On arrival, Nicky Bird was leaning on the bar at the City Barge in Chiswick, like a Whykamist Del Boy Trotter, spinning yarn and selling stories. The rugby (England v New Zealand) wasn’t on the TV, so a Bird broadcast sufficed as mild entertainment; politics sprinkled with smut, as usual, and that was just his take on Liz Truss. She had apparently made a pass at Andy Fraser in a cab once, and he demurred, which Nicky struggled to believe; not because Liz is “top of the range”, but Andy has “never knowingly turned down anyone”. Truss’ successor, Rishi Sunak, went to Winchester College. “£45,000 a year to board, a rowing club, and a rifle club!” Sir Keir hurled at the despatch box recently. It also produced Nicky Bird esq, which would’ve been my line of attack.
The awards ceremony this year was complimented by a wine tasting, port challenge, and quiz. There are many wine aficionados in the V&A (Tom Bird, Christiaan Jonkers and Nick Constantine, to name a few), and yet it was Nick Pritchard-Gordon who correctly guessed the vintage of the port (1982). He sounds like he should know about wine, with his double-barrelled surname, but it’s more shotgun than vino. 1982, as it goes, is only a year after Lachlan was born, the year the Argentinians invaded the Falklands, UK Inflation was running at about 8%, and FIFA President, Jao Havalange, was lining his pockets at the football World Cup. Plus ça change.
40 years on, the incorruptible V&A CC is entering its 48th season. Jonkers, a miserly treasurer, last year’s bowler of the season, statto in chief, and awards adviser, won an award. The biggest cheer of the evening, though, was not for his “bowling feat”, remarkable as it was (three wickets including two in two balls to win a game), but the announcement our fees will remain the same in 2023. Hurrah! Jonkers did make a pointed comment about the timelessness of paying match fees. Apparently he has far better things to do than chase Ollie Marsh and Lachlan, like watch Tom Ayling make Tik Tok’s, and lunching at the new GAIL’s in Henley. .
Chris Mounsey-Thear was congratulated on his masterful work as fixture secretary and misappropriated at one stage as a wine aficionado. “Just because I drink fuck loads of the stuff doesn’t mean I know anything about it”, CMT slurred. He’d been at Twickenham. The fact he wasn’t face down in his sea bass was good going.
Nobody came out that well from the wine quiz (apart from Tom Bird who generously supplied the wine, and Baz Street who was alone in correctly identifying the Argentinian Malbec, but was unwisely ignored by his table). His table were a cerebral bunch, like Ollie Marsh and Andy Jones. Jones once sat next to Princess Eugenie at a dinner party. Unaware it was her, Jones asked the Princess where she was from and what her parents did for a living. When she said London, Jones thought he was in, until the answer to the second question came, whereupon he did his best Bernie to Anna Scott in Notting Hill impression. Andy married someone called “Humps” instead, which sounds more fun than it probably is. He spent most of the evening talking about wallpaper, which is only marginally better than watching paint dry.
Awards, as ever, were presented by Lady Dowding. And she was on fine form too, rivalling Lachlan as the Benjamin Button of the V&A, and looking remarkably like Bex Millet. Lachlan picked up the “bowler of the season” award, deservedly, for his economy, pace, style and match winning bowling performances (notably against The Refreshers). He was in with a shout of the ‘victor ludorum’, as his batting was also useful towards the back end of the year, picking up the gong for “batting partnership” with Nick Derewlany (an unbroken 180).
Like many of our (now) reasonably youthful team, Lachlan is a student (war studies). Some would say he’s already an expert in war, but lifelong learning is in vogue now (ask Tom Bird. He took three catches this year). The catch of the season award, though, went to Niam Scott-Ram for a Collingwood-esque one handed grab at backward point.
Like Collingwood, someone with red hair who did ok with both bat and ball, but rarely set the world alight, Joe Tetlow won “innings of the year”. Collingwood may well have won the T20 World Cup and the Ashes, but has he ever hit two sixes off the final two balls to win a game against the Cambridge Howitzers? The crowd of WAG’s and dad’s went wild. They’ve been treated to some good cricket this year, and we’ve been thankful to have them. Mike and Lizzie Constantine won a “best supporters” award, jinxing their son(s) at nearly every match. Nick, at least, picked up a bottle of champagne for winning Nicky Bird’s quiz, which was tough to discern above the humdrum of the pub, as good as it was.
In his first draft of the season review, Nicky gave honourable mentions to players and relatives merely ancillary to the club. But unbeknown to most, who did he omit? A hat-trick of core V&A stalwarts: Rob Taylor, Ollie Marsh, and Nick Derewlany. All three played a significant hand in the success of this season – and it was Rob Taylor who rightfully won “player’s player”. He regularly scored runs, skippered the side, catered with Sandra, kept wicket and bowled some of the toughest overs at the death (one where a mere mortal would struggle to even grip the ball, but Rob nailed six wide darts and won the game). Arthur Taylor, born this Christmas, might make things tough for Rob and Sandra next year, but there are high hopes the Taylor cousins (Oscar, Andy’s son is another leftie) will follow in their father’s footsteps.
Ollie Marsh’s successive batsmen of the year award came as no surprise, averaging in the 70’s and scoring over 500 runs in just eight games, including his maiden V&A century. His twin brother is threatening to play next year. Ben was better than Ollie before a knee injury curtailed his professional career, if you can believe it. Dodgy knees, though, are no barrier for a long and successful V&A career. It’s basically a prerequisite, just ask Martin Bowden.
It’s not just arty types, the blind and infirm we let in these days. Aussies too. Andy Taylor, who joined us for the evening with his wife Danni on a visit back from Canada, left a parting gift for the V&A in the shape of Nick Derewlany. Big shoes to fill, and garish green ones too. With over 700 runs this year at an average just shy of 100, this Aussie filled his boots, and then some. It may be the most runs ever scored by a batsmen in a single V&A season, and he deservedly picked up the victor ludorum – the “player of the year”.
There was some chatter about the winner having to organise the annual dinner next year, and each winner thereafter. The thought of Lachlan winning put paid to that, and it’s a realistic problem too. He’s already talking about a net session for 2023, which is nearly upon us. The shortest day has now passed, and the countdown to the new season has begun.
By Joe Tetlow