Broadclyst, then. The club with which I'm nominally associated against the only one I can laughably be considered to have represented on the field. As such, this game is one of my most looked forward to occasions of each year. Good company, glorious surroundings, and a well-stocked bar. So it is that I'm a very content individual as I stand at the pavilion, beer in hand, listening to the last droplets of clearing-up rain pattering on the roof, accompanied by the faint hum of Chris Healey vacuuming the spiders from the visitor's changing room. Content, that is, until I foolishly ask Jim who's going to be doing the match report.
Self-indulgences aside, it's also a fixture the home side could really do with winning. Their last victory coming in 2006, with a couple of wash-outs the only disruption to Mystics dominance since then. Pete Weatherhead is tasked with maintaining this run of winning captaincy. His opposite number Cliff Rush, occasional Mystic and full-time beautiful lady, hoping to succeed where he had failed many, many, times previously.
Things start very well for the home side with Hoops, bamboozled by one of surprise opener Cliff's slower ones, lofting the ball tamely back to the grateful bowler. He leaves the field to the sincere commiserations of his regular clubmates, ruing a dismissal to forget but, I suspect, one he won't be allowed to. Mission accomplished, Cliff removes himself from the attack, and lets the more orthodox pairing of Dom Edmond and Philip Walker Jr get on with it.
Conditions are tricky for batting by all accounts (it's all much of a muchness to me) and the bowlers certainly make the most of them, with Sid, Sam and Fraser going cheaply, the latter dismissed by a ball ratting through after the previous delivery to the same spot had reared up. "I'm not sure what I could have done", his considered opinion. One which was shared shortly thereafter by Matt who leaves one which jags back. Mystics 37-5, with Dom and Philip taking 2 each.
Tony walking back in under his own steam is a minor victory in itself at this ground, and he does so after falling LBW to a Ben Hogan full toss, leaving the pitchside trolley surplus to requirements. A brief stand between Pete and Chris Healey is ended when the latter expertly picks out Lee Bridger on the boundary, who then compounds matters by bowling Pete for 45, immediately after the returning Healey's statement that "One more big hit" would get the Mystics captain his half-century. Things get wrapped up fairly quickly thereafter with Lee's dismissal of Graham, stumps clattering to the soundtrack of a ferocious LBW appeal, the final act. Mystics all out for 135. Not much, but Broadclyst have failed to chase down eminently gettable totals in this fixture before.
Tea is diligently prepared by Phil Walker Jr, whose blood, sweat and tears effort is carried out without a hint of complaint or mithering on. Rumours that Helena did most of the leg-work are scurrilous and to be discounted.
The Broadclyst reply begins steadily enough, with Matt Bauer hitting a belligerent 18 and looking invincible, right up to the point where he misses one from Mark Hailwood and is stumped by Sid. Opener Urchy's extremely useful innings of 28 is also ended by the Manbun, LBW this time, though probably rattled by the beamer previous ball. Ed Rogers is unfortunate to be triggered by Lee despite having hit the ball, but is gracious enough to leave the pitch. The Chris Cook Guide to Ignoring the Umpire not on his reading list, evidently. Dan Pooley's bravado in removing his helmet to face Graham is rewarded when he's caught by Hoops next ball, leaving the home side 80 for 5, and the match nicely poised.
Dan's dismissal brings Hamish Edmond to the crease, who then proceeds to hammer it all over the place. The power and confidence of his batting on a drying pitch a stark contrast to the struggles endured in the first innings, and he quickly takes the game away from the touring side. A minor controversy when Ken Horne appears to be caught and bowled by Sam but claims a bump ball can't detract from the exploits of his batting partner. And it's only fitting that Ken's eventual and unarguable catching by Sam brings the other second generation Broadclystian, Philip Walker Jr, to the crease to see Hamish through to hit the winning runs. Edmond Jr duly obliges by nonchalantly smacking it back over Fraser's head and into the trees beyond. He finishes on 41, his highest score for the club, with Broadclyst's total of 139 for 6 giving them a long overdue and thoroughly deserved victory by 4 wickets.
After that it only remains to drink and chat, while watching Deke bemusedly accept the Player of the Tour award, and overwhelming bookie's favourite Ellie pick up the Supporter's gong, then we're done.