It’s Friday …. the pitch is ready, the ground is ready – the world isn’t!  It is nice to know that school history lessons in future years will remember our sacrifices.  Talking of history, let’s see what happened on 5th June going back over the years.

It was 280 days since ‘that day’ in 1998.  280 days of what if, why, how!  On this day in the Southern League in 1999, Hungerford came to Loperwood Park for the first time since that fateful day against Waterlooville which allowed the Berkshire side to leapfrog us and win the league and walk up a few weeks later to collect the trophy (with Graeme Lyon in tow!).  The visitors won the toss and elected to bowl first – familiar words – but the game lasted just 25 overs with Paul Draper (43*) and Tim Lumsden (25*) negotiating them unscathed against the pace of David Pryke and Hampshire’s Julian Wood before the heavy rains came to wash out the contest.

The same story befell the 2s match in County Two on the back Castlefield pitch at May’s Bounty against Basingstoke & North Hants 3s but not before the evergreen Steve Brandes had delivered 16 deliveries and taken 3 for 1 to leave the home side 46-4 – but the players followed the final wicket to fall off the field and wouldn’t return.

The 2010 season was only four weeks old and we had one of each – a win, a loss and a washout in SPCL Division 3.  An impressive performance against Liphook and Ripsley at Loperwood would ensure we collected a second success.  Six of the top seven batsmen made 20 or more.  Only 4 times in our Southern League history did we record three partnerships over 55 in an innings and three of those occasions came in this season, starting with this game as Mark Archer (39), Darren Vann (36), Paul Cass (39), James Rose (51), Tom Pegler (41) and Michael Wallace (20*) all thrived to take us to 270-7 in our 50 overs.  Liphook made a great start with 100 for the first wicket before Wallace (2-49) and Rose (2-30) set them scurrying to 104-4.  They recovered but Paul Proudley decent 3-50 stopped them in their tracks and Michael Cook (2-48) finished them off for 238 – one of six matches at Loperwood to see over 500 runs scored in the day.

The 2s were away at North Baddesley, who were playing at a leisure centre in Chandler’s Ford – a couple of years later they would join forces with Ampfield – but this game in Regional 1 South would bring a very nervy four-wicket win off the last ball.  The home side won the toss and made steady progress to 167 all out with Paul Henry taking 4-55 and Ben Perry 2-20.  Tom Perry’s 44 and Dave Brandes 46 were key to the chase but when Mike Cotton (23) went at 144-6, we still needed 24 with Henry and Steve Brandes at the crease (make your own jokes here!!).  Both finished with 12 not out in stepping up to the task to bring the victory.

The 2004 season hadn’t started that well with a couple of defeats sandwiching our sole win over Sparsholt and things weren’t to get much better when Hursley Park came to town and sent us spinning to a seven-wicket loss.  Former Hampshire seamer Billy Taylor (2-26), Martin Taylor (2-17) and Andy Marks (4-21) would reduce us to 55-8 after winning the toss.  James Lucy’s unbeaten 30 and Mark Boston – batting at 11 – made 21 not out as they put together 42 for the tenth wicket to push us up to 124-9 in our full 50.  Jimmy Taylor went early but Adrian Small (43) and Paul Edwards (37*) made sure there were no further stumbles.

Manor House in South Baddesley is one of the nicest grounds in the New Forest and it has featured quite a bit in these stories.  It will be again today as Pylewell Park hosted us in the Stone Cup in 1995.  Asked to bat first, we didn’t respond particularly well when we reached 10-6!  But the wise head of Bryan Clark, now playing for us after years at Lyndhurst, crashed 44 with five fours and two sixes and with young Neil Dennis (13) salvaged the wreckage somewhat to take us to 79-9.  At 40-2, Pylewell were well on their way.  Adrian Goddard (3-9) and Ray Hurst (2-23) had other ideas as did Dennis (3-15) which made them sweat at 78-9.  It went all the way to the last ball before a boundary by number 11 Parker brought them a one-wicket win!

IBM Hursley.  A must for the Sunday Second XI in the “Ohhhhhh good tea” destinations for fixtures and, while it was always a good match … the quality of the team clinched it and this particular match in 1994 is one that lives long in the memory.  Rather disappointingly, IBM won the toss and elected to field first – meaning we would have field after tea!  Simon Ennew hit 37 and Richard Isaacs 22 (including a six – how did that happen????) gave us a good start before Paul Bowring cracked 52 not out in 58 balls to take us to 159-8 in our 40 overs.  Then we had tea – outstanding!  That man Dennis again was in the wickets with 2-19 but it was the windmill – Matt Procter – who tore through the hosts with 5-30 and Paul Grinham added 2-29 as they were bowled out for 136.  Ohhhh …. left over tea …. don’t mind if we do!

In 1993, the 1s lost at Purbrook quite heavily but down at Exbury, the 3s were playing in the Hampshire Combination West Division.  We lost by 68 runs but this game does still merit a write up.  The home side scored 200-8 with Paul Grinham 3-52 and Dave Morgan 4-39 taking the bowling honours.  Our reply didn’t go well despite Graham Kinchington’s 43.  At 94-9, we were doomed with John Ennew and Tony O’Connor at the crease.  But they put on 38 for the tenth wicket.  Well, I say they ….. Tony did!  Six fours in a swashbuckling 35 not out which was ended when Postie was run out …. for 0!

It was County One in 1982 and we had Old Simmarians at home and our unbeaten start to the season continued with a fourth win – all of which had been achieved batting first (is that a surprise with our bowling attack).  Skipper Martin Newman smashed 82 and Terry Chilcott 45 along with Bob Wilcocks with 39 took us to 225-5.  But it wasn’t Ray Hurst doing the damage this time with just 10 overs 1-46.  It was Billy Sims’ turn, rolling out 18 overs to claim 5-52 which kept the Old Boys to 175-7.  And the 3s thrashed Swan Green down at the Old Ground by 89 runs with Graham Love batting through the innings for 91 in our 161-4 which was far too many for the visitors as Matt Procter steamed in with 5-21 and Dave Morgan 2-1 seeing them off in 19.3 overs for just 72.

Ray might not have got many wickets in the game above but he did six years previously against the same opponents!  County Two in 1976 at KGV and he was the main cog in removing Old Simms for just 72, taking 7-33.  At 29-6, our reply wasn’t looking so good but Terry Chilcott, batting at seven, hit an unbeaten 27 to take us home.