Captains Blog

And Now The End Is Near...

posted 24 Sep 2016, 10:59 by Mike Madden

The season stumbled to a close with contrasting fortunes for Whaley Bridge 1sts and 2nds. The firsts needed two good results to stay up, and when they lost to Dinting, having bowled themselves into a winning position, it was a mortal blow to their survival chances, The following week it was a tall task to restrict Old Glossop to no more than four points whilst taking the maximum themselves. The writing was certainly on the wall when they lost the toss and batted first, and the ink was dried on their relegation when they were all out for just 65.

The seconds hosted champions elect Hazel Grove, and once again we put out a somewhat makeshift side. We had just 8 men as start time approached, and the visitors were licking their lips as they sought the six points required to secure their championship. Hang on though, the umpire was Nick Latham, a Whaley Bridge player, and so he was called in to action. Next up was Jack, a willing junior who also donned Whaley whites. We had no hesitation in batting first, and Grove were happy in the collusion. The two ageing openers were soon dismissed, but Ole Madden and Jack gradually rebuilt the innings. Jack fell for a patient 20, which brought our ebullient captain to the crease. Ole went for 45, whilst Tommo finished unbeaten on 65, taking us to a remarkable 166-6. We had made a game of it, and Grove had gained three of their six points. Batting leader Andy Oldfield set about getting the other three in his usual belligerent style, until Colin skittled him for 25. Ole Madden took a simple return catch, then a run out got the home side thinking of more than just making up the numbers. Ole struck again, then Jack got the wicket that his two spells deserved as Hazel Grove wobbled. Councillor Lomax was called into action, and he wibbled and wobbled the ball to great amusement. The batsmen were happy to chase wides, but at David's pace that is not always a wise move, and Grove's main chance of victory, opener Cooky, fell doing just that. David cursed as the ball headed for first slip, and the batsman's eyes lit up as the bowler stumbled to the ground. The ferocious drive lodged in the falling bowler's hand, and that was that! Tom Heyes bowled impressively, taking a wicket to set up a thrilling last over. 11 were required to win, and Ole had the ball. The first delivery went to the boundary, so it was seven off 5, but the next four balls yielded just 2 runs. With four needed for a tie the batsmen understandably panicked, and a run out gave Whaley Bridge a four run victory, whilst Hazel Grove deservedly claimed the title with six points, as well as the demise of Hollingworth at High Lane.

The seconds finished the season at Offerton, in an encounter that veered towards farce on several occasions. Offerton are clearly struggling to maintain their ground, suffering more than most from the recent downpour. Whaley had no doubt that Offerton should bat first, and slow progress was not helped by long grass that prevented many shots that deserved four from getting anywhere near to the boundary. A sure fire six landed a matter of inches inside the rope, but rather than bounce over for four it plugged, and the batsmen ran a single. A couple of chaotic run outs helped the cause, with Tom Heyes particularly impressive in the field. Then came the news, the 11th Offerton player had not turned up. Worse, he was bringing the teas. So, the resourceful Offerton skipper headed for Aldi to provide sustenance for the interval. Aldi had clearly run out of butter as dry cheese sandwiches were accompanied by various quiches, though the fresh cream cakes were a joy to behold. The pitch had proved challenging, but Offerton had still progressed to 173-8, and we would need a good start. The next piece of bad news was that the roller was nowhere to be scene. Looking at the wicket this was hardly a surprise, then Fid and Colin located it in an outhouse. Sadly, it could not turn the strip into the road that we required, and we were soon in trouble. Lomax, Madden, and Madden were all back in the pavilion with not too many on the board. Thompson provided the only resistance with 40, though Colin did get a notable 15. Russ Wild got an even more notable first baller, and so brought an ignominious end to a season in which we secured 6th position with our first point of the day.

So what does the future hold? Offerton will surely live to fight another day, their problems are nothing that a mower and a roller can't fix, and we finished the game as all games should be, chatting rubbish about cricket and related subjects with the opposition over a very pleasant beer. The league are planning to visit clubs who will be required to hold a player's meeting. Bowling restrictions in first team cricket and a reduction to 40 overs in second team cricket are rumoured, but will this be enough to save our noble game? There are at least four clubs that must be scratching their heads, wondering how they can possibly compete next season, and we all know who they are. All of them have failed to fulfil at least one league fixture this season, so their answers to the recent survey are possibly the most relevant. Less so are the views of those who actually have genuine selection headaches every week, but it only takes one fallout, one run of poor results, one key player to pack it all in to throw other clubs into the turmoil.

I await the outcome of the next couple of months with interest and genuine concern.

Something Is Rotten In The State Of Denmark

posted 3 Aug 2016, 12:25 by Mike Madden   [ updated 12 Sep 2016, 08:57 ]

Well, maybe not Denmark, but there are plenty of Hamlets out there that are really struggling within the auspices of the DCCL.

Last weekend emphasised the problem, with Chapel seconds not being able to field a team, and Buxworth turning out with eight men. Both cited YNot as the problem, and before we at Whaley Bridge tut too loudly we should reflect on the fact that we had a bye this week, otherwise we too would almost certainly have failed to put out a second team.

As it turned out Buxworth didn't put up much of a fight, being all out for 26. Compstall didn't do much better, being dismissed for 27. As one of the Buggy players reflected, if we are going to get annihilated like that I would rather forfeit the game.

The league are waiting for clubs to suggest revisions for next year. They have already stepped in to make the Hawke Trophy optional which is admirable, but kind of misses the point.

We not only have to think about the quantity of cricket being played, but also the quality. What would ensure that teams could field two teams every week? What is cricket competing with? Earlier in the season Chapel forfeited because Jack Massey was fighting. Now its YNot. There will always be something that gets in the way of spending up to 8 hours playing cricket.

Localised fixtures may help, but local rivalries are not necessarily friendly rivalries (see below). The length of the game is definitely a problem, particularly in the fourth division where most of these problems manifest themselves. T20 is anathema to the cricketing purist, but in a few years time that purist may be sat watching the same two clubs play each other every week in a dystopian groundhog day.

Neil Shaw has been both vocal and sensible in his suggestions - the league have clearly seen them, so lets cut out the paperwork.

The elected management committee can canvas opinion, but this does not have to be a Brexit style referendum. Indeed, it may be that those clubs that are 'ok' today and would not like to see any DCCL cricket reduced, are tomorrow's victims, as soon as Marple or Glossop decided to host a music festival or spawn a local hero that performs on a Saturday night!

The league might just need to be proactive in proposing rule changes, turning a blind eye to protocol in the interests of saving the sport.

At the very least the fourth division needs to be reduced to 35 overs, but even that would probably not stem the tide. An innovative T20 competition might not only halt the slide, it might also stimulate growth back into our noble game.

If you read the last edition you will realise that Whaley Bridge have already claimed the Compstall Cup this season (based on the league handbook rules), but it seems that the league disagree, and they dictated that Hawk Green and Mottram should play their twice postponed semi final on a specific day. Mottram could not field a team and therefore had to forfeit. I wonder if they will be fined. No, seriously, I wonder if they will be fined for not fielding a team for a match that should not have been sanctioned.

Anyway, we look forward to our friendly against Hawk Green at New Mills on 11th September.

Wet, Wet, Wet!

posted 31 Jul 2016, 12:50 by Mike Madden   [ updated 12 Sep 2016, 09:01 ]

It rained one two then it rained three four.

It rained five six then it rained some more.

It seems to rain a lot these days, and Saturday was no exception. We had a poor side, but we had 11. The firsts had a very poor side, and only 10! I went up to the ground and it was a formality. New Horwich Lake could host a regatta, but certainly not a cricket match. I did the decent thing and rang around, then I did another even more decent thing, and volunteered to go with the firsts to Hawk Green. Pause here whilst you watch me advance into the moral high ground. Of course, I never expected the firsts to play, but at least they would be rained off with 11 men rather than 10. And anyway, Peter Slack and Andrew Bailey offered to make up the numbers for the seconds which turned out to be unnecessary.

So we got to Hawk Green and it was wet. Their groundsman said it wasn’t fit. Their second team said it wasn’t fit. Everyone said it wasn’t fit. Parts of the outfield were wetter than an otter’s pocket, and thoughts of roping it off would mean playing on a pitch about the size of Buxworth’s divided by 3. But they rolled and they squeegied, and they forked about for ages. They put in a huge amount of effort and it looked like we might play. ‘No chance,’ their groundsman reiterated, but still they mopped, still they sucked, still they teased the moisture until the surface resembled that of a bath that won’t quite drain away. Eddie, our stand in captain, said it wasn’t fit. Their captain was keen to play. Championship rivals Dinting had already been rained off so this was their big chance. The umpires said it might be fit, but we would have to have tea first. By 3.30 a decision had to be made. We would have to be bowling a ball or eating a butty by 3.35 or it was off. The cling film was removed, and at 3.34 and a half ham sandwiches were nibbled. Still the work went on. Eddie lost the toss. Disaster. We were to bat. With Neil, Dale, Lee and Tommo in the Lakes for a stag do, and Slacky at Buxton carnival, our resources were stretched. But Milky Morten made a return, and I donned first team whites for the first time in about 6 years.

So, we were batting. Peter didn’t last long, neither did Elliott. Both could do with a confidence boosting spell in the seconds! Luke also failed but Sam Slack and Harry Bold pulled it around, with Harry batting beautifully. Maybe this will be his breakthrough season. We slipped further into the mire as the middle order chipped in and chipped out. The tail wagged briefly, and we prevented Hawk Green from getting maximum bowling points, but 83-9 off 25 overs never looked likely to be enough.

Harry Bold took a good catch off Eddie, and Eddie took a good catch off George Holden to get us a bowling point, but the only other wicket to fall came as Luke took a stumping off Eddie who probably shouldn’t have been bowling at the time. I am not going to criticise Eddie’s captaincy too much – after all, he was at least there to do the job, but we need changes and they need to be from the top down. All those willing to get involved please take a step forward…

And here's an odd thing. Two days before the aforementioned game the Compstall Cup semi final between Hawk Green and Mottram was rained off, and yet we played at Whaley. Two days later Whaley is under water but Hawk Green is playable. Skullduggery? Probably not, but it makes you think. I know the game was called off quite early, and as this was the reserve date no one was quite sure what happened next. Well, the rulebook is quite clear. If no play is possible on the reserve date then it is decided by a bowl off or the toss of a coin. This has not happened as far as I can tell, which effectively means that both teams have failed to fulfil their obligations and have therefore forfeited.

So, my question is do we actually have to turn up at the final on 11th September, or will it be brought to New Horwich Park where our boys can receive it in front of their adoring fans? 

You think thats bad? You're obviously not a follower of @WoodleyCC on Twitter!

That's Fine!

posted 3 Jun 2016, 02:10 by Mike Madden   [ updated 3 Jun 2016, 15:31 ]

Well what on earth is going on? We've been fined twice for only playing with ten men, we have spent many hours scrabbling around for players, but after three games the seconds are unbeaten and sit just outside the promotion places. Surely it can't last. And the firsts, despite their captain disappearing at incredibly short notice, have won back to back games and are now in the top half of the league. The Under 15s beat Birch Vale with just six men, though admittedly they only had eight don't tell the league - we'll both end up bankrupt) and they very sportingly gave us two of their players to field to even things up a bit, and the Under 17s are in the quarter final of the Compstall Cup. The Under 13s and Under 11s are certainly under strength, and as Ben McIlveen succinctly put it, I will listen to Gibbo when he can run a lap around the pitch, without walking at all.

However, its not all fine and dandy. We have somehow accumulated over £90 in fines. So lets have a look at them. Two £5 fines for fielding 10 men. We tried very hard to get an 11th man. In days gone by we would have called on very young kids to fill in, but we are not allowed to do that any more (and for good reason). However, and I have suggested this before, it doesn't really help the club by taking money off them for this offence that really only helps the opposition. So perhaps the league should consider deducting points where it hurts (at the league's discretion) so that, for instance, the first team captain might think twice about leaving his counterpart in the seconds short of players. We got fined for not fielding a team in second team in the cup, We were never going to be able to. The league have agreed that they will look at the format of the cup at the end of this season. And about time too, but rules are rules and I guess we have to take that one. Late league sheet. Yes - definitely take that one. A lot of people are keen to see the statistics every week, and it makes the job of the league and the statisticians impossible if league sheets aren't in on time and completed correctly. Failing to fulfil a junior fixture - Under 13s. Hmm, I will leave that one for now. Gibbo reckons its all a misunderstanding. But then again, someone once said 'never start a sentence with Gibbo reckons...'. Gibbo also said that Hawk Green asked to switch a fixture to our ground as theirs was unplayable. Hmmm - in light of what follows the cynical side of me suggests that we should have accepted that they failed to fulfil a fixture - perhaps its a good job that I'm not cynical - and we switched the game to our ground (and ultimately it was rained off). Failure to fulfil a fixture - Under 17s. Absolutely no way should this be a fine. Let me explain. The original fixture was due to be played on a Thursday night at the start of May, to avoid a clash with the Bank Holiday. Actually, the Bank Holiday is logistically easier to get people up to the ground, so I suggested to the opposing captain (from Hawk Green) that we switch, and he agreed that it was a good idea. Then it rained. Meanwhile, the Under 17s football team, most of which are also the Under 17s cricket team (funny that), had a title deciding fixture added to their schedule for the Thursday night. They clearly opted to play that rather than cricket. So we asked Hawk Green to switch to Friday. They said No, as they are well within their rights to do. So we lost the game by forfeit, and got fined into the bargain. But hold on a minute. We switched the game and this was notified to the league. The Under 17s are not allowed to rearrange games that are rained off. So I look forward to getting our fine revoked and the points being shared (I will take my tongue out of my cheek in a minute).

As I said earlier, many people look forward to the stats coming out, which is why it is important for results to be recorded correctly. On closer inspection of the stats I noticed that a few of our batsmen have no recorded average. This is clearly an error. Not sure whether we will be fined for it, or whether the league will be. I will let you know.

And so back to the cup that needs a revamp. Well actually, I believe the format of local cricket needs a revamp, and I am not alone. We've only got ten men, do you fancy playing for us and being away from your friends, family, tv for 7 hours on Saturday? Err, no thanks. We could cut the games to say 35 overs a side, but how about experimenting with this in the 4th division....

Turn it into a T20 league, but with the home team playing 2 games. For instance, in week one Whaley could play Dove Holes and Hadfield. Dove Holes starting at 1 and Hadfield starting at 4. The travelling teams only need to consider around 2 and a half hours play, with minimal break between innings. The home team could play a completely different team in the two games, so any make ups would only need to be involved for 2 and a half hours. It would ultimately mean more games being played. Quicker games to accommodate the attention span of the X-Box generation, and the opportunity for more bye weeks. I am convinced that as bye weeks get more prevalent people may actually start to plan around them. Sounds crazy? Thats what five pints of Peroni does for you.

Read more from the ex captain at

Death Of The Cup

posted 7 May 2016, 23:42 by Mike Madden   [ updated 8 May 2016, 01:17 ]

Two weeks after the frozen tundra of Stalybridge we now faced a double weekend in sweltering tropical storms. Saturday saw the firsts travel up the road to sultry Dove Holes (Google it - I bet you wont find 'sultry' and 'Dove Holes' used in the same sentence) and came away with another spanking. The seconds thrived under new captain Marc Thompson, with the ex skipper recording another 50, whilst his opening partner limped off injured after 15 overs, scoring precisely 0. Ivan couldn't follow up his previous knock, but Reuben and Tommo put together a good stand. Rob Hill and Russ Wild kept things ticking over, but NE Morten was somewhat sawn off by his erstwhile partner in crime Nick Latham. Will Weston and Charlie Kitchen added useful knocks, and we closed on 166 for 8 - a competitive total on a track that had a bit of everything. The High Lane reply started in bizarre fashion. Their opener decided to smash everything, but one drive struck an unsuspecting Dave Lomax (he of the 15 overs for 0) and ricocheted into the stumps at the bowlers end. His opening partner and captain was run out, and that sparked an interesting run chase. Long gone are the days of steadily building an innings. This lot would have put T20 to shame as they tried to win inside 10 overs. Colin was having none of it, taking four wickets in two hostile spells. Will Weston chipped in with a wicket and could have had more, then Reuben came into the attack and settled matters. He took four wickets aided by catches from Will Weston and Rob Hill, whilst Charlie Kitchen showed promise in his one over that was a maiden. High Lane slumped from 40-4 to 53 all out, and Whaley are up into the heady heights of 3rd place. Sadly we have a bye next week before the local derby against Buxworth on cup final day. However, the captain and VC have opted to play cricket rather than to head to Wembley, first team take note!

Sunday should see the Bissenden and Hawk Trophy matches, but we have been unable to raise a second team. although to be fair the first team does quite resemble a second XI. We had the awkward task of calling to cancel, but the league secretary confirmed that we were not the first and probably would not be the last. Will we finally get a change to the format? Only time will tell, but the writing is clearly on the wall for at least the second XI ko.

We also failed to fulfil an Under 17s fixture for very different reasons. A significant proportion of the team were playing football, and succeeded in winning their league, so I guess it was all worthwhile!

Fortunately player availability is a short term problem at Whaley Bridge, and within the next few weeks we should be able to welcome back Harry Bold, Ben Stones, and several of our Under 17s. There is even talk of Gibbo making a comeback once he sorts out his water retention. Not sure what he is going to do with his potato retention though.

Brrr! Welcome to the 2016 Cricket Season

posted 30 Apr 2016, 04:11 by Mike Madden

Its raining, its snowing, it must be the cricket season. First match, as is tradition, was cancelled due to no one having done anything, metaphorically or physically, to their ground. The league, in their infinite wisdom, decided to make this a cup match. So, the cup match is now the second Sunday in May. Its hard enough to get players to play twice when the season is in full swing. Second Sunday in May? Forget it. And the league also decided that some teams would get byes in the first round of the cup. This is normal practice, so that subsequent rounds can diminish participants in a logical and equitable manner until we reach the final. But that would be too easy. Incidentally, I say 'we' in the collective sense, certainly not just in the context of Whaley Bridge Cricket Club. So the second round also has some byes in it. With the proviso that the teams that got byes in the first round can't have byes in the second round. With it so far? Well, the second week of fixtures were league matches, and again there was a question of the weather. There was a vote as to whether all games should be called off. The result was 12-12. Hang on - there are only 23 clubs. It turned out that Compstall had voted twice. Bizarrely, they had voted once for and once against, allegedly! (I was not at the meeting, but two separate sources who were have suggested this). This time the league decided to go ahead, and so we embarked upon a scramble for players the like of which we haven't seen since, well, actually the last time we had to put a side out. It doesn't get any easier. What was a surprise was that the rag tag and bobtail outfit that we took to new boys Stalybridge St Paul came away with the points. Yours truly scored 60, and is mightily grateful that this week's fixtures have been rained / snowed off - yes I'm still aching. Ivan hit 51, Colin Wild rolled back the years to take 4-9 in 12 overs, Gareth Hill (remember him?) chipped in with 2 wickets, as did our 2 junior representatives Will Weston and Jack Kitchin. The future is bright...The firsts had a bit of a setback with a crushing defeat at home to Hawk Green. 

The cricket club were honoured to host the beacon to commemorate the Queen's 90th birthday. We stocked up the shop, spent quite some time amending the sell by dates on last year's crisps and chocolate (only joking!), and lit a bonfire that could be seen for miles. We also destroyed a large portion of the plastic guttering around the tackle shed close to where the bonfire was lit!

Welcome to a new season at Whaley Bridge Cricket Club!

Another One Bites The Dust

posted 13 Sep 2015, 14:12 by Mike Madden   [ updated 26 Sep 2015, 06:35 ]

Another season has drawn to a close, and on reflection it will probably go down as a successful one. From a personal viewpoint I was the leading run scorer in the seconds again. Given that I have taken to batting at 7, 8, 9 that is disappointing, but those lower down have made significant strides. Of course, the real issue this season has been availabilities, both in terms of the first team choosing to do anything but play cricket, and the second team having exams, festivals and amateur dramatics, alongside the inevitable family holidays that prevent them from taking to the field. There was only one person available for every minute of every game across both first and second teams – and that’s me!

The firsts narrowly avoided relegation, whilst the seconds finished 9th of 11. Next year will be better, or so says Neil Woolley, Chairman of Selectors, whose crystal ball foretells that availabilities will improve. To be fair, they couldn’t get much worse.

 The six a side was a success in terms of funds raised, and PR from the village, but the jury is still out regarding the involvement of seniors as part of the playing squads. It seems to me that means more players playing as opposed to helping out! We also managed to recycle old junior trophies saving even more money – and I am reliably informed that there are enough for future years too. We also found out that Peter Crowley is a very single minded individual, and despite numerous warnings that he should stop drinking he ploughed right on to the end of the road, falling backwards off a chair in the process.

The Whaley Warriors was a definite success, with four competitive games and collaboration between ourselves and Buxworth. It was primarily organised by Henry Holden and Reuben Cutts, another good omen for the future. It has also led to us obtaining a music licence which can only be a good thing!

The juniors were also reasonably successful, with the Under 15s reaching the final of their age group where they narrowly lost to Hazel Grove. The Under 17s reached the semi final, losing out due to a combination of a very strong Hadfield side (for all of you expecting a diatribe slaughtering the league for bending the rules in favour of Hawk Green which had an inevitable knock on effect on the strength of Hadfield whilst at the same time dictatorily refusing permission for Whaley Bridge to play two of our more promising juniors you will be disappointed. I’m not going there).

The Under 11s and Under 13s both succeeded in more limited ways, but the steady flow of juniors continues to ensure the future of the club.

Two juniors will not be juniors next year, Ben Stones and Ivan Heathcote. Ben had an unfortunate end to the season due to illness, and we certainly hope that he comes back fitter and stronger. Ivan, by his own admission, is not the best in the field, but there was a marked improvement over the last six games and we look to him to challenge for the run scoring honours next year. Colin Wild certainly stood up to be counted with 31 wickets that won him the second team player of the year award, we now look to the younger members of the squad to chip in with at least double figures.

The junior format was in some ways better, but in other ways it was a farce, for instance the lack of games for Under 15s and Under 17s. The break for Under 17s to allow for exams was well received, but from a personal point of view the scheduling of finals day on the same day as the YNot festival was a bit of a disaster. The league recognise that it is not perfect, and they have created a junior think tank to which I have been invited. I will let you know what happens.

In other matters, the proposal to change the nature of teas (I am not going into the detail for fear of having to be corrected by our somewhat verbose secretary) was well and truly defeated, and that proved a great decision. Playing at Charlesworth 3 weeks out of 4 did wonders for morale, if not the waistline, whilst Buxton’s culinary offering will be missed as they depart for pastures new, and the standard of teas throughout the league was generally excellent.

We still have to fill in umpire assessments, and I still wonder why. Maybe the illustrious members of the junior think tank will enlighten me.

The firsts availability was a consistent threat throughout the season, and this will not fix itself. When games such as the Warriors are played it would be a good idea for them to get themselves down to watch and encourage their future team mates, rather than wonder where the next generation will come from. But at least we do not share the same plight as Chapel who failed to field a second XI on more than one occasion. Tea ladies are a similar problem. Go out and woo those who may make teas. Wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, who knows? A simple question can often produce a simple answer!

The emergence of Reuben Cutts is an interesting one. Often controversial on the keyboard, and frequently outspoken on or around the field, there is no doubt that Reuben is a technically gifted cricketer with attitude. A bit like our current first team captain really!

And so we came to a marvellous end of season do. With the two Russes missing, and a rained off game at New Horwich Park, it could have been, quite literally, a damp squib. However, it felt a bit like a changing of the guard, as Henners took over the ‘most pissed’ mantle previously the exclusive preserve of Peter Crowley, Dave Bell revealed a hidden talent that will certainly be fiddled with in the future, and the Dale Jones song was unanimously voted as our best ever! See you next season.

You Couldn't Make It Up (so I did)

posted 7 Aug 2015, 14:40 by Mike Madden   [ updated 7 Aug 2015, 14:45 ]

You know what we could really do with? A level playing field. Has anyone seen one? It seems like we will have to put up with this...

Now, that picture might look like Birch Vale from a few years ago, or maybe the old Whaley Bridge ground, but that's not really what I'm looking for.

Imagine playing here...

...and always having to stand at the low end.

Maybe its the wrong analogy. Maybe this is more appropriate...

Once upon a time there was a lady who wrote a book about wizards. Those of you familiar with that series of tales will know that at the heart of the story was a game involving broomsticks, a snitch and various other improbable elements, but what you may not know is that 'Quidditch' as the game is known, is not as straightforward as it seems.

"Welcome to Hufflepuff Green," the grinning Chairman of the Hogwartshire & Muggleshire Quidditch League, Young and Promising Division, welcomed the League Elders to the Meeting Of The Minds. He stared, accusingly, at the small red faced chap in the corner, whispering rather loudly to the Wizard to his left. "Is he a Muggle?" The Wizard to his left coughed and spluttered, a little taken aback at the question. He whispered, in a whisper, "Yes, but he is allowed to be here. All of the Quiddles are allowed to be represented." 'Quiddles' are the teams that compete in the Hogwartshire & Muggleshire Quidditch League, but the chairman of the Young and Promising Division did not altogether approve. The Wizard to his left, on the other hand, loved all clubs equally. He was the honourable secretary of the mighty Hogwartshire & Muggleshire Quidditch League, and although he gloried over the Quiddles in the four major Quiddates (or Divisions), he tried not to get too involved in the Young and Promising Division for fear of treading on the rather scary toes of the Wizard to his right. In his experience, The Young and Promising Division was best left alone, and although he was not averse to send out veritable parliaments of owls with his messages about this and that, and that and this, very few, if any, of these referred to the goings on of the Young and Promising Division.

Outside, above the spires of Hufflepuff Green, the Green were on the wrong end of a beating at the hands of Hawthorn Copse in the Young and Promising Division, and Algernon Old, stalwart of Hufflepuff shook his head in despair. Algernon's son, George Old, was an especially talented Quiddler (as the players of Quidditch are known), and he had left Hufflepuff Green to play for the county of Upper Epic in a league far removed from Hogwartshire and Muggleshire. Algernon mischievously suggested that George cold be the answer to their problems, but a wise old wizard lowered his spectacles and peered at Algernon, before directing his gaze at the Wizard to the right and the Wizard to the left. "That, Algernon, is against the rules of the Young and Promising Division, as well you know." But the Wizard to the right liked the idea. "We are Hufflepuff Green. We make the rules and we can change them whenever we want," he boomed. Realising that representatives from all of the other Quiddles were in the room he laughed nervously, and then regained his composure. "Haha, I'm joking of course," but oddly enough, George Old played many more times for Hufflepuff Green for the remainder of the season.

Across the courtyard, Beauregard Shuttlecock, the grandly named President of Gryffyndor Field, one of the great rivals of Hufflepuff Green, laid down a challenge to the Chairman of the Hogwartshire and Muggleshire League, Young and Promising Division. "You, sir, have transgressed the rules. However, I am quite prepared to overlook it on this occasion, as Thatcher Shuttlecock is in a similar position to your George. And whilst two wrongs do not make a right, I think that it is only right and proper that Thatcher should also play in the Young and Promising Division, if, of course, it does not clash with his games for Slytherinshire County. He's captain you know". The Wizard to the right had no choice but to agree, even though he knew that the captain of Slytherinshire County was far superior to anyone else in his beloved Young and Promising Division.

And so it continued. Hufflepuff Green did not benefit from their bending of the rules, and fell by the wayside as the season reached its climax. Inevitably, Thatcher helped Gryffyndor Field to reach the final, where little fancied Ravenclaw Bridge were their opposition, Ravenclaw were outclassed on parchment, but they too had players to call upon. Young players, but players who could make a difference. The Wizard to the right had had enough. "No, they do not qualify. They cannot play," he laid down the law. "Damn muggles." And that was that. Gryffyndor Field won the day, and they were rightly applauded, but the Wizard to the right had sown the seeds. The Young and Promising Division rebelled, and in coming seasons the Hogwartshire and Muggleshire League fell apart. Exasperated, the honourable secretary retired, I suspect he ran out of owls.

Darren Crompton's Teeth!

posted 1 Aug 2015, 07:16 by Mike Madden   [ updated 7 Aug 2015, 13:09 ]

Well, sat here on a Saturday afternoon is not good. We have to do it in 3 weeks time as that is our 'bye' week, but today we have no game because Chapel could not field a side. We have our own selection problems, with injuries, YNot and shopping, but it must have hurt a passionate Milly to have to ring up last night and let me know they only had 7 men. The league will no doubt impose a fine, but what effect will that have? Its not likely to attract more cricketers to Chapel, and therein lies the problem. Chapel School don't have a particularly active cricket section, and there is the draw of Buxworth, Whaley Bridge and Dove Holes. Is Neil Shaw's prediction about to come true earlier than expected? I certainly hope not - and hopefully this is a one off YNot affected situation.

At the last home game we had professional tea makers, in that Ed Kitchen's partner Kelly has her own delicatessen in Glossop. She did a wonderful job, for the second time this season, and she is already booked in for the last match - note to self - bowl first and bat down the order. It is always good to recruit tea ladies - first team should take note - and hands off!

One thing that all players should be aware of is that the tea ladies (and gentlemen) volunteer for their duties, and it is good manners to thank them for their efforts, and to take your plates back when you have finished. Its not rocket science, and if you don't treat them like skivvies they are far more likely to turn up for another tour of duty.

The Under 15s lost narrowly in the final at Hazel Grove, and I do not intend to go into the whys and wherefores of team selection, post match post mortems and inappropriate comments, that has been dealt with elsewhere, and rightly so. In all of the rhetoric a lot of good work can be overlooked, and I would like to give credit that is clearly due to the efforts of Reuben Cutts, Andrew Gibson and Elliot Simmonds for their involvement with the juniors this year. It is easy for myself to turn up and help out every week, I have two youngsters playing at different age groups, but these three manage teams for no other reason than the love of cricket and the desire to see their teams succeed.

A blast from the past appeared this week - in the form of this clip from Alex Tweddle. Darren Crompton lost there teeth! Didn't affect his looks much.

Tomorrow sees the Under 17s play in finals day at Whaley Bridge. Hawk Green are involved in the National Village Cricket competition, and we were only too happy to step in as hosts having already qualified as southern champions. Unfortunately the day clashes with YNot, and we have at least five players there that are adamant that they are not coming back to play. However, we are still hopeful, and we will field a team whatever! We have match winners in abundance, and if one or two of them come to the party we will be in with a good chance. Win, lose or rained off we will at least be able to cater for the teams and spectators, with bacon and sausages butties in the morning followed by chilli in the afternoon. We could even have music - as we secured a licence this week.

Dave Cartledge reached 50 last month, and to commemorate this achievement Dove Holes awarded him his own parking spot, as if its not already difficult enough for visitors to park at Dove! I wonder what other clubs might give to their long serving members? Perhaps New Mills could give Pete Fletcher a gold urinal, Buxworth could give Johnno a personalised roller, and at Whaley Bridge, as Caddy pores over the current club handbook, we could provide him with an electronic proof reader.

Speaking of which, the six a side was inevitably rained off, again, and for once it was gratifying to see the rain pour down all afternoon,endorsing the controversial decision.

The Man In The Middle

posted 30 Jun 2015, 12:47 by Mike Madden   [ updated 30 Jun 2015, 13:08 ]

It was an interesting game for the seconds at Offerton on Saturday, and made all the more entertaining by the presence of JJ Smith as the umpire. For those that do not know him, JJ sets the standards by which all umpires are judged (well, maybe not, that depends if the umpire score sheets ever get a) submitted, and b) published). Anyway, JJ is a stickler for the rules and the etiquette of the game. You have to tell him if you wish to leave the field, even at drinks, and you have to tell him what your bowling action is, even if you've already had one spell. Its all about standards. And if no one maintained standards where would we be? Now, I'm not saying he gets every decision right, in fact I thought my lbw on Saturday was a shocker, but he is the umpire, it is his decision, and the game would be a lot worse off without the man in the white coat. However, JJ is virtually unique, certainly in 4th division cricket, in insisting on these rules. Other umpires not only don't mind who leaves the field and when, often it is they themselves that decide that they need to answer the call of nature. Other umpires freely admit that they don't know all of the rules. The point is that the players get used to this for 9 weeks out of 10, but in the 10th week, all of a sudden there is a culture shock!

And whilst on the subject of umpires, I note from the league that there are still conversations ongoing with certain clubs about not being able to fulfil junior fixtures. Astonishingly, the same set of minutes commented that junior games should be umpired by men (or women) in white coats. Well, when I have marked out the boundary, prepared half time drinks, brought out the scoreboard, found a scoresheet, made sure the kit is in place and that all of the youngsters have correctly fitted pads and helmets, made a few last minute phone calls to round up the Sunday morning stragglers, found stumps and bails appropriate for junior cricket, warmed up the team and talked through our tactics, the last thing on my mind is to find a white coat that inevitably won't fit, probably because it has shrunk in the previous week's rain! And I am sure there are other junior managers throughout the league who recognise the above scenario.

There has been no suggestion to remedy the fact that Under 15s and Under 17s play just 5 games each, and I have heard no explanation why certain teams are allowed to field junior teams at apparently arbitrary age groups (avoiding the ubiquitous fines) whilst the rest of us stick to the rules, but if the league deem that umpires wearing white coats is a priority, don't be surprised if other men in white coats turn up to take appropriate action!

The league are looking to recruit, and Stalybridge St Paul are set to replace Buxton next season. On the plus side, the next relay will not have to start at Buxton, on the negative side, Stalybridge could send us a long way off course.

The sins of the father shall be visited on the son, or so it says in the Bible. Now, I know that many of you will not have read that particular tome, but I used to be an altar boy, and it was the only way of distracting the priests, but I digress. The principle of the lesson can be applied in many areas, and if you have the responsibility for looking after your sons, your flock, your team, and, by inference, your club, you may want to look at your sins more closely! Of course, there are those that will see glory in stepping beyond the spirit of the game, but do their followers see it the same way? Or does it just become tiresome, as it was when a certain bowler used to throw abuse at the opposition when things did not go his way.

I could not end this edition without mentioning Nathan Hunter. Nathan is in our heroic Under 11s, and when we needed  to chase 288 against a very strong Hawk Green I suggested that all it would take would be for one partnership to get us half way there, and for one of that partnership to hit six fours. Nathan thought very briefly about this, and then said that he knew that he would not be the one to do that. A little defeatist, perhaps? No, it was actually very logical. "I have only scored three fours in total, and I have been playing for three years,' he explained.

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