The third fixture of Remnants Week and the third miserable day: cold, grey, wet (in parts), and generally not encouraging -- just like a girl I used to date, come to think of it. And as if the conditions weren't incentive enough to stay home and watch TV in front of the fire, there was the lure of England's quarter final appearance against Portgual in the Euro 2004 championships. Geoff, for one, was convinced there'd be a lot of emergency trips to the vet and old war wounds playing up once England had qualified, but happily there were very few last-minute drop outs and Remnants' twenty fifth year was celebrated with much joy. Whereas Tuesday's internal match was essentially a normal Remnants vs. Remnants fixture, today was the veterans' game, with guest appearances by a number of ex-members, such as Andy Brown, Steve Chadwick, Martin Law, John Meed, Jim Schwabe, Mike Scanlon and Tony Williams. Initially it was intended that a current representative team would take on the veterans, but in the end both Malik's Senior Moments and The Phyllosans had their share of past and present.
The Senior Moments batted first, Mike Sneyd (25) looking comfortable from the outset, and Tony Malik (49*) making a welcome return to form after a few uncertain shots at the beginning of his innings. The best of the bowlers were Mike Jones (1/8), Jim Schwabe (0/16) and Joe White (1/10), although most of the hard work was being done in the field, Joe, Steve Chadwick, Daniel Mortlock and Tom Jordan all doing a lot of chasing in the outer and Geoff Hales taking an excellent catch at point.
The latter was no surprise, especially as he didn't even have to deal with other fielders attacking him whilst the ball was in flight, but what was surprising was that captain Watson managed to get him to bowl. After much unhappy muttering Geoff squared up to Andy Owen (looking to remain undismissed for the ninth innings in succession) and ran in. Andy didn't get to the pitch of the ball, mis-timing a drive straight back to Geoff, who got both hands to the ball . . . but somehow it slipped through his fingers, and with it the champagne moment of the decade. As the ball hit the turf much wailing and ululating could be heard echoing 'round the ground, but after this normal service resumed and Andy remained untroubled for the rest of the Moments' innings, finishing on 20 not out. That said, the Moments' total of 118/2 was none too scary, which was largely due to the fact that the batsmen managed just 6 boundaries between them (as compared to an amazing 42 singles, testament to the Phyllosans' good fielding).
The Phyllosans' chase began far more explosively, with Daniel Mortlock (47) and Joe White (41) putting on an 86 run stand off just 66 deliveries. There were plenty of boundaries (including an enormous six over the northern side greenhouses), but the real highlight was the aggressive running . . . right up until both Daniel and Joe were run out for the cause. Jim Schwabe (15), Steve Chadwick (3*) and Tony Williams (4*) then continued where the openers left off, maintaining the high scoring rate as The Phyllosans romped home with some 35 deliveries to spare.
There wasn't much joy for the Moments' bowlers, although Anton Garrett was desperately unlucky, having five or six skied balls drop between the fielders (or, in one case, between the two arms of a single fielder). Martin Law, Les Collings and Pete Warner seemed to do the bulk of the exhausting outfielding, but Pete ended up having the (all but) last laugh when he had Jim well caught by Mike Scanlon with the scores tied.
You might think it was all a bit silly, and you'd probably be right, but it was also riotously good fun at times, and a far better way to spend time than the voluntary torture of watching England playing in an international football tournament. And yet that's exactly how the majority of us spent the rest of the evening: munching sandwiches, downing beers, and watching England go down to Portugal in a Euro 2004 quarter final. It was, of course, on penalties, and it was, of course, after what appeared to a perfectly good extra-time would-be winning goal was disallowed. Needless to say tempers were high, with liberal use of the word ``twat'' (which, I can confirm, was at no stage was directed at Geoff), slamming down of pints, and even some suggestion that the referee made a mistake or two. It's just as well Rob wasn't in attendance, otherwise things might really have gotten out of hand . . .
Hello to all of you dedicated souls who've read down this far, and welcome to the Bizarre Post Script. Whilst it was wonderful to see Mike Scanlon (the second most capped player last year) back at Fitz, it seems his time in The City may have had a detrimental effect on him if the following letter is anything to go by . . .