Report by Daniel Mortlock:
The Silver Jubilee tour, held between July 16 and July 22, was a superb celebration of twenty-five years of Fathers And Sons CC. A number of old hands came by for the first time in ages and, just as importantly, there were some new faces as well, with several young players making their first appearance.
The week's undoubted highlight was the much-anticipated Silver Jubilee Dinner, held on the Friday night. The evening began with drinks around Mill Dene's idyllic pond, and then some sixty of us took our seats under a specially-erected marquee on the top lawn for a magnificent hog-roast, followed the FAS floor show. This began with the evening's special guest, Henry Olonga; but rather than regaling us with stories from his years playing international cricket for Zimbabwe, he sang. And, appropriately for a bowler, there was plenty of variation, his two short "spells" covering everything from MOR ballads, originals (including one with a worrying "this is for all the lonely people out there" spoken section) and, finally, a stunning rendition of Nessun Dorma. (Tom Hall had the brilliant heckle "take a blow, Henry" all lined up for this point, but wimped out at the last moment.) After that it was time for Joss Dare and Jim Streeter to present This Is Your FAS, a journey back in time through the two and a half decades of grudge matches, lost fixtures, on-field violence, blitzkrieg drinking, unwise gambling and "double-parking" that have made the club what it is today. It's one thing to have good stories at hand; it's another thing to tell them well, and hopefully some of their sparkling wit will be pillaged to add colour to this web-site in due course. The formal part of the evening ended with thank-yous and presentations to Debbie Salmon for making the tour run as smoothly as it does, to "Diaze"-Pam Henderson for making us run as smoothly as we do, and to Wendy Dare for allowing us to stop her home and business from running as smoothly as it does for the rest of the year. Finally, as it with all things FAS, it came to Baz, Cliff and Joss Dare. Old Vanity Fair-style caricatures of all three had been commissioned, although only Baz's was presented this evening; in accepting this gift he rounded things off with a statement of intent: for the club (and him) to still be going strong in another twenty-five years.
In a week in which the anniversary dinner was only the greatest indulgence of many, it is possibly not surprising that our cricketing fortunes were of the mixed variety. From our eight fixtures we managed three victories, three defeats, a draw and a wash-out. Even though we came out all-square, it's probably the losses that will be remembered longest, including, as they do, The Adastrians going to victory with a boundary off the last ball (a half-tracker from Cliff, apparently) and a 219-run hiding at the hands of an Ebrington side that declared at 319/4 in the 35th over of a 40-over game. The victories, while less remarkable, were at least convincing, coming by margins of 8, 6 and 8 wickets, and were largely centred around some remarkable individual performances by maturing players who'd first experienced senior cricket through FAS.
Cheif amongst these is Jamie Houlder, who dominated both the batting (with 306 runs at 153.00, including two undefeated centuries) and the awards, being judged both best batsman and best wicket-keeper by the rest of us. George Houghton, on his first tour, also impressed with the bat, hitting 123 runs at 61.50; but lest you think it was only the young pups who succeeded, old hands Cliff Dare (127 runs at 42.33) and Jim Streeter (92 runs off about 50 balls against The Bunnies in his only innings of the tour) also plundered opposition bowling with great success.
Our bowling was once again dominated by the unholy trinity of Cliff "the father" Dare (6 wickets at 13.33), Harry "the son" Houlder (9 wickets at 11.89) and Joe "the holy ghost" White (11 wickets at 12.73), although for once somone else managed to break the five-wicket barrier, George Houghton taking 5 at 20.20 to go with his batting efforts. He duly won the award for best all-rounder, while Joe won his sixth consecutive bowling award, albeit by just one vote from Harry. Don't shed a tear for the SFG one, though, as he did take home the fielding award, his "hand cannon" having been fired with great accuracy throughout the week.
All this youthful energy would be of little use without some coherence, of course, and surely it was an old hand, possibly slow of movement but sharp of mind and full of experience, who was best captain of the tour? Well, sort of - Jamie Scott won this one, although maybe it was just a thank you for successfully preventing his parents' dog from fielding this year. The dog might even have been a contender for character of the tour in a week during which no one personality made an indelible mark; so instead it was a return to an old favourite, Henry Hall taking this one away along with some disturbing rumours about illegitimate children and the like. Which brings us nicely to the raison d'etre of FAS: to give sons a chance to learn the game with their fathers, encouragement for which comes in the form of the coveted award for most-improved young player. Unfortunately there was, once again, only one player eligible - despite Freddie Burnett's promising performances on his first tour, he couldn't be said to have improved. Thus Stefan Harvey took the prize for the second year running and, whilst deserving, will presumably relish the competition if Freddie returns next time.
And here "next time" of course means the as-yet unnamed 2007 tour . . . unless Sven can perform miracles and organise the Bermuda tour that was talked about over a few too many on the final night . . .