In contrast to the bucolic locations typically visited by the Rioteers, this Sunday’s game took place beneath the apathetic, metropolitan glower of downtown Winchester’s skyscrapers, graffiti, ennui, and menace (just down the road from the nihilistic, metropolitan sneer, lassitude, menace, etc. of the home of the Rioteers’ match manager for this fixture – Ed.).
We had an unfamiliar environment—less P.G. Wodehouse idyll, more J.G. Ballard dystopia—in which to face a new opponent – Winchester’s splendid Racqueteers.
In spite of the Rioteers’ team bus having been bombarded with flares and copies of the Hampshire Chronicle as it navigated the one-way system en route to the ground, the scene on arrival at River Park was none the less pleasant in its own, urban-chic sort of way. One advantage of playing in the centre of a booming metropolis is that the game attracts a crowd, providing the opportunity to advertise the beautiful game to the various extras from Blade Runner that regularly venture past the field of play. The Rioteers and their hosts were for the afternoon ambassadors – of élan, skill, composure, and sportsmanship.
Captain Marty won the toss (I think) and elected for us to bat first, in a T35 game.
To see out their thirty-five-over innings the Rioteers only needed six batsmen (and could have done without their number four Damian Stafford who was bowled for nought). The other five did extremely well. Openers Colonel Bickers and Captain Marty scored 67 and 70 before being out LBW and caught respectively. Sam Cook (without an E) scored a rapid 55 before being caught. Damian came and went. Chris Folley and Jim Shea then took us home with a composed 16* and a lively 33* respectively.
While this was happening the beautiful game was providing its usual opportunities for multi-tasking including an interesting discussion among non-batting and non-umpiring Rioteers about tectonic and volcanic and other earthquake-related conditions in New Zealand, during which John Hall provided an explanation, of the phenomenon of liquefaction, that at the very least matched the élan, skill and composure shown on the field by five of our six batsmen. While your reporter feels he now has under his belt a rudimentary understanding of the process, it is recommended that those fellow Rioteers not lucky enough to have been present at this discussion wishing to be edified by someone with both erudition and gravitas seek out John for a recap.
In the meantime, the Rioteers had accrued a very competitive score of 251/4.
Given the match was being held in the metropolis—“the world’s behind”, as Lemmy famously dubbed it—a gentil, between-innings tea was deferred in favour of a post-match bender in the nearest Wetherspoons.
The Racqueteers’ batting was good, with several impressive performances including Corbett and Gulliford scoring 71 and 66 before being bowled out. All seven Racqueteers batsmen that lost their wicket did so by being bowled by an in-form Rioteers attack. The Racqueteers’ openers were removed by John and Matt, following which Sam beat the batsman three times, Bertie twice. The Racqeteers ended their innings on 221/7, at which juncture we headed to the pub to be treated by our splendid hosts to sausages, chips and beer, not necessarily in that order.
Thank you to our wonderful hosts, the Racqueteers, who I trust will forgive the poetic licence (gross disinformation – Ed.) taken in this report in describing the River Park ground and King Alfred pub. We look forward to teaming up with you in September of this season to welcome French touring side Catus to the metrop., and to sharing the beautiful game with you again next season.