Philip Evans takes a look into Uplyme & Lyme Regis Cricket Club’s future following their spectacular season, which saw them crowed champions of their Devon mini league
IT’S a night they will never forget and they will still be talking about it in 30 years time.
There’s nothing cricketers love more than talking about the old days and reliving their cricketing exploits. So let’s fast-forward to the year 2046…
Uplyme and Lyme Regis Cricket Club are celebrating their 160th anniversary with a reunion in the cricket pavilion at the King George V playing field, which in recent years has seen its facilities improved by adding a second storey to the building with a veranda overlooking what the cricketing bible Wisden has voted as the best village cricket ground in the country.
Past players from several eras have congregated along with players from Uplyme’s three senior teams and the ladies side to raise a glass or three to the next 160 years.
The toast is being proposed the Mayor of Lyme Regis, Cllr Francesca Evans, having kept her maiden name for professional reasons of course!
Standing in one corner and amazed at how abstemious the current players are, compared to those in the glory days of 2020 when every victory was celebrated in riotous, alcohol-laden fashion, are former players Steve Batey and his cousin Tyler Wellman. Or to give him his proper title, Flight Lieutenant Tyler Wellman, enjoying a brilliant career in the Royal Air Force.
Tyler looks much younger than his 47 years and fit enough to bowl an opening ten-over spell with no difficulty. Steve is looking not quite so svelte, but no wonder as one of the top chefs in the UK, having been crowned winner of MasterChef UK, a television programme now celebrating its 50th year.
This is how the conversation goes:
Steve: Remember that year when that epidemic – what was it called COVID? – and we won that mini-league? That was the season you scored three consecutive centuries. Do you know, that record still stands?
Tyler: It could have been four if you hadn’t dropped me down the order for the next game! Only kidding.
Steve: Remember the celebration we had that night when we presented all the trophies for that weird season. I think I got clubman of the year and we presented you with a silver salver for hitting those three tons. Your mum was so proud.
Tyler: There’s not many from that team here tonight. Whatever happened to Harvey Brimicombe? Is he coming?
Steve: I don’t know. I think he is still globe-trotting around the world. Wherever he is, I bet he’ll be here later. Never one to miss a party or a p***-up!
Tyler: Great days, eh?
Steve: Yep. Will never forget them. It’s great what they’ve done to the pavilion. We would never have been given permission to do this in our day.
All this is a bit of fun, of course, and my apologies in advance if it’s not treated in that way. But if my own experience as a long-term player, committee man and supporter is anything to go by, such a conversation could well take place.
I have dined out many times on my cricketing exploits and recently wrote a four-part series in LymeOnline when there was no sport to report on because of the COVID-19 lockdown.
I have so many memories of playing for Uplyme and Lyme Regis and they all came flooding back when the mercurial Mike Spearpoint turned up to watch Uplyme’s wonderful victory in one of the Devon League mini-league competitions last Saturday.
An indication of how successful the Uplyme team, led magnificently by Steve Batey, on and off the pitch, was the fact that a crowd of more than 200 turned up to watch. Such a following is unknown in local cricket. In my day it was one man and his dog if we were lucky – and he and his canine companion never stayed very long.
Mike Spearpoint was one of Uplyme’s great characters in my playing days. He was hugely competitive, matched only by his generosity in the bar afterwards.
He is held in such esteem by the club and enjoys cult status among all those who played with him over the years. He hadn’t changed a bit, still as enthusiastic as ever.
Those young men who have entertained us so royally this season will, I am sure, look back on last Saturday as one of their most enjoyable sporting days. The camaraderie they forge playing cricket together and enjoying the after- match craic will remain with them for the best of their lives.
You know, the friendship they forge on the field of play will last a lifetime – as they have with me.
That fictitious conversation between Steve and Tyler might not be too wide of the mark but I should add my daughter, Francesca, has no ambitions to be mayor of Lyme – hopefully!
Best to calm down before having a go on social media
I ALWAYS think it’s a good idea when something annoys you on social media to leave it an hour or so before replying.
That’s what I do and it usually means I end up not bothering to make a comment.
But after reading that Dorset Council was considering increasing members’ expenses which would have added in excess of £100,000 to council costs at a time when they are struggling with a £40 million-plus deficit, my anger got the best of me.
So when another tweet opened up on my screen about the number of council staff still working at home, I immediately tweeted “Get them back to work”.
In the end Dorset Council decided not to increase members’ expenses but to increase committee chairman’s allowances by £10,000, which I still think is over generous in these difficult time.
My “get them back to work” comment caused huge offence to many of those council staff working at home who were quick to point in that they were often working longer hours and under difficult circumstances.
It was also made clear to me that county hall could not accommodate the return all the staff members with the distancing regulations necessary due to COVID-19. So I immediately offered an apology.