Report by Daniel Mortlock:
In June 1977, in the middle of Queen Elizabeth II's silver jubilee year, the punk movement was at its height. Characterised by an independence bordering on rebelion, unusual clothing choices and outrageous haircuts, it found its greatest expression in the wedding, 25 years ago to the day, of Geoff and Sally Hales. The intervening years have no doubt seen them bring each other a great deal of pleasure, but their "great partnership" has also seen them share much joy with their extended family: all those who've played cricket for Remnants since its inception in 1980. Thus what better way to celebrate their own silver wedding anniversary than a ceremonial Remnants game between Geoff's Secretary's XI and Sal's Scorer's XI?
The membership of the two teams was based on "Remnants seniority" - not age (although there was some of that in evidence), but how long ago one first appeared for the club. It would have been nice for this to have yielded two teams dominated by the legends that populate Geoff's 1987 tome Remnants: The First 100 Wins, and indeed a few players were dragged kicking and screaming from what soon proved to be premature retirements . . . but most of the two teams were made up of current club regulars. At first this seemed a little disappointing, but the fact that people stay with the club season after season is really a fabulous vindication of the friendly group atmosphere Geoff, in particular, has created.
The game itself began with Secretary's XI captain Barry Dare leading his team out to field and handing the ball to Jim Schwabe. Jim's first ball to Mike Sneyd was tickled to fine leg, where Les Collings fielded with aplomb, hurling the ball straight back to 'keeper Geoff Hales. An appropriate start involving four players who, I believe, were all Remnants in 1980. Jim (1/22) troubled the batsmen with his left-arm off-breaks, and Les Collings (0/22) was dead unlucky to have all those LBW appeals turned down, but the Scorer's XI got away to a pretty smooth start courtesy of Mike (15) and Dave Williams (32). Coming on at first change, Colin Anderson (1/27) and Pete Young (also 1/27) were unable to prevent the Scorer's XI accelerating their scoring rate, mainly due to Tony Malik, who whacked a number of crisp drives and pulls on the way to a deserved 53*. However the best entertainment of the innings was provided by the final over, which saw Phil Watson (1/10) play out a duel with Steve Attmore (8), Tony and Dave Green (who had the last laugh with an eventful 3 not out).
The Scorer's XI thus finished on 138/4, setting the Secretary's XI the demanding task of scoring seven an over. Despite the latter team's batting depth, most of the assembled crowd (which by now included frightening numbers of players' children and their lightsabres) felt that Sal's team had done enough to win the game, although before finding out we had the obligatory club photograph:
This impression that the Scorer's XI total was sufficient was only reinforced when Andy Brown's first over in "several years" was a deserved wicket-maiden. That said, most of the Secretary's XI's middle order fired, with Phil Watson (bowled for 16 by a gleeful Paul Jordan), Jim Schwabe (a potentially match-winning 56 that only ended when his pads fell off whilst going for a dubious second run) and Faruk Kara (14) all scoring at the required rate. They took the Secretary's XI to the promising position of 84/2, from which point they collapsed to be 111/9. This was due to a combination of three run outs, some great catches (Dave Green at point and an amazing reflex slips catch by Mike Sneyd, seemingly oblivious to the encroaching darkness that saw everyone else struggle to see the ball at all) and another dramatic bowling performance by Tony Malik (2/10, to complete an impressive all-round performance). With just two overs to go the win was out of the question, and so the Secretary's XI last wicket pair of captain Barry Dare and mascot (?) Geoff Hales decided to play for a draw. This they did with considerable aplomb, both being clapped off the field with defiant 1 not outs to their names.
After the game we all retired to the clubhouse, where Anton and the tennis players attacked Dave Norman's spread with considerable enthusiasm, and we even subjected Geoff and Sal to a quick presentation ceremony. Rob was necessarily brief (it being bad form "to speak in public for longer than one can make love" apparently - not sure what this implies about Mr Hales) and Geoff and Sal looked suitably chuffed at their presents of chocolates, champagne and "G & S"-engraved glasses. The rest of the evening was spent trying to make full use of Les's bar tab and goading Anton into eating more of the food. But all too soon it was time to watch the red glow of Geoff's and Sally's bike lights fade into the distance as we headed back to our other homes for the night.