With heavy showers all weekend Great Melton’s 40th Anniversary Celebrations could easily have been ruined but, thanks to the sterling work of groundsman Mike Phoenix, all the events planned for Melton Park went ahead.

Junior coaching on Friday meant a captive audience of parents for the club’s first-ever Beer Festival while, on Saturday the night of beer, barbecued food and live music by the fantastic ‘Cream Horns’ attracted a large audience of past and present players.

A torrential downpour on Sunday morning washed out the U11s match and left lakes of water on the pitch but the sun, combined with a stiff breeze, some expect mopping up and a change of wicket, meant that the much-anticipated Past V Present ‘Legends’ cricket match was able to go ahead two-and-a-half hours late at 4.00 p.m.

The Present Legends team, captained by the Chairman had 8 of our all-time appearance top-ten which, combined with the Past Legends team meant a total of 9702 appearances – an amazing average of 313.  There was a rich vein of boring stories, not-so-boring ones and Roopy even had the chance to try out the old E45 trick on some unsuspecting newer ‘legends’.

Ian Wickham’s ‘Past Legends’ batted first and, despite losing Eddie Shaw for 1 in the second over, totalled 128-8 in their 25 overs, a challenging total considering the conditions.  Jonny Howard led the way with 26 (retired) but there were good contributions from Wickham (20), Richard Grove (16), Nigel Bobbin (10) and Ian Arnold (15 not out).  There was a rare three overs from Beefy (3-1-13-1) who bamboozled the batsmen with his famous ‘moonball’, captured the wicket of Wickham which sparked a memorable celebration, and took 3 excellent catches while Mally Howard gentle dolly-drops were no less effective as his figures of took 2-0-4-2 showed.

In reply the ‘Present Legends’ team were given a solid start by Chris Elliott (25 retired) and the owner of the ground, Nick Evans-Lombe who hit an impressive 28 (retired) but the other batsmen failed to build on this solid foundation as wickets tumbled with alarming regularity.  The champagne moment came with the appearance, after 15 overs, of Mike Phoenix who took over from Andy Rosie behind the stumps and took a catch first ball as Gary Coulson, guesting for the Past Legends produced a delivery that took the edge of Ben Mann’s bat.  In fact Coulson, who suddenly decided he wanted a piece of the action after 25 overs of umpiring, produced a spell of 3-1-4-4 which turned the match on its head.  Matt Clarke (14 not out) and Sam Mann (25 retired) kept the Present Legends’ hopes alive but the final over came with 13 runs still needed.  Tim Hales was stumped off Ian Arnold which meant Chris Elliott returned with 6 needed off 2 balls.  With everyone on the boundary. a single and a two were all the batsmen could manage and the Chairman’s team finished on 126-9, two runs short.

Past Legends

E.Shaw c.Clarke b.DeSalis 1, I.Wickham c. & b. Alborough 20, J.Howard Retired 26, R.Grove c.Alborough b.M.Howard 16, H.Wanchoo c.B.Mann b. M.Howard 5, N.Bobbin c.M.Clarke b.S.Mann 10, J.Rice st.M.Clarke b. S.Phoenix 8, A.Rosie c.Alborough b.S.Mann 3, I.Arnold Not Out 15, D.Springett lbw Woods 4, M.Ladbrook Not Out 5, Extras 15. TOTAL (8 wickets) 128 (B.Mann 2-0-5-0, L.DeSalis 2-1-11-1, C.Elliott 2-0-10-0, L.Whiddett 2-1-4-0, N.Evans-Lombe 2-0-23-0, A.Alborough 3-1-13-1, D.Godbold 2-0-11-0, M.Howard 2-0-4-2, T.Hales 2-0-11-0, S.Mann 2-0-9-2, S.Phoenix 2-0-9-1, S.Woods 2-0-12-1)

Present Legends

M.Howard Run Out 12, C.Elliott Not Out 25, N.Evans-Lombe Retired 28, D.Godbold st.Rosie b.Arnold 0, A.Alborough b.Coulson 5, S.Phoenix Run Out 0, L.Whiddett c.J.Howard b.Coulson 5, B.Mann c.M.Phoenix b.Coulson 3, S.Woods c.J.Howard b.Coulson 3, M.Clarke Not Out 14, S.Mann Retired 25, T.Hales st.M.Phoenix b.Arnold 2, Extras 3.  TOTAL (9 wickets) 126 (A.Wardale 3-0-13-0, J.Roope 3-0-17-0, J.Howard 3-0-10-0, J.Rice 3-0-8-0, K.Chilleystone 2-0-8-0, D.Springett 2-0-17-0, I.Arnold 3-0-34-2, G.Coulson 3-1-4-4, R.Grove 3-0-12-0)

It was a excellent match followed by a curry supper and the cutting of the anniversary cake.  During the weekend the following 21 ex-players all made a welcome return to Melton Park: Ian Arnold, David Bartram, Nigel Bobbin, Ian Burt, Kevin Chilleystone, Derek Clarke, Alan Ely, Richard Grove, Jonny Howard,  Chris Lacey, Mike Ladbrook, Jim Rice, Ian Robinson, Jason Roope, Andy Rosie, Eddie Shaw, Dave Springett, Henry Wanchoo, Mike Williams, Ali Wardale, Ian Wickham.  We hope it won’t be long before we see them again, perhaps at the End of Season 40th Anniversary Celebration at Dunston Hall, Bunkers Bar on Saturday 27th September.

A big thank-you to the Fundraising/Social Committee and, especially Richard Waddell & Neal Clarke, for organising the event and to the large number of people who helped to make it so successful.

Pictures to follow.

Steve Phoenix

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