Do the Contango with me

Mystics versus Contango at Dunsford, 24th July 1994

It was hot, damn hot, as Contango took to the field. Their average age of 63 seemed forgotten (as were their bath chairs, crutches and surgical supports) as they strode purposefully toward the strip. After studying the scene for a few minutes, they realised that their opponents were nowhere in sight.

Having drunk the Royal Oak dry, the Mystics arrived -- a motley crew of new-age travellers, actors, tumblers and Ann Summers reps -- looking every inch the losers Contango had suspected. Only the captain, Martin Sharland (a somewhat Athertonesque figure), seemed to look the part. After checking Sharland's pockets for any misplaced soil, the Contango captain tossed...and won...and decided to bat.

Contango raced away, due largely to the bowling of Payne and Chave (whose wayward lengths are a well-known problem). The skipper searched his field, looking for salvation. As his senior pros avoided his eyes, a young man known only as Fred took a pace forward. History was in the making. As if in slow motion in a David Puttnam film, the wickets tumbled. Fred tried bowling off the wrong leg and even with the wrong arm and still they fell. Old pros like Garforth, Weston and Partridge (names as revered in the South West as Mellor and Morgan) fell to Fred's beguiling deliveries. The crowd hushed, transfixed by the sight of this boy a quarter of most of their ages who had torn out the heart of a team once so proud.

At the other end, Windy was doing his best to outdo Andrew Caddick as the best Groucho Marx impersonator on the circuit. He was also bowling an exceptionally fine spell, including the scalp of Dudbridge, the revered Dunsford number three.

The carnage complete before tea, Contango had limped to 134 (exactly the combined age of their openers). Fred finished with the outstanding figures of five for 18, and Windy, who bowled seven overs, took two for none.

It was hot, damn hot, as Messrs Loades and Thomson J strode purposefully to the wicket. Deciding against their usual caution, they spanked four fours before Matt was bowled by Vic Masey. Vic had consumed his normal 15 pints before playing and was sweating, cursing and breaking wind in his special Northern way (all of this while bowling).

At 19 with both openers gone, enter Python looking as though he had just been ejected from Wimbledon. As he began his innings, Windy met him and told him it was swinging away. "What does that mean?" asked Python. He reached the crease and Duncan, who was umpiring, tried to give him a guard. "I know where the stumps are," he said. Then he looked around at the field and told the four close off side fielders that they were all on the wrong side because he never hit anything on the posh side. Then he clattered a series of fours to leg, compiling a score of 33 (his highest for the Mystics). However, in the best English tradition a collapse is never far away. Great names like Deke Middleton, Windy, Kev and even golden-armed Fred unexpectedly failed. It was time for the old guard.

While Payne kept his end up (a trick he learned on a recent trip to Bangkok), Duncan spanked a rapid 29 before falling to big Vic, now in his fifteenth over. Enter Sid, blood still oozing from a four inch gash in his head -- the result of a full-blooded Gary Lenearth hook. The great man was angry. Just two huge blows took the Mystics home.

On returning to the Oak, both teams enjoyed much merriment and the late night air was full of the sounds of vomiting and unlikely fines. Captain Sharland drifted off into an alcoholic haze from which he was not to return for several days, but that is another story...

Andy Payne

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