Visit to the nerve centre


The mood at the club is exceptionally upbeat: despite a poor start to the season, somehow we have managed to struggle through to the Twenty20 quarterfinals. Of course, there’s a long way to go, but the overall feeling of resignation has blossomed into real hope.


So it’s a good time to start on Hector’s project to write the club’s more recent history. The man himself is away a great deal at the moment, only reappearing when we have a home game, so I decide to start by talking to the other people who were around at the time of the glorious revolution. Except it wasn’t really like that; it was more like Hector pulling the last burning feather from the pyre and breathing life into the flaccid little corpse of cricket in this part of the world.


I hesitate to use ‘phoenix’ because in financial terms it’s a dirty word. And this was very much about finance. A bungled attempt to move the club to a new ground had left the worthy but under-resourced amateurs who were running the show staring down the barrel of a very big gun. So they turned to Hector, who before then they had always carefully kept at arm’s length. Everyone knew they didn’t want to do it; everyone knew it was their last resort. Some of them have never forgiven him.


There are still a fair few people around the club from those days, and some hold very influential positions. The director of cricket, for example, and the first team coach; the head of the ground staff, and even a few of those hapless committee men who almost led us to ruin. Some of them are happy to talk to me – but only some.


Basically, I start with who I can get hold of. Once again in this miserable summer it’s raining cats and dogs, so pulling my coat firmly around me I head for the back of the stands and slip between the big green double doors into the Aladdin’s cave beneath. The smell of two-stroke assails me; I love this place; it’s the nerve centre of everything that happens here – the maintenance shed.


One of the young groundsmen is tinkering with the heavy roller while another bowls a tennis ball against the wall. He has a lousy action, but he thinks he’s Steve Harmison. On a good day. I edge around a pile of buckets and rakes towards Ian’s office.


He pushes away a mountain of untidy paperwork, grateful for the distraction. “Hello, lovely. What brings you to the bowels of middle earth?”

“Your wit, intellect and warm welcome.”

“Not my beautiful face?” Ian has a face like a wizened walnut.

“And your beautiful face.”

“Lying cow. Shall I put the kettle on?”

“Please.” That’s another reason I like coming down here – Ian makes the best cup of tea in the county; good and strong, a real man’s brew.


He flicks the kettle on and picks up a mug. “One of these do?”

I look at it closely and burst out laughing. “The logo’s the wrong way up!”

“Why d’you think I’ve got them? Owen blew his stack when he saw them – they were meant to go in the shop in time for the first Twenty20 game.”

“Owen? Blow his stack?” That seems mightily out of character.

The kettle boils and Ian asks me if I want a biscuit. I refuse. He makes some joke about me watching my figure. And then we settle down to talk about Hector.

  1. so where have you gotten so far in the assignment i was about to ask when this blog popped into view, well done 🙂 I think you are the kind of a person who can write an ode to a roach haha

  2. I take that as a massive compliment, Siddarth. Will perhaps try it at some time…

    At the moment I’m collecting information – mainly on rainy days when people have time to talk. Am meant to be talking to the first XI coach tomorrow, but Owen says not to bet on him turning up!

  3. im gonna tell the roach!!!!!!!

    hmmm i do not have the roaches email!!! give it up willow.

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