Arthur Mellows Village College Staff XI vs Glinton Village

AMVC staff XI vs. Glinton Village might sound like some kind of lame, genteel excuse for eating cucumber sandwiches and drinking real ale of a balmy summer’s evening, but this was in fact a fiercely competitive and ultimately epic sporting encounter. Missing the blistering pace attack of Sandeman and the batting prowess of Norris, on paper this looked a weakened AMVC team, with the numbers made up by an assortment of ex-staff, rugby-playing members of the PE department and in Tom Neaverson, a former student now employed to clean the Sports Hall.

Captain Mr Steele lost the toss and our opening bowlers soon found themselves being hammered around Glinton by some big-hitting villagers, though Mr Steele seemed more concerned with not losing his prized cricket balls rather than the ominous total being amassed.  A particular stand-out  moment to illustrate the competitive nature of this match occurred  when Mr Gilligan’s fearsome pace attack left one of their star batsmen holding a shattered bat, one he had apparently been given as an 18 year-old which – without wishing to be unkind – looked like it was a few decades ago.  This was stirring stuff.  Finally, wickets started to fall, despite our fielders strange habit whenever a catching chance presented itself in the outfield of running under the ball and then trying – and failing - to jump up to catch it. Unlike teachers, the batsmen in this 20 over match had to retire at 30, so finally the Glinton tail was exposed. The question was whether our lesser-known bowlers were up to the task. Holding the ball like a hand grenade, Mr Low took a wicket with his third ever ball before Mr Steele mopped up the tail with his unique blend of slow right-arm spin, and we were left with a formidable total of 102 to chase.

I should probably mention at this point that the village team all came out in immaculate whites, with helmets and 21st century kit. The AMVC team, by comparison, were reduced to using school kit, most of which looked like WG Grace cast-offs. As a PR exercise, it was a disaster.  The Glinton team could be seen growing in confidence. Their bowlers were fast, too, and Phillips and Gilligan were soon back in the pavilion whilst our remaining batsmen could be heard counting down the numbers of balls their faster bowlers had left before the lesser bowlers came on. Fortunately, Mr Walls put in a decent Boycottesque innings, well supported by new Deputy Head Boy Chris Lightfoot, who dressed like a villager – helmet and authentic cricket whites - and created the compelling illusion that he knew what he was doing. The total started to creep up. Six overs passed without another wicket being lost. Briefly, hope flickered.

Suddenly, as we crawled past 60, wickets started to tumble. Walls, Lightfoot, Elliot Griggs, Staffieri were suddenly gone. In this hour of need, it was time for a hero to emerge from the shadows. Ably assisted by former teacher Mr Greenwood, Mr Zaidi slogged a couple of decent hits and the required run-rate began to come down. With victory in sight, Zaidi went to a sharp catch, and the cleaner came to the crease with 2 to win from the last 3 balls. Sport has rarely been so compelling. The crowd could barely watch. (If you don’t believe me, you can ask him yourself – it was Mr Kennedy.) Though an undistinguished sportsman in his AMVC days, having been taught cricket by Mr Jones, this was to be an unforgettable day for Tom Neaverson. Reader, he hit the winning runs. With a ball to spare, victory was ours. Rejoice!

PS. A trophy crafted from the disintegrated bat will shortly be on display in Reception. 

Mr Zaidi, Media Studies