Rooks, Rocks, Mulletts and Ginger Beers

“You never know what’s around the corner. It could be everything. Or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and you’ve climbed a mountain.”

We all have choices in life.  Different paths we could take which will ultimately determine our destiny.  Every second of every day we all have to make a decision which has a domino effect on not only our own well-being but on those around us.  Makes you think, doesn’t it?  In the past few weeks I have spoken about Existentialism, where  the individual’s starting point is characterized by what has been called “the existential attitude”, or a sense of disorientation and confusion in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world.

Arundel-FC-LogoSo, when someone asks why I am on my way to watch Arundel v Pagham in the Sussex County League at 11am on Bank Holiday Monday, that is the answer I give.  My choice today was to avoid shopping centres, DIY stores and doing “chores” around the house.  Instead I headed down to Sussex for a double bill of football, starting with a visit to one of the most picturesque little towns in the whole of the UK.

Arundel is famous for its Cathedral, its castle, the beautiful cricket ground and its mullets, the name given to the locals of the due to their love of German 1980’s rock music.  The football club, adopting the nickname of the townsfolk were formed back in 1889, making them one of the oldest clubs in these parts.  Miss Success hasn’t been a regular visitors to these parts – in fact the club have never made it out of the County Leagues.  But sometimes it is more important to play in the right spirit rather than having a win at all cost mentality.  Well, that’s what teams that never win anything always say.

9603035956_150866dd6d_bThose terribly nice chaps at the Sussex FA once again delivered a treat for the Bank Holiday with all of their games kicking off at 11am, meaning that today was a Sussex footballing fest featuring not just one Sussex derby as Arundel faced Pagham but at 3pm was THE biggest game in the county of the season.  Lewes versus Bognor Regis Town.  If Brian Moore and The Big Match were still around, they would have undoubtably been at The Dripping Pan, delivering platitudes about the “renaissance” of football in East Sussex and the “wonderful revolution” taking place under the stewardship of Messrs. Wilson and Bloor.

We came in search of goals with the Mulletts so far this season being involved in games averaging over five goals a game, scoring 10 goals themselves.  Almost a cast iron guarantee for a nil nil draw then.  It hasn’t seemed like the locals had caught the footballing bug yet with just 42 souls braving the torrential rain on Saturday in the 4-1 win against Hailsham Town.  I’m sure the early kick off would have the locals coming out in droves though for this game.  Or perhaps they had made the dull choice of shopping/DIY or chores. Continue reading

Bugger Bognor

I cannot read or say the words Bognor Regis with a small titter sneaking out of my mouth. You see I was a seventies child, raised on TV shows such as Dads Army, On the Buses and of course Are You Being Served? Even today I can think of no better way to relax in the evenings than a large glass of Chateauneuf du Pape and slipping on a DVD of the crazy antics of Grace Brothers. After all, who wouldn’t want to hear tales of Mrs. Slocombe’s pussy late at night? The TV show has been featured in the news briefly this week as the actor Frank Thornton, who played the role of Captain Peacock, had passed away, meaning that the whole of the original cast were no longer with us.

img41156a0e3e6a4The series ran for years, including a film in 1977 supposedly set in Spain, and featuring Andrew Sachs as a clueless Spanish hotel employee – as if that sort of character would ever work! Anyway, back on topic, the reason I laugh is because of a line in the film where Mr.Grainger needs to use the toilet on the airplane and its suggested he does it over Bognor to gain revenge for a holiday ruined by the British weather when he was younger. Little things please little minds, as Katie Price would undoubtedly say.

So Bank Holiday Monday and the second Sussex derby in 48 hours. Unfortunately Saturday’s defeat against Hastings United had seen a big black cloud descend on the Dripping Pan.  We needed a big boost, something akin to what the first meeting of the Rooks and the Rocks delivered at Christmas.  The game on Boxing Day at The Pan, played in God-awful conditions the like of which we haven’t seen for at least a week saw The Rooks take all 3 points. Since then, wins have been scarce but this was all about the bragging rights between East and West Sussex. The game in December had attracted a Ryman Premier League high of 883 fans, although few who were there will remember much more than the incessant rain and the bonkers away fans who stood on the open Jungle cheering their team on. Three months later and the weather has hardly changed. Snow had fallen virtually every day in March so the 1 April would be a perfect day for a visit to the seaside, and what better place that Bognor, a town that was awarded its “Regis” (by appointment to the King) in 1929 although many commentators believe his reaction to the suggestion by an aid was to say “Bugger Bognor”.

bus_bristol_green_crosvilleTaking the British 70’s Sitcom to another level, the Lewes fans would be making their way along the A27 on Clive’s, one of the club’s directors, old bus.  Not that Clive is a modern day Stan Butler (secretly I think he wants to be a Blakey), but what better way to travel to the seaside than on an old-fashion Charabang!  Bottles of Milk Stout were loaded on board with tongue sandwiches all round for the trip westwards.  Who wouldn’t want to travel in style?  Well, Danny Last and I for ones but that is because we had another agenda. Continue reading

I hate Sunday’s

Unicorns 327-4 beat Sussex Sharks 325-4 by 4 wickets – Arundel – Sunday 23rd May 2010
Summer Sunday’s in England – yuck.  Honestly, spending all day watching one of the most exciting cricket games played in years in beautiful sunshine drinking beer – give me a cold Tuesday night kick off in December at Waltham Abbey anytime!

What more could a man wish for?

OK – I jest with you.  Sometimes things just click and produce a perfect day.  Today was one such day.  Firstly we had the weather.  Clear blue skies and temperatures touching the thirties.  Then we had the location – Arundel in West Sussex.  Home of the Duke of Norfolk (quite why he doesn’t stay in his own county I don’t know) who has his own cricket pitch in the vast grounds and today hosting the Unicorns against the Sharks.  Now the Sharks are not new to most – Sussex Sharks are one of the most formidable one day teams boosted by the return of England World Cup Winners Mike Yardy and Luke Wright to join over such one day specialists as Ed Joyce, Murray Goodwin, Joe Gatting and Monty Panesar.

The Unicorns?  Not a familiar name to most.  In fact they wouldn’t have existed at all if it wasn’t for Ireland deciding to play in the Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies instead of the Clydesdale Bank tournament.  The ECB were left with one team short at the last minute and came up with an idea of putting together a “recreational” team, naming them the Unicorns.  Recreational essentially means players not deemed good enough for first class counties, or those still deciding whether to work for a living or play cricket.  Last week they upset Glamorgan with a 58 run win in Bournemouth in a game that their ex-captain Steve James called “Embarrassing”.

The best ground in the world?

Arundel is probably one of the finest grounds in the world.  It sums up the English game to a tee and when we arrived just after Sussex had put 50 on the board for no loss we quickly rolled out the spread and tucked into lunch as Ed Joyce and Chris Nash made short work of the Unicorn attack.  There was little to fault Sussex for in their batting as Yardy hit the lowest score at 36 (off 34 balls).  The final partnership of 88 by Goodwin (92 not out from 59 balls) and Gatting 55 off just 29 balls saw them edge past 320 off just 40 overs – more than 8 an over.  We predicted a 200 run win for the Sharks, and was even as bold to text such a statement to the master of Sussex Cricket insight, Danny Last.

It'll take a world record to beat that!

The girls took some time to believe that they could go and play on the pitch during the half time break, having been indoctrinated by the nanny state in watching football in England.  Perfect excuse to have another beer – I hate cricket.

So I set my stopwatch and thought we would be back on the road by 5pm.  I was wrong.  Despite a very slow start by Murtagh and Thompson they saw off the opening attack and started to play on the front foot.  Murtagh’s 21 off just 11 balls came to an end in the 5 over and at that point it seemed to be a question of when and not if the Sharks would bowl the Unicorns out by.

Worms eye view

But then came firstly Josh Knappett and then former Somerset all rounder Wes Durston.  Neither had been given the opportunity to carry on playing their game at the highest level but today was their moment.  Knappett hit 90 off 84 balls but more importantly batted through until the last but one over, providing vital support for Durston who hit 117 off just 68 balls including 5 sixes and 13 fours in one of the best one day inning’s most of the crowd at Arundel had seen.  When he fell the Unicorns still needed 80 to win but Knappett and captain Parsons with an unbeaten 41 saw the Unicorns home with just 3 balls to spare.

I'd love it if they beat us

Was the victory that remarkable?  Absolutely.  Firstly, this team had been put together without much notice.  Secondly, no team batting second in cricket history had ever chased down more than 325 in a 40 over game – in other words they had created their own World Record (where is Norris McQuirter when you need him!) in beating Sussex.  And yes finally they had beaten one of the most formidable one day sides in recent years, a team who had won the last two Pro 40 League titles and of course the Twenty 20 cup in 2009.  So hardly a push over.

What a day and what a game to choose.  Just underlines what is rubbish about English Summer Sunday’s.

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Scorecards from the amazing game can be found here.

More photos from the day can be found here.