evening and weren’t allowed to leave until we promised to keep Ryde on our fixture list for the next tour. We moved on to our hotel, which had been completely refurbished since last year and now offered five star luxury for the same £20 a night. Martin had a late pass and was able to come drinking with us. In the hotel bar several of the girls to whom James Asplin had given his phone number last year were keenly awaiting his arrival and everywhere that we went in the town we were greeted as sporting celebrities. There was a ‘Welcome Shoreham’ banner across the High Street and apparently there were plans for similar receptions in Ventnor and Shanklin.

OK, what gave it away? Was it the bit about Martin?

We knew as we assembled in Boakes Meadow that Wednesday’s game had been cancelled because of Ryde’s waterlogged pitch, so the fiercest competition of the day was to get a roommate with the least distressing personal habits.

We loaded our bags onto the roof of our minibus, strapped down the tarpaulin, said our last goodbyes and hit the road. The vehicle only had one opening window at each side of the passenger cabin but as yet the implications of this were not clear to us.

I think that we should record here our thanks to Mr. B. Buckingham (I have his name from the insurance details). It was his car that Chris Brown’s bag lodged under on the M25, wrecking his cooling system and leaving him stranded on the hard shoulder. He really was very decent about it: even apologising for the skidmarks on the items of clothing that were recovered, which weren’t really his fault.

Ray and Chris walked the half mile back along the motorway to Mr. B’s vehicle. They were out of sight for part of the way and seemed to take an awfully long time. There wasn’t an adequate explanation for the state of Ray’s shorts on his return. Perhaps the police helicopter that was in attendance by that time may have some footage that will clear the whole thing up. Prosecutions may follow we hear.

After the bag incident (which led to Brownie being fined for coming on tour inadequately equipped) all the luggage was stowed inside the minibus and the rest of the journey was uneventful.

Our accommodation in Ryde was competitively priced for a reason: for example ‘en suite’ seemed to be a term meaning lots of porcelain but no water. We were relieved to discover that since last year they had sensibly eliminated the breakfast part of their bed and breakfast tariff; they could probably charge more for the new arrangement. On the plus side the staff were friendly and the beer was good.

We lunched at one of the fine pubs on Shanklin’s waterfront and afterwards variously entertained ourselves with pitch and putt, proper golf, intellectual conversation or trying to pick up stuffed toys with a mechanical grab.

In the evening we had the pleasure of Peter and Pat Williams company at dinner in Ryde’s classiest Indian restaurant. The significance of this meal also escaped us at the time.

The following day’s fixture was with Ventnor. Apparently Karl Marx used to visit Ventnor to escape the noxious fumes of London. It is therefore safe to assume that the SCC minibus would not have been his conveyance of choice.

Ventnor’s indoor school is a fantastic facility. Ray had the inspired idea of booking a formal coaching session for next year and so partly redeemed himself in the eyes of the company for hiring a van with so few windows. After we spent an hour or more in the nets we felt well prepared for the afternoon’s game.

In the event the day’s bowling honours went to Tom Palmer whose 176 included four strikes and two spares.

The wicket had been prepared and we were assembled in the pavilion ready to change when the rain set in again. It was still raining an hour later when stumps were drawn without a ball having been bowled, so all we could do was return to Ryde and spend a jolly time at the bowling alley before setting out on our evening round of eateries and watering holes. As we went, the ever hopeful James Asplin continued to leave his phone number with any girl who would sit still long enough to have it pressed on them but ‘You’ll have to ring me because I’m out of credit’ seemed to lack a little style as a hook line.

Finally, Friday dawned bright and dry and remained so. Shanklin’s pitch was playable though a little soft. Four of our number had to stand down. Sam Trick was unable to play because of an eye problem and Chris Brown was still too deflated from the Ventnor trip. Nick Walker and Ray Trick nobly volunteered to sit the game out so that the youth of Shoreham plus Martin, Wyn, Nick Pearce and (the still youthful) Bob Stacey had their day.

Shanklin batted first and amassed 182 runs for 6 wickets, approximately 20% of their runs coming from Wyn’s three overs. (Unfortunately he was not bowled from the end from which he took 6 wickets for less runs last year, so this was obviously a simple captaincy issue). The other bowlers were all relatively economical. Jack Rivett went for 19 from his three overs and James Asplin for 12. Tom Palmer conceded 29 off his six lively overs. Bob Stacey took two wickets for 26 in seven. The pick of Shoreham’s attack were Ed Walker who took 3 for 33 off 11 and James Trick who took 1 wicket whilst conceding only 20 runs off his 10 overs, which contrived to be both hostile and good natured. Martin could reflect on another day’s good work at Shanklin with two catches and a stumping.

In reply Shoreham started with a partnership of 22 of which Nick Pearce made 13 before falling lbw. Martin (who top-scored with 34) and Wyn pushed the total along to 68 when Wyn was stumped. Thereafter wickets fell regularly although Greg batted a long time for his determined 17, Ed Walker made 12 and Bob Stacey finished 10 not out. Our final all-out total was 126. With a little more practice earlier in the tour we might have done better but at least we finally had a game.

The Isle was obviously a very elegant place to live before all the modern in-filling began to detract from the original Victorian architecture. Happily there are still some oases where the grand houses stand alone in spacious grounds. Someone pointed this out to our very own Bob the builder; ‘Yeah,’ he said ‘it would be great to get hold of a couple of them and knock em darn’.

So Shoreham Cultural Club’s tour drew to its end and we withdrew to the mainland to practise for next year.

- Wyn