In August 2002 – as famously announced on the Talksport lunchtime news – the Allstars headed west, to go on our maiden tour to Newquay. It was to be the making of us as a team – an epic and glorious odyssey, hewn of blood, sweat, tears, mackerel and fruity bitters, capped by our breakthrough victory against Trengilly Wartha – bringing us all together like never before. Club founder Maxie Allen tells the story …
The sun beats down on the tarmac as we disembark a foreign-looking plane in full official tour uniform. You’re probably thinking we’ve just landed from a long-haul flight to the tropics to begin our overseas tour – and you’d be right, as here we are arriving at Terminal 7 of Newquay International Airport, jet-lagged from our gruelling 45 minute journey. A long weekend of cricket, pasties and liver abuse lies ahead. On the right of the picture, a seemingly innocent looking family are making off with Roger’s luggage.
We gave long and careful consideration to our choice of tour outfit, and plumped for dark suits with red and black polyester club tie. In Tristan’s memorable words, we resembled the Reservoir Dogs bowls club.
With the Atlantic ocean behind us, resplendent in our new tour rugby shirts. This was taken in front of our wonderful hotel. This charming hostelry is perfect for any holiday makers, from young families to stag groups and retired couples. Perfect, that is, if you enjoy mouldy ceilings, rude staff, fire hazards, bed linen full of cigarette burns, and lavatories without either locks or soap.
Friday – the first full day of the tour – began with a boat trip fishing for mackerel along the west Cornish coast. Adam was to remain holding on to the rail for almost the entire journey.
Adam’s seasickness was a rich source of amusement for all on board. Luckily, Kieron’s maritime instincts guide us safely back to berth, where we feed our catch to the harbour’s resident seal. Isn’t he cute!
We finally got round to some cricket later in the afternoon, and here we are in the field against Seaview CC in Penryn. They were a very nice bunch of chaps, and decent players too, surviving Adam’s brilliant hat-trick – remarkably, the second of the 2002 season, following Paul Nicol’s on his Allstars debut against Rain Men – to post an impressive 19 over score of 165-7. Note my panther-like stance at mid-off.
Due to a supply problem with the isotonic drinks, our batsmen had to seek alternate refreshment as we prepared for our assault on the target. Sadly, although Adam, Tristan, and Mozza all got stuck in, we fell 42 runs short.
Our Saturday night gala dinner at the medieval-styled Meadery Restaurant was all this man’s work. The lads’ present to me – for months of painstaking work organising hotels, fixtures, travel and logistics – was…four bars of soap. This was a witty reference to my ongoing and increasing bloody battle with the hotel management.
There is no quarter given on any cricket tour, and 48 hours in, Roger is beginning to show the strain.
Sunday, and we arrive, hangovers in tow, at Trengilly Wartha CC in Constantine for the final match of our tour. Tristan falls for a duck in the first over, and eight balls later James Terrett completes his pair for the tour. The Allstars are now 0-2 and in big trouble.
Can’t remember what was going on at the precise moment this was taken, but it’s still a chance to admire Trengilly’s charming and deeply rural ground.
Fats and Adam begin to repair the damage with a third wicket partnership of 37. Thanks to Mozza’s 67, an impressive knock after little sleep – having taken time out of the tour to attend a wedding the previous day – and Dolphin’s tremendous 9, we somehow post 149 all out.
Tristan, Mozza and Adam then bowl like demons – backed up by Chris’s gloves like flypaper behind the stumps – to reduce Trengilly to 56-6. But then the Trengilly lower order resistance begins. After a nervous start, Garreth chips in with the seventh, well caught by Adam at point – but the eighth wicket pair take them to 117, and the game looks gone before Tristan returns to make a crucial breakthrough. In a nerve-wracking climax, he strikes twice more – finishing with 6-37 – as we scrape home by 14 runs. The fall of the final wicket, which brings us victory, is the greatest moment of my cricketing life.
Heroes to a man. Gracious in defeat, magnanimous in victory. We did it!
Monday morning, and time for the radio producers among us to catch up on the papers.
The pressures of leadership and four days on the fruity were now clearly taking their toll. If I ever get kidnapped, this is the photo I’d like them to use on the news.
Back at Stansted, where a staff shortage crisis leads to a 90 minute wait for our luggage. And so our tour ends on a note of disorganisation, bickering and chaos. Rather fitting, really.