It is Saturday.  It is Saturday 4th July.  The day!  Independence Day.  The pubs are open.  That mop of hair on your head can now be quaffered and you can go to your favourite restaurant and even crash in a hotel after going to watch a film at the cinema.  But can we play cricket?  Yes, yes, yes we can – next week.  Mr. Johnson called on the third umpire and has declared that cricket can take place from the 11th July.  News will continue to filter through over the next week – but at least we can play cricket again soon!

Today is also going to be a struggle in terms of cheering you up with tales of glorious victories as there have been six Saturday’s to feature 1st XI games and we won only one of them – but we do finish with a moment of absolute brilliance.  So let’s start with that one as it was also a clean sweep of wins in 2009.

Having been smashed for 305 the week before by Bedhampton, James Rose’s side needed to get back on winning ways quickly otherwise their promotion charge would be in tatters.  The visit of a strong South Wilts 2s to Loperwood was never going to be an easy prospect given they contained our SL/SPCL leading run scorer and wicket-taker Paul Draper and a future Calmore star in Dominic Ducellier amongst three Pittman’s.  We won the toss and chose to put South Wilts in and they made a good start although Draper was fired off lbw off Darren Challis for just one.  The Pittman trio came to the party with Sam making 50, Rob 77 not out in addition to Trevor’s 33 drove them to 238-8 from their 50 overs.  Three batsman made 20 plus scores, Mark Archer (25), Steve Dunn (21) and Rose (29) but they kept Paul Cass company as he completed his second century in successive weeks – the first Calmore 1st XI batsman to achieve that feat – going onto 107 not out from 146 balls and would lead us to a five wicket win.  Dom went wicketless (0-30 in 10) while Draper snared his old mate Tom Pegler, bowled for 10.  Promotion charge back on again!

Cass was not the only centurion in the club that day.  There were two others keeping the ‘club jug’ busy back in the pavilion and this was almost a carbon copy of the first XI scorecard, just the 2s batted first.  There were three scores of 20 plus as Garth Nicol, skipper Mike Cotton and Ollie Tull all hit 26 in the 2s trip to Portsmouth and Southsea 2s but they were all in support of the main act of the innings which was Ben Perry’s outstanding 111-ball knock of 116 not out which contained 17 fours and three sixes which would move to an imposing 265-6 in our 45 overs.  The P&S reply was a real stop start affair with five batsmen reaching 20 but none going beyond skipper Sean Kanavan’s 30 as Mark Gardner’s 3-54 was the pick of the bowlers along with Luke Johnson’s 2-31, Paul Henry 2-32 and Steve Brandes 2-51 as the home side closed on 200-9.

And you can be sure that ‘Sparky’ Gardner didn’t miss out on the third jug of the night in celebration of his Dad Kevin’s sublime knock of 134 down at the Old Ground against Camelot in Regional 3 South West.  His innings for Daniel Croft’s 3s was the backbone of our 239-8 with Sam Dempster’s 18 the next best score.  Sam wouldn’t hold back with the ball, slashing through the Camelot middle order with 5-20 which sent the visitors spiraling to 111 all out, with Martin Donovan taking 2-38 and Paul Galbraith 2-4 at the end.

We weren’t really enjoying life in 2015 in SPCL Division One but this game, away at New Milton, will definitely fit into the category of “how come?”.  On an indifferent wicket, it would be polite to say, New Milton were put into bat and only made 134-9 in their 50 overs with Ben Lawes making 30 and Mark House 23 as our bowlers held sway, especially Luke Johnson who grabbed 3-29 and the spin duo of James Rose and Mark Lavelle who combined for figures of 20-6-50-4.  At 12-3, our response wasn’t in great shape.  It took two vital partnerships to turn things around – the first a 48 run stand between Ben Johns and Darren Vann (26) and then, after Callum Holloway recorded his second first baller in a row, 57 between Johns and Mike West (19).  We were 117-5, just 18 runs away from the target and a first win in four.  When Johns was dismissed for a stoic 146-ball 53, which was worth much more on this difficult pitch, it opened the door and four runs later, we were all out for 121.

The news from Loperwood was better as the 2s were at home to Hambledon 2s in County 3 South.  The visitors chose to bat first and the veteran Mark le Clercq gave the innings a good start with 53 off 62 balls before Ben Perry threw him out which was the middle wicket of three falling with the score on 82 to Perry and Harry Morgan.  They continued to struggle and at 130-7 were staring at a quick finish but Seb Duggan (39*) and John Barrett (24) boosted the score to 195-8 in their 45 overs with Perry (3-34) and Dan Croft (2-48) the pick of the bowlers.  Twin half-centuries from Michael Cook and Ben Perry followed Dave Blake’s quickfire 32 at the top of the order and it set us on our way nicely.  Cook made 51 and Perry 58 as we would win with three overs to spare despite le Clercq’s 4-33 with his flighted spin!

And there was more cheer from the 4s game at IBM Hursley 3s as they came away with a seven wicket win.  The home side were bowled out by our eight bowlers, all bar one taking a wicket with skipper Callum Kitcher (2-20) and Ryan Lomax (2-12) the only ones to take more than a single as they were removed for 131.  Darryl McMahon cracked 54 at the top of the innings and with good support from Ollie Tull (28*) saw us to the target in just 18.1 overs.

Let’s have some Sunday action in 1999 to break the league stuff and while the 1s Cross Solent League home game with Ryde was abandoned without a ball bowled, the Sunday 2s went down to Wimborne 2s for a friendly.  With this being in the same season as the magical trip to Carlo’s, it was great to have James Hibberd back with us once again and he was on the ground able to bat at number six this time and with Gregg Lewis put on 99 for the fifth wicket – Gregg made 77 and James 50 as we finished our 40 overs on 199-9.  The home side had two batsmen of the own that threatened to take the game away from us after Matt Gurd had taken 4-31 and Paul Henry 1-20 at the top.  However, Ratcliffe was bowled by Tim Lumsden for 42 and the big wicket of Fripp came shortly after when he was done in the flight, guile, spin and soaring turn of Richard Isaacs for 68.  He finished with 2-30 in seven overs as the home side ended 166-8.  Brilliant captaincy!!

As ever for a Saturday edition, we can look back on that amazing season of 1998 but we would lose our first game of the season which would not be terminal to our championship ambitions but would be put a significent dent in it as it would commence a run of four matches without a win.  And our opponents and hosts today were Hungerford, our ultimate nemesis who would benefit on the final day of the season.  This game could have gone either way after Rob Budd and Martin Kellaway had lifted us from 53-4 with a needed partnership of 126 which would take us towards our total of 191-8, Budd went for 73 and Kellaway 55 against the pace of David Pryke (2-53) and Hampshire’s Julian Wood (2-63).  Wood would be intrumental in the chase as he smashed 68 and with former Middlesex and Glamorgan batsman Toby Radford, they had two players who could take the game away.  Radford would do that with a patient 53 not out as they got home by six wickets with 10 balls to spare to end our unbeaten run.

Our difficult 4 July Saturday’s continue with this County One loss at Longparish by 52 runs in 1987.  Opener John Heagren hit 87, Kelvan Finch 36 and Simon Paine 34 as the home side rattled up 204-6 as Chris Garrett, Dominic Newman and Rob Budd all took a couple of wickets each.  All of our seven batsmen reached double figures with Bob Wilcocks (35*) and Stuart Bailey (27*) top scoring but they couldn’t haul us up from 103-5 but did put on 49 at the end as we closed 152-5.

However, back at Loperwood in South West 1, the 2s were up against Hursley Park 2s and it would bring a heart-racing conclusion.  Mark Hardy (25) and Jimmy Gill (38) put on 72 for the first wicket and when they went Baz Oram (26) and Graham Cooper (46) took up the mantle with a stand of 54 for the fourth wicket.  We would complete our 42 overs with 172-8 on the board with Drewett taking 6-46 for the visitors.  The Hursley reply was focused around Roy King’s 63 and Bunney’s 38 after opener Rick Kellaway had made 26.  The game would come down to the last over, bowled by Billy Sims.  Ray Hurst had already bowled his customary 21 overs, taking 4-81 so it was left to Sims.  He would remove King and, with just two to win off the last ball, Drewett came down to the wicket, missed and was stumped by Oram to give us a one-run win.

Our 4 July Saturday tales of woe conclude with this match in County One in 1981 away at Portsmouth-based Cormorants but this game was played at Southampton Sports Centre.  It wouldn’t matter, we would lose this game by 128 runs.  The ‘home’ side hit 199-8 in their 42 overs with Billy Sims taking 4-55 while M. Manning made 95.  Stockley took 6-25 and Jeftra 3-43 as we would be bowled out for just 71.  And it was no better for the 2s at home to Salisbury Wanderers at Loperwood.  Maybe the wicket was starting to settle down a bit as the visitors made 172-7, Keith Bell claiming 4-51 and Adrian Goddard 3-43.  Or maybe it hadn’t – we were bowled out for 69 as John Ennew top scored with 20.

I think it is only fair that we close with this magical moment in Calmore Sports history.  On this particular Wednesday in 1973, we had two games.  Our XI beat Lyndhurst by 7 wickets in the New Forest Cup Competiton while the Southampton Evening League side beat Ordnance Survey by 12 runs as Pete Wakeford took 4-29.

But it was Pete’s incredible performance eight years later that would be the talk of the club, the town and all of the local newspapers.  This was a 3rd XI game away at New Milton 3s in New Forest Division Three.   Frank Stuttard made 54 at the top of the order and Colin Stuttard helped out with 23 as we would record 152-9 in our 40 overs.  We would win this game by a mammoth 112 runs as New Milton would be Wakeford’ed!  11.4 overs, six maidens, 10 wickets for 17 runs.  Yes, ALL 10 – the only recorded time in Calmore Sports history that a player has achieved that feat.

Could it ever happen again?