Poodle st Pootlers and the Cider Cup Challenge
Pootle verb [no object, with adverbial of direction] British informal to move or travel in a leisurely manner: ‘they were pootling down a canal in their new boat’.
It’s long way to Bodle (AKA Pootle) St from Brighton and so we met in the pub at 12 (not 12.30) to down a quick pint in the sunny Constant garden before hitting the road in good time. We arrived after passing and remembering to comment on) the truggery and the sign saying Bodle street to find an empty but peaceful expanse that is an estate which just happens to have a gorgeous cricket field on it. You can almost see the manor house in the distance, over the fields and rolling hills and lovely scenes, it really is a sight. There was a really big man mowing the outfield, there were butterflies and sheep and cows and greysmen, but there were no pootle streeters to be seen. The cider barrel arrived (another piece of great work Jez n Al!) and we got excited. There were no cups or glasses or receptacles of any kind though, the closest thing was Biffo’s box, but that had holes in it – or an empty old dented can of orangeboom that Ricky had just finished in the car on the drive over (no he wasn’t driving) but it was a little less than inviting bearing in mind he had a stinking cold and well Ricky (like the rest of us) is a bit mangey. So naturally we passed the cider filled orangeboom can around a few dozen times to drink as much cider as we could while playing frisbee and hitting catches while we waited a few hours for the opposition to turn up. We weren’t complaining, we expect this, like we expect only first names in the scorebook and enjoyed the sunshine and the banter -but it would have been great to have more than one mangey drinking vessel between the 12 of us (TFC Robbie!!). So sometime between 3-4 the pootle-along-streeters arrived in dribs n drabs and the bare skin started to turn into a more respectable and less camp white/stained cream (except for Alex who kept wearing THAT cowboy beauty), and at some point a good number of pint glasses arrived which allowed for a more appropriate pace of drinking for all players and spectators. The commencement was imminent when the young man from the estate growled in on his quad bike with locks flowing and buxom young feline on his arm. We either won or lost the toss and batted first on a spongey wicket with a firm and fastish outfield.
We were all surprised to see that it wasn’t the usual athletic Mark (who became Martin after 20minutes) steaming in down the hill trying to fling the ball like it was a broken tractor hub, but two young men who only a few years ago were young boys not able to bowl very well. That’s one of the problems we find these days, some of the teams who may have had weaknesses in the past with many youngsters are now turning into stronger, more capable teams with strapping men who can hurl and smash accordingly…eek! Anyway, Biffo went early for a heftily finable top 6 duck playing late on a quickish full delivery. Del and Jerry then set out to stabilise the ship and built up a solid 2nd wicket partnership of 100. Jerry fell for 41 bowled by the young gun Tommy after doing all the hard work (did it bounce twice?) which brought Alex to the crease. Al didn’t last long though, after a nice paddle round the corner for a couple, mighty mouse Tommy struck again with a straightening (again double bouncer?) delivery that Al played/missed cringeworthily across the line and was given lbw by Line with a grin (only stirring!). That brought Terry (shadoooow!!) Burgess to the crease. This fixture has real significance for the shadoooow as it is the very ground of his maiden ton back in 1896 so he always likes batting here. The shadow and the scum then built a good partnership of 60 before the scum (85) attempted a hoik but missed and was cleaned up by the Ron Weasley lookalike who opened from the top end instead of Martin. Martin did have a stint from both ends though, never really finding his rhythm but managing to wind himself up enormously (both physically and mentally-he kept ranting about something to do with being in the pub at 10.35 the night before -and bowling no balls) as the scum and the shadow stroked and placed his best attempts all over the place. In one delightful passage of play, he failed to realise the potential of bowling just short of a length (after beating the scum a number of times there) and proceeded to bowl half volleys as fast as he could, each being punched down the ground into the hedge. One of these off-drives managed to win the PSM for the day amongst a strong field of contenders. Three of those contenders came soon after, with Dave running himself out in comical fashion, Ricky was bowled after swinging full stretch to a ball a full 2 seconds before it arrived and Alan letting his bat be peed on by the dog that floats about the pitch all day. In the end the TMGs finished with a very respectable 9-205 off their allotted 35 overs in an innings that seemed to last about 4 hours with a 25 minute drinks break in the middle. The sharp young opener Jake (2-22) and Lil Tommy gun (3-27) gave some respectability to the home side’s scorecard but surely they couldn’t chase that down? The cider barrel was about 2/5 down.
The usual standout tea of the year (Thai green curry and cake) was nowhere to be seen. This had us restless and disappointed until we staggered over to the shaded table that usually houses it to fill our plates with delightful sandwiches, cakes and more cider. My mouth was dry at this point, there was no water.
Our defence started fantastically well. We were well lubricated with cider, Dave was his usual awesomeness (4-6) and Ricky (2-10 including 3 maidens in a row) was bowling his bamboozling ‘half cutters’ and humouring all to great effect. He even managed to dismiss Nico in the same comical way that he had been done over. The pootlers were on the ropes, 5-17 in the 12th over with all star batsmen gone – we had them sunk. Then out of nowhere, a series of fascinating events unfolded.
1) Martin, our friendly neighbourhood half volley bowler came out to umpire, bringing with him a seemingly unlimited supply of the 7% nectar frequently topped up by his young son and sharing it joyfully with us. Is was a great precursor to the following events which we were now able to watch in a slightly inebriated stupor.
2) Tim entered the crease and battered all and sundry including poor Ibu (1-42 off 3) for a spectacular 79 in about 8 overs.
3) Colin the opener (the man who’d cocooned himself for the first 12 overs and was at this point on 7 off 30 including a run of 24 dot balls) exploded into action with some fantastically apt agricultural strokeplay, his run only ending when Dave the overlord Day came on to finish what the rest of us couldn’t.
4) After some interesting shotmaking and connecting by the tail the pootlers collapsed and rolled over nicely for an entertaining and respectable 163 to allow an almost reasonable finishing time of 7pm.
5) We all shook hands in good spirit, giggling and came off the field to discover that the enormous barrel of cider, the one that we never get close to finishing in a single match, was no more.
We’d won, and the cider cup challenge had been conquered. A thoroughly enjoyable day of eccentric and all round agricultural outdoor delights had ensued. The only question remained: should we get more cider on the way home?
PSM winner Del (shown here wearing THAT cowboy beauty) for his full flowing drive down the hill off Martin the halfvolleybowla.