Time to remember times past
Over the last year, all the focus at the club has looked to the future – hours spent getting the pitch right, improving the square, scheduling matches, encouraging the youngsters and chasing membership fees to cover the cost of the insurance and petrol for the mowers. But with the recent turn in the weather, this week saw a number of events conspire to remind the club of times past.
|The old Slazenger bat at the Club house.|
It started last weekend, where a bit of attention was given to the equipment and sorting out the clubhouse bats.I sifted through about fifteen in all, working on those that should compliment our new purchases and discarding the old and split. Two hours were spent re-gripping perished handles, sanding out old nicks and chips. Applying coats of linseed oil onto thirsty willow, all the while convincing myself that such effort will result in at least 10 additional runs to each of our innings over the coming season, and I expect to be proved right!
About half way through, I picked up a short handle Slazenger – wrinkled, old, yellowed and well worn. Unsure of the model or the vintage, for that ink had long since disappeared, my first impression was that this one was fit for ‘beach bats’ pile. Then I turned it over in my hand and looked down the spine, stumbling into one of those special moments where the past cheerily jumps out to greet you right there and then.
All the way down the back were faded biro scribbles, with doodles and names such as Michael Kiely, Carl Quinn, and Neal O’Keeffe etched into the wood, along with some more exotic tags such as ‘Eastwood O’Callaghan’, ‘Peter Rambo’ and ‘Coxy’.
I looked at the names and markings for a good while – they were unfamiliar to me and the only clues I had to their time was ‘Liverpool’ scribbled near the splice, which along with the Eastwood / Rambo reference, suggests that this heralds from their common heyday back in the 80’s. The mind conjures up scenes to try and bridge the time gap – perhaps this was a team that won a cup or a league? Perhaps some friends marking their time together? Or maybe they were just bored, stuck in the clubhouse waiting for the rain to pass during the last match of a dull season. Was it a even a Lismore bat, or was it left here by another club? Not giving any more of its secrets away, I turned the bat over, picked up ball and tested it out. I found it to be light, well balanced, sound and still in possession of a decent enough spring from the small sweet spot. I’d happily head out and face an innings with this one. No- a bat such as this deserves to be kept and spoken of. I spared the sandpaper, but gave it a coat of oil and put it up on the rack where it rightly belongs.
Earlier this week, I called to visit Dermot Edwards who is recovering from a knee replacement in Conna Convalescent Home. Dermot is still a main pillar of our club, the last of a long family connection that extends back to the time of his great great uncle Frances Currey, whose son Chetwode was the first recorded club secretary of 1872. Those who know Dermot will recall a good cricketer with a great passion and a deep, old-school knowledge of the game. Many consider him to know more about ground care and maintenance than many of the professional groundsmen at English County grounds. Why we have such a good ground today is largely down to him.
Now well into his 80’s he is currently in frail condition, though his mind is strong and in possession of a determination to complete his recovery and return home to continue work on his memoirs. We had a good talk about his many memories of the club and games from years long passed, including one incident around 1998 where, when rushing to get the U-15’s to the Maradyke for a game, he got blocked by two lady drivers on Blarney St. in Cork – he beeped the horn, and they then proceeded to berate him. Those that remember Dermot’s temper can well imagine the Basil Fawlty type scene that ensued! More on that one later, but the knowledge and memories that he still holds also deserve to be remembered and recorded where possible.
I also had a pleasant introduction to past member Michael Hickey this week, who has helped compile a brief history of the club and who kindly forwarded the team photo above. He recalls a conversation with another past member Trevor Endersen, who promised to show him (and hopefully share) his collection of club photographs and memorabilia. Sadly, he never got to see the hoard as Trevor had passed away later that year of 2004 and where those items are now – well who knows?
It prompts one into thinking about how important history is to a club, how fragile those links are and how easily it can be lost. Clubs and the communities must look after their cultural heritage, as these are roots from which the present rises and the future grows. To throw in a gratuitous analogy here – any groundsman will tell you that the durability of a crease is partly governed by the quality of the grass root structure that lies underneath – poor and it may not last a match, let alone a season. It’s why we had to drill sew the square this April!
In just over five years time, this club will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the earliest official record we have of a club committee, and now is a timely point to gather as much information as we can about those years. So we are putting a call out to all past members, local historians, friends and patrons of the club to help contribute in whatever way they can. We ask them to dig out and share any memorabilia, stories, names, anecdotes, records, photos, reports – anything that tells the story of the club. Hopefully, we will source enough material that can be compiled into a small publication to properly mark this milestone.
Back to that scene on Blarney Street – Dermot did recall was that I was a passenger in the car that day. He was correct and I confessed to remembering the scene well. Looking back it was hilarious, but neither of us could go on to remember who won the match! I returned to visit him at the weekend and brought him a copy of that photo along with a pen and notebook, and I asked him to jot down some more of those memories. I hope that these will lift his spirits and that he returns to the top room of his house to compile the material he has and finish his memoirs.
If you would like to get in touch about kick starting or contributing to this project, or just wish to join the discussion, please add a comment to the page below or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are particularly interested if you know more about that bat!
Thanks for taking the time to read this,
Incidentally, I’m glad that I managed to salvage this article after last year’s events. Tom Norris, in his efforts as Chairman for 2017 proceeded to destroy much of the club’s heritage (and nearly the club itself) in his efforts. This bat, along with the bat rack, the old notice boards, some equipment were all thrown out or burnt on a bonfire. The place was left a building site when he left without word in September 2017.
The club members are still picking up the pieces and trying to get the Club back on its feet and regain some of the progress that had been made in recent years. We are not out of the woods yet, but hopefully will be soon.