TWILC enjoyed a final game of the season at the fortress that is Wallace Park, watching the 2s take on and defeat Waringstown, before retiring to enjoy the banter at the end of season do in the Cecil Walker pavilion in the evening.

The final second XI game of the season was scheduled to take place in an atmosphere of general good nature and craic, with nothing much to play for, and an agreement that lots would be drawn for the batting order (apart from the first 2 who had been promised another attempt at building an imposing partnership that they had promised the week before when Boothers was triggered in the first over – more on this later). However, what wasn’t part of the script was the unseemly spat that was developing between 2nd XI skipper David “Slim” Graham and opening bowler Callum “not so slim” Atkinson. The editorial team here at TWILC are unaware of the backdrop to this particular differential in views, but threats were being bandied about at the start of the proceedings that Not So Slim (NSS) would not be opening the bowling because of his “shocking attitude”. With the name of injured 2nd XI stalwart Glenn Halliday also being introduced to the mix with the same tag from Slim (S) there was a danger of mutiny when NSS got the word that he may be denied the opening cherry from S. Indeed, some fairly colourful language was employed by both NSS and S but thankfully older and wiser heads intervened in the dispute, NSS and S kissed and made up, and NSS got to open up after all, and, it must be remarked, bowled rather well. Having being somewhat below par for some of this season, it was refreshing to see NSS back in the groove as he caused problems for both openers before removing the one who was at least 2 foot shorter than the other, surely one of the biggest height differences in a batting partnership since big Dado Pierso was playing at the Burn and was batting with, well, just about anybody.

Anyway, we managed to dismiss Waringstown for just 181, but not before a few notable efforts were spotted in the field. It was abundantly clear that young Peter “Doaky” Ferguson’s home had been burgled the night before and the thieves had made away with his hands, as he dropped one at square leg before bungling a run out opportunity all inside the first 10 overs. Thankfully the thieves must have had a conscience and brought them back to the ground at drinks, as he was much better after the 25th over. NSS obviously needs to pay a swift and urgent visit to Brogans in the town as he must surely have been unable to see which wicket we were playing on in relation to his throws to the keeper from third man. By keeper I should more accurately say square leg or midwicket, as this was were 3 consecutive efforts from him ended up. Meanwhile, the normally rather decent fielder Glassy produced a moment of comedy when attempting a run out. He made quite a good stop at backward point, got on his feet quickly to ping his throw in over the sticks (a manoeuvre which, if he had properly effected it, would have led to a run out) but only managed to almost remove his big toe as his throw went almost straight into the hallowed turf a few feet in front of him and not even reaching a grinning Ellers, although quite what he was grinning at after grassing an absolute dolly off NSS earlier on only he will know! Right, thats half the team assassinated, where next? Well, to be fair, there was some rather good fielding on show as well, the highlight being Dingle’s chase, turn and throw that led to a run out, his cannon from long off to the keeper being well worth the admission money in itself (admission was free naturally).

Tea was then taken and what a marvellous effort it was. An array of sandwiches, baps, sausage rolls, chicken goujons, spring rolls, cakes and buns were all perfectly presented by the resplendent Mrs S, Lesley outdoing herself on this occasion on a tea that earned rave reviews from players, umpires and even (yep, I jest thee not) one Mr S Murphy, our scorer for the day. It has to be said that the chicken baps prepared by Lesley were outstanding, but then again, most of the guys at the club have always been big fans of Lesley’s baps.

At tea, the draw was also made for batting order and it produced some tension and excitement. Glassy and Dingle junior, two individuals who have been hovering around the basement in terms of opportunities to shine with the bat naturally drew 10 and 11, but in a rare moment of generosity, Dingle senior and the Noo swapped their prized 3 and 4 slots with them to allow them a dig up the order. However, with Boothers and the editor in the opening slot and promises of a big stand in place, the rest of the order was going to be academic, surely. One ball into our innings, it wasn’t. Now in my defence (or lack of it) the ball I received from Stoker was a beauty (well, straight anyway) and I probably hadn’t quite fully digested Lesley’s baps but either way, after one ball the scoreboard read 0-1, the umpire was doing repair work to the stumps, and after carrying my bat last week, I was on my way back to the showers to the rather obvious sniggering from my ever so sympathetic teammates just about audible as I made my doleful way into the changing rooms. By the time I had showered no less than 4 of my teammates had filed back past my superbly honed naked visage (thats how the Mrs describes it anyway) and we were 19-5 in the 6th over and the Waringstown supporters were starting their cars (strictly speaking HE was starting HIS car). The experiment with drawing lots, an attempt to allow some of the boys who hadn’t had much of a dig this year have a chance in the middle, worked well, didn’t it……

However, Boothers was a man on a mission. After several weeks (actually, probably months) of having a face like a Lurgan Spade (some of his teammates opined that he must by now be in the Guinness book of World Records for the longest ever menstruation) when being given a double digit batting slot, and then being shot last week when finally getting the chance to shine, this was the day when he wasn’t going to pass up the chance to show us just what a superbly elegant batsman the Ulster Star say he is. Credit where it is due, as the geeza from Ballmouf batted very well for his 82* and, in tandem with S and cymbals Elliott, he saw his side to the brink of the win before losing the latter. That allowed Dingle Major to come to the crease and permitted the decent crowd that had amassed the chance of some frivolity. Unaware that in his front pad the mobile phone of club CDO Ryan Ervine had been secreted, Dingle took guard and as he was about to face, Simmo gave him a wee tinkle. But ever the professional, Dingle didn’t allow himself to be distracted (either that or the feckin phone was on silent) and saw his side home to the 4 points shortly thereafter.

Talking of Simmo, our vice captain has got himself a wee doggy, Bailey. Older readers will recall that back in the 80s there was a very popular show on TV that gave viewers the opportunity to test their dog training skills with the assistance of the erstwhile and feared lady, Barbara Woodhouse. Simmo’s wee mutt is actually relatively well behaved for a 13 week old puppy, but on the odd occasion where he strayed from the straight and narrow, Simmo was quick to act in a manner that would have made the late, great Barbara seem fairly feeble and indecisive with canines. Employing a markedly different style to the lady in question (she used to say it was all about the tone of the voice, as opposed to what was actually said) Simmo went for the double whammy of tone and content in dealing with his pup, with his favourite method of chastisement being to resort to the frequent use of the vernacular every time Bailey appeared to be disobeying commands. In a way it rounded off the game quite well, as about 6 hours earlier NSS and S were involved in a fairly similar piece of dialogue as that which was employed by Simmo to Bailey, only on this occasion, the doggy actually appeared to give a stuff about what was being said and from Simmo’s perspective, it was job done. God help his teammates next year mind you if he becomes skipper………

Anyway, I digress, back to the action. As noted, Boothers and Berry saw the side home by 3 wickets, thus vindicating the approach of drawing lots that had earlier been under intense criticism from the older non playing members of the club. One person who missed out on all the fun and who could and should have been playing was one Richard McConkey who gave the worst excuse in the history of cricket in missing the game. In fact, it was scarcely believable and, in truth, just gay. He declined the invitation to play in the game, wait for it folks, because he wanted to spend a bit of time with his buddy, Ryan Ervine, who was leaving the next day to return to Zimbabwe. Are you for real, Conks? Hang your head in shame. If you had been walking your dog, going to B&Q for the afternoon, judging a sheep contest or indeed had come up with anything other than that excuse, you might have got away with it. But “doing stuff with Ryano” – give us a break son.

There then followed a short period of respite post game and pre end of season party to allow many to head home and get changed. With the skilfully negotiated drinks promotions kicking off at 8pm, a decent crowd was expected, but no-one prepared the editor for the shock that he received on arrival shortly after 830pm. Expecting to see the usual suspects all ensconced at the bar (and they were), I have to confess I was nearly one of the first casualties of the decision to close Lagan Valley A&E at 8pm when I turned round to see the 1st XI wicket keeper in the bar with pint in hand. Only kidding Deeko, it was great to see you in the pavilion!

The rest of the evening quickly degenerated as the boys were introduced firstly to Strawpedo (courtesy of the Elliotts) and then Jokers (courtesy of Lips). I got the hook from the Mrs at 1145 and had to bid my farewells, which at the time didn’t meet with my complete satisfaction but ranked as a helluva good decision at 7.30am the next morning when Lauren wouldn’t take no for an answer in terms of daddy taking her downstairs to make her breakfast and watch 12 consecutive episodes of Scooby Doo. Highlights, from what is an admittedly clouded memory include, in no particular order.

• James and his description of what he saw in the changing rooms and basement at the corresponding event in 2010
• Pammers and the new father’s description of his chances of adding to his family in the near future
• Joe informing Catko that he was “sh*te”, and “would not be getting a game for my midweek team next season”
• James McCallan’s red trousers
• Pammers and his description of James McCallan’s red trousers (or trunks as Pammers noted)
• Marcus Hylander trying it on with Duffers’ Mrs
• Duffers reaction to the above event
• Tolly and Scotty Brown’s polarised versions of events in relation to the latter adjuding the former leg before wicket at Bangor

All in all, it was a very good nights banter, and a superb bar take for the last weekend of the season at the Park. It wasn’t, however, the last of the cricket action as the next day South Antrim hockey club got final use of the square for their cricket sixes fun day. Normally this wouldn’t have made TWILC but for the first time in the columns history, we award the Jonty for action outside of the club. Fielding about 10 yards in from the shortened boundaries, our winner looked up as Browny, going for a 4th six, smashed one way up over his head. He ran back and was right on the rope when he pulled the hand out, caught it sort of sideways and over his head, kept his balance and took the grab one handed. It was a superb effort, easily the best catch I have witnessed all season, our Jonty for the week goes to Noisy Chris Redpath. This is TWILC, until next season, in the words of Scotty Brown……..OUT!

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