Report by Daniel Mortlock:
Finally, after nearly three decades of trying, Fathers And Sons CC won every match on a full tour, beating all five opponents on the 2008 Cotswolds Carry On by huge margins. There was a slight blemish with the warm-up loss against Remnants, but that match was played with an under-manned side, and once the full might of the FAS 2008 vintage was assembled the only team that even got close to us was, well, us. That match, between White's Winners/Wankers and Houlder's Heroes/Homos, was organised as a hasty replacement for the Ebrington fixture when they couldn't raise a team, and in the end was the most exciting of the tour. Otherwise it was every bit as one-sided as margins of 148 runs, 52 runs, 112 runs, 8 wickets and 155 runs suggest.
The main reason for our domination was a long and strong batting line-up that scored at about a run a ball all tour, but really peaked at the start, with 251/4 from 40 eventful overs against Naunton, and the end, with 305/5 from 40 even more eventful overs against Fladbury. That innings contained three individual fifties (well, four if you include extras), but on a tour where nine different batsmen made half-centuries it was going to take something a bit more than that to stand out. The best innings was Chris Barras's 136 against The Adastrians, the second-highest ever for FAS, but even effort that paled in comparison Cliff Dare's purple patch as he rattled off scores of 128*, 17, 80* and 50 to finally win the batting award for, amazingly, the first time ever. 275 runs at 137.50 would be enough for most people, but Cliff's son Hal had made a rather ambitious bet that his dad would top 300 runs for the tour, and so there was a count-down of sorts ("How many runs does Dad have now?" "Three." "How many runs does Dad have now?" "Still three." and so on) as he plundered the Fladbury attack on the Friday. But with 25 still needed he managed to top-edge an attempted sweep against a twelve year-old bowling nude balls and the dream - and the money - was gone.
That wasn't the only "almost" on tour, as Jamie Houlder, despite batting brilliantly to get 192 runs at 96.00, had to endure the twin frustrations of not quite averaging triple-figures and also not getting much of a go with the gloves (despite having won "best wicket-keeper" for three of the last four years). Instead Chris Barras got the nod there more often than not, 'keeping beautifully, particularly against The Adastrians, against whom he took a catch and made four stumpings to equal Paul Sansom's FAS record for the most dismissals in an innings. With a further five dismissals in his other three matches, there was no surprise when Chris received the wicket-keeping award for the umpteenth time. It was, however, possibly a little less predictable when Dave Harvey came from behind to win the fielding award, putting in a blinder against Fladbury despite the slippery ground and lack of intensity that characterised our time in the field in that game.
The Fladbury game also contained the two most note-worthy bowling performances of the tour. The first was by Dave himself, who got the yips to such a degree that he sent down 28 wides on his way to figures of 3/78, and yet still got his first ever three-for, one of which was his young nephew, Joe. Joe almost missed out on the chance of facing Uncle Dave when he had his stumps rattled first ball by the "harsh Aussie bastard" Daniel Mortlock, but he was called back when, foolishly, nobody remembered to appeal and umpire Geoff Hales correctly pointed to Law 27.1, which states that "Neither umpire shall give a batsman out, even though he may be out under the Laws, unless appealed to by the fielding side". For his part Daniel was suitably contrite afterwards, although somewhat gutted to have been robbed of what seemed to have been his first ever five-for; however in the end he was brought back to finish the innings off, a flurry of last-minute wides not quite ruining eventual figures of 5/9. In one of the greatest upsets since the '81 Headingly Test, this was deemed good enough to get the bowling award, which thus went somewhere other than Chateau White for the first time this century. And even though Daniel did top the on-tour averages with 6 wickets at 5.50, any of Freddie Burnet (5 wickets at 9.80), Fraser Houlder (5 wickets at 11.60), Joe White (8 wickets at 12.50), George Houghton (8 wickets at 13.38) and Joss Dare (8 wickets at 15.38) would have been worthy winners as well. At least there were compensations for George, who also got 103 runs at 34.33 to be the best all-rounder, and Freddie, who was named the most improved young player. But maybe the best aspect of all this was the sense of having a full bowling attack for once, rather than relying on Joe, Harry and Cliff for the bulk of our wickets as been the case in the last few tours; of course the other thing the above figures reveal is that our bowling, like our batting, was just a bit too good for the opposition this year.
With such dominance the job of captaincy can't have been too hard and, given that he didn't let anyone else have a go, there was no doubt that Cliff Dare would once again receive the captaincy award. That said, it wasn't an empty gesture, as Cliff's combination of cricketing knowledge and near-continuous stream of one-liners are a huge part of the FAS experience. Indeed, he was on such good form that another character of the tour award couldn't have been out of the question, but in the end it went to the enigmatic Nick Houlder, who kept managing to take centre stage from the edge of frame - who can forget the sight of Nick gently rocking his new-born to sleep in the quiet shadows on the far side of Mill Dene pond as everyone else raucously celebrated the end-of-tour dinner? Actually possibly quite a few, given that the celebrating went on well past sunrise, and included yards of "ale+" for the newly engaged Henry Hall and Jamie Scott (no, not to each other, although it's an intriguing thought). The morning after vibe was of a group of hollow-eyed corpses wandering around in search of their carelessly misplaced souls, and it would have been most interesting to see how an FAS hangover eleven would have done against any of the sides we'd beaten so easily earlier in the week. In other words the final night was brilliant - the food was delicious, the setting next to the mill pond was exquisite, and the entertainment was perfect. After two years in which Henry Olonga's classical arias and some music hall classics were maybe a little refined for the occasion, this time round we simply had an engaging guy (by the name of Pete Watkins) playing guitar and singing a bunch of songs we all knew. As he took to the stage there was an initial sense that, once again, the FAS faithful was to be a hard audience . . . but four bars into the first song (The Kinks' Sunny Afternoon) everybody was won over, drumming on the tables, shouting along for the choruses, and even "harmonising" from time to time. The music eventually moved inside to avoid serenading the neighbours as they woke up the next morning, and he finally played his last chord at about 3am, a truly heroic effort.
Which, without seeming at all contrived, segues beautifully into the most heroic effort of all, that of the Dare family in making FAS happen in the first place. Wendy once again not only gave us the run of the house, but actually facillitated the whole invasion; and Cliff, Joss and Baz worked wonders to give us all the chance to play a game we love in the most fabulous environment. So, assuming your head's stopped throbbing and the fridge is no longer rotating, raise your glasses to Baz, Wendy, Cliff and Joss.