Rewind to … 2003 – Isle of Wight Delights

Buoyed by the success of our maiden tour to Newquay, the Allstars entered 2003 on a new wave of enthusiasm. It was to be the most successful season in our club’s history – with Tristan Haddow-Allen carrying all before him with a club record 925 runs, we won ten and drew two of our twenty games. That year, our tour took us to the Isle of Wight – another fabulous weekend of fun and merriment, and a fine innings by Dave Halladay taking us to victory for a second tour in succession. Club founder Maxie Allen tells the story …

The 2003 tour party. (Back row, l-r) Nick Jones, Jason Nixon, Chris Gould, Tristan Haddow-Allen; (middle) Roger Pordes, Dave Halladay, Maxie Haddow-Allen; (front row) James Devlin, Kieron Dolphin, Adam Clements, James Terrett, Mike Bovill, and, er, Les from Lake Cars.

Eleven months after our visit to Newquay, the team doctors ruled that our livers had healed well enough, and our digestive systems sufficiently cleansed themselves of pasties, to allow us to embark on a second summer tour.

Tristan and Boves prepare to board the train from Ryde to our tour base in Shanklin. Enthusiasts of rolling stock – of which the Allstars have many – will be interested to learn that the Isle of Wight Railway use converted tube carriages. Uncharacteristically, I failed to fall asleep on them and end up in Seven Sisters.

The seven-strong advance party, shortly to be joined by Dolphin, arrive in Shanklin. The excited reaction of the town’s residents is evident here in the total absence of ticker-tape parades, firework displays, or a welcome party of local dignitaries.

The early part of Friday was spent in our traditional pre-match warm-up routine: mini-golf, Bowlingo and ice cream. Then it was off to Porchfield CC for that evening’s 20 over a side contest against what proved to be rather strong opposition. Despite the smiling faces, we got a good kicking.

Our innings was not an unalloyed success. With Tristan among the early victims as we declined to 9-3, James Terrett bravely counter-attacked with a robust 28, although Porchfield seemed to have divined the limits of his shot-selection when they posted three fielders on the midwicket boundary. Our all-out total of 95 was at least 40 below par.

The familiar sight of the umpire signalling a wide, as we struggle to contain Porchfield’s batsmen. Our hopes were briefly raised when a couple of quick wickets ushered to the crease an unremarkable looking young kid in helmet. No problem here, we thought. Ironically named A. Ringer, he proceeded to top score with 40 and lead his side to an eight-wicket victory.

Standing: Dave Halladay, Mike Bovill, Jason Nixon, Chris Gould, Nick Jones, Roger Pordes, Tom Everest (scorer). Sitting: Tristan Haddow-Allen, James Terrett, Maxie Haddow-Allen, James Devlin, Kieron Dolphin.

Our base for three of the four nights in Shanklin was the Melbourne-Ardenlea – very nice and thoroughly recommended. Here we are relaxing on the bar patio.

Boves can’t bear to watch as the epic Dolphin-Pordes table-tennis clash reaches a searing climax – and proves just how far the Chinese squad will need to raise their game ahead of the next Olympics. Despite the use of a real, hard, table-tennis ball, Kieron has bravely opted to eschew his usual protective equipment of helmet and plate-metal armour.

The annual Saturday night gala dinner – although judging by his choice of shirt, James ‘One Dart’ Devlin appears to have been expecting to perform at the Lakeside, Frimley Green.

It’s one thing to be sledged by the oppo, another by your own team-mates; on this tour, I was sledged by the cab driver. As a reward for dubbing me ‘Captain Mainwairing’, we break the Allstars transfer record to make Les our first overseas signing, and present him with one of our famous tour shirts. Les was held in such high esteem, his photo was to feature on the delightful paper plates which were presented to 2003’s Allstars of the Year.

After electing to bat first our innings seemed in ruins at 44-5, only for Dave Halladay to transform our fortunes with an imperious and unbeaten 89. With strong support from the tail, we make it to 177.

Brearley and Jardine reborn: Boves and Devers team up as joint captains and take turns to order me from fine leg to fine leg. When everyone stops laughing, we get our heads down to pull off one of our finest ever displays in the field. With Tristan bowling brilliantly, and everyone holding their catches, we chip away the Brading wickets to dismiss them for 128 and win by 49 runs.

Back to the hotel bar for the final evening of the tour, and Boves and I are the last survivors – linking up with a few locals for a sophisticated night of 21s, table tennis and real ale.

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