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Child Okeford Cricket Club -part 1

As mentioned last month the archive contribution for the next two months will be extracts from Tom Hicks’ book “Bowlers Name?” The full chapter will be published on the village web site in December. The book is available to purchase from Amazon. 

My fledgling cricket education was not confined only to school, however. During these years, my dad was captain of a village side in Dorset called Child Okeford. On weeknights, the junior side played a version of pairs cricket, in which each pair could face four overs each. I only remember these games vaguely.

But the club came alive on Sundays. This was real grassroots stuff, and the motley crew of builders, truck drivers, sparkies and whoever could be persuaded to turn out at last orders on a Saturday night became my first real heroes. Every Sunday, the local rec became the field of dreams: men of seemingly epic scale bestrode the sward like colossi, emanating from the inner sanctum of the minuscule changing rooms, all odour of Deep Heat and Silk Cut. There was Jonah – Dave Jones – groundsman-cum-opening bowler. As he was the one who cut the pitch, his was the right to the new ball and the downhill slope. He approached the crease with legs working like pistons and a left-arm over whirlwind action which my young mind imagined was faster than Botham or Willis. Like several in the team, he sported the classic 1980s moustache and open-necked shirt combo and swore and cussed like a sailor on leave.

He was also something of a local hero when it came to the annual village fete, or ‘Hey-Day’ as it was known, when the welly-throwing, hoopla and tug-of-war gave way to a live band in the beer tent. For Jonah was the drummer in ‘The Hurricanes’ (later the T-Birds), whose lead singer, Deano, gave such a performance every year that he was Elvis, Tom Jones and Danny from Grease rolled into one. The village wives would be aflush as Deano serenaded them from halfway up the pole of the marquee, whilst the blokes swilled pints of Badger Bitter, their teenage kids rolling around on hay bales and behind the football dugouts, drunk on White Lightning and the first flushes of young love.

Up the hill, Statham to Jones’s Trueman, came Martin ‘Ollie’ Oliver, whose family ran the famous Great Dorset Steam Fair every August and whose old man, Michael, sticks in my mind as the caller at the Christmas village bingo. Everyone in the village knew his schtick and as children we loved the sauciness of wolf-whistling at his ‘Legs Eleven’, giggling at ‘Two Fat Ladies’, and being downright confused why we had to ask ‘Was she worth it?’ at ‘Seven-and-six’. I still miss the thrill of walking home with a box of Danish butter cookies under one arm and a bottle of Liebfraumilch under the other. It was just a part of Christmas. Ollie – the son – was happy enough to play in a white t-shirt and although he bowled with no front arm and always from the worse end, everyone knew he was more effective than Jonah, but no one would mention it as it would mean likely fisticuffs and no pitch prepared the following week.”

To be continued……………..

David Pope 861411 [email protected]