A fantastic long summer with dry hot days, no games rained off, the fourth
League title on the trot and a new pavilion. That was 2003.
is said “a week is a long time in politics”; it has also been said that
“genius is pain”; it was also once noted that “the world was flat”; but
nothing compares to the outrageous statements made by a multitude of the members
of Wollaston 1st XI, when collectively we looked into the eyes of the
County League and declared “smoke my pole!”
once great Empire, this United Kingdom, united in a common goal of unity,
prosperity and peace, could not wish a better symbol than ten hairy men
declaring “come on keep it tight…Muff; lets see some quality…Muff;”
that in the corner of some foreign field that will be forever England, we will
rejoice to the memory of Harmit Bahra’s stunning interpretation of the letter
“r”. The nerve, the passion, the “total concentwation”.
was the gaiety of the lads in the First Team.
we dominated the “catch phrase” of the last season – but invention did not
stop at mere catchphrases. For a point of example note Matthew Jones’ first
draft script for “Cousins In
Love” (a six part steamy and passionate docu-soap, featuring the Jones
family….connecting to the Pike family…..that somehow touched on the Shelton
family……..which incredulously involves the Driver family……….)
on and off the pitch. And it is to the pitch, nay, field of play we must go, to
celebrate a year of ups and downs, of trail and retribution, of winners and
losers, of quality and something that is the complete opposite, of glory and
shame, of tears and laughter, of men and boys, of unremittingly boring clichés.
finished 4th this year!
handful of points from 3rd, tantalisingly close to 2nd,
and basically 2 wins away from top. Those two wins however, needed to be the two
defeats incurred by Irthlingborough and Desborough, but a mere fortnight apart.
conclusions we drew as a team were that we didn’t win because our record
against the top three was played 6, won 1, lost 5.
of the top three, we were far too strong for the rest of the league, having
proved that we could defeat (nay) thrash any other of the respective teams. But
it was close. We practically destroyed Kettering’s title hopes by beating them
at home, in mid season, when they were top of the division, leading to them
gaining a mere 3 points in their next three matches, while we took 36 to end up
over twenty points ahead at that stage. We could have settled for four points
against Irthlingborough and kept 2nd place, but went for the win to
challenge Desborough and came up short. And we sent shockwaves through the
“all-star” Desborough camp leaving them two wickets away from defeat at
Wollaston, with a stirring all round team performance.
effect, although we finished 4th, we were more in the title race (for
the first division) than we have been in years – at one point being 2nd
by 2 points!!!
reasons were: We bowled well. In fact, we bowled brilliantly.
The “Pike and Connan” package was in fact a dream ticket! John’s bowling has always been good, and many believe that he hasn’t been the luckiest of bowlers in the past, but alongside Jeff he had the perfect foil. With Jeff steaming in (only 70% fit) and giving no rest bite to the batsmen, John was able to benefit from more aggressive batting against him than in previous years. Also the mere combination force of the two 6 foot somethings’ was a joy to behold. Immediately looking for each other’s congratulations after each wicket, you got the sense they were bowling with and for each other!! Result: Pike 64 wickets, Connan 25 wickets.
Bahra did exactly what it says on the tin! By week five he had already got into
the county handbook with 21 wickets. Still the steadiest and most reliable of
first change bowlers in the league, the only times he didn’t contribute with
the ball were when Pike and Connon bowled through.
Perry got his best First Team figures at Overstone with 7 for 46, and proved all
year what a fine figure he cuts. It was encouraging to find that when he was
asked to bowl just one over to change the openers around,
he still adopted a professional approach to the over. Such intensity will
see him become a record breaking wicket taker in years to come. Other notable:
Andy Luck took a couple of fifers.
well………..notables included Matt Jones who returned from ‘Stralia, to
score 74, 36, 62 and 48 in his first four innings of the season. Matt’s form
suffered as the seasoned progressed, but he still won the averages. Nick Shelton
nearly sneaked them with two 50 not outs in the last two games…clever boy!
Simon Driver made his virgin 50…eventually, after scoring a couple of
mid-30’s and 48 at other times, but outside of this one only recalls the last
wicket heroics of Connan and Perry at home to Desborough, and similarly of Luck
and Connon at Irthlingborough.
Shelton summed the batting performance up this year at that very game.
“Wollaston will always be a batting club” he pronounced at 66 for 2, a few
overs later we were 99 for 8.
in the field: Fewer dropped catches than usual!! Smart fielding in general, a
standard that has to be met. Positions became permanent! Hudson in the covers,
Bahra at gully, Luck at slip, Jones at short leg (for devastating vocal effect).
of the year Harmit Bahra v Kettering, who plucked a full fronted square cut out
of the air to see off the 8th Kettering wicket.
that was a day. Bowled out for 89, the captain “elect” Marcus Shelton had to
plead with coach Neal Perry not to lambaste the team at tea. His fury was
matched only by the faces of pure resignation in the dressing room, as we
imagined a classic “early bath”. However a team emerged that mid-afternoon
with defiance and eagerness to just do something spectacular. It was there…it
really was, from the moment we took the field. Pike took a wicket early doors,
then two deliveries from Connan turned 32 for 2 to 32 for 4, and made our
season. The second wicket in two balls was the dismissal of Gareth Berg
(Kettering’s oversees star and week-in week-out match winner). Bowled with a
pace not seen all season, and stumps that rolled like Catherine wheels, spinning
and sparking across the square. Nick Shelton invited Berg back to check out the
devastation, blood pressures burst, Austin (Father) Shelton threw sausage rolls
in the air, while eleven men drew closer in embrace, and closer in spirit. 33
for 5, 45 for 6, 45 for 7, 52 for 8, 53 for 9……When the final wicket fell,
bowled Pike, caught Luck, voices were lost, foolish behaviour ensued and a real
challenging team was born.
dressing room rang to the sound of the “elephants dance” from Razzle’s
phone, every time we won, and that cheekiness and irreverence was carried from
bar to bar afterwards, as we celebrated wins and commiserated losses with equal
gusto. Team spirit has never known such heights!
In conclusion, a year to be very proud. A club that is marching forward, and one that has it’s pride based in mostly home grown talent, and also in the knowledge that the atmosphere is one of loyalty, camaraderie, and permanence, something that most other clubs now don’t have. And there is every chance that the players that took the field for the First Xl this year will do so for many to come. Watch this space!