Beckenham Palace

You may remember dear reader that last Sunday on Father’s Day I was absent from the Fuller household, enjoying the sunshine and “local” sights in Oslo.  Instead of simply dismissing this US-created excuse for the card industry for another year, the little Fullers wanted to treat Daddy and so we postponed it a week.  So queue a lie in, breakfast in bed, some very pleasing presents and an offer to attend the cricket at Beckenham was forthcoming – which of course it would have been rude to have turned down.

I had actually managed to sneak another quick Twenty20 game in on Thursday night, watching Surrey get absolutely stuffed by the Essex Eagles at the Oval.  Surrey had been the team to beat for nearly five years but their team had grown old and the way that Alastair Cook destroyed their attack at the Oval was a sign of the new order.  Cook went on to get 100 not out in an innings of power and control, not giving one single chance away in his 57 ball innings.

So Surrey were already eliminated from the competition, and Kent’s successive wins over Surrey and Hampshire meant that they were guaranteed a Quarter Final berth anyway. So it appeared to be a “dead rubber”, but as the game was being played at Beckenham, it was  too much of a draw to miss.  Beckenham is our closest “county ground” and I use that in the loosest sense of the word as although it is only 5.2 miles from Chez Fuller it is certainly not in Kent!  It sits almost on the South Circular in the shadow of the huge TV ariels of Crystal Palace in South London.  The ground, which Kent use once a year for two matches sits on the old Lloyds Bank Sports Ground.

It was here that in 1989 I completed a unique treble.  At the time I worked for the bank and played for them in three different sports.  In early May 1989 I hit 102 not out on the very square that Kent Spitfires would be using.  My innings was not quite in the same league as Mr Cook’s as it look me over 3 hours and I believe from memory I faced nearly 150 balls, but it still remains one of my two only centuries.  The following day I played for Lloyds Bank Park Lane versus Lloyds Bank Mayfair in a real grudge match.  I had the type of game that newspapers would have a field day over.  A hatrick by halftime, including a 25 yard free kick and a very very rare Fuller header (only three in my whole career) had set me up nicely, and when I back heeled a fourth in after an hour it was all rosey….and then I got Sent Off.  I rose to the bait of a young whipper snapper from the machine room (banking sounded so exciting back then) and smacked him one.  Right in front of the referee who happened to be our Area Manager as well…Ouch.

Three days later I was back, making my debut for the bank at Hockey and I managed to score a goal, although the four I had chalked off still riles with me today – after all what sort of game has rules where you can’t “turn” or use the outside of your stick to dribble!

Those were the days and today the Bank’s sports ground is no more – sold off to finance an Exec’s pension fund or something.  I would like to think that the small plaque that was put up on the wall to commemorate my century still sits with some historian somewhere, although I doubt it very much.

Kent Spitfires 184-7 beat Surrey Brown Caps 168-9 by fifteen runs – Beckenham – Sunday 28th June

Robert Key's right at home here!
Robert Key's right at home here!

 London was in the grips of a heatwave and after a morning in the garden with our new Teepee fully erected and the fire pit ready and stoked, we headed over to Beckenham.  We prepped Littlest Fuller to say, if asked, that she was five and thus avoided paying for her entry, although CMF did put a ban on my idea of putting both girls in the boot so we wouldn’t have to pay for either.  The crowds had come out in force early, enticed by the fact there was absolutely no other sport on anywhere in England apart from the bore that is Wimbledon.

Kent won the toss and elected to bat first, on a track that I know only too well did not play spin.  Unlike Essex on Thursday night, Kent made heavy work of the Powerplay, with Key more interested in the food stands it seemed that attacking the poor Surrey bowlers.  With the score at 53-2 after 7 overs, Geriant Jones was joined by the run machine Martin van Jaarsveld.  These two demolished all comers and put on 96 in double quick time with Jones plundering 47 off 30 balls (including two huge sixes) and MVJ as he is known to his fans scoring another half century, eventually departing after forty balls for 64.  184 in the end was a disappointment and it was only some excellent bowling by Spreigel with 4 for 33 that kept the score under 200.

Surrey had only honour to play for and whilst wickets fell regularly the first six batsmen all made over 20 and all scored at over a run a ball.  But they simply ran out of decent batsmen and fell fifteen runs short in the end as the storm clouds gathered all around us. 

We got home for CMF to cook roast beef, a quick Super Mario competition and the Little Fuller’s first bowling lessons in the garden, using our new Teepee as the wicket…what a spiffing Fathers Day!

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