Match report - vs Halperby CC, 23rd April, 2022.

Written by Andy Wood

Matt Hatherly today sits a broken man. With the Tory generated cost of living crisis adding to the not inconsiderable financial burden of a recent second child, the Wetherby dasher was already wondering if his decision to reject overtures from the big leagues (“Come and have £50 per game”), to stay loyal to Sicklinghall (“Come and give us £7.50 per game and do some bloody umpiring!”) was the right one! He’d brought in his dad to do some home improvements. That should save a few quid at least. For a moment he’d also considered accepting a rare benefit of Brexit in the form of increasing his hours with Morrisons to include some lorry driving to the continent. There’s a shortage of lorry drivers for some reason you know. Preferring not to sit in a traffic jam for 4 days at a time and crap in his own cabin though ..... he’d reluctantly ruled that out.

His plan was therefore to shop window himself in the first game ...... an unbeaten hundred should do it ..... and then take one of the offers that would surely flood in before the transfer window closes. As he made his sorry way back to the tent though following his feeble 19 in the season’s curtain raiser, the crowd just looked at their feet ..... and the phone wasn’t ringing! It would have to be scrag end for tea again.

Yes it was indeed the season opener on Saturday and for the brave boys of Sicklinghall it was a new adventure in a new league. Driving through the gates of Helperby CC no-one wondered if the right choice had been made, but if they had, seeing the beautiful scenic ground with the added bonus of the Hambletons and the White Horse in the background, would have soon put paid to that ...... and of course the club had finally ridded itself of the Ryko brothers! (Only joking, many of the lads are still crying themselves to sleep on a night!!)

The fabulous vista made Rast wish he’d taken his painting more seriously when he was recently gifted a set of paints and brushes. He could have set up his easel and done that instead. Having witnessed his feeble batting many team mates soon wished he had!

Anyway it was a case of new faces and old faces as the boys gathered on Saturday. Kev who joined late last season had volunteered for more punishment and Sharkey’s mate Ben had joined to show his talents .... and to keep Sharkey’s temper in check. Unlucky Ben was missing the opener alongside Cleggy and veteran Chairman Zai. In order to ensure that the average age remained over 50 though, here was Quirkey, back as captain to see if the clock could wind back to the glory days of the 90s. (Sorry mate, that only happens in Back to the Future). To be fair to Quirkey though he was looking fit. Just a shame about the ripped shoulder tendons, caused by thinking he’s 28 instead of 58, playing football. Obviously there would be plenty of sympathy on show .... demonstrated later as 10 team mates merrily watched him single handedly (and quarter shoulderedly) struggle to push a 3 ton sightscreen!

The new skipper was soon back into the way of things though as he lost the toss and we were asked to all go out together. But now the first crisis as stand in keeper Matt had no inners to protect his precious pinkies. Concern was etched on his strained face and with the prospect of facing 52mph Exocets from Rast ..... why wouldn’t it be? Eventually though disaster was averted when some ancient medicinal hosiery (rotting tubigrip) was discovered at the bottom of a bag and adapted into a pair of handy little mittens. Sorted!

Time now for muscles to pull, backs to jar and fun to begin, as Sharkey kicked off proceedings down the hill, assisted by what can only be described as a hurricane. As the over ended uneventfully 53 year old Rast spared a thought for the poor sap who would have to bowl into the typhoon (seems there WAS another description). As a grinning Quirkey approached him though, ball in hand, his heart sank. Had no-one seen the woeful post COVID efforts of last September??

But time it seems is a great healer and before long he was soon back to the tight, wicketless trundling of pre-pandemic days and thanks to 2 months off the crisps and takeaways, was even up to a second spell. Before that though it was time for Northern Ireland’s finest sportsman (since Georgie Best shuffled off anyway), to strut his funky stuff, as Steve had a go up the hill. As if it wasn’t already hard enough, with 3 extra balls in his first over, he decided that he’d properly test himself. Collapsing at the end of it ..... he failed the test!

Ginger Brett Anderson had now replaced Sharkey and almost immediately the colossal sightscreen behind him crashed to the floor. The jury is still out as to whether it was the howling gale or Leo’s armpits that were to blame. Anyway it was he who finally made the breakthrough, skittling the oppo opener. Again in true Sicklinghall style, 4 catches had already been shelled by this point and the Suede frontman was not best pleased.

With one wicket finally taken, more now fell at regular intervals, with Brett, Irish Steve, Rast and Sharkey all in the wickets. Steve beautifully demonstrated how much better fielders are off their own bowling, by leaping horizontally through the air to claim a one handed caught and bowled ..... and irreparably damage the outside wicket on Helperby’s square.

There was still time in the innings to see 14 year old Callum roar in down the hill and make Matt stand a yard further back than he had for Sharkey. The voice has dropped, the brakes are off and the tear away teenager is already 10 mph speedier than his dad ever was! Matt’s pinkies were taking a bruising by now, but luckily he didn’t complain once about it ...... mainly because he was too busy complaining that the insides of his upper arms were rubbing on his trousers as he crouched ..... and were getting sore!

Thankfully the 40th and final over was soon done and the brave keeper could head for the Sudocreme, while his mates headed for their copious food bags! Opper’s food bag was something to behold and while it’s true it was feeding two, it contained more pies than an over from Aayan Siddiqui (so 7 pies) and more crisps than aisle 14 in Morrisons. Sheer gluttony! The excuse? ........ “We didn’t have any bread!”

So with the hog munching finally over it was time for Matt and Rich to look to chase down 137. This is Sicklinghall and it could end up 137 without loss or 37 without hope! The rest of the boys flocked out to watch, but soon flocked back in as the tornado was still blowing, but the temperature had now dropped to single figures ..... Fahrenheit!! Poor Kev was still trying to eat his sarny in between his teeth chattering.

Also unfortunate were Quirkey and Sharkey who in these days of division 4 had drawn the short straws for umpiring. Thankfully for Sharkey Matt’s careless demise and Rast’s aged sh*tness, meant he could soon head back to get warm and pad up.

Out on the field now Rich and Opper we’re making the dismissed pair look even more inept as they put on a chanceless stand, easing towards the target. Cover drives, leg glances, backward cuts and a few slogs, were all on display as the batters showed that not everyone over 40 loses the ability to wield the willow.

Irish Steve and Rast were also out in the middle putting on a display of such umpiring magnificence, that the watching purists would surely be cooing about .... had they given a sh*t. This bromance of officialdom was only disturbed when Quirkey came running back on begging to umpire “as it was warmer in the middle”.

Meanwhile with just 10 to win Opper decided that he wanted to ensure red ink, so walked off to “go to a party”. An only just thawed out Sharkey was thus left to head back out and club the winning runs, with Rich walking off with him on 44 not out.

Back in the tent a frosty looking Quirkey complained for the final time about the icy temperature ...... while changing into shorts and T-shirt! If he really wanted to see cold he need only look in the direction of scorers Nessie and Ali. They each had 16 layers on but were still literally unable to move at the end of the game until Willie had fetched his blowlamp and an ice pick from the car.

A great start to the season anyway and as everyone made for a refreshing beer / lemonade / bovril, there were smiles all round ..... except for poor red armed Matt, who had just taken a call from Leanne to say that his dad had wrecked the house and she was spending the night in the Leeds Hilton ..... and HE was paying!