Tag Archives: RHC

What hiatus?

As some of readers may remember, amongst the many sports I follow, cricket sits large amongst them.  In the main because it’s one of the few (perhaps only) sports I was even passably good at.  After around 17 years devotion to the cause of Corstorphine in one guise or another, I found myself in the unusual position of having to attach myself to a new club.  A circumstance brought about after I moved from Livingston into the wilds of Nottinghamshire.

This has meant coming to terms with a few differences.  As a country, Scotland is not exactly open about it’s cricketing heritage.  We’re a dirty little secret, best kept under the rug.  Indeed, at times it felt it would be easier to come out as gay, than to come out as a cricketer.  When petty and ill-informed MSP’s are questioning whether matches should be shown on TV in Scotland you start to feel a little unwelcome.

So after a work and family induced move to the “dark lands” south of the wall, it’s a novel feeling to be involved somewhere where people other than the players know about their local club.

I’ve brought my scorebook keeping talents to Caythorpe, a small village in central Nottinghamshire who’ve had a club off and on for over 100 years.  The first XI play in the Notts Premier League, whilst the second XI (for whom I score) are in Division 1 of the Bassetlaw & District League.  The B&D is one of two feeder leagues for the NPL, covering the northern part of the county.

The first big difference I noticed was that there are always more people around on a game day than just the 22 players on the park.  Every match has two independent umpires, and each club has a scorer, yes, even at second XI level.  Not only that, but people actually come and watch.  OK, not huge crowds, but a couple of weeks ago we played at Edwinstowe, and there were never less than 30 or 40 people sat around the boundary.   Having a bar that’s open does marvellous things in terms of supporters, and funds!  The vast majority of clubs are village sides, with picture postcard settings, but even here there are professional players brought in.  The West Indian Cavaliers side visited Caythorpe for a cup match last weekend, bringing with them, ex Notts and England player Usman Afzaal and the Saqlain Mushtaq!!

There are quirks too.  The draw exists in league matches here, it’s 46 overs maximum for the side batting first, but the side batting second gets the balance of the 92 overs if any are unused.  Points are shared in the event of rain/cancellation, so no need for percentages.  Most strange of all is the fact that matches start at 2pm.  Most of the villages in the area were built up around the coal mines, with matches timed to start to allow men to finish off a shift in the morning before playing in the afternoon.  So, despite the fact that Mrs T finished off the mining industry round these parts in the early 80’s there are still enough traditionalists around to prevent the start time from changing.

So, instead of sitting in a green metal container squeezed in beside kit and a stale old bloke from the opposition, I sit in a large comfortable, electronic scorebox where there’s a better than average chance my counterpart will be female (women are heavily involved around the clubs down here) and whisper it quietly so none of the presidents of Scottish clubs hear I even get a bit of beer money thrown my way for the pleasure of doing it.  Cricket, god love it.

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There are some things not to love about cricket.  Match fixing, the length of a World Cup tournament, the ICC (the one body to make FIFA appear competent) to name but a few, but the chief irritant has to be Charles Colville.  The smug twat’s smug twat.

He has the world weary air of someone for whom everything came to easily, his condecension of those who fail to meet the standards of his favourites is renowned.  He is the single reason for watching Sky’s domestic cricket coverage with the sound off….well, OK, there’s Nick Knight too.  Even Mark ‘Lawro’ Lawrenson looks professional next to this guy.

Colville is the token non-England player in the Sky team, indeed, he never made it to county level.  He must be a contributory factor in Bob Willis’ biblical level sulk, one which is now entering it’s 10th year.

I can only assume this puffed up, patronising, wouldn’t look out of place at a Tory function with Flashman, Gideon et al, has some pretty good dirt on the head of Sky Sports.

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Schadenfreude is my weakness

So there I was at the kids school on Saturday.  The Summer Fun Day providing another excuse for Master C to empty my pockets of change.  In walks a former work colleague of mine.  A guy who I knew pretty well when we worked together, he and his then girlfriend acted as witnesses at my wedding, we went to their wedding.  We lost touch after he moved to London to work, but bumped into one another on the train a while back.   He’d moved back up here to bring his kid up in Scotland.  He and his missus had moved into the same town as us, and his kid is at the same school as ours.  So far so good.  Anyway, to Saturday, and another woman walks in behind him.  She is introduced as his girlfriend and the conents of he pram she pushes, as his son.

I’m no prude, despite the fact that he was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met and probably would’ve been the last person I’d imagine in this situation, he’s there.  What went on in his marriage, I neither know, nor indeed care about.  What it got me thinking about was whether or not I’m a curse.

I’ve been to a fair number of weddings in my time, particlarly in the period since I got married.  The number of those marriages that are sill marriages is significantly lower.  I counted four that are still existant, and two of those are less than two years old.

Now, my marriage is far from perfect.  We have many issues to overome, and not so long ago, it wouldn’t have been too much of a stretch to see us split up.  We certainly don’t stay together for the tax breaks, but neither do I judge those who can’t make it work.  I just wonder, are we strange that we’ve managed to last almost 17 years?  Do we doom our friends to divorce by accepting their wedding invite?

Life eh?  What a tangled web it is….

—————————

You may have noticed the World Cup is about to start.  I’m already getting world cup fatigue.  It’s a peculiarly British thing, and comes from the strange conflict between nation and union.  I use to be very much of the “Anyone But England” camp, but I like to think I’ve matured over the years, and from a strictly sports point of view, I reckon the whole of the UK could benefit from England winning the Cup and more especially the bid for hosting of 2018. 

Where I still fall down is with all the attendant hoopla, hype and general ill informed forgetful punditry.  Quotes like “The entire nation”, profligate use of “we”, the interminable corporate tie ins…..it goes on and on.  These are the reasons we non-English in Britain like to see it all go breasts skyward.  The shocked faces of the punditry teams, the near tearful voices of the commentators and of course all those hopelessly optimistic but now just funny confectionary wrappers.  It’s just reward for confusing England with Britain.

I’m boycotting Mars, Kellogs, Tesco and especially Carlsberg.  The last of these really should have more self respect, I mean, they’re Danish ffs, and Denmark are actually in the tournament!

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I’m conflicted.  Earlier this year I took the decision to stop playing cricket.  The club needs a scorer, i quite enjoy doing it and thought it would be the ideal means to scratch the cricket itch without putting my aging, overweight frame through the rigours of playing and training..

Due to circumstances I’ve not been anywhere near the club yet this season.  But, I’m home now, so that’s about to change.  The problem I have is that given the number of player losses over the winter, the club finds it’s playing resources stretched.  Our first team has lost 4 in a row, the seconds aren’t doing too well and the thirds, the time I was so recently a part of, have lost all 5 they’ve played so far.  Relegation is not an option, and I find it hard to resist the thought of “riding to the rescue”….until the rational brain kicks in.  I haven’t trained, I feel heavier than I did at seasons end last year, and to be brutally honest.  Bowling doesn’t look like the week link on the team.  They’ve held teams to decent totals and bowled sides out.  Run scoring seems to be the issue, and for me, a bat is for leaning on.  No, I should resist, I want to resist, I must resist…it’s the scorers hutch for me.

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Up, Down, Turn Around, Please Don’t Let Me Hit The Ground

Sunday, dawn, and I awake, sweaty and shaky. The vivid imagery of my legs concertina-ing, fragments of shattered bone exploding outwards as my feet make contact with my buttocks remains embedded in my mind.

Today is the day. I’m joining two of my club mates and around 20 parents from my kids’ school in dangling 100ft above the floor of the Edinburgh International Climbing Centre. It’s Aerial Assault day.

After watching from air-conditioned comfort as the first batch of parents, and a sprinkling of 12-year-old kids, successfully complete the course, it’s our turn. Up the spiral staircase to the launch platform, the ‘banter’ becoming ever more strained as we attempt to divert our minds from the task at hand. It’s difficult to envision just how high 100ft is, when you are looking down. Suffice to say, it’s far enough.

On with the harness, then the helmet and get that attached to the harness. All watches removed and shoes tightened. The consequences of an item falling from that height onto a head below wouldn’t be pleasant. And it’s time to hook up, much like a stick of paratroopers on a DC-10 we stand in line awaiting the green light. Well, except for me. There are 11 in our group and only harnesses. I have to wait until the leadoff dangler has returned to the eyrie.

Soon, people are off and it’s the cricketers’ turn. Tricky is up first. He’s chosen now to reveal he has a real issue with heights, and for a while it looks like he may not make it. We stand, waiting mostly in silence, offering the odd word of encouragement and watching the back of his neck get redder as he battles with his inner demons. Suddenly, with a deep breath he’s gone. Lamby waits until he reaches the first platform before he is released, and it’s my turn. The nice young lady at the turnstile gives my nuts a last check (not difficult, given how snug these harnesses are), adjusts the ropes and with a last little nudge, sends me on my way.

Out over the arena, on a leisurely slide across to the first platform, nothing to do but sneak a quick peak at the ground. Nothing but thin air between me and a couple of large scrambling boulders. Very thin air! Victoria Beckham thin air. The kind of thin air that makes it very clear it won’t be doing anything to counteract gravity.

Soon the landing platform is in reach and after a short scramble up, it’s out onto the obstacles. Log bridges, rope ladders, scramble nets and various other things to go over or round, swing from the roof. The disconnect between the knowledge that the harness and pulley system is safe for 3 to 4 times my bodyweight and the fact that everything is wobbling and unsteady is on occasion a tough thing to bridge. It proves so for Tricky up ahead as the three of us are now bunched up in the middle. Lamby and I hold back giving him the room to sort himself out and he’s off again.

The toughest section of the course involves traversing the climbing wall at one side and involves a four-foot leap over nothing. Again, psychology comes into play, getting your brain to trust in what it can’t see!

The last leg is fairly straight forward and the course ends with a speedier zip slide style run back to the starting point, the signal for much relief, large smiles and handshakes. Adrenaline still coursing through the veins gives everyone a case of the shakes, the last word belonging to Lamby. “I’d do it again, but I don’t know if I’d do it without a harness!”

I’d like to thank Tricky and Lamby for turning up and doing this, and on behalf of each of them thanks to everyone who sponsored us and helped raise a few more pounds for our coaching funds.

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It seems to be a week for manufactured controversy, and it’s only bloody Tuesday! We’ve had various talking heads on TV and radio this morning queuing up to condemn ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’ as sick, depraved and a grave threat to our very well-being. None of these people it should be added have actually seen the game. I haven’t either I hasten to add, hence the reason I won’t comment on the game itself.

The thrust of the argument revolves around a section of the game that involves the player taking on the role of a terrorist in an airport, dispatching civilians. Yes, I can see how that may be disquieting to some. However, given the average of gamers is 33, given that it has an 18 certificate (plus an extra warning about this section, with an option to skip it) it would seem that the makers have done everything they can to make it clear to people what the content is like.

“Oh, but we all know kids will get their hands on it” – yes, yes they will, just like they’ll get their hands on 18 certificate movies, and drama’s like 24. Did you see the last series of 24? It contained a scene with terrorists running around gunning people down in an airport, amongst other gory scenes including ‘our hero’ torturing people. My point? Sounds like this game is no worse than any other media available to us today. Jumping on the bandwagon and whipping up a frenzy of condemnation serves no purpose other than to create publicity and demand for the very thing they have an issue with. Grand Theft Auto is the most infamous example of this. The cycle of publicity gained thanks to “outraged of Tunbridge Wells” led to these games selling far more copies than the actual quality of the game deserved.

It’s a similar tale for Grodon Brown (did you see what I did there?). The Sun have taken it upon themselves to act for the entire British electorate and hound the man from office. His latest faux pas is to be a poor writer. Christ, thank fuck it’s not me then, I’ve got two good (well half decent) eyes and still can’t get much more than a spidery scrawl. OK, the lady in question is upset. Which parent wouldn’t be? Which parent wouldn’t be looking to lash out and find someone or something to blame? OK, maybe he should have taken a bit more time to edit the thing to at least make it presentable, but to be frank, I’d be more angry to receive a pro-forma standard template letter from a computer printer.

And kind old King George
Sent Mother a note
When he heard that father was gone.
It was, I recall,
In the form of a scroll,
With gold leaf and all.
And I found it one day
In a drawer of old photographs, hidden away.
And my eyes still grow damp to remember
His Majesty signed
With his own rubber stamp.

The whole things smacks of finding a stick with which to beat a man who is already down. How convenient that they were able to get a recording of a surprise phone conversation. Speaking only for myself, but I admit, I always have the recording device ready lest a random world leader phone me up of an evening.

The guy can’t do anything right, or rather; The Sun will always find something to blow up into a ‘national disgrace’. I’m not particularly a Labour voter or a Gordon Brown fan but, I’m starting to have some sympathy for the guy. It would be mildly amusing for at least a couple of hours if, in their zeal to have another ‘It Was The Sun Wot Won It’ post election front page, Murdoch’s gutter journalists actually engendered enough sympathy for Brown to cling to power.

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And so to a meeting in Edinburgh tonight….it was short, and bitter…seems I now have a 1 in 7 chance of being redundant this time next week…..yay me!

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F***ing In Rhythm and Sorrow

Swearing.  Apparently it’s neither big, nor clever.  What it is, it seems, is a damn good excuse for a whining session designed to bemoan the end decline in “British standards”, the end of empire and general signal that Messrs. War, Famine, Pestilence and Death are abroad.

Stepping up to the plate in defence of all that is sacred to heart of Mr Churchill, Henry V and Sir Francis Drake is invariably the Daily Fail and their blood vendetta against the foul hand of leftie pinko communism that is The BBC.

It was the Mail who led the charge of the indignant during Sachsgate last year.  Whipping a storm of indifference into a feeding frenzy weeks after the fact.  They followed this up by manufacturing outrage at the Question Time appearance of Thicky Griffin and the supposedly controversial memo.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/mediamonkeyblog/2009/oct/26/question-time-daily-mail-nick-griffin.  They have however outdone themselves this time.

Sunday afternoon, BBC1.  The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix has just been completed.  The cameras follow the top three finishers into the small ante-room they use to towel off, pull on a sponsors cap and relax before heading out to the podium for the presentations.  During this segment, snippets of a conversation between two of the drivers can be heard.  It’s quite interesting; in that normally we get the well rehearsed “on message” speak of sports stars.  This was more akin to a couple of mates chewing the fat, talking about what had been a very tight bit of racing between the two over the last couple of laps.  During this, one of the protagonists dropped the F-word.

Now, everyone knows swear words, everyone has used swear words.  We all try to prevent our kids from using them, but we know it’s futile.  We also know that on occasion they can be blurted out without thinking.

Cue the Daily Fail taking up the cudgels once more and swinging them in the general direction of the BBC.  It’s an action almost as preposterous as the Daily Express and their “Diana Monday” front pages.

By the time I’d realized he’d said it, three or four further sentences had been said.  I’d guess that large numbers of people watching didn’t register the “fuck”.

Whilst the pictures were shown on the BBC, it wasn’t a BBC camera crew and it wasn’t a BBC production team responsible.  Formula One have their own in house TV production who generate all the images etc used in coverage of the races.  The only bits the BBC control are those where the BBC presenting team is on camera.

Jenson Button is the person who swore.  This wasn’t the Sex Pistols and Mr. Grundy.  It was one word, not a string of them, and not all that audible really.

The Daily Mail.  What a bunch of fucking tossers.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1224611/BBCs-Jenson-Button-blunder-turns-F1-champ-F-word-chump.html?ITO=1490

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As has been written in the past, I’m a member of a cricket club.  Not a particularly big time cricket club.  Our first team plays in the third tier of Scottish Cricket.  Our second and third teams play in the Eastern District Leagues, in the second and seventh divisions respectively.

Like all clubs of our stature we have expenditures to meet.  We rely on subscriptions and sponsorships to meet some of those costs.  We also rely on fundraising.  Unlike many of our contempories we don’t own the pavilion facilities and therefore we don’t get any income from bar takings, a potentially large source of funds for any club.  To this end, our own fundraising efforts are key to the survival of the club.

Sadly fundraising events require a membership that gets off its collective arse and either volunteer to help out or gets involved.  That’s where we fall down.

This weekend Parent Association for the school my kids attend have organized to do a sponsored circuit of the Aerial Assault course here:

http://www.eica-ratho.com/content/aerial-assault/1155/

They originally booked a two-hour slot.  This would be enough for 40 people to get round.  Currently the school has around 20 people down to do it.  Seeing an opportunity, and knowing the organizer, I arranged to take 10 of the spaces for the club.

Despite a couple of appeals for emails round the club, a players meeting (admittedly cancelled on the day – no-one told me) and an email sent personally by me, we have a grand total of 3 people willing to do this.

Presumably, when the club goes to the wall, the ones who couldn’t be arsed to get involved will be the ones moaning loudest and longest about the demise of ‘their’ club.

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So, the big story of the weekend? Afghanistan?  Iraq?  Elections in the USA?  Nope.

Stephen Fry having a hissy fit?  You got it.

It seems Mr Fry, not normally known for diva like antics took exception to someone on Twitter describing his musings as “boring”.  Well, boo-hoo.  Cue ‘hurt’ responses claiming he was leaving Twitter, followed by a frenzy of followers giving him “hugs” and “cuddles” to get him to stay.  Couldn’t he have just ignored the fella?  Blocked him?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of Mr. Fry, for a man so much more talented, witty and intelligent than a mere mortal, he’s very down to earth and seemingly genuine.  He’s pretty much a national treasure, and not really given to outbreaks of “lost in showbiz”.  He’s also I would say for many people, the “acceptable face” of gay.

He doesn’t wear his sexuality as some sort of badge of honour.  He’s not in your face about it at all, none of that, “look at me, I’m gay, isn’t it faaaabuuulous!”  Compare him to the likes of Dale Winton, Graham Norton, George Michael, Julian Clary or Ainsley Harriot.  Each of them is camper than a Winnebago convention.  They all appear to be competing to be the most flamboyant, conforming to the worst kind of stereotype.

This “story” seemed to be a big issue with weekend news bulletins, achieving a prominence wholly at odds with its importance.  Celebrity has argument with pleb, sulks!  It was the third top story on the BBC News website at one point.  Of course there was the follow up story the next day.  Celebrity grows up, remains on Twitter, world saved!

Who says the UK media has become a celebrity-obsessed trash-fest?  Use of the word celebrity is to massively over-rate many of the people being photographed or written about.  Never mind A-List and all that.  For these reality show rejects grimly whapping out their breasts for the paparazzi a whole new alphabet is required, although given the surgical enhancements they all seem to get maybe DD list is the answer.

I fear for the future of this country given the numbers of Sun reading, X-Factor auditioning, WAG wannabe, make me a footballer youth out there.  The entitled generation is upon us.  God help us all.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2009/nov/02/stephenfry-digital-media

 

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Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Sunday night rolls around.  I’ve just been out to the shop for some milk and chocolate, Mrs C tells me Arnie phoned.  Unusual for ‘el Presidente’ to call so late on an out of season Sunday.

I return the call and am rocked to my core.  Seems Skinny, holidaying in Turkey has died.  No details, just conjecture.  One of the team heard it form someone who heard it from someone.  Arnie has phoned the Australian Consulate in Istanbul and it’s been confirmed apparently.

Shocking news.  I’m not claiming to be big mates with Skinny, but I’ve known him since he came over to play for us, 3/4 years ago.  He was a superb team mate.  Cracking bat, one of the best keepers I’ve bowled to and always there with an encouraging word or a geeing up cry of “red hot”.

Our paths crossed less frequently this past couple of seasons as we tendedto be playing in differents sides now, and if I’m totally honest, I can’t remember the last thing I said to him, or the last time we spoke, and this bothers me in a way I wouldn’t have expected to.  Maybe that old cliche about living for the now, never leaving things unsaid etc comes into play.

Wherever you are Skindog, rest in peace, and may your God go with you.

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As a club, we seem to have had more than our fair share of deaths over the last five years or so.  We lost our president at the time, and scorer extraordinaire Geoff out of the blue.  Not long after the legend that was Big Frank, admittedly not so unexpectedly, but he was the soul of the club.  Always on hand with a compliment, an encouraging word and his cheerful outlook.

Old Maurice followed the next year.  No one was really sure how old he was, but he’d been there at the Grange when Bradman had played there in 1948.  Maurice could was there every home game, always impeccably mannered and impeccably dressed.

More was to follow when Tris departed.  Not long out of university, he’d just started a job in the House of Commons.  We’d watched him come through as a junior, graduating to the senior ranks.  His leg spinners and batting improving each year.  His banter missed on the field.  Killed in a road accident in Japan.

Skinny becomes the latest of our casualties, taken far too early.

Gents, as ever, next season is for you.

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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!

——————

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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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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