Monthly Archives: August 2009

This Is What It Feels Like (When Gloves Dry)

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.

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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!

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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.

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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…”

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Filed under Cricket, Fatness, Sport

Say hello, wave goodbye…

It’s squeaky bum time!  Saturday saw us go into action at Inverleith in a Royal High derby, 3rd XI style.  Penultimate game of the season, and perhaps we had our eyes on the game with Edinburgh next week, which will be a promotion decider, because it very nearly wasn’t.

The Smellies had augmented their side with a number of 2nd team regulars, as they are in the relegation zone, so that coupled with the artificial track made wicket shard to come by, only Gus getting any consistency and finishing up with 3fer.  A Mooro run out (Freddie Flintoff must have been watching) and a consolation wicket for Fraggle saw Stew Mel post 164 for 5 off their 45 overs.

We set off in pursuit of the target, confident, well fed and backed by a large contingent of 1st and 2nd team players whose games had both fallen victim to the wet weather.  Our confident mood didn’t last long.  Hoffy paddled the first ball of the innings to square leg for a diamond duck, Adam was intimidated by bounce, then cleaned up by a full one, and Gus played all around a straight one to leave us 15 for 3.  Skippy and JK righted the ship, taking us up to drinks with the score on 78.  96 wanted, 23 overs and 7 wickets in hand, a breeze.  That reckoned without JK slapping one to mid on, Will nicking to the keeper first up and then Fraggle doing something inexplicable leaving the innings in tatters at 86 for 6.  Mooro strode to the crease and proceeded to bat as only he can, or at least try to.  Nothing was coming from the middle of the bat and he led a charmed life before eventually holing out.  He and Skippy had moved the score to 136 for 7.  Still 29 wanted.  Disaster struck seven runs later when Skippy holed out.  Cue manic celebrations in the field.  These were cranked up a notch, as Tricky didn’t last long.  Enter Chappers, old man of the team, a genuine number 11 bat and a walking wicket in waiting.  15 runs wanted, last man at the crease 20 balls remaining.  He watched the last two balls of the over safely past off stick.  15 off 18.  Frase slapped a single off the first ball of the next over, a decision not roundly welcomed by the fans on the boundary.  14 off 17.  Became 14 off 16, then off 15 as Chappers declined to play at a couple off the sticks.  Groans from the keeper as a late block was played back to the bowler, and the over was seen off, with only a wide added to the score.  It was now 13 off 12 balls, but SM had a problem.  Their key bowlers were finished, who to bring on?  A fresh bowler was summoned, it appeared by default, as he happened to have the ball in his hand.  Frase on strike drove the first ball to mid on, four!  9 off 11.  Second ball, slapped back straighter than the first, four more.  The Corrie Massive on the sidelines going crazy, it’s now 5 off 10.  A dot, then a slap into the onside for two, made it 3 off 8.  Another dot and another shot for two, left Chappers on strike, scores tied.  First ball is middled, straight to mid on, no run.  Second ball was left outside the sticks.  Third ball, played to midwicket, Wait! Was the call, the ball eludes the fielder, Yes!  Run taken, game won, relief all round, despair for the Melville boys.  In almost identical fashion to the season opener, we’d battled to another win.  Now all we need is fair weather, a ground and a win over Edinburgh next week to go up.  Who needs The Ashes??

The first XI head to Dumfries next weekend, knowing a win will secure them a place in the promotion playoff.  Like the 3s game with Edinburgh, it’s essentially a cup final as a Dumfries win would see them leapfrog us into 2nd spot and the playoff.  It’s almost a mirror of last season when the 1s went to Dunfermline, only for the weather to intervene.  The sight of the away team working like Trojans to get the ground playable, whilst the home team relaxed in the knowledge that a cancellation kept them in a playoff spot was both surreal and frustrating.  It won’t be the away team doing the work this time if it’s needed.  A cancellation suits us!

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What a hornet’s nest that Kenny McCaskill kicked up last week.  Who’d have thought the release of the one man convicted of planting a bomb on a plane would be so controversial?

From a personal point of view, I grew up not too far from Lockerbie, have spent some time their in my youth and can remember vividly where I was and what I was doing the night the “Emmerdale” script writers got a “great” idea for a storyline.

The fact that he was the only person ever convicted was to me, “bit rum”.  The media and the movies etc would love to have us all believe the world is full of these loner rogue agents acting on their own, able to do all sorts of amazing, dastardly deeds.  The truth is a bit more prosaic.  He wasn’t on his own; he’ll have had help and assistance from somewhere, from someone.  Suppressed evidence, dodgy dossiers and testimony from shady individuals all combine to leave one with the feeling that this was a stitch up.  It’s not uncommon for individuals to profess their innocence in prison, but in this case, whilst I concede he may not have been completely innocent, I doubt he was the only guilty party.

The outrage from America, particularly from the politicians stems I feel in part, from the fact that they are implicit in covering up some of what went on in 1988 and subsequently.  America wanted “justice”; they wanted someone to pay the price, a sacrificial lamb.  They’ve since made sure that the ‘American People’ have been fed the lie often enough that they believe it.  America is the bully on the corner, extremely happy when he gets what he wants, but stand up to him and he’ll shout and yell and complain, deep down knowing you’re right.

The Libyan’s have scored.  They’ve been able to score points from everyone by playing this up for all it’s worth, the diplomatic equivalent of lighting the firework, the retiring to safety whilst the other two sides try to get away before it goes off.

Perhaps the most troubling, and yet least surprising aspect in all of this is the public display of ignorance from England as to just how different Scotland is to England.  For years it seems, most English people have seen Scotland as little more than an extension of their own country, governed from Westminster, served by the same media etc.  We’ve had a devolved government for 10 years now, which has been seen to give some definition as to the differences, but still there’s a sense that it’s just because we see ourselves as special, we somehow have ideas above our station that rankles within England.

Unlike Wales, Scotland did not give up its legal system when unified with England; Scotland has always had a different education system too.  We have much more rural space than is the case down south (with the exception of the Central Belt).  The feeling and atmosphere of small town and village England is much different to that of Scotland, perhaps because the majority of our industrial areas like ship building, even coal mining, were concentrated so close to our major cities, there’s much less of the ghost town pit village mentality you find in swathes of Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire.

There are also differences in the way the outlook of the two countries is affected by religion, and maybe this is at the heart of the way this release decision is perceived.  Many commentators feel the furor over this may set back the SNP and it’s chase for Scottish independence.  I have no axe to grind there; if it comes it comes, if it doesn’t so be it.  I wonder how Scotland will fare, going it alone.  This incident may just help crystallise peoples thinking.  We’ve made a major world splash; we’ve shown ourselves to be a decent, ethical, up standing country.  One that wont wilt, even under the hard stare of US muscle flexing.  We’ve also underlined the differences between the English and the Scottish outlook.  No, this may actually be the watershed moment that serves to show Scots we can perhaps govern ourselves sensibly, and also one that shows those in England that Scotland is different to England in more ways than just a penchant for wearing ‘skirts’ and talking funny.

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It’s my party and I’ll spew if I want to

Well, that was a hectic week.  Last weekend, I found myself in Birmingham, accompanying Mrs C to her work conference.  1050 people, 1000 women, 5 straight men, and 45 gays at what can only be described as a cross between a hen party and a menopausal rave.  Never have so many bingo wings collected in one place.  The level of devotion some of these people have to candles or “wax” in company speak is astounding, hordes of them arriving in their groups, dressed in identical t-shirts with names on the back, so much so that hotel reception on Saturday morning resembled Faliraki airport on a summer Saturday.  They were blowing whistles, shaking tambourines, dancing on chairs and generally over reacting to every pronouncement with a fervour only matched by a populous marched into a square at gun point to worship at the feet of their Great Leader.  I have seen the axis of evil, and it burns your wick.

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All of this merriment meant that I missed a big few days for the mighty RHC.  The club got its hands on some silverware for the first time since the mid 80’s, winning the Masterton Trophy.  A prestigious Twenty20 competition, played for in Edinburgh since 1964 (yes, that’s right England, you didn’t invent Twenty20!!!).  There were league wins to be had as well, lifting the Ones into the playoff place, and the Threes, leaving us right on the promotion mix.  Rainouts this weekend mean that Falkland have won SNCL Div 2, and it looks as though the playoff place will be decided in the final game, when the Ones go to Dumfries in a winner take all clash.  It’s heading that way for us Threes players too.  Currently we sit third, just a couple of percentage points behind Edinburgh, who we host on the final day of the season.  Unless Clackmannan collapses we’re playing for second place and promotion.  Always assuming it stops raining long enough to allow some play!

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Spent last week on a training course for work.  Three days of cramming with a three-hour exam at the finish.  I have a feeling I’ve failed, which is bad because I hate failing, but ultimately meaningless, as it won’t change my job status either way.  In all honesty, it smacks of creating a load of jargon and terminology in an attempt to take a fairly straightforward commonsense job and turn it into a psuedo-science to give it some sort of credibility/legitimacy when stacked up against IT Development and Programming.  Probably because those oh so precious developers don’t like having the flaws in their software pointed out by untrained chimps like me!

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Since when did we get so squeamish about dying soldiers??  I mean, send them to a war zone and expevt casualties, but, daily now we get shock horror from the media and the phone in’s over how 204 of our best and bravest have been killed in Afghanistan since the invasion.  That’s what? Seven years?  Six?  Hmm, thank fuck none of us were around during the years 1914-18 or 1939-45, we’d have rolled over and given up as in the 30seconds it would have taken the Germans to kill 204.  Military personnel exist to be sent to dangerous places and do dangerous things.  Yes, it’s tragic when they are killed doing it, but, they accept the possibility when they join up, get on with the job and make us all proud.  Lets face it, more people have died on the UK’s roads in the same timeframe.  There are many reasons why our military shouldn’t be in Afghanistan, and many why they should be, but, death is no reason for either.

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Filed under Current Events, Sport, Whinging