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Pre tour.
The tour was arranged by Matt C and Paul with teams pulling out and appearing all over the place. Despite late problems of "rollergate" when Rotherfield Park pulled out of a game because their roller was broken and ground issues for the Saturday game against another tour match by the Friday before tour we had a complete and confirmed tour of four matches. Unfortunately it was that weekend that Hampshire got absolutely soaked for torrential rain. The week before tour was dominated by nervous checking of weather forecasts and e-mails with our opponents - each of whom were clearly making every effort to get the games on.
Friday 4th May.
Unfortunately by Day One of tour we already knew our first game, an evening match versus North Baddesley and Knightwood, was rained off. Captain Gigg decided the best plan would be for the squad to have a "get together" at the hotel at 6pm. Strict instructions were issued. Before that some of us had a lovely lunch at the Selbourne Arms and Penny, Jim and Bungle also were very touristy by visiting Winchester. In Winchester we passed the William Walker pub - some things are meant to be. Whereas Mike and Steve wisely scouted around the hotel for pubs and found nothing within a radius of a Scott Thornton big hit - we were in the middle of nowhere although the hotel itself was nice and much kudos to Barry for sorting it.
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Everyone followed Barry's diktakt and were in the hotel bar for 6pm. Well, everyone except two noteable exceptions - Barry and Mary! The assembled squad decided that Barry should be punished for his tardiness by drinking a shot for every minute he was late. I lost count at 17 shots but more confusing is why Chairman Meyler decided later on to seemingly take on Barry's punishment for him. Steve also managed to acquire the nickname "Darth" - although the details are understandably vague apparently there was a conversation between a few of the guys saying Steve was like a guru sitting there quietly and imparting wisdom on the rest of us when he deemed it necessary (we were very drunk, clearly). Someone said he was like a Jedi Master and a number of silly names Jedi terms were shouted out and then Jason said "Darth Meyler" and everyone laughed and we kept saying it all night until it was the accepted norm. Everyone enjoyed the evening in the hotel bar drinking the Angel Ale at 2 quid a pint, may be some of us too much, eh Darth and then at midnight wished Will a happy birthday, with Jim buying him a 'present' that seems to have become his calling card.
Saturday 5th May.
Steve re-affirmed his Darth nickname by turning up to breakfast all in black and breathing heavily. We already knew today's game was off and now Monday's game was off too, so after wishing Will a happy birthday at breakfast everyone went off in their own ways and agreed to meet in Petersfield, the nearest town to the hotel, at 4.30. This included Henry Walker's first ever steam railway journey. As football had sold out to the TV companies yet again the FA Cup Final was on but, for the first time, in the early evening. So once we'd met people had been all over the place a realtively ok final was livened up by Adam (aka 'Speno') and Jim (surprisingly sambucaless at this point) trading bets during the second half. After this we wandered into town and happened on a music festival and although it was hardly Jimi Hendrix on the Isle of Wight or Blur at V97 it was fun and the beer tent got some decent takings from us. There was even dancing from Penny, Jim, Mike and others - although nothing compared to the "dancing man" who appeared early on. After the final gig most of the group headed to the Black Sheep for further tomfoolery. Reports from the Black Sheep are hazy and it appears there's been a wall of silence regarding it but I can guarantee there was shots drunk in a variety of models. After the Black Sheep we headed back to the hotel for more fun and games although no one mananged to pull the girl in the white dress who'd been to some party thingy during the day. Steve for the second time in two days fell asleep on the sofa in the bar - this time he was to end up with more than a headache to deal with the next morning.
Sunday 6th May.
We woke to the bad news that Sunday's game had failed the morning's pitch inspection. Tough to take but inevitable really. But the squad were determined to visit Broadhalfpenny Down, the early home of Hambledon CC in the 1700s where we were due to play on Saturday and Hambledon's current ground where Sunday's game had been scheduled. After all this (there was a two mile walk each inbetween) we felt we deserved a visit to the pub - but no ordinary pub, instead the Bat and Ball with huge amounts of memorabilia from Hambledon CC. We set off and despite some sat nav issue the players made it to Broadhalfpenny Down. I think it's fair to say the ground was beautiful and made us realise what we'd missed out on but it was great to visit. After a relatively well organised walk to Hambledon's ground (including walking past some cows) we arrived at their lovely ground and again the mixed emotions took over - even non-players were disappointed to miss out on the hammocks.
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And now we encounter our leader's Waterloo. Barry decided to walk us back through the fields again, rather than the road that was suggested by many. After slow but pleasant progress Barry crossed a field, realised he'd gone wrong and took us back, and then did it again! The zig-zag was not popular and the word "mutiny" was muttered. Luckily we reached the Bat and Ball before Barry was severely injured. The Bat and Ball was stuffed full of cricketing memorabilia from Hambledon's past and many wandered round enjoying the place and then a decent lunch. But all this happened without our driving force, our inspiration, our chairman Steve Meyler who had required further 'rest' after the previous night's revelry. By the time we'd reached the Bat and Ball Steve had revived and was on his way to the pub - the irony! However despite setting the club's direction he struggled with his own - ending up much to the disbelief and amusement of Paul G in "Soberton" - in fact Paul G asked him to spell the place name out as he though Steve was having a giraffe. After that we headed back and after a bit of chill time we met up gradually in the bar and then headed to Petersfield. First heading to the Good Intent for a bit of folks music, some headed for a curry, others to the Black Sheep via the music festival. We ended up all in the Black Sheep and then back to the hotel for late beers and cards - which Barry has already reminded me he won. There were some heavily fatigued people and even Steve headed for his own room rather than sleeping on the sofa.
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Monday 7th May.
With Monday's game cancelled the tour ended with some surprises and some non-surprises. Surprise: Steve turned up to breakfast and actually looked ok. Not a Surprise: We left the hotel in the rain.
Despite the weather it was a cracking tour - here's to next year and actually getting some cricket played! Hope to see you all there (we've test run it this year!)
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