1999 DHCC Tour Report
Resident: John Brightman, Chris Davis, Dave Gasser, Gareth Harper, Steve Kilner, Phil Robson, Tim Stephens
Daily visitors: Ish Ahmed, Steve Davis, Tom Jeffries, Mike Kilner, Kim Wake
Friday 28th May 1999
Woke up with a stonking hangover: my 26th birthday had been the day before. Am I the first person to begin a DHCC tour pissed? Steve K. turned up on my doorstep at 10:00am and we headed to Tescos for petrol and a visit to the cashpoint. "£100 spending money should be enough, Steve?" I shouted, rather naively. A two-hour race up to Norfolk went by uneventfully. Noteworthy point no. 1: parked outside the Pet Crematorium near Duxford was a huge Shell petrol tanker: budgerigar mortality in Cambridgeshire must be bloody high! We arrived at the hotel, dropped off our non-essential kit and headed to the Kings Head, Hethersett where we were due to meet for the first of the three fixtures. The rest of the party arrived (eventually), and after a fairly hot chilli-con-carne, three pints of Woodfordes Wherry and some strained directions we finally made it to the local pitch to play Hethersett C.C. I had been told about past adventures against Hethersett, including the one last year about the opening batsman being struck in the groin by a ball whilst not wearing a box. I had also been informed that the team were made up of either 15 year olds or committed Methodists, neither being particularly good company for post-match beer drinking. Never mind! The match started with some slight controversy, with Hethersett winning the toss and opting to bat. So we took to the field, with Kim and Tom taking the opening overs. Tom made the breakthrough by taking the wicket of one of the opening batsman and the no. 3. However, Kerslake, the no.1, looked strong, and would go on to make 44. He would fall, eventually, to John Brightman. JB took five wickets in the match, for a miserly 17 runs. Phil Robson dealt with two of the middle order, whilst conceding only 14 runs. A guest player from Hethersett, Dan Musson, took the other wicket, and Hethersett finished on 115 all out. The highlight from the fielding performance was an amazing catch by Chris in the slips to remove the no. 2.
After tea, we took up the challenge of beating Hethersetts total. If we had known how close it would be, we would have had more to drink at lunchtime to steady our nerves. Tim went for zero, I went for five, Chris went for ten, Steve K. went for zero, Tom went for nine. We were 53 for 5. Things looked bad. Phil Robson went out to join Kim Wake at the wicket with an almost Sisyphean task ahead of them. Time was running out, as was the batting. But they turned the game around and between them they put on another 26 runs when the game might have slipped away from us. Kim was then run out, but had scored a valuable 15 runs, nonetheless. John followed and knocked a smart 8, only to be bowled by the obnoxious Geoff Chapel, who managed to wind up more of his own team than he did ours. Young Dan Musson followed, only to be caught by a very good slip catch for zero: so ends his DHCC career! Then came Dave Gasser, who played the ultimate supporting role to the lead actor, Phil Robson. Dave went to the wicket at 88 for 8 (we only had 10 players) with five overs remaining. We needed 28 runs to win and Hethersett were going to move Heaven and Earth to stop us. But they did not count on the divinely (or diabolically) inspired Phil. Between the two of them, Phil and Dave moved us into a position of needing 17 runs of 18 deliveries. This is how the next three overs went:
Third from last over:
Dot ball, Dot ball, Dot ball, Dot ball, Dot ball, Six runs.
This six was a glorious strike by Phil, over square to midwicket area, to keep us firmly in the match. Dave was faced with the strike for the penultimate over.
Dot ball, Dot ball, One run, Dot ball, Two runs, One run.
Noteworthy point no. 2: The last single by Phil to retain the strike for the final over was a work of genius. On the boundary, we all agreed that what was needed was a quick prod into the gap at midwicket. The trouble was that the bowler had been consistently dropping them short, making such a shot difficult. We had come to the fairly sad conclusion that Phil would not get the single. How wrong we were. The bowler dutifully dropped it short again, but Phil, somehow, played what can only be described as an overhead smash, a la Henman, into midwicket, and took the single and the strike. We went into the final over 109-8. We needed seven runs from the last six balls with one wicket remaining. It doesnt get much better than this!
Dot ball, Four runs, Two runs, Dot ball, Four Runs
Phil and Dave had done it. Phil with a brilliant 43 not out, came in when all might have been lost and played a brilliant all-rounders innings. This was a match winning performance, no doubt about it. But give credit to Dave Gasser as well. It takes two to keep the innings going, especially at the last wicket. Dave gave the strike to Phil, knowing he was the best placed batsman to get the runs, but Dave still had to take the runs when it mattered, and backed up Phil to the end. Between them, they put on a ninth wicket partnership of 31, the highest of the season so far.
After we had come down from the high induced by that incredible performance, John made the presentation to the Hethersett skipper and we returned to the Kings Head for one or two pints of Wherry. But this was merely warming up for the evenings entertainment. The Alpha hotel was our basecamp, and after refreshing ourselves, we assembled in the lounge of the hotel prior to our expedition into the depths of Norwich. However, we did not leave before a minor drama: Chris, and there is only one way to say this, locked himself in the toilet. After about 30 seconds of mild amusement, the mood soon fell into desperation. However, he eventually managed to free himself. Further mishaps avoided, the Murderers Arms was our first port of call. We continued to knock back the beer for a couple of hours and then headed off to the restaurant. We had (finally) agreed on going for a Chinese meal: those who knew where we were led us deeper into Norwich, along an alley and up two flights of the urine smelling stairs of a city centre car park until we reached The Jumbo Chinese Restaurant. Honest, Im not kidding, that really was the name. In we trooped, seven of us, led by the intrepid John Brightman. "Ahhhhh! I remember you from before" the banshee-like hostess of The Jumbo cried at John. Now, his eating exploits are well known, but this? We sat around a table, looked up and to our horror realised that in front of us was a Karoake machine. It goes without saying that the evening went downhill from there. Trying to get Phil and John away from the Karoake machine was near impossible. Noteworthy point No.3: I might as well admit it, I was in lust with the DJ at the Karoake machine. A wonderful Chinese meal was suitably complemented by various combinations of DHCC cruelly savaging a number of popular songs, including: "Bright Eyes", "Wonderwall", "Yellow River" (sorry, "Yerrow Liver" DHCC does its best for political correctness again!), "Wannabe" (oh, was that embarrassing!) and "Dont Go Breaking (sorry, "Blakeing") My Heart". We left (or were asked to leave, Im not quite sure) at 2:00am. Chris Davis was shaking his head with disbelief, disgust or distemper Im not quite sure which! I finally got to bed at 2:42am., suitably inebriated.
Saturday 29th May
Woke up at 8:30. OH MY GOD! My head, my throat, my legs: what happened last night? (Whatever it was, sadly it was not with the DJ from the Karoake evening.) My body ached. Could not face breakfast. Stayed in bed watching childrens TV. Finally emerged at about 9:30, and met the others for a trip into Norwich. I needed a chemist badly. Spent a couple of hours trying to reconnect my brain with my head before we assembled in the lounge for the trip to Brundall for the match against Vauxhall Mallards. The directions were handed out Dave drove Steve K., Phil and myself. "We need the A47", Dave announced confidently, "I think I know where that is". He was right, he did know where it was. However, Dave seemed to forget that roads have a nasty habit of heading in two directions simultaneously. We were on the A47 all right, but the A47 headed towards Swaffham instead of the A47 heading towards Great Yarmouth, sadly being 180 degrees in the other direction. We noticed this after about 20 minutes, and turned around promptly. We finally made it, spotted JB enjoying a chicken and chips at the side of the road in Brundall, and after a quick bite to eat and meeting up with Mike and Ish, todays visitors, we finished the journey to the ground of Vauxhall Mallards. And what a ground! To be precise, it was actually some blokes back garden. The owner of a caravan park in Lowestoft owned the neighbouring house (which looked rather nice from the glimpses I could sneak through the surrounding bushes) and he had bought and renovated the adjacent field and turned it into a gorgeous cricket ground. The batting track was superb, although the boundaries were a little on the short side. A wonderful electronic scoreboard stood next to the pavilion, which was adorned with pictures of special matches played by Vauxhall Mallards, in which individuals such as Imran Khan and Clive Lloyd had played. There were also photos of the owner with Brian Johnston, Bill Lawry, Fred Trueman, etc. In short, it was an ideal setting, owned by a real cricket nut. It could have been paradise. But then came Quorn. To give him his full name, F. Quorn Handley. (I dont know what the F stood for, but one or two made a few choice guesses). He was one of those blokes that always has to have the last word, no matter what. And on the field, his incessant inane chatter at first was irritating, but then ventured into gamesmanship. But more of that later. DHCC batted first, and the opening bowlers, although young, were quite quick and very accurate. Some carefully batting was needed at the beginning. One bowler was getting a lot of away movement, and for me, Quorn felt it necessary to have 4 slips, 2 gulleys and a cover point. Thing is, I didnt edge one all afternoon (for a change!). Tim started swiftly, with me in support. We had put on 48 together (highest first wicket partnership to date) when I was bowled for 10. Chris joined Tim at the crease, and continued to put on another 37 before Tim was caught for 53, which is still the highest individual score of the season to date. Steve followed, and soon after Chris was bowled. On coming off the field he looked at me and said "I know its wrong, but Im glad Im out. That Quorn is such a f***in c**t" (obscenities removed for legal reasons). Chris had a point he had the habit of slightly adjusting his field after the batsman had taken his guard, and insisted on hurrying his team to change around after each over, but he himself was always chatting, making jokes and was always the last into position. Phil Robson was, sadly, dismissed without scoring, so Mike joined his brother at the crease with the score on 114. Then followed an aggressive partnership of 56 in 10 overs by the Kilners, which set the match up quite nicely. Mike was finally caught for 38, and Steve went next delivery for 30, stumped trying to connect the beast to a slower delivery. The innings ended there, with DHCC on 170-6.
After tea, we took to the field, and Ish and Mike took the first overs. Ish grabbed the first wicket (his first for the club) with the score on 7, and the wickets continued to fall at a steady rate, with Ish taking two more wickets and Mike clearing the rest. One thing stood in our way, and would it surprise you to learn that his initials were FQH? Whilst I was standing at cover point, the umpire told me that Quorn used to open the batting for Norfolk, and still turned our for their over-50s side (he wasnt that much over fifty, in any case). It was also whilst fielding at cover point that Quorn almost broke my left index finger by cracking the ball so hard, I couldnt get my hand in or out of the way quick enough. However, whilst he was piling on the runs, he was running out of partners. Noteworthy points 4 and 5: JB took a superb over-the-head catch at mid to long off and Tim took a great catch behind the stumps. In the case of the latter, the batsman didnt walk and the umpire didnt give it out as he was unsure where the ball had made contact with the batsman. However, he soon knew as the batsman (whilst of course still standing his ground and refusing to walk) started to wave his hand in agony as the pain of the ball striking his finger suddenly hit. That sort of gave the game away, and he had no option but to walk, with our laughter ringing in his ears. The match came down to the last over: Vauxhall had two wickets remaining and needed three runs to win. If we could keep Quorn away from the strike, we could win. Quorn, on strike, took a single off the first delivery, and two balls later, Mike bowled their number 10. Two runs needed, one wicket remaining, three balls left! Quorn looked like he was stranded. However on the penultimate ball, they ran a bye, and with the scores level Quorn hit a four over backwards point to win the game on the last ball. The only saving grace was that Quorn was two runs short of his century! Shame eh?
After the formalities and a quick drink in the bar, we headed back to the Alpha hotel to freshen up for the second evenings extravanganza. I would have liked to report that we actually did something different this evening, but sadly no. Four pints of Bass in the Murderers Arms followed by an excursion via the car park to The Jumbo this time greeted by a cry of "Herro Darling!" The poor DJ looked up in horror to see a bunch of grinning blokes waving at her! She must have thought she had sinned badly in a previous life to be cursed with this two nights running! Actually, I lied earlier we did do something different, four of us had Thai food, rather than Chinese. But the rest of the evening was exactly the same. Embarrassing, excruciating performances in the name of entertainment! Chris couldnt stand another night of torture and left at about 1:00am. But the rest stayed, and the band played on! Top performance of the evening, even if I do say so, was the duet by Phil Robson and myself. Phil was Elton John, I was Kiki Dee. The song was "Dont Go Breaking My Heart". Somehow (it must have been all that beer), I felt the need to sing in a falsetto voice. I have absolutely no idea how I did it. (It was my hand that Quorn struck a cricket ball at earlier, wasnt it?) Again, we left at 2:00am. Again, I failed to get to bed until just before 3:00am.
Sunday 30th May
The day of rest and boy did we need it! After breakfast the party visited Norwich Sports Village for a day of relaxation. A couple of frames of snooker, a few pints of beer, a game of tennis for the active, a few more pints of beer for the less active and a quick snooze in front of the demise of English cricket was the order of the day. A good days sport on TV was promised, but Englands defeat at the hands of India meant that we were out of the world cup. The 2nd division playoff final was also showing, which kept punctuating our last game of snooker as Manchester City pulled off an amazing victory against Gillingham. Returning to the hotel, I slept for another hour or so before we made our final visit of the weekend to the Murderers Arms. The tour was beginning to take its toll as the numbers in the evening were dwindling. However four of us plus Jon Baldwin, Steves mate who obviously had nothing better to do, decided that we should go for an Indian meal. We were a bit cautious however, due to the tragic performance of the England cricket team against India earlier that day. We agreed that if asked, we would say we were a basketball team. We would have got away with it too, if it werent for Phil Robson! The curry was great, and it was going to be an early night, getting back at 12:40am. But then I went and locked myself out of my room. What a prat! Id only gone and picked up my house keys rather than my room keys. So I had to go and wake up the manager, who wasnt all that amused, I can tell you!
Monday 1 June
The final day, and although I had thoroughly enjoyed the tour, I have to say that I was looking forward to getting back the three days had been very exhausting. However there was the tiny matter of the fixture against Gressenhall to deal with. So, after the cooked breakfast and a few poisonous looks from the hotel manager, I packed up my luggage, settled the bill and joined the others for the trip to Gressenhall. We shouldnt have bothered, really. We were toilet! I wont write too much about the game, it was that bad! I was dismissed first ball, Tim went for 10, Chris offered some resistance with 20, Steve K. went for 1, Dave, Phil scored zero, as did Steve D. (who with Mike and Kim were todays visitors), Kim scored 3. We were 52 for 8. Mike then scored a valuable 30, JB knocked up 18 and an injured Gressenhall player on loan to us smashed a very quick 33. We had, somehow, put up a score of 145-9.
By the time we took to the field, I was half asleep, and it showed in my fielding. The Gressenhall batsman took to their task with ease, and knocked up the required total very quickly, the no. 3 (Heath) scoring 94 not out. Steve Davis and Phil Robson took a wicket each, butour bowlers were hit quite badly, and by the end, it was a mercy killing. Perhaps it was one game too many? Perhaps there were too many late nights? But lets not take away the fact that Gressenhall are a very good side, who, given our abject performance, deserved such a comprehensive victory.
After the formalities and a quick drink, we piled into the respective cars and made the journey back to Hertfordshire. We were exhausted, but generally happy. It had been a good tour. The cricket had been good, the company had been excellent, the food was wonderful and the singing well lets just stop there shall we?
Hopefully, lessons had been learned from the tour. There were certainly some great performances. Phils innings against Hethersett, Tims, Steve and Mikes batting against Vauxhall Mallards, Johns bowling at Hethersett and Mike and Ishs bowling at Vauxhall Mallards all helped make those matches into two close and exciting battles. The overall team performance in the first two games was good. There was also some superb fielding Chris slip catch at Hethersett and Johns overhead catch at Vauxhall were spectacular, to name two. There were some rough patches as well: the match against Gressenhall springs to mind. But we will bounce back!
To conclude this report for my first (but certainly not my last) DHCC tour, Id like to thank John Brightman for organising it all. The planning and organisation must have been a nightmare, and I know my fellow tourists share my appreciation. Maybe if we had had one or two more in the party, then the strain might not have shown so much on the final day Im just about recovering, as I write this in the middle of June! So next year, lets see if we can make it a larger touring party Phil and I cant do all of the singing!
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These pages were written by Gareth Harper, and were last updated on June 23, 1999.