Something to be proud of: the Village Cricket Club of St Margaret and St Bernard (St Bernard was her dog)* celebrates its fifteenth anniversary this year. As one of my fellow-founders said on Saturday evening, he has spent his life doing things of which he can't always be proud, but bringing this club into being and navigating it through its various crises of playing staff, fixtures and political decisions about whether to play league or friendly cricket has been and remains a source of great pride. One observation made by a non-cricketing member was that the current crop of young(ish!) people at the core of the club love it every bit as much as we did fifteen years ago when we first started, living, breathing and talking non-stop nonsense about cricket from about February through to September. It ought to be kept in mind that through the first couple of years, we didn't really win any games. And on some occasions we got thoroughly, utterly humped. But we didn't care, and by Tuesday we were discussing the next match on email. Either that, or trying to figure out the highest prime-numbered bus routes in London. Inevitably, we would be dreadful the following weekend, but that never seemed to put us off.
Now, in the capable hands of someone capable, my old cricket club wins more of its games than it loses. In some sense, that is a dereliction of the original point of the enterprise, but winning or losing was never that high on the agenda, mostly because the result was never in doubt. But now, just as then, Thursday afternoon is spent sending various emails, ringing round likely (or in the early days, less likely!) candidates for filling that tenth or eleventh berth in the team. There is still endless talk of statistics, repeats of stories about legendary tour incidents - Morgans' shower or Frankie's Chip Van from the early days, this year they went on (cricket) tour to Montenegro! - and the even more legendary missing scorebook from the first two seasons. Of course, I took 50 wickets at about 6 apiece and made 1000 runs in each of those two seasons. In my own head, at least!
Some folk - who tend, for whatever reason, to be of the lefty, liberal political persuasion - don't do pride. That is as distinct from those of the more righty, illiberal persuasion who don't do Pride, of course... I think it's possible to do both, as it happens. It can be immensely difficult to be proud of the good stuff, because it's distinctly British to be modest, but also because for most of us the bad stuff outweighs the good stuff. The Village CC is something of which I can be proud to have been a part. It still gets it right: cricket is about larking around on the field, the social event, the endless inane banter. The glue that binds a bunch of people together, not just a game but a way of life. In a few years' time, the first VCC children will don the ridiculous white uniform of the 22-person rain dance that is cricket on a Saturday afternoon, and we can only hope that they will not be led too far astray by the current crop of Villagers, whoever that turns out to be. So, thank you to those people who have and continue to put in the immense effort it takes to get a cricket club working, and to everyone who has been a part of it since the beginning.
*I think I have that right. The VCC constitution also includes the 'right to bare arms' joke. Among others.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought