This page will feature personal views on sports related subjects starting in the autumn of 2019.

Willoughby CC v Marton CC 11th August 2019

I love visiting cricket clubs, especially as a neutral and my trip to Rugby School for the ECB Under 15s finals day to watch my adopted Somerset club, Taunton Deane, gave me the opportunity to visit Willoughby CC which is about 5 miles south of Rugby town centre.

I was delighted to see my hotel room had a large bath so whatever happened on the Sunday, I could have a long relaxing soak ahead of visiting the historical school. (It was joy).

I booked a cab from outside The Squirrel pub and headed south in anticipation of an interesting day. On arrival, I saw small white flags dotted around the outfield which left me confused. Whilst foxes digging up outfields is common in my home area, rabbits are the main issue at The Green, Pye Court, as various members set about filling the holes in. Play was delayed due to rain but once we started, the cricket was entertaining, pretty much what I was expecting to be fair. Marton's innings was regularly interrupted by heavy showers but there was a concerted effort by everyong to get a game in. Marton managed to reach 157 when another shower forced a declaration after 35 overs. During tea, I visited the village which was very pretty with ducks free to roam the streets when bored with the pond. I bought a dozen free range eggs (or happy hens as my wife Christine describes them) and returned to the action. The only pub, The Rose, looked lovely but was closed (I think)!

I met up with John Forster, A Yorkshireman, and a large winner on who wants to be a millionaire (I was later informed) and we discussed all things cricket and beyond as the second innings began. John travels around the various local clubs collecting lost cricket balls (rather like former Sutton CC chairman David Thompson used to at Sutton's two grounds) and his recovery figures were remarkable (he keeps a score count)! Perhaps when I return, we will have the scrabble match we talked about though I have a feeling he might be quite good. Still, I love a challenge. He was kind enough to drop me back to Rugby where, lo and behold, a Caribbean takeaway. (Woohoo)! Armed with hot jerk chicken, rice and peas, dumplings, plantain and carrot cake, the plan was to scoff the lot while watching match of the day 2. The food went, but so did I at about 11pm, the clear air and beers taking their toll. I slept well and at peace.

Willoughby looked in trouble when three down, their team a mix of young and older, (the youngsters had been excellent in the field), but the 4th wicket partnership saw them home by 7 wickets and the welcome dry and warmth of the hospitable and well appointed clubhouse. Marton had many characters that you would expect of village cricket anywhere in the country, I was royally entertained.

I met Rebecca Fell who made me tea (and served the many beers) and talked about the club and it's history. That's the thing about cricket clubs though isn't it!

A complete stranger will be welcomed, and tolerated in keeping with the real spirit of the game. I saw a painting of the ground mounted on a shaped cricket bat and wished I had a camera. Thankfully, I found a pic on her excellent website which can be found at 

http://https://rlfbespokedesigns.vistaprintdigital.com/

Her murals in the clubhouse changing areas were superb also; she is a talented lady indeed.

I met up with club president and treasurer amongst other chores, Eric Palmer, a lovely man who has been with the club for 55 years. His well appointed, and lovely, house opposite the ground, portrayed a man happy with his lot and we discussed all manner of things cricket along with a few one liners. Great fun. Eric would join me at the school the following day to see Taunton Deane lose to a strong Shenley Village side; my day at the school was wonderful from my elevated bench viewing spot. I have to say the ECB ran the day well with free programmes and refreshments.

The area looks the perfect spot for a tour and I hope to sort something out for next year.

In any event, the day left a lasting impression and I intend to become a distant member in the very near future. 

If you are ever in the area, pay Willoughby a visit. A fine community club, a lovely setting, and the perfect place to let your cares and woes drift away. There are testimonials all around the ground to current and past loyal club servants. A most special day!

Website - https://www.willoughbycc.org.uk/