For the second year in succession Melton’s May Bank Holiday tour headed to Yorkshire but it was Sheffield rather than Leeds that provided the base for three days of dressing-up, drinking and general daftness combined with two good games of cricket.

The ‘Swinging Sixties’ was the theme this year and, 13 of the 15 ‘tourists’ arrived at Thickthorn complete with colourful flares and waistcoats, augmented by long hair, headbands, beads and peace medallions. The exceptions? Groundsmen United… Mike Phoenix in Sergeant Pepper uniform and Tim Hales doing a very passable impression of Austin Powers – both resplendent in bright pink. As Nigel headed north, accompanied by the sounds of The Beatles and Herman’s Hermits, the teams for the 2 days were announced and Connor Stearman’s relief at not having to play in the first match led to an pronouncement that he was on his fifth tinny! We’d not yet reached Kings Lynn! The Chairman urged alcoholic caution as the tour “virgins” Ben Mann, Tom Grant, Chris Greenslade and Richard Waddell sang their songs and drank their “hippie juice” but the Chairman’s good advice was already lost on Ben – and, it seems, Steve Clarke!

A wee stop south of Newark saw Sam “de-briefed” by Matt Clarke amid much hilarity and, after another stop for breakfast, we arrived at the idyllic Low Bradfield to renew acquaintance with Bradfield Fellowship. It was raining but, not to worry, the bar was open! Ben had already lost the plot as well as the drawstring on his cricket trousers so, by the time the covers came off and the game started, the idea of him opening the batting seemed a recipe for disaster. He duly left a straight one and was bowled for a duck much to everyone’s amusement. Brother Sam, now trying to prove he was the experienced, sensible and relatively sober Mann, didn’t entirely convince but he did score 22 as we managed to score 203-7 in our 35 overs. Matt Clarke retired with 51 and was top scorer but there were contributions from Rich Waddell (17), Steve Phoenix (16), Tim Hales (24), Joe Greenslade (21) and Chris Greenslade (24 not out).

With the sun shining the Chairman sampled his first ice cream while the ‘shore party’ and the non-batting tourists took full advantage of the fact the hosts are sponsored by the local brewery. Number 11, Steve Clarke, slurring slightly, seemed to have forgotten that we still had to field – and he had to keep wicket! After a splendid tea Bradfield began their innings with Clarkey senior – who seemed to be wearing gloves for no apparent reason – using all parts of his body to stop the ball (apart, it seemed, from his hands!) Even the weakest of returns – and there were some particularly weak ones – seemed to plop out of his gloves as his cymbal playing reached a crescendo. With Ben desperately trying to keep his trousers up and his tea down, the fielding standards were a little below par. Steve Abbs retired on 50, Matt Danks scored 42 and Ian Anderson 30 as Bradfield edged towards their target. However, a couple of good overs from Rich Waddell kept Melton in the game and, when Jim Tomlinson was was caught by Chris Greenslade off Waddell, for 22 the scores were level. Harrison Lee came in to join Andy Storrs and, although an opportunity to snatch a match-winning single was offered, it was refused and the match ended in an honourable tie – perhaps a little more than the bowling and fielding performance deserved although Chefy (4-2-10-2) and Rich (5-0-16-1) returned impressive figures despite the lack of a wicket-keeper.

After a barbecue, some brutal fining that included a joint “pants performer” award for Ben Mann and Steve Clarke added to the ‘duck’ for Ben that involved two laps of the ground in nothing but a mini-skirt, plus a feeble attempt at “long arming’ a pint by Sam, Melton said goodbye to their convivial hosts and headed for the bright lights of the steel city.

An interesting meeting with a local character called Darren in ‘The Norfolk Arms’ was followed by some serious hula-hooping by Ben Mann & Clarkey senior at Weatherspoons. After Ben and Chris G had both managed to drop their drinks on the Chairman’s feet. The party was joined by Chalky Rennie and, while the “old gits” headed back to the Travelodge, Chalky promised too show the “the young guns” plus Woody the attractions of West Street. It was discovered that Clarke senior, having not seen the ball all afternoon, had left his glasses on the coach so (1) couldn’t see how to get into the toilet and (2) couldn’t see how to flush it! He’ll soon need full-time care!

The Monday morning meet-up saw some sleepy, sore-headed tourists arrive slightly late (having finally ended the previous night’s activities at about 4.00 a.m.) but a typical Weatherspoons breakfast revitalised almost everybody and we headed to Oughtibridge for the second game. The early morning rain soon cleared and skipper-for-the-day, Nick Mackenzie, decided, this time, to field first in an attempt to elicit a slightly more switched-on performance from his troops. They certainly produced a more sprightly display as the hosts were restricted to 196-8 from their 35 overs with wickets for Chris Greenslade (2-6), Sam Mann (2-52), Martyn Cook (1-13), Matt Clarke (1-9), Nick Mackenzie (1-9) and Tom Grant (1-18). Ashley Naseby scored 50 (retired) for Oughtibridge and there were good contributions from Harrison Lee (26), Steve Cline (25) and John Grayson (21). Ben Mann then showed he’d (almost) fully recovered, retiring with an unbeaten half-century. Nick Mackenzie scored 45, Connor Stearman 32 and Chefy 23 but some late wickets, including that of Sam Mann given out lbw by his brother for a duck, meant the scores were level with Melton 9 wickets down and just the returning Ben to bat. With no gloves and Woody Loines’ bat, Ben then swept the first ball he faced for 4 to give Melton victory, despite 5-38 from the hosts J.Shepherd.

Once again Oughtibridge were very good hosts embracing the lightheartedness, providing an excellent tea, and pizza after the match. After the miniskirted walk of shame was completed by Tom Grant and Sam Mann we headed back into Sheffield for a largely uneventful low-key evening of quiet drinking involving everyone except Matt who jaw was, by now, getting very tired. He took to his bed while our eardrums enjoyed some welcome relief!

The final day, after the mandatory Weatherspoons breakfast, we headed towards home with the usual stop-off for the traditional football challenge. The conditions at Sconce & Devon Park at Newark left much to be desired with the grass long, the odd sprinkling of dog s**t and even a dead bird. This, and the lack of air in the football, worked to the advantage of the “young guns”. The “old gits” just couldn’t get their passing game going in the conditions and, even with the usual help from referee Mike Phoenix, goals from Connor Stearman (2), Tom Grant and Nick Mackenzie saw the previously unbeaten oldies 4-2 down. It wasn’t helped by the fact that the oldies had Ben Mann in goal. While his brother performed heroics for the youngsters, Ben seemed to have borrowed Steve Clarke’s gloves. When the referee announced “next goal’s the winner”, in an attempt give the oldies one final chance, it was dashed by Ben who pushed an innocuous cross into his own “net” to make it 5-2.

On the way out of the park Sam found a ‘Sam-size’ miniature wooden pony and a lovely little Sam-size picnic table before the party headed…surprise, surprise, to the pub! Finally, on the coach home the vote was held for the “tourist of the year” won jointly by the entertaining Mann brothers, making it a hat-trick of wins for Sam.

It was another brilliant tour – thanks Nick and Matt. Another is planned for 2020 so don’t miss out. Start paying your money now!

The full tour scorecards can be viewed on Play-Cricket by clicking these links: https://greatmelton.play-cricket.com/website/results/4039663 https://greatmelton.play-cricket.com/website/results/4039665

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