Seasons in the Sun (Part Eighteen) : Discipline, Patience and Nurofen – In That Order

“Anything planned for tonight?” asks Bronty as he hands The Benevolent Leader Season 4 of Game of Thrones.
“Nope,” he replies. “47 is just another birthday.”
Today, Day One of our last home and away match, is The Leader’s birthday. Tragically, Bronty’s suggestion of having every younger member of the team walk around the oval carrying our captain’s portrait was flatly denied. Macca and I are sent to set the stumps up.

Catesy, returned from his annual meeting at Mantis’ expense, arrives to find that he’ll be opening the bowling with The Leader, who has lost the toss for the first time in God knows how long. The weapons of our opening bowlers will be discipline, patience and Nurofen. In that order. Ascending.

As the Fourths are playing on the adjourning ground, we all sit together in the change rooms as Captain Grumpy mixes the cordial (Jacko, the resident cordial connoisseur, watches intently nearby). Sadly, the handle on the cooler breaks and the floor is baptised in a sea of green.
“Jesus,” exclaims Mantis, who enters just as clean-up efforts begin, “what happened?”
“Well, CSI,” replies Captain Grumpy, “it would seem that the cordial spilt.

Our win over Riverside puts us in the box seat to make finals. If we beat Eltham that should be enough. Riverside and Old Paradians/St Francis will need to win outright to give themselves any chance but that, as The Leader points out, is not our concern.

“As far as our plans go in winning,” The Leader tells us as we prepare to take the field, “nothing changes.” To elaborate: all we can do today is win. We can’t change how the other matches turn out.

Charmer sidles himself into slip as The Leader arranges his field.
“Well, I did take that catch at first last week,” he reminds all within ear shot. “You should start calling me The Flash.”
Charmer will soon have reason to regret giving himself such a floggish nickname…

Start is slightly delayed because, as Wellsy puts it, the stumps “are on a bloody lean.” I blame Macca and jog off. Within seconds of Catesy’s first over beginning, Eltham’s opening batsman and captain Knighta is launching slingshot slogs over midwicket. Huddo is sent to stand on the midwicket boundary and Knighta replies by hitting two sixes well over him, threatening sunbathers in the houses next door. Soon Catesy is shortening his length to cramp his tormentor; Knighta either doesn’t notice or decides to try his luck because a photocopy of his previous hoicks is thickly edged through to AT’s awaiting gloves. Next over, Eltham’s most dangerous batsman is snared at second slip and we’re well on top.

Bronty picks up another wicket via a sharp slips catch from Catesy. DK then delivers one of his best spells for the year – judging by the regularity of AT’s yelps from behind the stumps, he is always a layer of paint away from finding the outside edge. Ironically, he picks up both his wickets with leg side catches.
“You were wasting your time with those off-stump deliveries,” I point out in our celebratory huddle. “Leg side and short – more of that.”

A quick single is called as the ball is flicked out to Charmer. Charmer attempts to volley the ball up off his foot… only for the disobedient pill to trundle under his outstretched boot.
“Good one, Flash!”
“Nice pickup, Grandmaster Flash!”
Self-appointed nicknames are just rookie mistakes.

We’re five down at tea and looking to close out the tail and make a solid start in our run chase. In the cool dry of the change room – Mildura born, humidity averse Macca is making the most of it – the senior members of the mighty Lower Plenty Thirds discuss next Saturday night’s Old Man Café.

Old Man Café is an initiative started by The Leader five years ago. On the last night of the home and away season, all Lower Plenty members over 40 are invited for a night of smoked salmon, fine cheeses, wine, cigars and other such middle aged, middle class excesses. It comes with the tagline ‘Everyone else calls us wankers, we call everyone else peasants.’ Bronty has been preparing his menu for weeks: cold smoked salmon, kangaroo carpaccio, pesto fettuccine with slow cooked cherry tomatoes, Yogurt marinated chicken, slow cooked Texas pulled pork with coleslaw, yellow beef curry and crepes with a red berry and rhubarb jus. Anyone who asks for soy sauce or tomato sauce will be risking an unchecked, indignant attack.
“Can you bring the Tasty Cheese, Charmer?” Wellsy asks innocently.
Charmer replies with a blistering glare. “Mate, I’m a wog and you’re asking me to buy Tasty Cheese?!”
I decide not to ask Charmer if Dolmio sauce is on the cards.

Charmer almost justifies his self-appointed nickname after tea with a direct hit from square leg. Despite his theatrical pleading, the square leg umpire denies the dismissal. As DK and Bronty will agree, Charmer is very forgiving. Unfortunately, he forgives again and again and again. So I get the feeling that his polite statement to the square leg umpire, “I thought it was out but you call it as you see it” will get a mention every time the two will come into contact.

Catesy returns just as Nashy arrives at Beale limping. Just a couple of weeks after he got a mild case of concussion at work, he blew out his knee playing dodge ball and is now awaiting surgery. However, with typical sparky dryness he simply says, “I can’t stop working or I’ll lose my job.”
He arrives to see Catesy take his second wicket when The Leader snaffles a catch at first slip – Flash Charmer, diving across from second, didn’t quite get there. Next ball, AT takes a glance off the glove and Catesy is on a hat trick. He also receives the highest privilege from The Leader…
“So – do you want to set your field?”

We all stand at the ready, silently praying a catch doesn’t come our way (or maybe that’s just me). Catesy strides in, unleashes a steady half volley… and is slapped for a huge six over square leg. Well, that was boring. It doesn’t really matter when the batsman tries the trick again and is easily held by DK. Eltham’s final batsman booms a few straight down the ground, trying to make up the numbers. Finally and inevitably, he edges a slog and sends it spiralling to me at point.
“THERE IT IS!” trumpets The Leader. I hold the catch and decide not to remonstrate with him yet again. It’s his birthday, after all.

We have 24 overs left to bat. Wellsy and Charmer dutifully get out there as The Leader, AT and Bronty await anxiously in their pads. Just as Wellsy pulls his first boundary, the Lower Plenty Bus arrives. This is the second season that this great idea has been in force for: some of the old club Vets and stalwarts hire a double decker bus for the day and travel from ground to ground to cheer our sides on. They arrive at Beale to sing a rendition of Happy Birthday for the delighted Leader.
“Geez,” exclaims Babsy, one of the bus Vets. “Knighta’s opening the bowling! Must be desperate…”
Unfortunately, as Huddo later informs us, his sonorous voice travelled more than he expected. “All the Eltham guys turned around,” he grinned.
And then Knighta gets Charmer out stumped. Wellsy also falls and brothers Bronty and The Leader are the watchmen come stumps.

“So, Catesy,” asks Sirra, who has floated up with the Bus. “Did you get the seven-for?”
Catesy sighs. “No, only five. No free drinks. Wouldn’t’ve mattered, I have to go out tonight.”
“Pity you didn’t get it then,” grins Sirra.

Catesy is our winner of the day, but he doesn’t need a nickname like The Flash. Not that you could give it to him when he looks more like Stan Lee than any of the Marvel creations.

Eltham 91
Catesy 5/33
DK 2/10

Lower Plenty 2/26




About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.


  1. Laurence (Loz) Foley says

    This sounds like a very good club.

    I suggest the double-decker bus is pointed north to Charters Towers and The Goldfield Ashes for Australia Day weekend 2016.

    No beanie required.

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Great stuff Callum , a good start needed , Saturday . How are the other games affecting your finals chances going ?

  3. Callum O'Connor says

    Malcolm – looks like Riverside are a chance to win outright but Old Paradians are in trouble. I think all we need to do is win (fingers crossed…)

  4. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Callum – I found myself googling up “Lower Plenty Thirds” on Sunday to see how you went. Good luck for Day 2

  5. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Callum how did you go ?

  6. Callum O'Connor says

    Malcolm – this was a thriller. Want to hear it?

  7. Malcolm Ashwood says

    I feel good news coming Callum !

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