Apologies, it’s not a good pun, it’s not even a bad pun. It’s so far from being a bad pun, it’s not even a pun…. but well, it doesn’t matter. Not to me anyway.
This must be what it feels like to lose a cup final, or maybe a play off final. To be so close, and yet still so far away from the goal you set out to achieve.
We set out with high hopes for the final league game of the season. A battle of second placed Edinburgh and third placed RHC in what was essentially a winner take all, play off to take second place, and with it, promotion to ESCA Division 6. Coming into the game Edinburgh had lost only once in 13 matches. Their points tally having been affected by a couple of deductions for late match returns and ineligible players. We had three defeats in 13. Two when we’d been short of 2 or 3 bodies for games, and one when half our team had to go play for the 2s at an hours notice, forcing us to default to the bottom club (more on that little incident later).
In truth, we were rarely in the game, but it started reasonably well. I was bowling a fairly tight line, as was Hoffy junior. There was the odd monster slog for 6, but some good catching saw us holding them to 44 for 3 off the first 12. The fourth wicket was to prove the key partnership. I had my very own “and Smith must score” moment, and this was to prove crucial (at least to my mind). Going for a pull shot the batsman got a top edge, sending the ball high, but straight to me in the mid wicket area. I didn’t have to move much to be under it, the unfortunate thing being the sun. It sounds like an excuse, and it’s not an excuse I’m making, but the guy couldn’t have bulls-eyed the sun any better if he’d tried to. The ball reached its highest point bang in the middle of the sun; I may as well have had my eyes shut. All I could do was get my hands up and hope the ball lodged, it hit the end of my fingers and dropped to the deck. He went on to make 60, the partnership added 100 and despite Fraggle’s late flurry of wickets Edinburgh finished up all out for 195. My return of 3 for 12 from 7.3 overs was pleasing. My best spell of bowling since the opening game.
For us, the equation was simple. 196 runs required for promotion. Just 4.36 runs per over, Skippy and Hoffy Senior at the crease and a good start required. A good start is just what Edinburgh got as Hoffy Senior slapped a square cut, flat toward point, who took a blinding, one handed, full length diving catch. Skippy and Frase battled to right the ship, but already the required rate was climbing. Skippy was unlucky to be out as he blocked a ball only to see it spin back and just do enough to dislodge the ball, Frase went shortly after as the only shooter of the day went under his bat to bowl him. When Hoffy Junior played all round a straight one (again!) the writing was on the wall. JK and Jones did their best but the rate was creeping above 8 an over and they couldn’t find the boundaries. In the end we crumbled to 126 all out as the tail tried in vain to go for the runs. We probably could have batted our way to 150 for 7, but that would have done us no good, better to perish having a go. Congrats to Edinburgh, who played well, paced their innings with the bat and bowled and fielded well enough to build early pressure. Our top order failing to do anything helped them out, but maybe if that catch had been held, who knows. So, it’s Division 7 again next season. It holds no fears for us now; we can play with the best of them. The only question is, will I be playing, or is this finally it?
Just to put an exclamation point on the day, the 1s managed to lose by an even bigger margin in their own 2nd vs. 3rd league match. This meant they were leapfrogged by Dumfries and it is they who will contest the promotion play off for SNCL Division One/Two and not us. There is at least the 20/20 finals day to look forward to. For the rest of us, it’s winter nets in January.
All of this returns me to the subject of the scratched game. Mid season, things are going reasonably well at all levels of the club. I’m just preparing to leave the house when the skipper phones up and announces a change of plan. Seems the 2s skipper has thrown, not just his toys, but also his blanket and mattress from the pram. There are now only 5 bodies available for the 2s team. League rules state a minimum of 7 are required, and we can’t have the team scratch and still fulfill a lower team fixture. So, half of the 3s team are moved up to the 2s and the 3s game is scratched. This goes down as a loss on the 3s record, with no points given. The saddest part of it is, the opposition for the 3s were the bottom club in the division, and an all but guaranteed win. We’d played them when we had 8 players earlier in the season, winning by the thick end of 200 runs.
Fast forward to the end of the season. We finish third, outside the promotion places. Take that scratched game out of the record and we’d have missed promotion by a whisker. Reverse the result, giving us the win we would have expected to take, and promotion was ours. To add insult to injury, the offending 2s captain returned to play for the 3s. Over the last few games of the season, he achieved the square of fuck all, failing to trouble the scorers in either of the last two games. Shoulda, woulda, coulda… bloody sport!
As I sit in this over heating office in the depths of Fife. Not that Fife is in any way deep; the people of Fife are much like the townsfolk of Rock Ridge in ‘Blazing Saddles’. They all share a surname, and they are “the common clay of old Scotland, you know. Morons.”
So anyway, I sit, in an overheated, airless and stifling office, consoled by the fact that I can actually see out of windows on two sides of me. Ten yards distant, but nevertheless, I have a lovely view of an empty office building on side and some windswept trees on the other. Sadly in this time of waiting, the walking gunt sat nearest to the window on my right thinks I’m giving her the eye. Either that or she’s hungry again. If you want proof of the obesity epidemic just come visit DBS.
For those needing further clarification on a “Smith must score moment”, fast forward to around he 6:30 mark. Sadly it’s the voice of Motty. I couldn’t find the immortal, though sadly dead, Brian Moore giving it the full”…and Smith must score…”