They said it couldn’t happen. And they damn well nearly had a point, but so did the Old Barbarians. The Barbarians were named, almost on a whim, after the egg-chasers with the odd socks who famously won a game in 1973, with the key principle that eleven (or fifteen) or fifteen (or eleven) chaps could turn up, pull on a matching shirt and become a team. None of that training, practising or meeting each other nonsense needed, the shirt creates the camaraderie, not the other way round. Or somesuch.
And such has been the guiding principle of the Old Baabaas ever since, membership is a flexible concept based on appropriate chappishness rather than structure, long-term commitment or actually paying fees, heaven forfend! However a dearth of appropriate chaps in the vicinity of club matches has tended to mean that the same old faces turn out for the Baas every time, not a bad thing in itself but one that slightly dilutes the Barbarianness of the club. And so a jolly wheeze was hatched to invite an oppo XI who really didn’t know each other from Adam and to challenge them to a weekend of barbarity. Thus was the genesis of the OBOccasionals, a team recruited from the readership of a newspaper, who had nothing in common except a declared interest in cricket and the same choice of distraction in the smallest room.
The details of the weekend festival of merriment were sketchy in nature, with the Barbs, the OBOccasionals and the guest side from Finland, the ‘Sara Torvalds Invitational XI’ (so named because half of the invited Ekenäs team missed the boat) playing a four-sided triangular tournament that started with the OBOccasionals out-ginning the Finns in the pre-match warm-up but succumbing to the notorious flashing blade of their eternal top scorer, Mr Wide. But the gentle warm-up against so-so opposition meant that the occasional barbarians were ready for the weekend’s showpiece against the Old Barbarians, a match in which quarter was not to be expected nor given.
And while it may be conceded that the odd campanologist turned out in the Baabaa ranks, it must be said that the Baabaas have never had a problem with handing out thrashings (at least in theory, the practice has tended to be less disciplinary), as long as it is done in the right way. The Old Barbarians took to the field in a classic line up and relied on the wiles of Dungers and Chizzers and the experience of Pippers and Garners to wheedle their way into a solid first innings base, underpinned by the efforts of Danners, the Aussie grade bowler having a try-out for Baabaa-level cricket. Encouraged at every juncture by Stiffers above all, the Old Barbarians set a total that challenged the new barbarians but that may have been achievable without the heroic efforts in the field and the bowling crease of Babbers, Koggers, Sharrers and Janners (aka Doggers). The Barbs had set a high bar that was a fosbury too far for the visitors.
day saw the Old Barbarians needing to dispatch the visiting Finns
before turning their attention to their occasional nemesis, and the
morning task was achieved with little pain on anyone’s account,
despite novice captain Beefers trying to ingratiate himself into
Baabaa culture by putting down two dollies. Fortunately Babbers,
Dungers, Avers and even Robbers all pulled a finger out and the Old
Barbarians planted a firm footprint on their own manor before
engaging in a post-lunch knock-about come-who-may against the
(mildly) reinforced OBOccasionals. The Occasionals had however
adopted a cunning strategy for the weekend’s final match and had
returned Robbers to whence he had come in the Baabaa ranks and taken
instead the itinerarant Aussie Danners and the slightly less
itinerararant Aussie Danners2 (or 1, depending how you count). The
match was a hard fought contest in which nails were bitten to the
quick, or to the slow in some cases, and bums were heard to squeak,
though that may have been the lunchtime curry, but the net result was
a narrow loss for the Old Barbarians, a team based on the principle
that spirit is more important than results, against the new
barbarians of the OBOccasionals, a team founded in the Baabaa belief
that cricket is a thing to be enjoyed by any bunch of chaps who share
no more than white togs and red balls and damn the consequences.
PS for pictorial evidence, see http://oboccasionals.weebly.com/