Tuesday, 24 March 2020

The Away Game Convoy

A trip to another club might happen early in your club career, or it could even be your first match. It normally involves a flustered captain trying to marshal the troops as eleven bedraggled souls enter the car park one by one. That is, if the skipper is lucky. The meet time for an away game is often under or over done by a good hour. Sometimes a 5-mile trip will involve a meet at 11.30am for a 1.30pm start, whereas I have known of clubs travelling the distance of the county and meeting at 12.00pm. In my experience, this ends badly...

Convoy Leader...
Every club in the world has the following within their ranks:

Mark Thatcher – named after the ex-Prime Minister’s son who famously got lost in the Sahara Desert, most sides have an individual who always pretends that he knows where he’s going. In reality he doesn’t have a clue. Never, ever let this man lead the convoy as he will reduce your warm-up and stretching time. He has been responsible for many an opening bowler’s torn hamstring.

Mark Thatcher Mark Two – this guy will get the name of the venue that you’re due to visit wrong, taking you completely to the wrong place. Three gentlemen at our club went to a ground at Batchworth once instead of Datchworth, a mere 25 miles away. Ex-England cricketer Chris Lewis once ended up in Newport in South Wales instead of Newport in Shropshire where an England training camp was taking place. This was no fewer than 150 miles in the wrong direction.

Ayrton Senna – his last words on leaving the clubhouse will be, ‘I know where it is lads, just follow me.’ It’s at this point that, instead of leading the convoy, he jumps the lights outside your club and tears off into the distance at great speed, leaving three or four cars behind him stuck at a red light, without a clue where they are going.

"I'll lead the way...."

The Rip van Winkle – 15 minutes after the meet time this man is woken by a telephone call from his screeching skipper demanding to know where he is. Often this’ll be a man who doesn’t drive or is so hungover that he couldn’t possibly get into his car. Faced with the option of going with ten men, the skipper has no choice but to wait for him at the club, meaning that the whole team turn up late for the game.

The Fat Bastard – despite you running horrendously late for your away game, this bloke knows he isn’t going to get fed until tea. He therefore punctuates his journey with a visit to the drive-through of a well-known fast-food chain. This again causes lateness, which means further stress and anxiety for your skipper.

The People Carrier – many a clubbie in lower XIs is picked due to the fact that he has a big car. No matter what his form is like, the fact that he has a seven-seat people carrier and can get kit into his automobile means his place in the side is safe.

The Snail – despite running late due to a Rip van Winkle, this man has no concept of urgency. The scenic route or taking a highway full of roadworks is his usual method of travel and will still drive at 28mph despite the skipper urging him to put his pedal to the metal.

The Tearaway – often a youngster who has just passed his driving test, this man is the antithesis of the Snail. Terrifying his passengers, the last thing they want to do is play cricket after a journey with this chap. One of my ex-team mates once threatened to fight ‘a tearaway’ after he clocked 140mph on the A1 on the way back from a game.

The Clueless Skipper – this is a man without any concept of a major event taking place en route to your game. A game in West London will always involve a quick look to see if any football match is taking place at Wembley, or, for a visit to a Hertfordshire ground, you’ll need to see if a concert is taking place at Knebworth House. Needless to say, this guy’s blood pressure went through the roof as eleven of us tried to navigate our way through 100,000 people going to an Oasis gig back in the 1990s.

The Alzheimer’s Skipper – as a 12-year-old, I was a scorer for a club in North London. Imagine my sheer panic when I suddenly looked around the opposition clubhouse and found out that my team had all left without me. My mother, who was due to pick me up from the home clubhouse, was none-too-impressed either when all of the cars returned back there sans me. A phone call was made from the club in question to our club and things were sorted out. Luckily, the chairman of the club offered to pay for a taxi, which he kindly did, but not before the skipper received a major bollocking for leaving a kid behind.

The introduction of satnav systems have helped the club cricketer vastly in this regard, but they can’t eradicate lateness. Do yourself and your skipper a favour and arrive 5 minutes earlier than the meet time. Your place in the batting order might depend on it.

The above is a free chapter from The Definitive Guide to Club Cricket. Your copy can be ordered here...

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