WHO ARE THE MEN OF FIELDS?
Garden Fields Cricket
Club - history
The Fish settles into
position to receive the next ball. His mind wanders to Manchester United’s
performance in the Premiership. Meanwhile, prowling cat-like at mid-on is the
Jonty Rhodes of Garden Fields CC, while fellow Scouser and Liverpool FC
fanatic, Tiny Tim (TT) is bowling. TT’s mind drifts to how many times in his
GFCC fielding career the lofted shot has found him circling under the ball like
a demented monkey, only to find the ball spinning like a gyroscope and
inexplicably popping out of his hands onto terra firma.
This is the pre-season
practice match 2009, when the Old Dads take on the Young Pups. Fish strikes the
ball into the air; to his relief it is heading straight for TT. He happily sets
off for a run comfortable in the knowledge that he’s picked the one fielder
with ‘Teflon’ hands. In horror, TT sees the gyroscope looming inexorably
towards him. He closes his eyes. He sticks out his Teflons. The ball makes
contact. His hands implode. His fingers close ..... and ..... fold over the
cherry. A massive cheer goes up. He claims his prize. TT’s first and only catch
for GFCC, even if it is against his fellow club members.
GFCC is a collection
of gentlemen, players and useful chaps whose children attend, or used to
attend, Garden Fields Primary School in St Albans, Hertfordshire, UK. The club
plays friendly evening matches of 20 overs a side against similar teams from St
Albans and Harpenden. Occasionally, the club ventures further afield for 40 over
matches, especially when on tour. Recently, the club celebrated its 25th
One of the many
traditions that has grown up during the life of the club is the ‘Jumper
Moment’. A relatively new member put it
“One of the first
things that struck me on joining GFCC was the Jumper Moment, which I stupidly
assumed was awarded for some achievement of cricketing prowess. The mottled
grey, heavy garment proved to be the ‘reward’ for anything
absurd/funny/embarrassing that happened during the game.”
“The greatest sin was
to wash The Jumper despite the fact that it had been lost in dog baskets,
walked on, splashed with beer and other noxious substances and had adorned
numerous sweaty torsos. One night, it transpired that The Messiah, our resident
police and crime prevention officer, had forgotten to convey this simple fact
to his wife. Upon seeing and smelling the state of The Jumper, she had washed
it, not once, but twice!”
“Having committed the
ultimate sin, The Messiah was put on trial at the Club Awards Dinner and
subjected to public humiliation.”
“The awarding of The
Jumper continues to be one of the great traditions of the Club.”
Another recent recruit
summed up the philosophy of GFCC like this:
“This is less memory,
but more about the principles. Since joining the Club in recent times, what has
impressed me most is the commitment and camaraderie of the players. The
longevity of association of some of the older players is quite staggering! This
is a club that is non-judgemental, extremely welcoming and, above all, fun!!
Anyway, enough of the sentiment.”
“My best memory is
announcing at a School Governors’ Meeting that The Young Pups had beaten The
Old Dads and getting a whoop of delight from headmistress, Terrie Clifft!”
provides the venue for the Club’s home ground. Here, the two cricket pitches
occupy what is surely one of the most stunning locations in the whole of
England. Nestling in a bowl surrounded by an extraordinary variety of mature trees,
the summer evening sun casts long shadows as it highlights the cathedral
backdrop to this amphitheatre that is just made for cricket. Nearby is the
Club’s ‘home’, The Six Bells, no less than 600 years old and serving a bevy of
real ales and lagers, accompanied by after the match platters of sausages and
The many memorable
tours to Highcliffe, Thetford (the most boring, yet violent – thanks to a
‘local’ by the name of Big Dave – town in England), and Menorca.
to La Manga, Provence and Le Touquet.
Charity Bike Ride.
mystery tour of London.
Awards Nights, including full multimedia coverage of the past seasons high and
low lights, and awards for everyone.
at Lords Test Matches.
pre-match Huddle, led by Big Al, most notably with the burning of the jos stick
and passing of the ball.
match reports covering every aspect of the game.
worthy of fuller account include:
first ball dismissal of TC.
Westy, the umpire
The scene is the 2007
away fixture vs. The Bittermen at Nomansland Common, Fields chasing. Westy
arrives in a taxi, half-cut after a day of Test Match at Lords. He proceeds to
roll around in the grass before the opportunity to umpire presents itself. He
dons the white coat and gives a magnificent display of gymnastics, pirouetting
on one leg to signal leg byes. MoF are seen home by the mighty trio of Wilks,
Turps and Shep.
Dexter’s first ball
dismissal of TC
Bomber settles into
his deck-chair for the start of the match. He glances up and utters the
unforgettable cry: “He’s starting his run-up from the boundary!” We all
redirect our eyes towards the dreadlocked Rastafarian Dexter as he turns to
commence his run.
Captain for the day,
Bomber immediately announces his demotion from batsmen no. 4 to 8. Jock, due in
at 3, frantically searches for our one and only helmet. Undeterred, TC, in at
no. 1, looks up to see the menacing Dexter, accelerating towards him with all
the loping rhythm of Michael Holding. TC braces himself as the ball pitches
short and arrows straight towards his vulnerable head. He swats ‘Bothamesque’,
misses the ball, loses his balance and promptly falls on his wicket.
bowling against STAGS
It was in a game
against STAGS that Stuntman’s aggression ended the days of GFCC’s reputation
for gentle cricket by breaking two of an opponent’s fingers, resulting in STAGS
refusing fixtures for a couple of years.
Bunty recounts his
early experiences of playing ..... well, nearly playing ..... for GFCC and his
off-the-field propensity towards self-inflicted injury:
“My first match for
GFCC, having just bought the full kit and gleaming in white as I strode up to
the pitch. TC suggested that we have a little catching practice. I stood up and
leant forward to catch the ball – ping! Torn calf muscle. Out for 4 weeks.”
“On return, my first
match in the field. Ball tonked towards me. Set off after it – ping! Calf
muscle gone again, this time good and proper. Carried off the pitch with
someone from the outfield shouting: ‘If he was an ‘orse they’d ‘ave ‘im put
down by now!’ Out for the rest of the season. Never been quite the same since.”
Recognition of the
Club’s contribution to national cricketing excellence was achieved by the
invitation proffered in to its President, founder and past captain, the
legendary TPO, to award the One Day International Trophy ODI. Coached by
England left armer, John Lever, and mentored by Trevor Bailey in his formative
years, nothing could quite match the aura of this moment. The scene was
Edgbaston, venue for England’s second One Day International Match against The
West Indies on 26 June, 2009. Upon completion of the match, TPO mounted the
podium alongside former England captain, ball-tamperer and Sky commentator,
Athers (Michael Atherton). Courtesy of NatWest, TPO had mysteriously won their
competition to award Matt Prior with the Man of the Match award, Stuart Broad
with the Man of the Series award and finally, narrowly avoiding a shower of
champagne, Andrew Strauss with the ODI Trophy.
The Don writes: “I
have many good memories of GFCC over its 25 years of existence. During this
time, the Club has evolved to become a well-structured and almost (well, not
quite) a sophisticated organisation. The culture has not changed significantly
thankfully and sometimes the cricket seems to be incidental! The most
significant moment amongst the many lows and highs is sadly the death of Westy,
following a brave battle with pancreatic cancer. What followed was inspiring
and uplifting, and has made the Club even closer-knit and more supportive than
ever. Westy will be remembered for many things, not least for being an
ambassador for the Club and bringing several of the more recent recruits into