First of all I would like to start with a humble and grovelling apology to PC Tintin , who has taken umbrage at the comment on my last report about his pre-Melbourne suggestions re the omission of Finn from the England bowling attack. Please dont report me to the authorities for libel mate – I promise a handsome donation to the Police Benevolent Fund when I return to the UK! And maybe a even a blue movie or two chucked in for good measure.
Well , the only question after Melbourne can surely be ” how do you follow that “.
The Australian press have been scathing about their cricket team and Ricky Ponting in particular and it has been a delight to read the morning papers. The level of hysterical sledging is of Turnip Taylor proportions ( Tell your mate he’s just cost me my job!! ) and makes RODNEY WHITE’S contributions in the English Daily Star look quite restrained by comparison….which is clearly saying a lot! Talking of journalists , an incident occurred on the third day of the Melbourne Test which I had forgotten until now , but deserves to go into print. Two lads who sat in front of us for the game – our latest recruits to ADDIS as they have also been drinking with us – hard-working students called HENRY and DAVE – wanted to go and sit with the Barmy Army for an hour and asked us to mind their seats. These weren’t reserved. While they were away Scyld Berry and a friend came round and tried to pinch their seats. I warned them off , and they sat to the side next to TREMERS instead. When asked why he wasn’t in the press box , SB replied :
“Not much fun in there today old boy. I’m sat next to some awful fat boy from Wycombe!!”.
Clearly our beloved ADDIS journo has been stuffing himself full of free calories in the press box at every opportunity (along with Derek Pringle).
After the initial hangover had gone, the day after our win we spent some time on a scenic tour of Melbourne by tram. This was free , which was the tour’s only redeeming feature. It was just like the awful scenic river cruise referred to in my 2006/7 blog which HERBIE so enjoyed.
I have always maintained that Melbourne is exactly like Manchester, and the tram tour does nothing to dispel this impression. Ugly concrete and glass monstrosities everywhere – and they even have a new football ground called
” The ETIHAD Stadium”. Rented from the City Council , no doubt. Ugh. What more can I add, except I did look forward very much to our flight to Sydney even though this was at stupid-o-clock in the morning of New Years Eve.
Until we got to the airport that is. Despite being on one of the first flights out on New Years Eve to Sydney, the place was like the Black Hole of Calcutta and it was a feat just to gain entry to the blessed concourse.
All thoughts of women and children first into the lifeboats disappeared as LOFTY & I literally fought our way through the queues and bad tempers to join TREMERS – who fortunately for us had arrived earlier and was nearly at the front of the check in line, although with no paperwork.
Once again , people being treated like cattle by airline companies – pure and simple. Forget the niceties. As LOFTY would no doubt say , “its all a load of b*llocks”.
At least we arrived in Sydney early enough to find our hotel , have a kip , and try to go and see the squibs at New Year. From where we eventually watched the spectacle it looked just like the ” Shock and Awe” bombing of Baghdad.
Given the current exchange rates it probably cost a lot more too.
Two bank holidays followed NYE which were spent messing around on the river , or at least Circular Quay for those familiar with Sydney. On New Years day TREMERS, LOFTY and myself had dinner with the delightful Debbie and Alice Frindall ,wife and daughter respectively of the legend that is the sadly departed Bill. We ate at a Ribs ‘n’ Rump place at Manley recommended by TREMERS although the portions were rather small….LOL.
LOFTY and myself were supplied with giant paper bibs as the staff could obviously sense the onset of our senile dementia, given the size of the spare rib meals we ordered. TREMERS settled for a modest 500g T-bone steak, then helped me out finishing off a rib cage or two.
The second bank holiday was given over to a drinking session in the Observer Hotel on the Rocks , a favourite haunt of mine from my last visit to Sydney with good live music and great beer.
A good number of ADDIS turned up for this including TREMERS , LOFTY , HARRY , STEVE , FIVE-O , GIGI , BILL , ALEX , and son also called ALEX. We were even treated to a guest appearance by RODNEY WHITE and his friends from Wycombe , and the evening was so enjoyable it became rather messy. So messy , in fact , that yours truly along with STEVE and RODNEY were refused further alcohol at approx 2am by the bouncer staff and asked to leave the premises – in a friendly way of course. Having missed my last bus , Im not sure how much my taxi fare to Randwick cost after that , but I have a feeling it was everything I had left in my pockets.
Day one of the Test was rain interrupted and despite my wish for a sober type day we ended up in our Randwick Hotel in the evening introducing yet more members into the ADDIS ARMY over a beer.
DAVE-O most of you will already know along with GRAHAM from Cheltenham. Also PAUL and LULU fom Manchester. PAUL is the proud owner of the large MADCHESTER flag seen at every test abroad – we meet at last – and hails from lovely Levenshulme. He is also a cricket groundsman and believe it or not , despite never having met him before , had a picture of the Cow that sh*ts gold bars on his phone courtesy of a mate who had visited Wormsley earlier this year for the Unicorns v Surrey Game.
Day two of the test was memorable for good play by England but some rather boorish singing and barracking by the BA.
First a new guy got up brandishing a replica urn and started a ditty to the Sloop John B tune of the Jesse Ryder song developed so successfully by Dougie in New Zealand. Unfortunately although a trier , this chap didnt have the charisma of a Dougie performance and the overall impression I formed was of an inferior Dougie substitute. Im probably being a bit harsh & unfair here – but not about the next bit.
When Mitchell Johnson started his first spell , Roger Av-It got up. ” Hey Mitchell , your mothers been on the phone. She says youre a tw*t!”
When Mitchell Johnson started his second spell two hours later he got up again. ” Hey Mitchell , your mothers been on the phone again. She still thinks youre a tw*t”.
Now Im no fan of Mitchell Johnson & quite like the “Mitchell Johnson song” copied though it is from something I used to hear at Old Trafford regularly, but I dont find this guy and his Av-It act at all funny.
Maybe its because I was brought up on genuine wit from the likes of Arlott & Johnson but this man is a complete numpty, and someone much bigger than me needs to tell him he is just not amusing on the next tour. Sounds like a job for FREDDIE in fact. Accompanied by his wide-boy hard cockney minder SON-OF.
Day three of the test was just wonderful , wonderful. The sun came out at last and Cook broke every record in the book with his 189 – he has spent 36 hours at the crease on this tour so far!!
I fear the sun may have gone down at last on Collingwood , sadly , as he struggled yet again to another low score – however this was the only downside to a great day.
Bell followed on after Colly was out with his maiden test century against the Aussies. Then Prior came in when Cook eventually got out and belted the Aussie attack to all parts of the ground.
Australia began to resemble a good leg of lamb that’s just come out of the oven – all nicely falling apart.
As the Aussie heads went down and their fans sneaked out of the ground sensing another imminent innings defeat, the Barmy Army songs and clapping got louder and louder until bad light brought a premature end to proceedings.
Day 4 of the test just carried on in similar vein. Prior hit a century aided and abetted by Bresnan and very soon it was obvious that no declaration was going to happen and the Aussies would be made to chase a very large target.
Soon after lunch our final wicket fell and the Aussies batted, and after making a good start a calamitous run out started the Aussie collapse. Shane Watson clearly needs running tuition and a severe diet.
The Barmy Army singing gathered in strength until the 6th wicket fell and Mitchell Johnson came striding out. Cue crowd hysteria. ” He bowls to the left……”
Mitchell took guard , Tremlett came steaming in and whack – the stumps went cartwheeling. A golden duck. Cue absolute and utter pandemonium. I have never, ever , seen a cricket crowd more boisterous and up for it than this.
The Aussies managed to survive till close including the extra half hour – but it would surely only be a matter of time before we skittled them. A visit to the Barmy Army HQ was in order to pick up some shirts and have a couple of beers. Here they are using the Paragon , which is in a great location on Circular Quay but has clearly seen better days and like most of their other venues is probably quite dead when the cricket circus leaves town.
Morning of day 5 started with some rain damn it , but we rocked up at the ground nevertheless and once again the sheer number of England supporters was staggering. No Aussies in sight at all. Even though admission was FREE!!
Just before play started we had a surprise appearance at the front of our stand from – you guessed it – none other than Roger Av-It.
” Arroooogahh” he shouted, together with some other unintelligible gibberish. ” Youre not funny ” I shouted back – Im sure he heard me, and it looks like Ive saved FREDDIE & SON OF a job!
He sloped off to join his mates in the Barmy Army clique.
During a rain-interrupted morning FIVE-O found time to order and consume several beers indecently early , and LOFTY found time to criticise the too – short bowling , the field positions , Strauss’ captaincy etc etc provoking an unusual expletive outburst from TREMERS.
” F*cking hell George , stop complaining – weve just won the f*cking Ashes for f*ck’s sake ” . Mint . Even the kiddies present around us with their parents laughed out loud !!
The game was finally won just after 12 , and on leaving the ground we were all given invites to the Barmy Army party tonight – $20 entry charge for BA members and only $30 for non-members. Sounds like a bargain , its a shame Im not going, as Im sure I would be invited onto the ” VIP floor ” !! at the top of the discodump if I did. Cant imagine many ordinary lads or tour first timers being invited up there….!
Unless of course they have a monogrammed outfit or a set of plywood idiot cards.
So we have won the series 3-1. A dream come true.
I hope that after this , all future jibes about the average cost of my test victories will be silenced forever – HERBIE, are you listening – I wouldnt have missed this trip for the World.
Or even the Edge of the World. ” I cast my pebble onto the shore of Eternity To be washed by the Ocean of Time It has shape, form and substance It is me One day I will be no more But my pebble will remain here On the shore of Eternity Mute witness for the aeons That today I came and stood At the Edge of the World “
I know you will be surprised and disappointed to learn that I didnt write that little poem by the way , we saw it on a plaque earlier in our tour in a very remote part of Western Tasmania. Its by a guy called Brian Inder.
It seemed suitable to mark this occasion , somehow. Because the next tour over here isnt for at least three years and who knows what may happen between now and then.
Just like the Everest double glazing Irishman says in the advert – cue Dublin Guinness lilt – ” I bet you didnt think Midnight would be doing that today now – did ya”.
Ive no idea at the time of going to press when or where the next tour is , but as usual I hope to see you there and if meanwhile anyone needs a further fix of cricket waffle I will be doing an overall Tour Report when I return home.
A final word of genuine thanks to PAUL COLLINGWOOD , who “did the right thing” and announced his retirement from Test cricket during this game. A loyal servant who I have criticised and praised in equal measure over the years but he will certainly be missed by all.
We are now off to Canberra for a final spot of sightseeing even though all the locals we have spoken to say ” theres nothing there “.
I might try a spot of lake fishing near Jindabyne – Im sure that will keep me out of mischief!