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Ian Bryan is a Cost Manager in the Ridge Oxford office, his cricket team, Great and Little Tew were lucky enough to play in the finals at Lords on Sunday September 7th, have a read of his account on how him and the team
When I was eight years old I only ever wanted to do three things; score a goal at Wembley, hit a six at Lords and sing on stage with The Who.
The National Village knockout Cup has been running since 1972 and every year since then hundreds of cricket clubs up and down the country have taken part in the competition; the dream being to reach the final; played in September, at Lords.
To reach the final there are eight rounds to navigate. My club, Great and Little Tew, has played in the competition since its inaugural year and has never progressed beyond the fifth round. I have been playing in the cup on and off since 1992 and also never gone further than round five.
This year has been very different. Having won the first four matches to be crowned champions of Oxfordshire before the end of June, we then set off on the road. We managed to defeat the champions of Dorset, Somerset then Cornwall as the mileage gradually stacked-up. When we then beat the winners of Buckinghamshire in the national semi-final it took a long while for us to realise quite what we had achieved and where the next game was scheduled to take place.
The club geared up through the remainder of August; coaches were booked, sponsors approached, suits measured, hotel rooms booked and local and national press engaged. We were allocated the home dressing room and invited to a gala reception in the Long Room following the match. It still didn’t seem real.
The final took place on Sunday September 7th at Lords; “the Home of Cricket”; a 28,000 seat test arena steeped in history and the venue where so many of the game’s legends had made their names; Grace, Bradman, Hammond, Sobers, Botham, Lara, Tendulkar, Murali and Warne et al. To say that nerves jangled would be an understatement. My team, with an average age of 21 (including myself) was up against strong opponents in Woodhouse Grange of Yorkshire. Ten of their eleven players had take part in the final held two years previously and that experience really told on the day.
Unfortunately we only manage to score 114 runs and ended up being comprehensively beaten. Ultimately the day and the experience were incredible; the result terrible. We have vowed to do our best to return next year in order that we may put in a performance that does justice to the players the club and all the supporters that travelled down to watch.
Still, at least it meant that I got my opportunity to bat. And I hit my six; inside-out over extra-cover off the spinner bowling at the Nursery End. The ball clattered into the white plastic seats fifthteen rows back in the Mound Stand, the umpire raised his arms to signal a maximum and the crowd let out a throaty cheer. At the same time I turned around to look at the players’ balcony and spotted almost all of my team-mates’ shoulders slump as the realisation set in that they would be hearing about that moment for the next forty years!
When I was eight years old I only ever wanted to do three things; score a goal at Wembley, hit a six at Lords and sing on stage with The Who. I have now ticked-off one of these things, it’s not too late for the second, and I understand that The Who have just announced another Final Farewell Tour. Perhaps my rendition of Baba O’Reilly will make it from the bedroom to the main stage after all?!