2011: Of county cricket and friends new and old.

Tweet: 8th April 2011

Good day at Neville Rd. One for the purists. Who ever thought I might complain about too much sun. Good to catch up with good friends.

Cricket at Nevil Road

Gloucestershire V Derbyshire

Gloucestershire 343 and 146 -3

Derbyshire157 ( L Norwell 6- 46) and 331 (D Payne 5 -76)

Gloucestershire won by 7 wkts


I always get a scorecard.


2009: Settling back into a Bristolian life

Monday 23rd March 2009

A quiet Monday at home at last. I bought a paper from the beach shop and took a short walk along the sea wall. Gave the lawns a first cut and managed to sit outside for the first time this year. Wrote a bit on the beer of the year for my website. Will be going up to the Rodney next week as Dan and Dave want a holiday and I am happy to step in for them. These visits are fewer and less welcome but I can keep an eye on the building and check my stuff isn’t being abused. Rovers’ season seems to be over, no late run for promotion this time. Been writing up pages for the new smaller versions of the guide for friends and other users of the old guides. They are more like update sheets than the real guide.


Swindon Town Away: Or the power of soup in a flask

Swindon Town Away

Tuesday 20th September 2016

The Journey

The day was a rare one where I could get some County Cricket in to a match day. Gloucestershire were playing Sussex and, as only they appear to do at this time of the year, playing as if the season had finished last week. They had recovered a bit (from 68 for 6 to 143 for 7) when I left at the tea interval. Of course once I did leave they rallied and the final session saw a hundred run partnership. It was an odd that feeling as I left several Gasheads behind at the game.


143 for flipping 7

They stayed becaise they were part of the boycott of this particular match. You may not know the details so I will explain the events leading to this action. A few weeks ago we played the Swindon away game. In fact we saw 61 minutes of the game before a thunderstorm forced an abandonment. Unlike the events of Wycombe a few years earlier, no one was particularly surprised by the abandonment. The pitch flooded as we watched the rain come down. No doubt it would be dry by the time we got home nut the pitch was unplayable when we trudged back to the car. We had the following message ringing in our ears. They said clearly ”HOLD ON TO YOUR TIOCKETS AS THEY WILL BE NEEDED FOR ANY CLAIMS FOR A NEW TICKET OR REFUNDS.” We had seen 60 minutes of play for our £25 ticket. The poor unfortunates on the uncovered terrace paid £19 to be drenched in an open air power shower.

New tickets became available but only for £25 in the stand. No reduction, no compensation, no chance of a refund for the missing 30 minutes of football. The chairman of Swindon nailed his colours to the money grabbing flag of arrogance and expected all away fans, and more bewilderingly, all non-season ticket holding Swindon fans to pay full price. I sort of expected having to pay say £15 or so for the rematch or have an option to watch for a reduced amount on the open seated terrace only. I wouldn’t boycott the game myself. I resolved to go and make sure I spent not a penny more at the game. I took a flask of soup with me so that I wouldn’t need my normal match day catering. I ignored the glossy new programme at £3 and reckon I saved my £10 in doing so.

On the subject of boycotting games. I didn’t go to the Checkertrade trophy game against Reading Boys. I was glad others also did so but I think the football fraternity has missed a trick here. We should be highlighting our objection to the academy teams playing in the league trophy. I think we should be encouraged to go to the normal games between league clubs. If Rovers were to offer £5 tickets for the games we should stack the ground out. For the academy game the club should charge £25 a ticket and hardly anyone would turn up. It would then be blatantly obvious that the feeling was anti the academies rather than the competition itself. At the moment the League can argue that all attendances are down bur not significantly less for the academy games when compared to games between league clubs.

I picked up Bob bang on time at 4. You know what is coming here. Ronnie strolled up five minutes late and so we had to do a bit of car parking adjustments and move on just as he reached for the door to get in. My how we chuckled to ourselves as he ran the extra ten yards, then ten yards more.

Pre match Pubs

The plan was to get to a pub for 5 and the game by 7.15. I dropped them off near the Weighbridge at 5.20 with full instructions of how to get to the Glue Pot and then on to the ground. I moved on to the cricket club next to the ground. I checked where the £5 fee went. The cricket club benefited from the charge so I also took to the bar and downed a coke. The bar in the Cricket Club pavilion does a pint of Arkells on super craft style so I didn’t miss out.


The view from the not so far pavilion

When the boys turned up to the game they reported that the Weighbridge had some impressive beers brewed on site making it one for the future. The Glue Pot was as it always is. Good but on this occasion just o.k.

The Match

Swindon Town 1 Bristol Rovers 2 Attendance: 6,760 (approx. 400 – 500 Gasheads)

Roos 8, Leadbitter 7, Lockyer 7, Clarke J  5, Brown 6,  Clarke O 8 , Bodin 5, Sinclair 6, Lines 7, Taylor 6. Gaffney 5 Subs Colkett 6, Easter 8, Harrison 6

Entertainment Value 3

Man of the Match: Ollie Clarke

Apart from the first 15 minutes this was the complete away performance. Swindon were reduced to trying to buy free kicks in and around the penalty area. We played a midfield that had Lines and Ollie Clarke sitting fairly deep and Sinclair and Bodin working behind and wide of the front two. Ollie Clarke had one of those games that show his real value to the team. He set Lines off on runs in space. He filled in the gaps when wide players went forward. He tracked runners deep into our defensive corners and timed late runs in to the penalty area when space became available. He isn’t quick or particularly creative but tonight he barely misplaced a pass.

Jermaine Easter also made a significant improvement when he came on for the last 30 minutes. He too rarely lost the ball in close spaces. He won the penalty and drifted into areas that Bodin didn’t even see in his time on the pitch.

Our watching team was pretty limited. Of the usual crowd only we three, Marc the Putt and Peter de Meteor made the game. The club obviously used the extra revenue well by drafting in far too many police than could possibly be needed. We noted vans from Hampshire, the Met and Wales alongside local Wilts and Avon and Somerset. Our 400 strong crew of mostly season ticket holders left by Rovers paid coaches and cars while they supervised non-existent riots in the town centre between the ground and station. What a total waste of our over spent money.


Where the missing 1200 might have been.


Space saved for our imaginary friends.

Post-Match pubs

None. I drove straight home. One consequence of leaving the chaps to themselves was that we had to get something to eat. They had taken beer at a Gastropub, and walked through a town centre, past dozens of outlets, yet neither had the gumption to take on some food in doing so. So it was that at 11 on the M4 home I had to turn the radio to full volume and mask the sounds of munching and chewing in my left ear. I had left my ear plugs in my coat pocket.

Next up: Port Vale Home Saturday 24th September

1983: Cricket Tour, Leighton Buzzard and courting.

Wednesday 10th August 1983

Cricket Tour with Bedford Athletic Cricket Section.

Breakfast by 10. Got up and read papers in the garden before all were down for the full breakfast. Yesterday’s game was good, it is always good to play on really good grounds like the one at Bath. Today is apparently very different. We are playing in a pub garden against a very good village side with special rules to account for the size of the field. Full breakfast to get over the need for a large lunch and a walk with Digger Timothy down to the viaduct and back.

Pub lunch was at the Wheatsheaf in Combe Hay. One pint of, guess what, Courage Best and a sandwich for me. Nick Proudman was in top form in starting the team games and fines. Avoided fines so far but will have to watch out this evening.

Dick’s Car to Winsley game. The pub is the Poplars in the nearby village of Wingfield. Significantly the Proudman car was late for the game and missed the instructions of local rules. The main one was that a six is scored when the ball hits the boundary walk on the full and is six and out if the ball goes out of the ground. This is because they would lose too many balls and annoy too many neighbours on the postage stamp of a ground. They batted first and scored a total that didn’t look that high. We were left needing 6 off the last over with one wicket left to win at the end. I contributed exactly nothing to the total. Nick Proudman came to the crease having apparently slept all afternoon. He slapped the ball for six, turned to take the applause and left to a round of questioning scratching heads. We were declared winners but by 0 wickets but Nick was given the task of going, naughty schoolboy like to the neighbouring house to get the ball back.

Back in the Junction we resumed the peanut and Guinness drinking sessions. There was plenty of Bedford Ath. Rugby club traditional singing and I got fines for slow scoring and lack of appropriate tie for evening wear. My biggest fine-worthy event went unmissed as I phoned Fiona from the telephone box on the main road without anyone noticing my absence. There was no reply as before.

 poplars wingfield

The Poplars Wingfield today on Google

 bath cricket club

 Bath Cricket Club

I was invited to join this tour by Dick Timothy, a legend of a teacher at Leon School. The club was made up of the cricket players of a famous Rugby Club in Bedford. It was a quality tour with games at Bath Cricket Club the day before. The next year fixtures included Calne and Bath Rugby Club. It involved a lot of drinking in Rugby Club style but that wasn’t a problem. We were staying at the very tolerant Junction pub in Limpley Stoke. Over the two years of my touring I managed to score enough runs to make it worthwhile being a ringer for them. I would probably have toured again with the chaps but my life was to change significantly in the next two years. At the time I was young and very, very, single.

August the 10th was exactly two years before I was married. I had met Fiona earlier in the year. I was however in something of a Fiona-inspired limbo. The meeting was at an end of school staff disco. I had played cricket in the afternoon so turned up to this staff event later in the evening, after everyone had been there for some time. I knew she might be there because Pete Gunn, a colleague, had mentioned that a friend of his wife Anne, would be coming from Aylesbury and she too had gone to University in Southampton. We had met each other at a party at their house a week earlier. She was stunning, looked happy and very confident when I made my very nervous advances. She had the attention of my best friend Alex at the time. Awkward? Not at all. We talked, we got on, and sadly danced to Baby Jane. For once I made sure I was relatively sober for a Saturday evening. There was however a problem. The school holidays meant that Fiona was off on holiday with her mother, to Rhodes, and to her home in Tunbridge Wells. I had nothing but her number and a promise to phone me back in August. So I was on a cricket tour hoping to be contacted but phoning a number of an empty flat in Aylesbury. The call I made while on tour was one of many speculative calls that were unanswered as she wasn’t at her home for the summer. Her call back came a week before the start of the new term.

We made a plan to meet in Leighton Buzzard. Fiona was coming by bus from Aylesbury, I was on a train from MK. This was in the days before mobile phones so when her bus didn’t arrive I was left with the option to either wait in the hope it was just late, or go home. I walked the mile from station to town three times, in a dithering panic until eventually I found a bus going to Aylesbury. The driver said the last bus had been cancelled. The next bus would arrive at 8. I expected her to have cut her losses and gone home. I waited in puddles of self-pity until the last bus from Aylesbury was due to arrive and didn’t. I was walking to town for a final time when she appeared walking towards the railway station. Neither of us had given up. We had about an hour before the last bus home, which she caught. I went home a very happy man.

I said I was living the life of a single man. Part of this was the attentions of Sue who lived at the end of Hadley Place. She, like me, was a teacher, of French in her case at Stantonbury School. The next day she told me she was going to cycle around Willen Lake. I was on my bike to find her. I caught up with her and with schoolboy enthusiasm announced that I had met the woman I was going to marry. It was a thoughtless and rather arrogant statement and she obviously wasn’t going to be my best mate when I described Fiona to her. I proposed to Fiona twice, once in Leighton Buzzard town square (refused as a stupid idea) and a second time over a beer in a pub.

 stedders at hadley plaqce

 Stedders outside No. 1 Hadley Place Bradwell Common

 fiona at hadley place

Fiona later that year


The Single man no more. London hence shopping at BHS and British Museum.

The two years of courting Fiona involved the following social events. She was a middle school teacher in Aylesbury and I lived 20 plus miles away in Milton Keynes and neither of us had a car. The X15 from Aylesbury became well used as did the train to Leighton Buzzard. Post sports games she would often come to MK. For a few evenings we would go to the Pink Elephant Night club in Dunstable or the Black Lion in Leighton. Tim and Karen Plumb led the way with lifts to the former. Fiona had high maintenance costs of Gin and It as a drink of choice. Back in MK the usual meeting point on a Friday evening was the now long gone .Rose and Castle pub in the market area.

 The Black Lion in June 2008

 Black Lion Leighton Buzzard

 X15 Aylesbury Bus 654 rX15  Reading Bus Stn  Feb 90 Steve  Warwick

The X15 at Aylesbury

Fiona had to put up with plenty of selfish behaviour from me. I played Rugby every Saturday in winter and cricket at least one, if not two, days at the weekend in Summer. She was a very conscientious teacher and would work at least one of the two days so I had to change and give her my time when she did make it to my home. We rarely went out in Aylesbury, that wasn’t a loss for either of us. I was lucky that our social life was pub related. At the time I had little knowledge of her love of Football. We walked miles at weekends, usually to a country pub. I had to learn to be the friendly boyfriend in Middle School Social events at her school. Things soon changed as redundancies loomed within 1893 Education. Fiona was last in and as such was redeployed to Milton Keynes when the cuts came to her school. St Mary Magdalene School in Greenleys was newly opened and it made sense for her to come and live with me. It also meant she would say yes when I asked her again to marry me.


1974       Hambrook W

1983       Bedford Ath. Tour V Winsley W 0 2-0-12-1

1984       Bedford Ath. Tour V Bath RUFC W 32 2-0-18-0

1985       WEDDING

1988       PARIS

1989       PORTUGAL Estoril, Sintra, Cascais

1990       USA New Haven

1991       USA Grand Canyon

1992       USA Frankfort Lexington

1993       USA Custer Nat. Park

1995       USA Salida

1996       Port Vale A 0-4

1998       USA Denver: Colorado Rockies V Montreal Expos

1999       Luton A 2-0

2000       USA Concord Lexington

2001       Chippenham

2002       USA Mt Ranier

2003       USA Newport

2004       NEW ZEALAND New Brighton, Lytleton, Governors Bay, Christchurch

2010       Oxford A 1-6

2013       Scunthorpe h 0-0

1982: Denmark, Newcastle and Bristol within a year

Wednesday 4th August 1982

Arrived in Lubeck late last evening so we  had to get sorted with the youth hostel and didn’t see much of the town. The Jugendherberge is pretty good and in a good location, not far from the river. We walked through the centre, a mediaeval island with a fine central square and lots of small bars to sit and watch things go by. We had a breakfast from the local store in the central square and then went to the river and took a harbour trip. It wasn’t exactly what we thought it would be. I was expecting it to be a trip where they pointed out more buildings and distinctive architecture, much like you would get in Amsterdam’s canal trips. Our trip took us way downstream, in among the tankers and industrial dockyards of the Trave River. It was a bit like a brilliant trip on a much larger version of Avonmouth Docks. We caught the train out about 2, next stop Copenhagen. We had to get the train ferry at Puttgarden. The train goes straight on the ferry as a unit and straight off on rails on the other side at Rodby.. It was a good chance to catch up on some sleep.

We decided it would be best to stay a few nights at our next stop. The usual trip to the central tourist information centre said it would be best to go on to Helsingor. Copenhagen was very busy and we were a bit late for the best hostels so we arrived late afternoon to a brilliant hostel near the beach. Halsingor will be worth a day doing the Shakespeare bits. We are planning at least a day in Copenhagen so we have booked two nights before we head back south.


1981: New jobs, new colleagues and new homes

Monday 27th July 1981

Midland Damp Proofing Treatment

I can’t wait for this job to be finished. I got back to Pritchatts Road around 12 and decided to do some leafleting this afternoon. We are targeting the terraced streets of Kings Heath and Selly Oak. I have to hope that one in a thousand take up the offer of a new damp course as the solution to their Edwardian house damp problems. I have no idea if what I am offering is any good but they are paying me 1p per leaflet posted for the rest of this week. I reckon I can get around 5000 delivered by Friday. On Wednesday I am helping on one successful job in Selly Oak. We have to lift the floor boards and work from the inside on the new damp course. I have no idea how that works either and to be honest, I don’t particularly care, as long as it is legal and I get paid. The money will pay for the tickets to the test match on Friday. Studs and Mas are coming up to watch the second day of the test at Edgbaston. Studs is bringing a copy of the Thornbury Gazette. It will have a report on the game last Saturday. I know what it says because we wrote the report, but it is good to see it in print.

Went for a pint in the Plough in Harborne. Got back to find the post had details of possible accommodation in Milton Keynes. I will leave this to next week and go up to check them out in person. The job offer recommends getting somewhere to live in Bletchley and there are schemes to provide key workers accommodation. I will need to check what that means with the council.

No one left in the rooms. Will need to move out by the end of the week after, by the 8th of August.


1976: Norman no mates, work and a poem

Saturday 19th June 1976

Worked at Jefferies in the morning. Easy deliveries until 11 and then sweeping up and saw dusting the boards. We got the news that cricket was rained off when we arrived at the ground to get lifts to the game. We are playing tomorrow at Patchway and at least the forecast is good for that. What to do instead? The cricket at Lords was off as well so couldn’t even watch it in the T.V. Golf at Ashton Court? By the time we got there it would be time to come home again, and would be wet anyway.

Decided to go home and watch some television. My God Severn Beach is boring when it rains. We planned to meet up at the Cross Hands at 7. Studs went to see if ICI were playing. When I got back to the beach the train was just coming in so I told Mum I was out for the afternoon and jumped on it to go into town. Here I was again, bored and on my own and on this flipping train to nowhere. We screeched as usual around the bend at Avonmouth. What are the chances of meeting anyone in town? No chance, that’s what. Got off at Clifton Down, walked along Whiteladies road and went in to the Victoria Rooms to see what was on. Nothing was on, that’s what, not even a poxy model railway exhibition. It was empty and closed. Next stop the Museum. There is only so much of Alfred one can take so did a quick tour around and on to Park Street. Went up Brandon Hill and back down to the Library. I fancied a beer so risked it by going in the Hatchet. Didn’t stay long. Didn’t even buy a beer. It is always a bit threatening in there. Went along to Christmas Steps and down to King Street. Had a beer in the Old Duke. A pint of Courage Best.

Sat in the Corner and wrote this:-

 old duke bristol poem

Old Duke Bristol June 7


Bristol, home of ships and Pirates looking out to see,

What have you found and kept for me?

Lines of history that are closed,

Streets of value shut firmly against my age,

Houses of doubtful virtue, open to those who want,

Shops of welcome to those who cannot afford,

Like dripping rainfall from a holy canopy,

You promise refreshment from your uncomfortable touch,

But when drops hit my head, all I get is wet,

And a look of laughter from your knowing face.

Bristol, now home of tramps, human not steam

I can’t wait to go, to leave and be gone.

You have nothing for me to keep or believe.


Richard E Stedman


On to Temple Meads and a train home for 6. Bike up to Northwick for 7. No one in the White Horse, not even Studs. Had a pint, Oops, wrong pub, race to the Cross Hands, too late, they had all gone. Home by 9.

Bored, Bored, Bored.


On Jefferies the Butchers: I had a job in this family butchers in Meadow Street in Avonmouth.  It was a short term holiday job. I had to do some of the following. Slicing bacon; making up delivery orders; helping Mel with the deliveries around the docks or Avonmouth plus general cleaning of the shop. I was too young for serving customers but not too young to be shut in the cold store with the hanging meat as a joke at least once a day. On Saturdays it was just house deliveries. I liked the days when we went to all the canteens on the docks dropping off tons of bacon and sausages. The worst part was sorting out chitterlings and other offal.

Other Holiday jobs 1976 – 1980 were:-

In no particular order:-

BAC Sports ground at Filton: Groundsman responsibilities. Painting Rugby posts, cutting outfields, painting lines, sweeping changing rooms. Clocking Southmead Les and Shane in and out when they were late or wanted to leave early. Laughing at their jokes, the same jokes every day.  Pretending to see the girl who stripped every day at 4 for Shane and Les in the house opposite the tennis courts. Brushing those courts. There was strictly no cutting of wickets or bowls greens. Apparently this was far too responsible.

Builders mate: Working for a local building team with Denzil Roylance. I helped do the following. Tiling a new roof on a house in Old Down; renovating a barn in Olveston; replacing a flat roof on a chalet in Woodlands Park in Patchway; and rounding up sheep in a field without a sheepdog in Olveston. In this case I was the sheep dog being whistled at, because I was the quickest at running around the field.

Plymouth Chemicals in Portsishead; Loading Lorries with Chemicals for Don Baker and Colin Reeves to drive all around the South West. Sometimes navigating and being a driver’s mate, i.e. getting the cakes and bacon butties en route. Filling Carboys with acids. Usually Sulphuric acid or a mix of Hydrochloric for use in swimming pools. Being the butt of their posh boy jokes. I deliberately brought in the Times to read, just to wind them up when they read the sun in tea break times.

Plant Hire Firm: Next door to Plymouth Chemicals in another year: Cleaning cement mixers when they were returned after hire. This was a grim job because there was not established method of chipping away at cement in a mixer with needle guns, chisels, whatever would work, and then cleaning them with high pressure hoses. If I was lucky I could have a go at cleaning a larger dumper truck.

How did we get by in in the days before mobile phones? Looking at this example, I didn’t. The piece of doggerel hasn’t seen the light of day and deserved really to stay unearthed. I am however, writing this in the spirit of opening up thoughts, good and bad so perhaps it fits with my then 17 year old self. In those days I did carry around scraps of paper and a notebook just to record thoughts. How very pretentious but there we go. Poetry was there somewhere but, not to be exposed to the world in these pre-punk, self-conscious teenage days. I didn’t help myself much by going off on my own like that without any real plan. Bristol in 1976 was a depressing city. The docks were a downright dangerous place to just stroll around. There was always a risk of walking around the wrong corner to meet up with some rampant football fan looking for some fun at your expense. Getting a beer was never a problem. At 6 foot 4 tall I could get a beer in most pubs, no I.D. was needed, only a bit of self-confidence. Not that solitary drinking was much fun though.

The White Horse was my favourite local pub at the time. I had my 18th Birthday celebration there. I say that but in fact we were “barred” when I said it was my 18th, as I had been going in there for the last two years or so. We would play darts sometimes but usually just talk about things, the usual teenage stuff, of football and cricket. We later had occasional female company in the form of Belinda or “Fi-Fi” Hignell. I can safely say that I was not the focus of their attentions. It was the younger Malpass who caused their fandom to our little group. In the Cross Hands we would more likely meet up with other members of the cricket team but it was often the older players who would just as well cope without our company. Strangely enough, in the land of the ever present skittle alley, I never once rolled a ball in anger. I did some sporadic “sticking up” for the Black and Tans in the league but playing was left to others. In later years Studs and Neil had a car to get us out of the village. Neil has a Triumph of some sort (TR7), with an aluminium exhaust of which he was very proud. Studs was more likely the one to get us to a pub in his car. The usual destination a year later would be somewhere like the White Hart at Littleton. My only form of transport was my hated Puch Grand Prix Moped. It saw the roads of the Severn valley a few months after this post. It provided a form of independence in getting to school or work. It died a death, as I almost did, when I rounded the bend at March Common one evening, over cooked the corner, and took an option to drive into the ditch rather than the headlights and front bumper of Celia Kilminster’s Dad’s car.  My parents never did get the full details of why I stopped riding my super moped. It did however, get sold in 1982 when I wanted the deposit of £100 for my first house. For that it was very useful.


Of the weather: This day was to be the last wet day of the summer. The summer of 76 that had drought, bank fires, swarms of ladybirds, stand pipes in the street and late night conversations about loves and futures. There was very little to bore me from that day on in this summer.

1978       Geography Staff V Stoneham W

1993       Wolverton Town H L 0

1994       Linslade A L 42

1996       Russia v Czech Republic ANFIELD

2005       Northamptonshire v Gloucestershire Stowe School

2009       Middlesex

2010       Hampshire

2015       Essex