The Dejection of Defeat

Posted on July 28, 2011

Our little cricket team bowed out in the most miserable fashion last night, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in a reverse of fortunes that was every bit as desperate as the England penalty shoot outs and Reading play off failures I have witnessed over the years. George, my son, pumped up with aggressive enthusiasm tore through three of the opening batsmen as Yateley collapsed in disarray, our fielders were catching everything and protecting the boundaries with the vigour of champions elect, they were brimming with confidence. Yateley eventually scraped to a desperate 80 off twenty overs, the job was done, four an over required for the league title. Glory beckoned.

Then we batted. A four off the second ball set us on our way, then 11 for nought off two overs, well on track. Then a run out, then an LBW, then a stumping…………….shall I go on? A cataclysmic collapse was happening in front of our very eyes, the plot, somehow, had been well and truly lost as pandemonium took hold. Our final two batsmen tried to rescue us from the inevitable, God did they try, but alas, we had blown it, all we had worked for over the last five years was up in smoke because of half an hour of complete and utter total panic in the ranks as the fear of winning took hold. There were more ducks than the average village pond, it was a total disaster that was more reminiscent of a chaotic episode of Dads Army than a cricket match. I could have cried and I nearly did as I addressed the team for what will probably be the last time. Sporting life can be so cruel, I suppose that is what makes it so compelling. I can’t even remember what I said to them.

I did what I had to, I shook all the hands of the opponents and their Mum’s and Dad’s, desperately trying to find a grin from somewhere, but it wasn’t forthcoming. They tried to console our players, they had witnessed us doing a Devon Loch, a Jean Van de Velde, a Bayern Munich in 1999, they knew their attempts at pity would futile, they knew what they had witnessed, but they had to try to do something, because even they, the victors, had pity for a team that had blown it……big time. The fact that they were not expressing glee at our mental breakdown was small consolation at the time, but looking back it is something that has to be admired.

When I got home I felt so lost I got a bit drunk and woke up this morning with a fair to moderate hangover which as always, made it all feel every bit worse, like a bad dream come true. These lads should have been champions, but complacency conspired against them, was that my fault, some of it must have been? To get battered by a better team is one thing, to collapse against a weaker one is more bitter than sucking on a salted lemon. The fact is folks, sport is fantastic when you are winning but it is a lonely existence when you lose, it is almost like being in a period of mourning which sounds pathetic, but it is just like that, though alcohol doesn’t help, my foggy head is only really clearing now and my mood as a consequence is lightening somewhat, but this wiil take time for everyone to recover from.

Personally, I think that is the end of an era for me. I have known many of these boys from the age of nine or ten, they are now nearly all bigger than me, some will go on to make fine local cricketers, others will probably drift away from it, but hopefully they are all better for their experiences of team sport. My own son is now playing Saturday 1sts Men’s cricket, he is a good player in his own right, he doesn’t really need me anymore, plus I really want to spend some more time with my other son Harry and my perpetually suffering girlfriend, starting with a camping trip tomorrow which I am really looking forward to, it is the ideal antidote. A break from cricket will do me the world of good, the pressure you feel is something every would be colts manager should be aware of, it was actually much easier when we were crap. Fuck only knows how Graham Taylor must have felt when he failed to get England to the 1994 World Cup, at least I wont have my picture on the back of the Basingstoke Gazette with a turnip superimposed to it!

Why do us men do these things? Partly for our own ego, partly to give opportunities to kid’s we didn’t have, partly to make new friends, but mainly for our own children to partake in sport and hopefully be half decent at it. I have done all that, I have taken it all as far as it can possibly go, there is an under seventeen set up, but at this stage I don’t think I want that, but if someone else does I will wholly support it as an outsider. Dealing with kids is one thing, dealing with booze, birds, flunked exams and fags is quite another, I really don’t want it, it is incredibly time consuming and high pressured, particularly when others get neglected because of it.

Next summer I am going to meander to games to watch my son play without the pressure of nepotism and deciding what players I am going to leave out and what ones I will play. I will miss a lot of the parents and the kids, but our September presentation evening will be my last. There is a time to call it a day with these things and that time is now, I am not motivated enough and you can’t do these things when only half your heart is in it. It is a sad way to bow out, but it won’t take long (maybe 10-20 years) and I will look back with fond memories rather than sad ones.

No more blogs for a week, I am off camping tomorrow until next Friday so please pray for me to get sunshine………….right, where’s that hosepipe, I’m taking a quick drive out to Pamber forest.

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