Prologue


Mystics versus Erratics, 24th July 1993

Come, gather round and here me well,
For I've a Mystic tale to tell:
Of adventure, passion and of pride
And many other things beside.
Sit by the hearth all ye who dare,
Coccooned from winter's icy glare;
Look in the fire and come with me,
Back to another Century.
Behold, reflected in the flame,
The playing of a cricket game.
(A test of skill with bat and ball,
'Twas played by folk from spring to fall)
And lo, as flames they flicker down,
We stand in a small Devon town ...

Now in this age all was not well
With England's fight, the truth to tell.
They could not hold the Border, or
Even less control the Waugh,
And as planets juxtaposed, beneath
The True Man cussed through gritted teeth.

Did I say all? Well nay, not quite,
For in all darkness shines a light,
And in yon corner of the land
There dwelled a small but seemly band,
Who with apocryphal traditions,
Were called "The Mystics and Magicians".

Now it came to pass their leader, Jim,
Did call his cohorts unto him
To volunteer from far and wide
To battle with his father's side.
(Professor T, whose Holy Grail
Was to remove the batsman's bail)

So, one July the twenty fourth,
Gathered his clan from south and north
Upon the field of old Gras Lawn,
Where oft were Mystics' colours worn.
(For, friends, to wear the Orange and Yellow
Was indeed to be a noble fellow)

Bleak dawned the day and skies of lead
Lay portentous o'er each Mystic head.
For many was their journey fraught,
They laboured longer than they ought;
And consequent of their delay
Did some folk miss the start of play.
Yet though 'twere not so atmospheric
Without Tai-Wai, Amanda, Derek,
Spirits were but far from flat
As Mystic Knights went out to bat.

The cloud hung over like a pall,
Which helped the bowlers move the ball.
Then early on, a burst of Hale
Did cause successive men to fail.
"Hale, Hale, everywhere, and all the bats did shrink."
For as each batting man was smote, morale began to sink.

A certain few stood proud and brave,
And one of these was the young Chave.
The nimble Sid, he was another
(The captain's wicket-keeping brother),
Completing there a vital inning,
To keep alive the hope of winning.
And lest the Barron be forgot:
He batted long but scored he not.

But Erratics were such worthy foe
That quickly did their mettle show.
Wretched Mystics dared hardly look
At each fresh ball served up by Cook.
Thus with a score of one-three-three
The Mystics did away to tea.

The day drew on. With all their might
Jim's Champions tried to change their plight,
To turn the match with tweak of ball,
The twirling Wendon gave his all;
And Loades did bowl with all his heart,
But Cook and West were loathe to part.
Yea, even through a Barron spell
They stood their ground and stood it well.
So did Cook (with balding pate)
Stay resolute with bat held straight;
And, without recourse to the tail,
Erratic forces did prevail ...

Bravely had our Heroes fought,
Yet their travails did come to nought.
But lest you think their spirits gone,
Look in the fire, my friend, you're wrong,
For in each flame the world can see
The famous Mystic livery.
And those of you who suffer still
From this defeat's depressing chill,
Be ye not sad, for with the dawn
Another Mystic tour was born



Adrian Borley


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