A Lament in 52 Stanzas

Mystics versus Comrie, 1st August 1993

Twa bannocks and ane slappit dreath,
Four stangs and ilka towdie
Drippit frae bed in Lendrick Muir
To find the weather cloudy.

Neil and Bryan look worried ... with good reason II
"Clackmannan's curse is on the team
That threads the Yetts o' Muckhart
To drive to Comrie after noon:
By nightfall they'll be fuckhart.

Thus spake the bard of Rumbling Bridge:
"When August snarks and snickets,
Wha drees to Comrie via Crieff
Shall lose by muckle wickets."

But, under mounds of sausages,
Of bubble and of squeak,
In Lendrick's vast baronial hall
No Mystic heard him speak.

Contango done, Saint Modans won,
Clackmannan County beaten,
The Dollar pounded (long live Stirling) -
And breakfast to be eaten.

It's time to go - but no, not yet.
Sam wants one rasher more;
Prise Aditalia out of bed;
Scrape Windy off the floor.

Tour photos by the entrance step
(The transit will be choc-a);
Where's Kate? To pass the time away
Matt plays the rest at soccer.

"Clackmannan's curse is on the team ..."
Jim Thomson's lips are puckered,
But smiling the Mystics pass
Outwith the Pool of Muckhart.

Athwart Gleneagles, into Crieff,
To Comrie - "after noon".
The coin is tossed and Jim has lost.
"Beware the August moon."

Enter Dunc Wixote, straight of back;
Beside him Sancho Tai Wai,
Planning new ways to get run out
While watching the ball fly by.

Dunc strikes a stately boundary,
Then strikes a statelier pose,
But Tai Wai strikes at nothing at all.
A run? What's one of those?

Perverse the highland Scottish gods
Who twist the spine of cricket.
A yorker's bowled, and casually
Dunc lets it hit his wicket.

"Clackmannan's curse is on the team,"
And storm clouds looming dourly
As harlequin-capped Chave walks out
To be replaced by Borley.

Still runless, still inscrutable,
Still batting, Tai-Wai Panza
Watches while Adi takes guard
And Talia writes a stanza,

Watches while Adi, too, is bowled
(Oh sadly, Talia, sadly!),
Watches a virgin all in white
Who calls himself Neil Hadley

Come, stumbling nervously out to bat,
("Sing Derry Down, sing Derry"),
Watches the snick that signifies
That Charlie's lost his cherry.

What rapture in the crowd! what joy!
Ah, how the nerve ends tingle!
Write that we lost the match, but add
That Charlie got a single.

Gibbins is fast. The stand can't last.
"Beware the Coyles of Muck."
But monumentalise the fact
That Tai-Wai broke his duck.

The 28th ball that he faced
Was firmly struck for two.
His 51st ball was his last.
What can the Mystics do?

No panic. Windy, semi-drunk,
Plays out the last three balls
Of Gibbins ninth (three for 11).
Another wicket falls.

It's Charlie, overwhelmed that he's
Scored one run in succession,
Clean bowled by Captain Oates to leave
A mystical depression.

We're in the 18th over now.
It's 25 for four.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man.
Stout Sumo sets his jaw.

Like Geoffrey Boycott before lunch
He will not flick or falter.
Tedious as Tavare at Lords,
He does his David Salter.

The score creeps up. Gibbins is off
And Captain Oates is resting.
The wicket's slow, the bounce unsure
And Windy finds it testing.

But weep no more! The doubled score
Has climbed to over 50.
Clackmannan's curse has spent its force
(By Christ, the bowling's thrifty!).

We spoke too soon. We felt too safe.
Beware the gathering gloom-o.
From out the West, the red, red mist
Is closing over Sumo.

The wily arm of Father Oates
Deceives as well as flatters,
And Sumo lunges, Sumo plunges,
Sumo's wicket shatters.

The 30th over's dead and gone.
How long can we survive?
It's after four o'clock by now;
We're 53 for five.

The best is yet to come, a stand
That swells the breasts of Mystics.
Ernie and Windy - chalk and cheese.
These are the bare statistics:

11 overs; 50 runs;
Three sixes and three fours.
Ernie is trusty, Windy's feisty.
Kate claps. Annie adores.

Amanda loses all control.
Rita forgets her breeding.
The sun shines bright when Sarah smiles -
And Jenny keeps on reading.

"Clackmannan's curse is on the team",
Poised for a further twist,
And Father Oates the avatar,
He of the tricky wrist.

Eight overs, one for 36,
We're 103 for five.
The clock ticks to 4:34.
Long may the Mystics thrive!

But no - Ernie is caught behind.
We're 103 for six
And skipper Jim is walking in,
Smiling and shitting bricks.

Oh what a change in 15 balls!
What perilous incision!
Windy is LBW
(But who made the decision?).

Bryan wends in and then wends out,
Wendon the golden duck!
Biz grabs his box and then his bat.
"Beware the Coyles of Muck."

Nothing for Bryan, nought for Biz
And second ball for Kevin,
So skipper Jim ends nought not out,
No chance of a replevin.

For Father Oates has turned his arm
And one for 35
has turned to six for 36.
Who doubts the curse upon our drive?

The Comrie crows are on the wing,
And purple blooms the heather.
There's sun paint on the mountain range
And white the mystic feather.

But wait! Bold Sumo puffs his chest
And sleeks in like a flat cat.
Blond Gibbins stands, quite undeterred,
And swats him with a flat bat.

But broody Bryan beats the blond
And bowls him round his legs.
It's nine for one: the game's afoot.
Look at those broken pegs!

And Davidson is all at sea.
Six balls he plays and misses.
"Give us a wave, Bry," cries the crowd.
He does - and Kate blows kisses.

Three maidens in succession bowled
Before another wicket.
Caught Wind, bowled Wend. 19 for two.
We've got a game of cricket!

But Captain Oates has other thoughts,
Downs a lager and lime,
Straps on his pads and leaves the tent,
Says, "I may be some time."

The Otley/Oates stand swung the game.
Nine overs brought them fifty.
Words might describe our fielding,
But one of them's not "nifty".

"Clackmannan's curse is on the team
That sings on when the song stops:
And doubly cursed and trebly trounced
That bowls too many long hops."

And, yes, we bowled too many short.
Short balls are meat and drink
On Comrie's bumble-tumble track.
We need to pause and think ...

We took four wickets, which was more
Than at one stage looked certain.
Bryan two, Jim, Kev and Windy one;
But there we draw the curtain

On our invincibility,
Now shattered for eternity.
Next stop, the Royal in Comrie town,
Your mystical fraternity.

Sumo and Chris have fines to serve
(Who got the fine for snoring?).
The Aussie pro would have agreed
That Annie's good at scoring.

And Bryan shyly took the prize
As player of the tour:
"Well, unaccustomed as I am ...
What did I get this for?"

Next year we'll beat these Comrie lads.
Avaunt all inhibitions!
We're no minching malaperts,
We're Mystics and Magicians.

Peter Thomson

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