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MATCH REPORTS 2009

Nepotists v Whitchurch   (Report by Dale "Daisy" Atkinson)                                                               3 May 2009

Nepotists v Epsom   (Report by Mark "Transport" Minehan)                                                              10 May 2009

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Nepotists v Whitchurch   (Report by Dale "Daisy" Atkinson)                                                                 3 May 2009

THE PANGBOURNE OBSCENITY
Lance Jones falls tantalisingly short of milestone on debut

It’s a punctual service the 12:03 from Paddington to Cardiff Central. At a minute past twelve the doors lock, the tempo of the rhythm pulsating through the fixed plastic chairs increases and Lance Jones breathlessly starts the trudge down the aisle from First Class cabin A, through the doors separating the carriages, around the buffet car and past the toilet with the automatic sliding door to where the rest of us sit in cabin E.

“Fucking hell,” he says to the surprise of the elderly lady waiting to get past him in the aisle “the bastard wouldn’t let me through.”

It seems staff at Great Western are reluctant to let people travel without a ticket. It seems staff at Great Western are reluctant to let people travel without a ticket even if they clearly articulate the urgency of their travel requirements. In fact, it seems staff at Great Western are reluctant to let people travel without a ticket even if they’ve just sprinted over to the ticket machine to purchase one and have the receipt to prove it. Staff do however become less reluctant to allow people to travel it seems, in those situations where potential passengers sprint back to the machine from which the receipt was extracted in order to retrieve and then present the necessary tickets for the desired journey. Of course that may have had something to do with the fact Lance Jones had paid £34.80 for a £15 fare. Still, at least he made the train.

It’s a punctual service the 12:52 from Reading to Pangbourne. It pulls into the station at eleven minutes to one and stands at the platform for roughly the same amount of time it takes to order a 12” subway sandwich. About thirty seconds after scheduled departure the doors slide closed with a hydraulic hiss and lock with a thunk of absolute finality. At first the train doesn’t move. It just stands there. Then the hum of the diesel engine grows louder. As does the tap, tap, tap of Lance Jones’ index finger on the door-open button. Slowly the train begins to inch along the platform. So does Lance. The train gathers pace. So does Lance. The train pulls out of the station. So do we. Lance does not. He is left on the platform with a blank look on his face. A 12” sub hangs limp from his right hand.

Twenty minutes later he calls. He is in a cab. He is arguing with two men who have tried to commandeer his ride.

“Get the fuck out of my cab” he says.

“No I’m not Australian I’m a fucking Kiwi, now get the fuck out of my cab” he says.

“What the fuck’s wrong with you, don’t you lock the doors?” he says.

“Two half-dressed pissed blokes just tried to get into my fucking cab” he says.

“I’m on my way to the ground” he says.

He has a lot to say.

Twenty pounds later he’s at the ground. We inspect the pitch. A South African man is painting the popping crease. “I almost got into a fight in the cab” says Lance, “two drunk blokes dressed in leotards tried to get in.”

“We should shoot them,” the South African man says, his clipped, high veldt accent lending the statement an unnecessary added sense of menace. “Just shoot them all.”

It is not clear if he’s referring to drunks, cab jumpers, men dressed in leotards or all three. Lance and I exchange a look. The South African man adjusts the marking guide and with gentle, delicate strokes begins to white in the return crease. “I was stabbed in the arm with a bayonet,” he says. “It fucking hurts.”

We fall silent.

A gentle breeze kicks up.

“Me too,” says the South African’s team mate lifting his shirt to reveal a long pink scar on the left hand side of his flabby belly.

“It fucking hurts” he agrees.

Lance and I nod in assent.

“I was walking through the bush in Angola and this boy just jumped out and stabbed me in the arm” says the South African, quick to reclaim the initiative. “I fell over backwards, accidentally pulled the trigger of my rifle and blew his fucking head off.”

The sound of bristles gently lapping on turf is deafening.

“Not a day goes by when I don’t wonder why the silly bastard didn’t just shoot me,” he says, “then I wouldn’t have to live in this miserable place.”

We don’t respond. 

“Fucking hell” says Lance as we walk back to the pavilion. “There can’t be too many teams out there with two blokes who have been bayoneted in them.”

I agree.

It seems probable.

I win the toss and elect to bat. By the drinks break we are 108 without loss. Wardy has passed 50. Clearly a class above the Whitchurch attack he looks set for a century on debut. Bessy has resumed this season as he finished the last; solid, dependable, inevitable.

After drinks the tempo lifts. Wardy cracks a brace of sixes. “We might not get a bat,” muses a padded up Tim Philips as a cloud eases across the sun. “Don’t bet on it,” I say, heading into the pavilion to retrieve my jumper. “We’re known for our collapses.”

Bessy nudges one behind square on the on-side. Wardy calls him through for a run. Bessy sends him back. I wish Tim luck as he heads out to the middle. Wardy checks the book. He has finished with 80.

A short time later Bessy gets out trying to push the run-rate. He checks the book. He has 86. The old pro leads the aggregates again.

Philips takes to the bowling, racing into the 30s. Adams cluncks a six over long on. Next over he’s out bowled trying to smear one into the stables. Lance Jones walks to the crease. He’s never played a competitive game of cricket before. He plays and misses at his first delivery but slices his second down to deep third man for a single. He raises his bat. Next ball he’s out. 

I see out the last five deliveries of the innings. The ball hardly leaves the square. Philips is left stranded seven short of a half-ton on debut. I am an apologetic captain

We have set Whitchurch 233 for victory from our 35 overs. It looks enough.

Travis West and Wes Boshoff open the bowling. The South African snares one early and West follows soon after, snaring the Whitchurch number 3 caught smartly at point by one L. Jones.

It is at about this point that I generally get bored with writing match reports and I suspect the same is true for those reading them. So instead of more floury prose here’s a summary of the Whitchurch innings.

1)     Lance Jones bowls two overs and is struck for six from the first delivery of each. It is apparently a tactical manoeuvre. It isn’t a very good one.

2)     Andrew Main bowls seven overs unchanged and ends the match with 2 for 23.

3)     Wardy takes a wicket.

4)     Bessy bowls the last over and finishes the match with figures of 2-3. He is leading run scorer, joint leading wicket taker, has the highest batting average and lowest bowling average. He is campaigning for a damp summer.

5)     Rhys Adams finishes up with a brace.

6)     No catches are put down.

7)     Tim Philips celebrates a wicket by executing a face plant on the pitch.

8)     Despite having six debutants in the side the concept of the NACA is easily grasped. The first Red Velvet of the season goes to Lance Jones. Well deserved, well earned, well done.

A small group props up the bar at the Greyhound as dusk settles into night. Rounds are bought and reciprocated. Dinner is consumed. The cross-country rattler from Pangbourne back to Reading is missed. Spirits are high. Another round is purchased. A cab is called.

Just after nine the last four Nepotists in Whitchurch pour themselves into a taxi. Fifteen minutes later the vehicle pulls into Reading station. Westie peers back from the front passenger seat “I haven’t got any cash on me,” he says, patting his hip pocket, “I’ll fix you up later.

“Yeah, me to.” I say staring into my empty wallet. “Can you spot me Wardy?

“Sorry buddy, I’m all out too.” He says stepping onto the curb.

Three sets of eyes fall on the figure of Lance Jones. At first he looks startled. After that he just looks resigned.

“You blokes are fucked.” He says.

Later, on the train, he tallies up the damage.

£34.80 for a return ticket to Pangbourne.

£4.30 for a 12” subway sandwich.

£20 for a cab to the ground.

£10 match fee.

£9 for a steak and ale pie.

£15 for a cab to Reading.

£93.10 for a game of cricket.

Tragedy.

Another Nepotist falls tantalisingly short of a ton on debut.

That is all.

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Nepotists v Epsom   (Report by Mark "Transport" Minehan)                                                              10 May 2009

SUNDAY, BLOODY SUNDAY

The 12.30pm cricket shuttle to Epsom departed 16 Spencer Road Wembley promptly at 12.45pm. The M40/M25 junction is 11.1 miles in distance and 21.5 minutes driving time from 16 Spencer Road Wembley. The M25/M4 junction, 16 miles and 27 minutes, the M25/A30 junction, 20.2 miles and 31 minutes, M25/M3 junction, 23.4 miles and 34 minutes, M25 junction 10, 30.6 miles and 41 minutes, M25 junction 9, 36.4 miles and 47 minutes, Epsom is exactly 41.5 miles from 16 Spencer Road Wembley and 56 minutes in driving time.

I had no idea why I was noting down these figures in such detail whilst drinking hot tea heated at exactly 65.5 degrees Celsius in a thermonuclear mug powered via electronic exchange through the lighter socket of Werren’s van, but I’d already made a subconscious note to self and decided to book myself in for a back seat next time we drove to the cricket together.

After picking up a few of the lads at Epsom Station we throttled into Epsom cricket ground under full bass and treble capability, we were now precariously high on adrenalin and fully pumped for our impending battle thanks to the dulcet tones of Survivors “Eye of the Tiger” blasting through the open van windows.

It was right about this point in proceedings that it all started to go horribly wrong.

After taking a very close second place in the coin toss, our captain for the day, Mad Maxy Walker, advised us to ‘white up’ to get proceeding underway in the field.

It had begun.

The wind was breezing in lightly from the South-East, the clouds were white, fluffy and few and the new Nepotists 2009 South African connection, Wessel Boshoff, buoyed by the inauguration of Jacob Zuma the previous day, took the new ball along with ‘Lethal’ Leigh Angel. Alas after 4 unlucky overs it was clear Zuma’s luck was only evident in South African elections and that there was no angel of any description watching over his namesake. It was not through lack of heart or ability that the openers were ineffective but it was certainly obvious that the gods were not with us. Angel went for loads after bowling just a mere 38 balls in his five overs whilst Wes toiled away unsuccessfully in his four overs. Was it the cricketing gods or some other more sinister pagan like god watching this match? All would be revealed in due course.

A bowling change was imminent and the little fella Timmy Phillips, who’d had us all reaching for our earplugs after constant and un-ending chatter in the outfield was brought on. With a compact action that looked very much like a half drugged up Maltese Jack Russell (not that I’ve ever seen one but you get the point) he pounced through 4 overs and despite myself dropping a catch and wearing the famous pink wig for a short time, bowled well and was rewarded with a wicket. From the other end the captain himself stepped up to the plate and relieved Wes. Sadly Maxy went for 1.385 runs per ball and ended up developing RSI in his neck from repetitively looking over his shoulder as the ball continued going over his head to the boundary.

Our Indian import for the season, direct from a stint in the IPL, Nilesh Naidu, trundled in with a couple of overs that produced both a good wicket and lots of runs. Yours truly bowled a very tight first ball in his spell. What followed, however, were many further loose balls that were given all the respect they were due, and consequently dispatched to all parts of the ground. How I managed a scalp is still beyond me.

Drastic action was required and so it was instigated. Reece was dismissed from keeping duties and told to bowl with orders to get wickets. He did. Reece inspected the pitch in quiet contended satisfaction, Maxy reviewed his drastic bowling change with quiet contented satisfaction. Angel watched his fellow Nepotists rewarded with wickets that he clearly believed should’ve been his and there was nothing quiet or contented by what could be seen in his face, the impending rage was obvious.

Then it happened. Angel was returned to the crease for a second spell. The gods were close, I could feel it. During his first over back he pitched up a nice half volley that was belted with such veracity that none of our fielders had a hope of stopping it. Lucky for us the non-striker did stop the ball for us amazingly using only his eye glasses and face. The non-striker, a young South African fellow playing in his first game for Epsom (and probably his last) had his face opened up easier than an overripe water melon and began to bleed all over the pitch. I looked about, I could see a change coming. Leigh Angel’s eyes began to turn totally bloodshot as the Vampire Blood Gods of the Lost World cast their evil spell on us all. I was scared. Everyone started talking at once. There was immediate chaos were just moments earlier only simple innocent Nepotism lived. The captain of the opposing side rushed to the crease with first aid and promptly told his charge that his shirt was f***ed, Critchley added that they were now getting themselves out. Phillips implored us to stop ‘bleeding’ runs. Angel said nothing. The hospital was next door to the ground, the player removed, and the game resumed. Angel bowled anew transformed from his previous lamb like demeanour into a man possessed of all the Vampire Gods knowledge and thirst. He snared three quick wickets. He continued to say nothing. I was still scared.

Carl Hoar who had not fully injected himself into the game as yet, was affected by the blood gods also, Maxy knew this and tossed him the ball. Three deliveries later the torture inflicted upon us by the Epsom batsmen was over and Hoar had retired from bowling with figures of 1 for 4 off 0.3 overs.

Epsom had set us an unlikely target of 299 for victory.

Lunch has always been a very solid affair at most of the Nepotists fixtures and there was no exception at Epsom. I noticed, however, that a lot of food went uneaten. I suspected almost all players of ‘turning’ and quickly checked the mirrors to ensure everyone had a reflection. I made a note to myself to remember to bring my crucifix and holy water in future. I was not at all sure what was going on.

Our chase began poorly as we found ourselves 4 wickets down for only 39 runs on the board. I suspected our players were being affected by the sunlight. I wondered if vampires played cricket and mused as to where. Then the sky began to darken, the wind picked up and our strength returned. Phillips and Adams grew immediately in both stature and ability and held the middle order together with a fine partnership of 94 runs. Phillips was out after ‘eyeing a century in face’ as he put it, bringing on our international UK import for the day - Stamper. As he faced his first ball for twelve months I had a felling normality was returning to the match. I was wrong.  Stamper was hit on the hand, broke a finger, bled all through his gloves, all over himself then all over the pitch. He then removed himself from the ground. Déjà Vous.

Our lower order was obliterated in seconds and as our victors looked upon us, with blood lust in their eye’s, we made a hasty retreat to the change rooms having lost by just a mere 132 runs.
Blade himself would’ve made no difference to the end result.

After being NACA’d our illustrious fixture secretary Jeff Critchley was muttering something along the lines of a ‘stitch up’. ‘Rigged’ was also heard to emanate from his pursed lips. As he donned the lime green and magenta for his first time in 2009 I believe revenge was on his mind. No one was actually sure what had happened and why he had been NACA’d. Nothing new here.

In true Nepotistic tradition we held up the bar. So well in fact that all the Epsom players had left and the one remaining player who was also the barman kept glancing at his watch. We didn’t get the hint. As the clock struck 9pm, Stamper promptly started bleeding all over the pavilion floor. We did then think it best to leave.

By the time Steve Werren had got out of his car at 9.10pm at a set of traffic lights to ask the adjacent motorists how to change the lights from ‘blood’ red back to green, I knew the match was truly over.

TRANSPORT.....................

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