A Draw !- Remember Those ?- SWCC v Brighton & Hove Crescent 02.08.2020


The Wanderers tour of the local grounds continued with a trip to the outskirts of town and the Horsdean pitch at Patcham. Horsdean is a quite a pleasant place for a match, possibly the best of the circuit Brighton venues. Ample in size and set to the north of the suburb, just below the by-pass, it could easily be missed for someone not local and non-cricketing. It has been home to the established Brighton & Hove Crescent for some time. For Brighton, the wicket always seems relatively well kept too.

A very regular Wanderers side won the toss (Lloyd takes a bow) and decided to bat first on a breezy and pleasant August afternoon. Openers Wilson and Barber resuming their partnership, or rivalry, and adding 42 for the process. Much of their conflabs in the middle of wicket doubtless discussing the fine delineation of descriptions for bowler speeds. Was he quick or rapid ?  One wonders if the budget will extend to a speed gun this winter.

Lloyd and Teflon Noakes did little to trouble the scorers once the openers had gone and the partnership of the innings was left to the Big Bear and slasher Styles. 64 was added to steer away from potential batting calamity and the total looked like it might be heading for safety as it reached 136. Once Peter had departed, Gwyllim continued to anchor the innings, the last four wickets yielded 52, and Wanderers finished their innings on 188-8. Gwyllim finished on 68 not out, Wanderers first fifty of the season. The highlights section of the averages finally has an entrant.



Who needs the old teas back ?

Historically, Brighton & Hove Crescent traditionally bring the curtain down on the season and, these days, in unusual fashion- better put, some traditionalists would describe ‘proper’ fashion. Although 80 overs were the limit, all three results were allowable. For those who don’t remember, a draw can be a result in a cricketing match if a target is not reached and ten wickets were not taken. A prospect of much bewilderment to most folk under 30 or foreign visitors who have been introduced to Test match cricket. It may be that Mr Noakes had some explaining to do in the car on the way home.

Talking of the Noakes cricketing academy, young Alice opened the bowling with the Oldest Swinger in Town. This provoked online discussion about the biggest age gap running between a pair of bowlers in SWCC history. At 59 years, an uneducated statistical neck can safely be stuck out when assuming that this is highly likely to be the winner. And accounts talk of a splendid showing from the Noakes stable, including a wicket and the second tidiest economy of the afternoon. A Wanderers ladies’ team ? The Sunday side might wish to keep things as they are if this continues. ‘Alice in Wanderers Land’ has gone into the corny cricketing library to be headlined at a later date…

The BHCC line up nearly all had starts, and given the nature of the match the breaks could be applied at any time. 188 never looked in any danger as a reachable target but Wanderers had to work for their wickets. Lloyd picked up most of the top order with 3-35, but it was tough to build up a head of steam. The fifth wicket fell in the 23rd over which meant, with 15 left, an outright win was always going to be a tough ask.

The under-rated Gwyllim turned his arm, Ant had a bowl, and Will found his way back to the oche. Eventually sharing four wickets between them in the process, there had been hope on Wanderers side as two wickets were needed for victory when the last five overs arrived. But like the days of 70s, when matches of huge deficits resulted in draws, there was to be no last hurrah as the tenth wicket fell. The Crescent held on and hands were shaken, or rather acknowledging nods exchanged, and the match was agreed upon as a draw…

…. or a winning draw, as we used to say to our colleagues on a Monday morning.


Wanderers Win In The Weald… SWCC v Mayfield 26.07.2020


Wanderers journeyed north today to the resplendent High Weald and its splendiferous Mayfield cricket ground, Wish Park and Hove Rec looking from behind with forlorn resignation.

A 30 over bash starting early at 12.30 suggested that some may have hoped to catch the action of the Premier League’s conclusion, or at least the events unfolding in the Test match. The Author, thinking to make the journey, decided against arriving mid-afternoon due to the potential for a short match and nearly an hour’s travel time (certainly at his speed). Such a decision proved wise as the match failed to go a full distance, even with a few ‘beer’ overs added once the victory total had been passed.

And victory fell to Wanderers.

Mayfield won the toss and batted. In customary fashion the overs were shared among the Wanderers numbers. From 58-2, and after Lloyd’s opening brace, Mayfield struggled to make fluent progress. Young Edward took his first club wicket, Noodle added a couple of his own, and Master Hyde finished off the tail end in Bothamesque fashion. The home team’s total of 104 was looking doubtful against what was a strong batting line up today.



Thus it proved, and the victory margin may have been wider and the much shorter had Lord Sponge not determined, as usual, to give everyone an opportunity to enjoy the play.

Noakes snr and Noakes jnr opened the batting. The first time a father/son combination have opened the batting since- perhaps someone can answer that ?

Teflon Noakes swotted 24, although at one stage Wanderers found themselves tottering at 33-4. No need for concern however. Cometh the hour, cometh a new player for this term. Chris Barrett made 41 even outstripping the flashing blade of Mr Styles who contributed 11 to a 46 run partnership. With Jamie joining him for final knockings, Wanderers arrived home in 20th over with five wickets in hand.

A pleasant victory and another fine example of involving everyone in the match. On to Poynings mid-week and more lovely Sussex scenery. Is there anything better ?



Amicitia et liberalitas….

As the early autumn sun lowered in the west, and a crispy air engulfed the barbecue embers, the pavilion of rural Chailey Cricket Club was awash with wistful chatter. As much as the summer was saying goodbye, the cricket schedule had been holding out for as long as it could. But now was the time of benediction. The grace of a Barber drive, the love of a Lukey toss victory, and the fellowship of a Wanderers social gathering had indeed been with us all. Amen to another season.

Chailey had hosted the final match in the absence of Plumpton’s invitation. Overnight rain had made way for a dry, bright and breezy afternoon. Arundel, most affable opponents, had struggled for numbers. Under normal circumstance the match may have fallen victim to this current Sunday struggle amongst the more established clubs. Thankfully, due to enthusiasm for one final hurrah, the Wanderers were over subscribed. The Author, Lloyd and Butcher jnr joined the opposition ranks and a forty over match was agreed upon. Lukey won the toss (read that again) and elected to bowl. The stage was set for the final scene.

Even with the added strength of young Butcher and the very able Lloyd, the Arundel innings struggled on the pudding pitch. A team of able Sunday cricketers lacked the flashing blades of Wanderers recent renaissance. As much as Arundel are a successful West Sussex League side, the Sunday team are a splendid tribute to the friendly game. The attitude and desire to include everyone was a pure testament to this. The youngest player was 14 and the eldest, wait for it, 86. More on bowler Denny in a bit. The opening exchanges were a little muted. With DJ Dave and Raunak employing some steady arms the score eased its way to 27 in the ninth over.

Lloyd became the first victim, stepping back to a ball that kept fairly low. Raunak had bowled especially well in his first spell, turning the ball off a fine length, and was most deserving of a wicket. The wicket set a pattern of struggle for the visitors, the next fourteen overs yielding forty-five runs as Wanderers continued to make proper use of a drying wicket. As the score crawled into the seventies a further four wickets fell, Baker Joe, Max, DJ Dave and Will B joining the party in a rotating attack.

Ensuing was seventeen overs of attritional cricket. Sensibly, Arundel clawed their way to a respectable scoreline. Batsman Pitts providing a measured but combative approach to a fully resourced Wanderers attack (every outfield player was used). Naturally there will be no mention of the pea roller from the hand of Will B that sent The Author back to the hutch without scoring…. But after this batsman Shoulders accompanied Pitts in a stand of twenty four which was only ended by a superb one handed catch, behind his head, from Johno at deep square. The innings ended on 139-7, the full forty overs being used.

1 Crathern (L) lbw b Naidu (R) 11
2 Dip c Johnson (M) b Baker (J) 17
3 Theodoridi (A) b Wheatley (M) 11
4 Butcher (M) c Wilson (J) b Field (D) 12
5 Adkin (C) lbw b Barber (W) 12
6 Pitts (I) Not Out 47
7 Fennell (I) lbw b Barber (W) 0
8 Shoulders (M) c Johnson (M) b Naidu (R) 12
9 Adkin (B) Not Out 1
Extras 14
Total 7 Wickets 40 Overs 139
Fall Of Wickets 27,34,52,64,72,102,131


1 Field (D) 8 1 21 1
2 Naidu (R) 8 1 35 2
3 Baker (J) 4 0 13 1
4 Slaymaker (P) 5 2 10 0
5 Wheatley (M) 2 0 5 1
6 Smith (L) 2 0 10 0
7 Wilson (J) 3 0 16 0
8 Barber (W) 4 1 9 2
9 Jones (G) 2 0 9 0
10 Johnson (M) 2 1 5 0

Tea was had, and particular thanks must go to Catherine for her rallying of domestic assistance in ensuring grumbling stomachs were fed and watered. Wanderers opened up with The Big Bear and Will B. It soon became apparent that, in these latter weeks of the flashing blade, matters would be swiftly concluded. But let’s take a brief look at the environment in which it occurred before dismissing a bowling attack as weak and ineffective against a plethora of talent and experience at village level.

Opening from the Pavilion End was a bowler of much ability, and, despite a number of loose balls being punished by Gwyllim’s club- and this was regular and without ceremony- one must take into account that perhaps fifty years previously things may not have been so one-sided. Yes, fifty years. For bowler Denny is eighty-six years young. Coming in off about six or seven paces he produced as much swing as anyone else had all afternoon. Granted, a number of deliveries were falling errant, but one sensed that this was not one of his better afternoons. For as long as he is able this old soldier will be playing the friendly game- and a fine chap he was too. A few Wanderers will be seeing retirement before any such considerations on his part, The Author being one of them.

At the other end, and equally unfazed by the Gywillim onslaught, was young Benjy Atkin. His deliveries were of sometimes good length and quite nippy, yet he came in for equal punishment. The first five overs were therefore the subject of assumed records that need no research. The largest age difference between an opening, possibly any in fact, bowling pairing, and most likely the fastest Wanderers fifty in modern club history- believed to be around twenty balls. Gwyllim retired in the fifth over. He left the field with the score on 59.

What was most apparent was that Arundel could have turned the screws early if they had wished to. Bowler Shoulders accounted for both Master Wilson and Max Wheatley in the aftermath of the carnage. The best, and rather swift, spinner to have bowled against us this season. Despite the outcome seemingly being sealed Wanderers wobbled. Bowler Dip, from the Pavilion End, was quick and dangerous. His errant deliveries saw punishment from Master Wilson and Mr Noakes though- and thankful Wanderers were. At 130-5, and with Raunak having left, there could have been twist in the tale. Baker Joe and Johno, with some fortune, saw the Wanderers home in 20.4 overs. A most surreal passage of cricket.

So that’s all folks, well, apart from a few thoughts and a short benediction of my own. I forgot to mention the game of pairs that occurred at the end of the match by those who were desperate to squeeze the last puff of breath from the passing season. Mr Lincoln had a bowl and The Author was ran out four times in four overs (although Lukey will admit to causing three of them). As the light drew in, and the smell of burgers wafted in the air, time was finally called and we all met for a spontaneous social.

So, dear reader, what of the title of this final match day offering ?

‘Amicitia et liberalitas’- sounds rather grand doesn’t it ? Well, perhaps. But it runs deeper than that. It’s Latin, you probably knew that, and it means ‘Friendship and generosity’. Two words that currently run through the veins of this cricket club. Two words that sum up all the effort and time that people give to its social fabric. Two words that Luke epitomises in his captaincy, or Gwyllim shows when deciding that someone else should have another go when the fastest century isn’t beyond him. Two words that allow a bowler, new to the club, a run in the attack when the match is delicately poised. Two words that summarise the efforts of the ladies of the club who toil and ask for no recognition. Two words that have kept this club alive when many others are folding in this demise of Sunday cricket.

I spoke to folk on Sunday and suggested that they should become the club’s motto as well as being incorporated in the Mark IV badge for the anniversary year. This was met with much approval. The AGM will have the final say. But ultimately this is academic.

This year the Wanderers season has been most friendly and most generous of spirit- and that is all that matters.

Southwick Wanderers
1 Jones (G) Retired Out 51
2 Barber (W) b Atkin (B) 12
3 Wilson (J) b Shoulders (M) 25
4 Noakes (D) b Dip 25
5 Wheatley (M) b Shoulders (M) 0
6 Johnson (M) Not Out 5
7 Baker (J) Not Out 3
8 Naidu (R)
9 Slaymaker (P)
10 Smith (L)
11 Field (D)
Extras 22
Total 4 Wickets 20.4 Overs 143
Fall Of Wickets 59,70,118,119,130
1 Denny (B) 5 0 48 0
2 Atkin (B) 5 0 45 1
3 Dip 5.4 1 36 1
4 Shoulders (M) 5 0 3 2


Fixture v Arundel
Date 25/09/2016
Venue Chailey
Type 40 Overs
Toss Southwick Wanderers
Result Southwick Wanderers won by 6 wickets
MOM Points
1 Jones (G) 5
2 Johnson (M) 3
3 Noakes (D) 1



Photographs by kind permission of Gemma Manvell


Early Retirement…..

As much as some cricket seasons, especially those that run deep into September, are less likely to end with a big bang and more a silent fart, Wanderers batting renaissance continued today to the point that some might be asking whether the resulting demands for a continued programme of cricket will mean that we have breakfast between innings as the tired watery sun of autumn is asked to wearily preside over the extended season. Certainly, a match in the first week of October is not beyond the remit of reason- if only to restore justice to the historic AGM’s of that month which produced sun lit afternoons of wistful memory and yearnings for those extra runs or wickets that would have bridged the gap between average and genius-and secured that coveted award…

On the subject of awards and accolades, some folk are very protective of their averages. As a bowler The Author was little bothered by this, but batsman are rather prickly creatures-, as this journal will reveal.

Wanderers lost the toss, as predictable as the seasons. I was wondering if someone could write a line for this statement each week Luke is captain as I am getting rather bored of it. Apparently he won the toss at Preston Nomads although my eyes of doubt were passed over the scorebook that afternoon. I arrived late and was not there to witness this miracle. One wonders if we were playing at Lourdes. That wasn’t that funny, no, but if any of you have been subject to DJ Dave’s jokes in recent time it will have felt that way. Rudgwick asked us to bat.

What ensued was not so much a day of apple indulgence, for those who read last year’s report, more flashing blades blowing raspberries at a tame attack. The much-feared youngster who troubled Wanderers previously was absent from the line up and little was forced upon any tired late season technique. In fact, ‘tired’ is not a fitting description of Wanderers top order at this time. Something of a renaissance has occurred and it is pondered that the first five these days would be a decent consideration when compared to any other of the last quarter century. Perhaps Yogi Whitehead, Martin Malpass, Barry Hawkins and Pappy Preston could contest any claims to the crown, but certainly no top order has accumulated heavy runs as such a rapid rate as this one. Today was no different.

Wanderers once again passed the 200 mark with ease. At present, until the long winter nights are completed, there is no official records, or collated references to official records, that can show if the first four wickets producing 50 partnerships is a modern record. I suspect it is. We saw this today and a joyful sight it was. The Big Bear continued from whence he finished last week with a fluent 59. Will Barber, the most concentrated and technically correct of the crop, made 51. David Noakes, for whom slower and lower wickets are made with his low centre of gravity when striking from the middle, made 52. Master Wilson, overcoming his fear of perennial opposition guest, Keith Barrs, made 50 in his own inimitable style (or is imitable at Wanderers these days). Some well-worn colloquials have disappeared in recent times when describing a Wanderers knock. The score ended at 241-3, although with Mr Higgs and Naidu having been dismissed during this period one might ask how this was possible. Well…

The magnanimous gesture of retiring by Mr Barber and Mr Noakes had allowed others a hit. A debate was had about whether such sacrifice should constitute a ‘not out’. The rules are clear…

MCC Rule 2:

(b) If a batsman retires for any reason other than as in (a) above (EDIT: Unavoidable cause), he may resume his innings only with the consent of the opposing captain. If for any reason he does not resume his innings it is to be recorded as ‘Retired – out’.

Attempts to allow not outs have led to the secretary over ruling the captain here but no one is going to fall out over this. What is most important is that Wanderers players have been willing to selflessly give others a chance, as is expected, and secondly that we have actually found ourselves in this strange position in the first place. How times have changed…..

Southwick Wanderers
1 Jones (G) c b Driver 59
2 Higgs (A) c b Driver 6
3 Barber (W) Retired Out 51
4 Noakes (D) Retired Out 52
5 Wilson (J) Not Out 50
6 Naidu (R) st b Barrs 1
7 Johnson (M) Not Out 10
8 Manvell (G)
9 Slaymaker (P)
10 Baker (W)
11 Smith (L)
Extras 12
Total Wickets 38.4 Overs 241
Fall Of Wickets 50, 102, 157, 213, 220
1 Caygill (T) 11 0 53 0
2 Ross (J) 5 0 19 0
3 Driver (J) 7 0 51 2
4 Callaghan (J) 3 0 25 0
5 Brogan (T) 5 0 37 0
6 Barrs (K) 4 0 38 1
7 Hutchin (D) 2.4 0 15 0
8 Page (D) 1 1 0 0

Declaring fifteen minutes early, Wanderers gave themselves a bounty of time to chip away at a 10-man opposition. But Rudgwick’s batting provided a far sterner test than their bowling. Well, that statement isn’t entirely true. The opening batsman provided most of the test.

On a cool and cloudy evening, Wanderers huffed and puffed for eighteen overs against and established pair of Page and Ross, a left hand and right hand combination of evergreen villager and young and well-coached aspirer. Apart from one spill neither looked in any discomfort. Only the occasional vagaries of a springy and over used pitch might cause any danger. Both batsman steadily accumulated runs, the younger Ross playing some cracking drives and Page proving particularly accomplished off the legs. An hour and a quarter in, and almost on the stroke of twenty overs, Johno held Page off Raunak. Too late, perhaps, but a calamitous middle order, a throwback to Wanderers of the near past, did their best to keep things interesting.

Baker Will and The Slaymaker had made way to Raunak and Jordan. The pitch, although suited to a bowler such as Peter in form, had not been used as well as we would like. Jordan, although essentially a part time bowler, has years of the line and length principle hammered into his cricketing soul. To Raunak such a concept comes naturally also. For a few overs things went tame but, whether through frustration or not, the middle order then lost the plot against this measured attack. Seven wickets were to fall in a period of just seven overs. Even Wanderers in the troubled years of the blade, would have baulked at such an event. A glance at the home scorebook suggested that it was hurried, but not unique. With Raunak and Jordy both on four wickets there were seven overs and one batsman to despatch.

Batsman Driver, an appropriate name, at number nine, decided to attack the bowling but also employ frustrating defence. Batsman Callaghan simply employed frustrating defence. Lord Sponge, correctly, decided that a change in attack might bring new and dangerous initiatives to the batsman’s mindset. Despite some close calls against the newly employed Gywillim and Sponge, the batsmen held out for the draw. At close of play Wanderers had cause to be disappointed, but the position they found themselves in was not one of their own creating. At times the team have been further away from victory and more deserving.

So as the ripe old apples sat in the huge crate again and local rogues hid in the bushes in an attempt to scrump in fading light and avoid the hangman’s noose, the season came nearer to its close. Talk of AGM’s, dinners, Christmas and next year’s nets filled the cooling dusk. Each then went unto his, or hers, home and prepared for the falling leaves. There is another week to go though, or is it two ? Who knows ? The season never really ends does it ?

1 Page (D) c Johnson (M) b Naidu (R) 39
2 Ross (J) lbw Naidu (R) 58
3 Page (J) c Slaymaker (P) b Wilson (J) 2
4 Faithful (M) c Baker (W) b Wilson (J) 0
5 Hutchins (D) c Wilson (J) b Naidu (R) 8
6 Brogan (T) b Wilson (J) 0
7 Caygill (T) b Naidu (R) 1
8 Barrs (K) c Johnson (M) b Wilson (J) 0
9 Driver (J) Not Out 28
10 Callaghan (J) Not Out 3
Extras 9
Total 8 Wickets 39 Overs 148
Fall Of Wickets 83 103 103 111 112 112 114 118
Fixture v Rudgwick
Date 18/09/2016
Venue Rudgwick
Type Friendly
Toss Rudgwick
Result Match Drawn
MOM Points
1 Wilson (J) 5
2 Naidu (R) 3
3 Barber (W) 1





Old Crocks Day……

September, that month of beautiful delusion, when a warm and sunny afternoon feels like summer, whatever that is, has taken up a full tenancy. Alternatively, for some, it can feel like summer is merely teasing us to show its potential. Such teasing is often true of some Wanderers when it comes to such potential but all too often we return to type. A Dave Field first ball dab, for a scampered single, may spark thoughts of a quick fifty from the bench. The Author, eagerly bowling to mid air in the outfield, may bring memories of a quick and destructive bowling spell to roll back the years. As sure as winter comes neither is likely, but it could happen one day. It did reach twenty degrees in February 1998…

The sun wasn’t playing fools with us yesterday at the delightful settlement of Jevington, just west of Eastbourne. Cool and cloudy for most of the affair, the rain stayed off for a full afternoon of bat’n’ball. Luke was back as captain, so I need not report on which direction the toss went, and Wanderers found themselves inserted on a sweating and slow strip after the overnight rain. The well-tended Jevington pitch, in the chalky downland of South Sussex, is perhaps slow at the best of times. Even the dry summer of 1976 would have allowed a batsman to take an early swing and miss, have a cup of tea, and then return for another attempt.

The batting reflected the conditions. Unlike the recent fluid affairs, the first 50 runs took 16 overs with two wickets going down in the process. The Big Bear had played late on to a straight delivery, and The Noodle had also had his stumps disturbed when looking comfortable at the crease-as if he would ever look nothing but placid in anything bar a nuclear holocaust. Even then one suspects that nothing but a mild discomfort would be displayed upon his measured countenance.

Once again, whilst other Wanderers seemed to struggle to bed in, Will Barber stood firm at the crease even if he rode his luck a little early on. Mr Barber, despite some decent scores, has much of this in the bank. His elegance and correctness of hand makes admirable watching on many a Sunday. This is a man who could make an industrious heave to cow corner look nothing but textbook. With Mr Noakes and Butcher Snr having returned to the hutch before three figures arrived Wanderers were in the unusual position, certainly of late, of having needed nearly 33 overs to cross the century mark. If the summer weather of 1976 had chosen not to run a CTRL and ‘C’ this year then certainly a fleeting visit by its scoring rates had found its way through four decades of changing cricket.

The final twelve overs proved no more fruitful. Page (S) had been the pick of the Jevington bowlers. Delivering with dangerous late swing from the top end, he had bowled nine overs for just twelve runs for what seemed like more than the one wicket. Fielder (S) had taken the extra wicket for similar figures from the lower end with a quicker but more erratic delivery style. In fact, even with a bit of occasionally poor pie chucking, none of the Jevington bowlers had been embarrassed. Any embarrassment was to be felt by Lukey though, who like The Author a few weeks earlier, had taken to recording moving pictures of Will Baker’s pending 50. You know what happens next- and if you are naive enough not to the first innings scorecard is below…..

Southwick Wanderers
1 Higgs (A) b Fielder (R) 10
2 Jones (G) b Page (L) 5
3 Barber (W) c Swansborough (A) b Scott (I) 49
4 Noakes (D) c Page (S) b Page (L) 9
5 Butcher (A) b Page (S) 5
6 Baker (J) b Scott (I) 10
7 Johnson (M) c Scott ® b Fielder (R) 9
8 Fennell (I) b Fielder (S) 0
9 Slaymaker (P) c Fielder ® b Fielder (S) 0
10 Smith (L) b Fielder (R) 11
11 Field (D) Not Out 0
Extras 26
Total 10 Wickets 43.5 Overs 134
Fall Of Wickets 10,26,50,67,105,107,121,123,127,134
1 Fielder (R) 9.5 0 35 3
2 Page (L) 9 1 32 2
3 Fielder (S) 9 2 12 2
4 Page (S) 9 4 16 1
5 Scott (I) 7 1 30 2

2016-09-04 15.13.36.jpg

Now, do I need to mention the tea ? Possibly not because you know all about it. And there was no let up in the quality or quantity this year. A splendid array of culinary delight awaited us. It dawned all too soon why Jevington had asked us to bat first. As the Wanderers gathered to stall any attempt at formidable reply full stomachs ached with expansion. But we took to the field imploring the push to victory.

2016-09-04 16.44.37.jpg

Lukey opened the bowling from the top end, The Oldest Swinger In Town, the other. (Note another deliberate reference to DJ Dave for the Google spiders). Apart from the odd loose delivery both bowled well. It was clear that Jevington were going to have to work for the runs as much as Wanderers did. The first wicket fell to Lukey with, who else, Baker Joe, the single representative of the brotherly duo, taking the catch. The run rate at this stage was calm but wickets were the issue. Once Lukey had succumbed in his usual mid over to the crooked back The Slaymaker took over. Opportunities were soon to knock.

It was clear that Jevington had some heavy hitters in the mid order with the steadying influence of one of the Scott brothers at the top. But the carves and crashes all seemed a little out of sorts and the scoring rate struggled to run above four an over. The usual deck hitting and reliable donkey Slaymaker always looked a threat. A run out from cover and a return catch to Peter had Jevington at 68-3. When the spin of Baker Joe deceived young Scott at number 5, Jevington found themselves at 79-4 in the 27th over. Only twelve remained on this pedestrian of afternoons. All results were possible.

Now, a little mention, before the gripping finale, for Wanderers old crocks. The Author, despite contributing nothing more than a stuck out boot to the afternoon, had wondered if all this cricket thing had now become too much. The Big Bear had also trodden on a boundary-celebrating ball and injured his thigh in the process. Mr Slaymaker, once again, had ordered his finger tips to give his hands a rest when taking a catch and Lukey, despite sending himself delirious with a pain killing concoction prior to the innings, had once again gone crook in the middle of an over. Mr Lincoln, umpiring the day with much appreciation from all, had suggested that any return in another capacity was past its welcome. All these ageing and weary limbs are a testament to the lengthening years that village cricket affords one in sport- even if the 100th anniversary will be met with zimmer frames to assist in an outfield sprint and golf carts to drive us all between the wickets.

Returning to the fray, Wanderers were soon on top. As the middle order would start their innings so Mr Slaymaker would finish them. Numbers six and seven fell to this one of our splendid crocks. Opening batsman Scott was a reluctant LBW victim among them. Wanderers chased in the field and the light drew in. With six overs remaining Jevington were 95-6. It all became rather close, and seemingly correct in their assessment, the spoils divided themselves in appreciation.

With a silly run out to follow and the late order struggling to penetrate the outfield, whilst trying to hold their wickets, the game finished at its natural end in a draw. Jevington had fallen six runs short of victory and Wanderers shy of two wickets. As the team limped its way off in the gathering night one was left to ponder how a season takes it toll. Three matches remain and delightful they shall be. Weary limbs will once more reach the breach and folk will make there last effort towards respectable average. To assist in this, cameras shall be banned and the St John’s Ambulance will be placed on call. But, despite this, in his 47th season, The Oldest Swinger In Town will bowl with little complaint so as to prove mine and others protestations redundant.

This is village cricket. There is no such thing as retirement.

1 Scott ® lbw b Slaymaker (P) 24
2 Page (S) c Baker (J) b Smith (L) 19
3 Swanborough (A) Run Out 18
4 Fielder (R) c Slaymaker (P) b Slaymaker (P) 14
5 Scott (I) b Baker (J) 5
6 Fielder (S) b Slaymaker (P) 3
7 Ritchie (M) b Slaymaker (P) 7
8 Page (L) Run Out 11
9 Scott (M) Not Out 10
10 Martindale (P) Not Out 2
11 Fielder (A)
Extras 16
Total 8 Wickets 39.4 Overs 129
Fall Of Wickets 28,61,68,79,89,95,107,119
1 Smith (L) 6.4 3 10 1
2 Field (D) 9 1 26 0
3 Baker (J) 10 2 49 1
4 Slaymaker (P) 14 2 43 4
Fixture v Jevington
Date 05/09/2016
Venue Jevington
Type Friendly
Toss Jevington
Result Match Drawn
MOM Points
1 Barber (W) 5
2 Slaymaker (P) 3
3 Baker (J) 1



All The World’s A Stage…..

Another Sunday, another losing run fest at the hallowed field of cricketing dreams.

Wanderers, who specialise in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, would have come close to the best stage performance award in this category with Sunday’s unfurling events. One might wish that such awards be placed on hold for an even longer and a more wistful list of play nominees come the season’s end. Now how many stage idioms can one write in a single report ?

Well the losing of the toss, the longest running Wanderers show of this particular season, took its regular matinee slot this Sunday afternoon. Will Barber taking over the role of lead actor. Hove Unicorns, evergreen opposition on the Sunday circuit, decided to bat.

Evenly and consistently plundering five an over for the first quarter of this forty over game, Unicorns found themselves at 58-2 after 11 overs. Wickets following to DJ Dave and Plumpton debutant, Anand. Once the top had come off the Unicorns batting though, one might have thought the slow but well prepared pitch had rendered them stage fright. Four further wickets fell for 26 runs, Anand being the chief protagonist with three in total as well as a run out and a wicket for Raunak. We had set the scene and a total of barely three figures seemed in the offing. Then Wanderers seemed to forget their lines.

Batsman Pollock and Batsman Eyles (initial ‘R’- there were three of those) seemed to comfortably, yet without grandiose expression, set about the Wanderers bowling over a fifteen over period. No one was really spared, although, unexpectedly, Max Wheatley seemed to find the blade of the unforgiving sword the most- although he was later to take a redeeming centre stage with much aplomb. The stand was worth 112 and was ended, encompassing two further wickets on top, at 196. With nine wickets down, Unicorns looked like falling shy of 200. As much as Wanderers had made a comeback, it was a halcyon period of much shortness. Batsman Ritchie at number nine added 33 runs of his own and one sensed, as the 40 overs ended with Unicorns on 240-9, Wanderers had let themselves down a little. Was that some muffled boos that I heard groaning off the rolling rafters of the South Downs hills ?

The Wanderers reply began with hope on our side. Master Wilson and our Will B plundered 35 runs off the first six overs. Every effort was made to meet the run rate at an early juncture. Calamity struck, however, in the sixth over with Will being run out by a false call from the stationary Jordan. Now one would suggest that seeing an angry Mr Barber is as rare as a live stage appearance by Alan Bennett these days, but the thunderous look on our man’s face as he made his way back to the pavilion brought a safe silence from those nearby. This was his second consecutive run out. To quote Bennett himself: ‘History…is just one damn thing after another’.

Enter stage left- Max Wheatley…

What ensued, after the hapless Will had been replaced, was a display of explosive batting that matched any seen during the Plumpton years. A radiant display of huge hits, the next over seeming to out do the previous, cumulated in one that found its way to the tree tops on the east side of the pitch. Such was the eminence of Max’s conquering club, Jordan found himself reduced to a painful role of by-stander. Max’s innings of six 4’s and six 6’s came to a close just eight overs, and 67 personal runs later, with a catch in the deep. Spectators to this mythical display gazed in wonder, but with a little discomfort in some quarters. Sunday sees these displays quite rarely- and with good reason.

At 122-2 after 14 overs Wanderers were very well placed but with a long way to go. The Unicorns last wicket stand had meant that the final total was still distant and relentless concentration was needed. Unfortunately, the very able Anand fell quickly, but the tidy Raunak came to the crease, and the orchestra became more allegretto than allegro- with a plethora of singles and the odd boundary thrown in. Jordan fell, 57 runs later, to bowler Eyles ‘R’ (who shared six wickets with his brother ‘A’) and The Author followed shortly after with a duck making cameo performance. 188-5. Still hope.

Raunak and the swashbuckling Johnno steered the ship on. Johno, who had performed tidily with the gloves, was most unforgiving with an array of all-sorted boundaries. This also inspired Raunak to briefly depart from his well honed and finely paced display to clear the ropes for himself a couple of times. At 224-5 come the end of the 32nd over, Wanderers were easing home.

Sadly this critic’s review reveals that the drama indeed had a tragic ending. So with plot already most spoilt, and your handkerchief at the ready, I can reveal the agony of so near but yet so far. The returning Eyles ‘A’ dismissed both Raunak and Johno in his comeback over. And with Master Wadey quickly being added to his list during this evening performance, Gemma’s brave attempt to save the day was not enough. DJ Dave’s leg side scoops failed to make an impact and Wanderers closed the show chewing the scenery at seven runs short of victory.

So we muffled our lines at the last, but much credit was due to some stunning individual efforts, and we shall return for the afternoon matinee next Sunday. But, given as an its open air performance at the height of summer, bring your umbrellas.


Fixture Hove Unicorns
Date 24/07/2016
Venue Plumpton
Type 40 overs
Toss Hove Unicorns
Result Lost by 6 runs


Hove Unicorns
1 Eyles (L) c Naieu (R) b Field (D) 11
2 Jones (S) lbw b Sawant (A) 15
3 Hutt (P) Run Out 28
4 Haslam (S) b Naieu (R) 17
5 Holmes (C) b Sawant (A) 7
6 Confrey (S) b Sawant (A) 1
7 Pollock (M) b Wilson (J) 53
8 Eyles (R) c Wilson (J) b Wadey (D) 56
9 Ritchie (R) Not Out 33
10 Eyles (A) c Naieu (R) b Wadey (D) 0
11 Moss (P) Not Out 8
Extras 11
Total 9 Wickets 40 Overs 240
Fall Of Wickets 28,58,72,76,83,84,196,196,196
1 Wadey (D) 8 1 41 2
2 Field (D) 8 1 43 1
3 Sawant (A) 8 0 47 3
4 Naieu (R) 4 0 25 1
5 Wilson (J) 8 1 47 1
6 Wheatley (M) 3 0 30 0
7 Barber (W) 1 0 5 0
Southwick Wanderers
1 Wilson (J) b Eyles (A) 65
2 Barber (W) Run Out 11
3 Wheatley (M) c Eyles (R) b Pollock (M) 67
4 Sawant (A) b Eyles (R) 0
5 Naieu (R) b Eyles (A) 48
6 Fennell (I) b Eyles (R) 0
7 Johnson (M) c b Eyles (A) 28
8 Wadey (D) c Eyles (R) b Eyles (A) 0
9 Manvell (G) b Moss (P) 1
10 Field (D) Not Out 0
Extras 14
Total 9 Wickets 37.5 Overs 234
Fall Of Wickets 35, 122,123,180,188,225,225,233
1 Eyles (A) 6 1 25 3
2 Haslam (S) 8 1 27 0
3 Ritchie (R) 4 0 66 0
4 Pollock (M) 8 0 49 1
5 Moss (P) 3.5 1 32 1
6 Eyles (R) 8 1 26 3
MOM Points
1 Naieu (R) 5
2 Wheatley (M) 3
3 Wilson (J) 1

Wanderers Memories: Bournemouth 1992- Wet Weather And Wild Whoopees…

Records show that three venues were considered for the August Bank Holiday excursion of 1992. Official minutes saying that Bath, later visited in 1994 and 1995, Hertfordshire (1996) and Bournemouth were under consideration. The latter was the eventual location.

The planning of the tour was initially a little problematic. Finding a suitable Guest House for one, eventually being resolved (Although the owner was rather gruff about the constant need for changes in booking) and also finding suitable fixtures against unknown opposition. Come the event itself all this had been made good, although the one thing that cannot be controlled upon these shores, namely the weather, was in a foul mood.

On the Saturday of the tour Wanderers made a 50-mile visit to Urchfont, near Devizes, a club famously associated with Bill Frindall. The weather, heavy but mostly dry throughout, held back enough for the match to be played. On a wet pitch, Wanderers held the hosts to a total of 102-7 in 45 overs, having been 54-4 after 36, but were bowled out for 62. Mark Scholfield top scored from the opening berth with 16.

Returning to Bournemouth it became apparent that the weather was worsening, and thus it didn’t disappoint. The Sunday game was a wash out without Wanderers even travelling to the venue. Although records don’t show the name of the intended opposition, it is thought to be a local side, Ferndown.

The intervening 24 hours are the subject of the blessed sponge of amnesia for some, and much hilarity for others. Whilst various drunken capers will be met with accusation and denial, what cannot be denied is the ‘whoopee cushion’ incident that played itself out on the cruel wicket of the Guest House living room down in East Cliff.

Steve Page, Neil Oglieve and Martin Malpass were naturally in fine off field form as expected. As Wanderers gathered to bemoan a lost afternoon a whoopee cushion was placed under one of the armchairs. The schoolboy fun claimed a number of club victims until two seats remained in the room, under one of which the offending bag of air was placed. As footsteps were heard, one of another couple of victims was unassumingly about to be claimed. Except that it turned out that the two intended targets were not members of the touring party…..

Dear reader, you can only imagine the horror on the face of even the most villainous of jokers as a retired couple entered the room and made a beeline for the offending chair. An almost audible gasp of air was heard as one took to their seat. The giggles end there as the cushion itself failed to fart, but it goes without saying that the it made no further appearance that weekend….

A large number of hangovers made the short journey to Whitecliff for the shortened 30 over friendly on the Monday against what is listed in the scorebook as Solent & Wessex Cricket Association, although it is believed that the opponents were connected to Bournemouth Transport (Buses). The match had been in doubt because of the sheer volume of rain that had been falling, but had since been a little better. The pitch, however, was a quagmire.

Wanderers lost the toss and were put in to bat. Cool and dark at the start, it began to rain. The match survived, however, and Wanderers fund themselves 60-3 after 13 overs.

The biggest problem was the wicket conditions though. After a while it became unplayable. There was a single solution, that being to call a halt to the match. At that point an inventive idea, in absence of a growling groundsman, came to the fore. Why not move the wicket ? Not once, but twice was this plan enacted. A stand of 143, possibly a tour record, between David Noakes and Martin Malpass ensued. Although had the action remained on the original yardage this would probably have been implausible.

With Dave Noakes keeping wicket, Wanderers used all ten outfielders to bowl during their opponents stuttering reply. By the time the score had finished on 105-9, Howard Price had take three wickets, Jason Thackeray two, and Nick Clarke had bowled some left arm spin. The scorer had ran out of space.

The match scorecard can be found below:


Southwick Wanderers
A.Brackenridge b Aylwood 19
M.Scholfield b Pollock 7
M.Thompson lbw Tizzard 2
D.Noakes not out 48
M.Malpass not out 104
Extras 22
Total (30 Overs) 3 Wickets 203
Fall of Wickets 14,17,60
Did Not Bat
Pollock 5-0-29-1
Tizzard 5-0-25-1
Galpin 6-0-28-0
Mills 5-0-64-0
Aylwood 6-0-32-1
Gill 3-0-23-0
Mills (Bob) c Noakes Field 1
Mills (Brian) c.Brackenridge Thompson 13
Aylward c Botting Thackeray 17
Ackerman c Botting Brackenridge 17
Pollock b Malpass 7
Galpin b Thackeray 3
Tizzard not out 21
Mundon b Price 1
Gill c Noakes Price 0
Jossock b Price 0
Miles not out 10
Extras 15
Total (30 Overs) 9 Wickets 105
Fall of Wickets Unavailable
Field 4-2-5-1
Botting 3-0-5-0
Thompson 3-0-10-1
Clarke 4-0-9-0
Thackeray 4-0-21-2
Brackenridge 4-0-26-1
Malpass 2-1-2-1
Price 2-0-2-3
Fennell 2-0-6-0
Scholfield 2-0-10-0
Wanderers win by 98 runs

Wanderers Sunday Sussex Tour….

Most of us will have seen the movie ‘Grease’ at some stage in our lives, whether willingly or not. It’s a far-fetched tale of high-school love where a boy meets a girl on vacation who suddenly turns up at his school, having moved into the area after her parents decide at the last minute not to return to Australia. Today teenage romance was substituted by the slavish love of village cricket, and Warninglid Cricket Ground became Rydell High…

Turning up at Findon sharpish for a one ‘o’ clock start, Wanderers hung around somewhat confused by the emptiness of the area. No cars, a cone at the entrance, and a forlorn and empty pavilion that look resigned to its lot. The weather looked as though it couldn’t make up its mind too. As the clock drew close to the designated moment of starting it became apparent that there was to be no opposition to play, and due to confusion in the scheduling of fixtures another Sunday would go by without the hallowed yardage being stepped upon. Doubtless the sun would now come out to really piss us all off.

Is anybody home ?
Is anybody home ?


So that’s it then. Is there to be a final twist ? Do the opposition suddenly turn up in belated convoy ? No, the match had already been cancelled. We just weren’t informed. End of match report. Well not quite…………

But firstly, for those who are pedantic enough to demand scores in their usual form, here is the match summary.

Southwick Wanderers- 0-0

Findon- Erm…  

Where shall we go now then ? Let’s write our own day out. I’ll get Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey to write the script of this one too. Boy meets girl (Lloyd Crathern & Gemma Manvell)- both fall madly in love with the idea of playing Cricket. Lloyd goes away and comes back as a last minute guest in a Cricket match. In a role reversal it is the boy who was meant to be elsewhere, although the plans weren’t changed at the last minute, he just forgot about them (he had organised for his team to play at Warninglid). On Gemma’s recommendation he turns up to play with the desperately disappointed Wanderers crew at Findon. Boy receives phone call as team prepare to leave with their sadness at the loss of another Sunday’s play. “Where are you and your team ?” says the frosty Warninglid organiser. “You are supposed to be here, we have a home venue and no opposition to play….” What follows is a classic case of Blue Peter convenience and ‘Here’s one I made earlier…’ Of-course, Lloyd has a team prepared for Warninglid, it just wasn’t the one that he had told them was coming…. Both Lloyd and Gemma get to play Cricket again, but only through the fortune of their reunion.

A bit far-fetched, I know. But this one’s true.

And so, half an hour odd later, today’s second match report begins 18.5 miles and 25 minutes driving from its original venue…….

Wanderers second fixture of the day was always going to prove more taxing than the first. Namely because we had to take to the pitch. The rolling hills north of Worthing had been substituted for a typical North Sussex village setting. Warninglid Cricket Ground is set behind the Half Moon pub, just off the main road that runs through the area. The wicket has all the appearance of the usual clay based tracks of the region, although it had some late season unreliability about it today. The outfield was heavily mowed with collections of earthy tufts laying just off the square. The setting had a feel of the autumnal months to come.

Lord Sponge won the toss and put the Wanderers straight to the field. A 30 over match had been decided upon (or 30/30 as the scorer put it) with a six over limitation upon each bowler.

Dave Field opened the bowling from the west side of the green. It was recently discovered that ‘Dave’ appears to be the most common name in the Wanderers player list of the last thirty years, the only one from which a whole team could be formed. Every team seems to have at least one. Although the oldest swinger in town was the only Wanderer to carry the tag today. From the east side we had young Wadey running in with much enthusiasm and hope.

The innings rolled along, basing itself upon the lynchpin of an opener with the surname of ‘Nastys’. The term is perhaps appropriate for some of the vagaries of the pitch. The odd ball suddenly kept low, accounting for Dan’s first wicket in the fourth over of the game, and the odd ball rose sharply off a length. It’s late summer mind, and this is to be expected. Some of the tracks further south in the county are guilty of far worse than any of the excesses we saw today. Plumpton being one.

In a throwback to the old days of steady accumulation, Warninglid were 89-5 come the 22nd over. Nathan Smith, yes Nathan Smith, no, really, Nathan Smith was turning his arm over for the first time in a couple of years. His searching leggies brought about the most respectable economy rate of the innings, the years not eroding his accuracy- if increasing his midriff.

The last eight overs, however, produced a run flush through a stand of 71 between Nastys and Nesbitt. 27 runs came off Lloyd’s last two overs, and even steady Dave took a punishment. By tea a respectable score had unfolded.

Tea: Warninglid 160-5 (Nasty’s 87* Nesbitt 31*, Smith (N) 2-21)

Jordan seemed a little subdued at tea, the evidence being that some sandwiches were left over. Perhaps he was in contemplation of the innings ahead. If he was, his plans came to fruition. He and Lloyd made there way to the crease in the gathering gloom of late summer, and we all wondered what to expect.

Master Wilson chanced his arm, and could have been caught first ball on another day. A lofted drive just missing the clutches of wide-cover. Lloyd Crathern, on the other hand, played with a repertoire of stroke play that befitted a higher level. Despite this, the bowling of Warninglid was not wanting. The match had just elevated itself to an impressive level of competitive Cricket.

When Lloyd fell LBW, pulling across the line to a ball that kept low for an anchoring 24, Wanderers were already in victory’s reach- the openings stand having yielded 114.   However, Jordan fell 11 runs later for 88, and as usual the wheels began to buckle. Well, you weren’t expecting to have it easy were you ?

The out of form Gwyllim failed to trouble the scorers, scooping a leg side catch. Normally an influential presence at the crease, one senses time is running out for the Big Bear to turn it round this season, but he will doubtless be back and firing next. The issue for Wanderers was an increasing run rate with 29 required off six, a tentative Wil Barber at the crease, and the big hitters safely tucked back in the hutch. We needn’t have worried.

Wil went on the attack, and was successful with it. His 39 not out steering Wanderers home. 30 of these runs coming in boundaries. As September’s watery evening sun began to bathe the pitch, Mr Barber saw us through with six wickets and nearly three overs to spare. Luke, accompanying the dashing tyke to the end, finally had a win as captain. Even if we did have to arrange a second game on the same day to facilitate it.

Close: Wanderers 163-4 (Wilson 88, Barber 39*, Nesbitt 3-19) win by 6 wickets.

So an afternoon that began with little hope and gathering gloom in the south of county ended in a pleasant affair further north. A match report as swift as our competent reply. But when one has to fit two of them in one day, it can be a bit tiring….

They call us the Wanderers….

Memories Of The Wanderers: v Parham Park 17.06.1990 At Wish Road, Hove.

The summer of 1990 will be remembered for a number of reasons, the chatter about the ‘Greenhouse Effect’, the slow demise of Margaret Thatcher, record breaking temperatures, and also the Italia 90 World Cup.

On the 17th June, an overcast yet warm day, Wanderers gathered at Wish Road in Hove for a match against the West Sussex team of Parham Park. The opposition were renowned for two things, firstly a ground of beautiful setting near Storrington, and also a legendry batsman, Brian Huffer, well known on the circuit for preferring innings totals in three figures to two. Neither were on show on this occasion.

Before the match started, much talk was had of England’s performance the previous evening against Holland. Although a goalless draw was the result, the new kid on the block, Paul Gascoigne, had been an inspiration. The thought was that England might actually progress in this tournament. They did, only to fall in the Semi-Finals to the eventual winners, West Germany.

Wish Road was the primary venue for home matches in 1990, although the Nevill Recreation Ground was used once. It appears that Wanderers had a preference to travel elsewhere, certainly from the July of that year, from which indications are that only away matches were played. Wish Road was known, in an unaffectionate way, as ‘dog turd alley’. Not entirely unwarranted, although Hove Recreation Ground need keep quiet on such matters…

Wanderers won the toss and chose to bat, amassing a score of 206-3 in 39 overs. Although initially reduced to 22-2, what ensued was a record that would last for many years. Alan Whitehead, ‘Yogi’, joined Tony Preston at the crease and put on 180 for the third wicket. Alan, who scored 46 not out, was never a big hitter of the ball, but was hard to remove. A solid anchor for Tony’s efforts, although the batting line up was strong that day.

Tony Preston batted for 1 hour and 50 minutes, arriving at the crease at eight minutes past three. His 133 remained the highest score by a Wanderers player for that decade. It contained 19 fours and 3 sixes. The last five scoring shots, doubtless pressing the total at the end of the innings, were 4,4,4,4,6.

Parham Park, in return, held out for the draw against a tight Wanderers attack, finishing on 102-8 after 40 overs, thus drawing the match.

Due to no-one giving a thought to bringing a camera to such occasions in those days, and internet technology being a mythical sketch on ‘Tomorrow’s World’, no visuals exist of Tony’s monumental innings. The scorecard is below.


Southwick Wanderers
J.Kirk b Storey 9
I.Mcleod c Kitcher 8
T.Preston c Storey 133
A.Whitehead not out 46
M.Malpass not out 1
Extras 9
Total (39 Overs) 3 Wickets 206
Fall of Wickets 13,22,202
Did Not Bat
Kitcher 13-2-31-1
Storey 11-4-53-2
Mackintosh 8-0-55-0
Vaughan 3-0-33-0
Carter 4-0-29-0
Parham Park
Huffer (D) b Harrington (J) 0
Mackintosh b Harrington (J) 8
Tolerton c Mcleod Harrington (J) 12
Byars c Noakes Harrington (J) 4
Storey c Sharp Field 17
Kitcher c Clarke (w/k) Field 25
Decaerio b Malpass 1
Vaughan b Malpass 0
Carter (G) not out 17
Carter (R) not out 4
Extras 14
Total (40 Overs) 8 Wickets 102
Fall of Wickets 0,29,32,37,74,77,80,82
Did Not Bat
Fennell 7-3-14-0
Harrington (J) 10-0-35-4
Field 10-3-19-2
Malpass 9-3-15-2
Whitehead 4-1-8-0
Match Drawn

Memories Of The Wanderers- September 2013

v Hackney Umpires at Plumpton

Whilst the most splendid days of a summer that will ever give us selective memories of its brilliance have since passed, the cricket season remains hobbling along like a crocked sprinter who, despite their battle torn body, just wants to cross the finishing line because the crowd are willing him to- and not through any personal desire to see things to the bitter end.

It is fair to say the cricket season lasts as long as we will it to. I know of clubs who compete throughout October, and judging by the weather at some of Wanderers mid-autumn AGMs I can fully understand why. However today’s battle had that air of autumn resignation about it, the sense of rising electricity bills, sudden slips on sodden leaves at the first morning kerb and X-Factor boot camp.

It was my first playing SWCC visit to Plumpton since 1998, the year of New Labour, Barbie Girl, and when Arsenal were winning things. I know, it’s quite a while back. In fact some of our team were in infant school at the time, but, judging by the creaking bones of many a Wanderers veteran now, might still have been short listed for selection regardless.

Plumpton is like the family home really. You will always visit better, tidier, wealthier and modern abodes. But, regardless, there is no-where other than the scruffy old security of the musty old gaff with its 70s carpets and its time warp of an aura which exudes that comforting feeling for the middle aged grouch that cricket should only move on at the pace we dictate. Rightly so. And this grumpy old disposition was immediately edified at meeting the Glorious Sponge, the relief that my recruit found his way to the meeting point, and the ever more ample sight of Teflon Noakesy, Dave Field (most definitely the oldest swinger in town) and Smith snr, who despite his joy at an afternoon on parole, had the air of a man who gleefully swapped the frying pan for the fire…

A cloudy sky over the hallowed sports field then saw a 30 over effort decided on by the Sponge and his opposing number.

Now, the opponents for the afternoon, turning up in short numbers, heralded the title of Hackney Umpires. An oxymoronic plural on a number of levels. Not least because the suggestion that a person who calls for a wide and then mutters ‘Over’ in the same breath could ever regard himself in any way a proficient arbiter of the affairs of play.

And so it came to pass that our friends from the smoke batted first on a slow, low and sweating pitch.

Actually, this isn’t the Daily Telegraph. ……..

…. And so it came to pass that our friends from the smoke batted first on a muddy strip that would have had Wayne Barnes moving the scrum to a place where footholds and binding would have been made much easier for the 60 stone front row….

Now to be fair, our Luke chose to give everyone a go. And good for him. Although a mathematician of the Newtonic variety would have struggled with the permutation of numbers. I think Wanderers initially had 12, the Umpires 9, or was it ten, or 8 perhaps. Yeah, I think it was 8. Luke handed them young Lee Warnett. The match started at 9 a-side though- let’s confuses things further. The Butcher’s failed to show. You see modern technology is great as long as you keep it updated. The website suggested a one thirty start and it was assumed that this was their reasoning. Either that or Kim had given them the wrong time. The problem was absorbable given the general shortages amongst the opposition but exacerbated by the family’s appointment as the day’s tea makers. Given that a cricketers stomach is as important as his averages you could sense the general angst all round…..

In went the Umpires then, and progressed to 104 all out (well all out plus two batsman allowed to go back in again) and after a slow start they appeared to have set a competitive total. So what to report of note ? Well, the Sponge did his jump, the oldest swinger swung and other Wanderers bowlers, who I’ve not seen ply their trade before, look very accomplished. Josh Haylock also showed a nippy promise on his debut for the club.

But one old hand returned to much fanfare…

Smith senior, of the Nathan variety, returned after 7 years of forced/voluntary (delete as appropriate) exile. Coming on from the Pavilion end at first change the old master rolled back the years with an assortment of intelligent and hopeful dolly mixtures, a few mystery balls (to him just as much) and a reminder of his dangerous ability that hasn’t been extinguished by the onslaught of the midriff. Twas a joy to watch. Taking out three of the top four in the order, even if cow corner was an able accomplice, was a real achievement for someone thrown into the mix so late. Worth a Life Membership, Lukey, surely ?

And so the target was set. 105 in 30 overs. And the promise of the yummiest tea on the circuit half way through. We were all set for a comfortable, if not fattening, end to our weekends sporting endeavour.

Now Smith jnr, in whom the fairness gene has many a shareholding, allowed the Hackney travelers the chance to add a fielder or two to their carriage. Teflon Noakes walking out to field for the opposition after having a brief spray at the top of the order, would normally be greeted with raised eyebrows. But after a simple catch went down the watching Wanderers felt better. And with SWCC reaching the half way point with two wickets gone, and overs to spare, all was well when the Butcher Banquet commenced during a break at half way point, Butcher junior having made 16 and Jordon Wilson 23, whilst brandishing the bat like a meat cleaver.

Once all had eaten, perhaps a little too much in some cases, 15 overs remained. With just 45 runs needed and 7 wickets in hand, a late season win looked in the offing. But as the old saying goes; There is many a slip between Chicken Tikka Mini Pasty and lip…….

The Umpires decided not to limit their bowlers, and the Wanderers fielders, well one, decided not to drop any further catches. Wickets tumbled with little resistance. A crisis beckoned. Luke sweated over his lack of options, appearing at the wicket sooner than hoped. I, dismissed cheaply, had another chocolate cup cake.

So it came to pass, as the Oldest Swinger made his way to the wicket, the home side needed 13 to win with just over 4 overs available.

The final wicket summarised the madness of the day. Southwick Wanderers last hitting hope, unknown and on debut, struck a hard pull to a well-known fellow team member (Morgan, ahem) who held a difficult catch to win the game for the opposition. By giving everyone a proper game Wanderers had given the opposition a chance to set a reasonable total. By giving them a couple of fielders, and making no restrictions, Wanderers then won the game for them. And so it was, and once again, rightly so. For no temperatures rose (Well except Jordan’s on his run out), no eyebrows furrowed, and the spirit of Wanderers was maintained in its most fantastic form.

I was as proud of the club today as I was all those years ago.

Oh, by the way, I took a catch



v Jevington at Plumpton

And so to the last act, the end of the story, the dramatic final scenes. If this were a Shakespearean play then what to be ? A comedy ? A tragedy ? or perhaps both. Well, the final game of the season was certainly a tragedy in the puritanical playing sense, but since when was a voyage on the Good Ship Wanderers ever measured by what that spoilsport of a ships log, the Villainous Scorebook, brutally reported.

The air of the day imputed that ‘back to school’ feeling, as if the holidays were over, and soon a tedious Sunday afternoon spent watching West Ham and Everton play out the inevitable goalless draw will encourage feelings of deepest wistfulness for that sweet cover drive, the one which brought up double figures for the first and only time the previous season.

And so the Wanderers gathered, much in the same way as the Sussex members take their stripy deck chairs on the final day of the Championship season. Much chatter and reflection, stories that grow taller in the telling. The final day of the season is quite strange for this reason. A young cricketer, reaching his prime, would be nervously waiting a call from the Chairman of Selectors to see if his season is likely to be extended beyond these shores. A Sussex member, however, would be looking to avoid a call from the Chairman of Heavenly Selectors. It was once said that goodbyes at Hove are a long and meaningful affair as for a number of folk there will be no returning….

Today’s team sheet saw the return of Gywllim Jones, that big hitting Sefrican, as well as the old warhorse, Taylor Salerno. Gemma Manvell was washing her hair, deciding to send her betrothed, the beloved Daniel. And In dutifully preparation for married life, he did as he was told. So as the Wanderers, Jordan Wilson and Morgan Hockley-Jones, or Jones-Hockley depending on the scorer, walked to the wicket, the sun warmly shined and hope was on our side. It was downhill from there on.

Par-for-the-course at Plumpton in recent weeks appears to be directly proportionate to the length of the grass, which any gazelle hunting jungle beast would be most delighted to have taken residence in these last two weeks. Lusty blows and a series of textbook, sweet spot strokes, were failing to penetrate the inner field. When the first wicket fell with less than a handful of runs on the board it felt like a we should be clapping a 50 partnership. The frustration of ineffectual unheralded stroke play and bowling that made full use of a pitch devoid of bounce led to an all to familiar collapse. Put like that Wanderers performance can be read as unfortunate and blameless, so an addendum must be made to this subjective analysis. We were crap….

Wickets fell with regularity, the pacey and unpredictable Fielder brothers responsible for five of them. Most fell bowled or LBW. However, one run maker stood out, one regular attendee took up the mantle, one, just one, stood up to be counted. With a score of 22, ‘Extras’ showed us all how it should be done. And although Teflon Noaksey and extras have never been good bedfellows this one occasion was needs-must, being the two top scorers-Noaksey with 12.

Thus tea was taken after Wanderers had fallen for just 69. 9 players falling for single figures with Josh Haylock surviving for a credible 0 not out. Dave Field was actually out, yes, actually out. We have video evidence, it is below, but it will need to be independantly verified….

Now, far more cohesive than the Wanderers innings, the tea preparations were a joint affair. Mr Field playing a solid innings to see off the tricky tea making duties, with the author and young Haylock playing the cut shot beautifully through the baggettes and the quiche thus ensuring fairness of portion. And with three ‘o’ clock being the new five thirty Wanderers then took the field for the final time this year.

The greyish clouds were fairly high, and a times the watery autumnal sun gave a false sense of a prolonged high season when it broke through. One of those deceptive affairs of weather, it was hard to decide whether and how many jumpers were required. We need not have worried, we weren’t out there for long enough….

With the arrogance of youth, the Jevington openers turned the outfield from lowland heath into a bowling green. Runs flowing from the off. Only Morgan Hockley-Jones (Jones-Hockley) somehow escaping with credible figures. After trying to extract himself from affairs after just two overs, Lord Sponge was forced back into the action by his team mates as he was the bowler who looked likely to penetrate, his six an over economy rate proving credible in the circumstances.

Now no season is complete without a mention of the Oldest Swinger, the legend of the Field, the Dave of dutiful calling, that ever present thread that links Southwick Wanderers to the days of black and white. The snooker player, Steve Davis, was christened ‘Steve Interesting Davis’ by the boys at Spitting Image after his dour demeanour. I refer to our Dave as ‘Dave Re-assuring Field’ simply because when he comes on to bowl in carnage such as this, one senses, even if the result is inevitable, calm will be restored. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how quickly you wanted to get the pub, the breakthrough that the catch behind Mr Field drew with the score on 30 only hastened the end of the game. For striding to the wicket came a hungover man intent on finishing things off as quickly as possible. And thus he did. The surname of Blackburn duly ammended to Blackbeard as he wielded his bat like an angry sword condemning Wanderers hopes to the plank.

And so a crushing 9 wicket defeat it was to be.

As the ground was cleared, rubbish collected, and the pavilion lock turned for the final time this season, much of the team headed for the yonder pub with talk of yesteryears heroic exploits, near misses, could have beens, might have beens, weren’t but should have beens, tall stories from distant tours afar, and the memories that bind us all together.

And so another season has drawn to a close, and I’ve been here for just the last two weeks of it. But therein lies the most revealing truth, one never leaves the Wanderers, we just go Wanderering. But like the prodigal sons and daughters we return to find the same welcome and the spirit undaunted. A club that sticks to it’s social pricipals despite that constant pressure to change, and a club that still makes me feel proud every time I see that badge that Leigh Mayhew and I designed all those years ago.

Roll on next May.