The Isle of Wight
The first week in July came round again with predictability the other week, and, as sure as eggs is eggs, Shoreham’s touring party to Vectris set off amid gathering rain clouds.
For those of you who are un-versed in the classics, Vectris was the Roman name for the Isle of Wight. These days the island has changed little since those times, apart from the addition of a few Victorian seaside resorts when the nation followed its monarch away from the mainland in the pursuit of non-amusement.
So our tourists met with a familiar scene and comparatively few changes to the itinerary from previous sorties. A notable addition however came on the way down to Portsmouth when the party chose to avoid the M25/A3 route and broke their fast near Petersfield at a pre-arranged pub stop, where a first class English breakfast put us all in the mood. For those of us travelling in the same car as Chris Brown, it came not a moment too soon.
When we drove off the ferry at Fishbourne a couple of hours later we were greeted by the familiar sight of gathering rain clouds but, nil desperandum, we drove on, not without trepidation, to see what sort of doss-house our second-string tour organiser had arranged. Regrettably our first choice pulled out before making any arrangements at all, after learning that his girlfriend had booked a week in Portugal at the same time; so the first fine of the trip was a shoo-in for Gregory Taylor.
The second fine came along more swiftly than we anticipated as, on arrival at the Vine Guest House, whose entire 16 beds were taken up by Shoreham’s finest, there arose an incident over the allocation of single rooms. The landlady had been slightly economical with the truth in her claim for the number of beds in her establishment, as it turned out that 4 of these were double beds. None of the party was prepared to commit themselves at this early stage in the tour to cuddling up for two nights with a member of the same sex, but one of the more senior members of the party, who shall be known only as Sting, was not prepared to wait for a sensible reallocation of beds to take place after the first-come first-served approach was clearly found to be flawed. Sting drove off in search of alternative accommodation and we were only reunited an hour later at Ryde Cricket Club as we prepared for our first sporting encounter of the tour.
Sting soon reconciled himself to the fact that his old buddies were not going to stitch him up, though of course we were never going to let him know this in advance, and as his mood brightened, so did the weather and we spent the rest of the afternoon under blue skies.
Shoreham v Ryde
Not many of the touring party had much for lunch after our impressive breakfast, so we turned up at Ryde’s ground early in anticipation of our first contest with the islanders. There was some rain around before the game so everyone was wearing jumpers as we marched out into the field. However, soon after starting, the clouds parted and the sun beat down on our not-so-well-suncreamed skin. Jumpers were shed and loaded over Umpire Barrett’s shoulders, and the hard wicket started to perform in a most un-Shoreham-like, bouncy fashion.
Ed Walker (6-29-2) and James Trick (5-16-2) picked up two wickets a piece, although, naturally, I went for a few more runs. James Asplin (5-33-2) was then thrown the ball in a leap of faith from the Skipper, and proved himself with two wickets of his own but, naturally, went for even more runs than I did. Ryde lost wickets steadily, with only Gillett (45no) making any impact. Ray Trick (5-16-1), Bob Stacey (5-10-1), and Jack Rivett (5-21-2) all bowled five overs each, and were all rewarded with wickets. We bowled Ryde out for 131 in I can’t remember how many overs because the book wasn’t filled out properly.
After tucking in to some well earned tea, the tourists settled themselves outside the front of the pavilion to watch the run chase. Martin Wells and Ray Trick opened our batting, but Ray only hung around long enough to hit a four before returning to his cup of tea. Martin, however, got stuck in and shared a vital 66 run partnership with Sam Trick, who had replaced his father at the other end. Sam departed on 40 - which turned out to be our highest score, after Martin was caught on 39 a few overs later. Martin had played the anchoring role in getting us to 114 for 5, leaving the big hitting to Sam. Chris Brown (5) and Bob Stacey (2) didn’t last long at the crease, but Ed Walker (19no) saw Shoreham home with James Asplin (6) chipping in despite having his trousers on back-to-front. Jack was denied the opportunity to face a ball at the end as Ed selfishly hit the winning runs himself.
The only other thing that’s stuck in my mind from the game was Nick Pearce’s skimpy shorts that he was proudly showing off around the boundary. Well I had to get you in the match report somehow Nick!
Post-prandial libations were taken at the clubhouse before returning to the bright lights of Ryde where its eponymous Tandoori house welcomed once again. The Fines Master duly held court, and managed to wind up one of the other old codgers by targeting him for contributions, but if you had been in the same car travelling down with him with all the windows open, you would have understood why.
The competing attractions of Wetherspoons, and then the sultrily exotic Kasbah, saw the tour party complete a modest bar crawl and progressively splinter into smaller groups as the senior members conserved their energies for the morrow, and the more reckless young contingent tried to stir up some semblance of excitement down by the Esplanade.
Whilst Chris Brown ran along the sea-front, with a crowd of early fisherman marvelling at his tackle, the rest of the party slumbered on. But all were up in time for their Full English courtesy of our generously endowed landlady.
The morning itinerary was intended to revolve around the famed Par 3 golf course at Ryde. However the pace of life on the island and the rather primitive approach to customer service of the acne-faced greenkeeper somewhat thwarted Plan A. This meant a loss of revenue to Ryde Town Council, but liberated those without clubs from the obligation to play. This left a hardy group of old timers, who had brought their own clubs with them, and proceeded round with the fluent Nicholas Pearce ending as winner by half a point from the cultured Patrick Barrett. Nick effectively won the game on the 6th hole with a heeled drive which shot at great speed over the green only to strike a tree-trunk beyond the green and bounce back next to the pin for a gimme of a birdie. Patrick was to gain his revenge with the finger later that afternoon as Pearce departed with a first ball LBW. What goes around, comes around.
And so to Ventnor and the Spyglass Inn. Were it not for the brisk wind and the threatening clouds, we could have been on the French Riviera.
Shoreham v Ventnor
Ventnor has the coolest ground on the island. Its massive two-storey pavilion features big enough changing rooms to isolate Brownie conveniently in a far away corner, quality indoor nets, an electric scoreboard with remote control, and a proper bar and restaurant area with widescreen telly. The whole outfit is capped off neatly with a lovely antique clock on the roof, which has looked down over this tucked away ground for generations…
Ventnor’s team consisted mainly of local schoolboys, including one dude with even bigger hair than our very own Krusty The Clown look-a-like, and a South African youth cricketing legend who would later hit a six over the great wall at the top of the hill, over the road, and into some old lady’s front garden - basically, a bloody long way.
The Shoreham team were raring to go after their pub lunch, and took to the field hungry for another tour win. Ed Walker (8-46-0) and Ray Trick (7-20-1) opened the bowling for Shoreham on the artificial strip, with Ray bowling particularly tidily, and getting our first wicket. James Trick (3-29-2) and James Asplin (3-20-1) replaced our openers and picked up a few quick wickets to put some pressure on the youngsters of Ventnor. At no.5, Ventnor’s overseas player, Pongolo, launched into an all out assault on our bowling. He smashed a delightful 107 before retiring to leave his teammates a piece of the Shoreham buffet. Bob Stacey (4-51-0), Sam Trick (2-20-0), and Nick Walker (1-7-1) made up the rest of our overs, and Ventnor ended on 230 for 5.
The experienced duo of Martin Wells and Nick Walker opened the batting for Shoreham, and both got early runs. However, Nick fell on 12, which brought the in-form bat-slinging Sam Trick to the crease. Sam spanked 52 runs in an 80 run 2nd wicket partnership with Martin. The highlight was undoubtedly the six he hit onto the pavilion roof (bear in mind that it was two-storeys high and on the top of a massive hill) - smashing Ventnor’s antique clock, bringing a shower of glass onto the field below, and leaving the clock hands hanging in frozen despair at 6.30pm.
After Sam’s brutal aerial display had finished, Martin soldiered on, and this time beat Sam to get our highest score of 54. Regretfully, the Shoreham middle order failed miserably with a succession of ducks from Jack Rivett, Nick Pearce and James Trick. Ed managed 2 runs before being run out by Martin for definitely not the first time in his career. Only Chris Brown (16), Bob Stacey (10), and James Asplin (14) put up any resistance at the end, with James hitting the second and third sixes of his life - in consecutive balls! (If you’ve got an hour or two to spare you should ask him about them…) Shoreham were bowled out for 195 - only 36 runs shy of what would have been a memorable run chase.
Despite causing the club a considerable headache when Sam obliged them to replace their clock front, our hosts proved extremely hospitable. Fish and chips, a couple of beers, another session of abuse from the Fines Master, and then the cross-island dash back to Ryde.
Why were we in such a rush? Perhaps someone had heard that the island is known to have the highest proportion of female virgins in the UK. Well you now have it on good authority that this ratio was not lowered through the involvement of any Shoreham tourists; the only claim of any substance coming from our Chairman - but this was many years ago and thus time debarred, added to which he decided to marry the girl in question soon after. The high ratio of celibates in the tour party therefore remained intact.
What do you do in Ryde on an out of season Thursday evening? Not even the effervescent James Asplin could devise a cunning plan that was any more complicated than that of the previous evening - except we had already eaten, so we skipped the curry, went straight to a seafront bar and once again splintered into a pool playing group at the Royal Oak, and the Kasbah loungers, who again fell for the temptations of the Orient, though the mufti had long moved on!
Our tour party had by now fallen into an established pattern, and even Jack made it for breakfast in time; his resemblance to Krusty the Clown the more striking for not having attended to his morning toilette before coming down.
Despite the general bonhomie engendered by full stomachs, an air of anxiety was nonetheless perceptible. We had learned the previous evening that we would not be facing our usual opponents, Shanklin CC, but instead (due to a clash of representative fixtures that day on the Island) it had been arranged that we would play against the Blue Leopards, a touring Under 17 team from Cape Town.
With this unknown prospect ahead of us, the bulk of the touring party decided against any further Par 3 golf that morning, but chose instead to make their way to the seafront at Shanklin. The bowls contest on the beach demonstrated that the waywardness of our bowling attack was not confined to an overarm technique, and we could perform just as badly bowling underarm. Amusement arcades and crazy golf were the next form of pre-match preparation followed by a return visit to the Steamer Inn for pre-match fuel and refreshment.
By now the tension was rising palpably and bowel movements becoming more frequent as the tour party moved off in convoy to Shanklin’s ground. Soon after we arrived a bunch of pimply squirts who all sounded like Peter Wright (and looked like him come to think of it) pulled up in a couple of minibuses and we had a first opportunity to assess our opponents. The tour skipper contrived to lose the toss for the 3rd day running, and so commenced another afternoon of chasing round the outfield for our dogged tour party.
Shoreham v Blue Leopards
The Blue Leopards’ pre-match warm-up consisted of stretches that most of the Shoreham team could only dream of doing without risking permanent injury. Their light-hearted jog around the boundary would have been a marathon achievement for your average Shoreham player (The Duracell Bunny not included that is). This was clearly an opposition the humble villagers of Shoreham had not encountered before…
After kicking a fluorescent beach football around for a few minutes, the Shoreham warm-up was over and it was time to get down to business. Ed Walker (6-27-0) opened the bowling for the third time on tour (thanks Dad), but neither him nor Ray Trick (4-36-0) could make the early breakthrough. After Ray’s spell was over, he decided that he’d had enough fielding for one tour, and wangled his way into being substituted by one of the Blue Leopards’ extra players. James Asplin then took over the bowling duties, but, soon after being withdrawn from the attack (after his first over went for 12), he was also heading for the pavilion complaining of an injured elbow. James was replaced by none other than the Blue Leopards’ coach himself, who soon turned out to be a worthy substitute - taking four catches off his own players. Would any of the Shoreham team finish the game intact?
Both the Blue Leopards’ openers got 50s before retiring. However, tight bowling from Nick Walker (7-31-1) held their middle order back. A deadly spell from Bob Stacey (9-47-4) gave Shoreham hope of teaching these youngsters a lesson, but the Blue Leopards’ no.7 then also reached 50, before retiring. Sam Trick (3-25-0), Jack Rivett (3-12-0), and James Trick (2-14-1) did their bit towards the end, but couldn’t prevent the Blue Leopards from amassing 204 runs before their overs were up.
In reply, the nippy young bowlers took the early scalps of Martin (2) and Sam (12), who had been our most consistent batsmen of the tour, and after that no one really lasted long; with Nick Walker (5), Nick Pearce (4), and Ed Walker (12) all going cheaply. Only James Trick (26) hung around for any decent amount of time, and Jack Rivett managed a cameo of 15 at the end. The three ducks of the day before were matched this time by Bob Stacey, Chris Brown, and James Asplin. The weary tourists were bowled out for 105 after 27 overs, but no one cared much, because we knew that the beer in Shanklin’s pavilion was all ours - as our opposition were all too young to drink. Cheers boys!
P.S. Thanks Pat for umpiring every game. You’re a legend.
Another year, another tour. Back to Fishbourne in time for the 8pm. Onto the A3 with the Rolling Stones and Elvis in our car, Led Zeppelin in Bob the Builder’s, and Classic FM in the BMW from Shoreham Place. And no lost luggage or insurance claims!
- Tour Report by Nick Walker
- Match Reports by Ed Walker