11-a-side London Cricket Competition
Location: The Oval
Back row left to right: Michael Aitken, Vip Patel, Ray Bruton, Dean Hall, David Adkins, Alan Cooke, David Klauber, Michael Streeter
Front row left to right:Steven Noyce, Graham Cook, Dharmesh Surujbali, Colin Babb, Andrew Greenslade
At the beginning of the summer we jokingly pointed out to the London Field Officer that it would be awkward for us to play in the Final of the London District 11-a-side Cricket Competition as the scheduled date coincided with our Camp Advance Guard. “You would come back to play at the Oval?'” he enquired. We laughed, “Yes, of course!” Inwardly we considered success in a London competition to be far beyond our wildest dreams.
Failure in 3 Battalion matches on the dreaded Wandsworth Common pitches did little to increase confidence. But in London Competitions everything went supremely right. 10 successive victories brought us from the shadows to be London Champions!
Camp Advance Guard set off as usual for Freshwater around 5.15am on Saturday, 16th July. The party of 16 was larger than usual. The hectic first day went well and Camp was firmly established by nightfall. Sunday was taken at a slower tempo. We attended Morning Service at the Avenue Methodist Church and met many friends again. After Sunday Tea nine of us left for London and the Oval. The 92nd London were due to face their old rivals the 4th London in the London District Cricket Final the following day. The Team Manager (me) had prescribed a night in the comfort of their own beds before the big match, rather than on Freshwater Court’s molehills! Three dads, Joe Adkins, Jim Bruton and Harry Hall kindly whisked the team home. They saved us a fortune in rail fares. Suddenly we were back in Streatham again, had Camp been a dream?
The Press and T.V. were at the Oval in force when we arrived. We soon realised Tony Greig was the attraction and not the 92nd London! We owe a great debt to Surrey County Cricket Club for providing us with full facilities at their ground. The wicket was a beauty. Sgt. Dean Hall won the toss for us and chose to bat. The 4th London underestimated our striking power in the early overs and set a much too attacking field. We raced to 48 for 1 in 3 overs before the fielders retreated. Eventually we reached 88 for 9 in 12 overs and Pte. David Adkins was our top scorer with 23 runs.
When the 4th London batted their Captain Kevin Bagnall proved to be a major obstacle in our path by scoring 38 runs. Sgt. Dean Hall placed our field astutely and Cpl. Raymond Bruton and Pte Vipul Patel made a series of brilliant pickups on the fence to hold the 4th London at bay. Cpl. Michael Aitken was hit for 6 early in his 2 over spell but struck back with 3 for 13. The six hit landed on the Test Wicket which the Groundsman was busy preparing. He did not look over happy!
It was a cliff-hanger finish! One ball to go and the 4th London needed 4 to win. Sgt. Dean Hall bowled, the batsman swung and missed, we cried for joy! Then slowly the Umpire signalled the ball wide! The Idiot, how could it be? Three runs wanted, still one ball to come! Again Dean bowled, the batsman connected but the ball went in the air and the catch was held! Victory for the 92nd London by 2 runs, a fairy-tale finish!
The rest of the proceeding took on a dream-like quality. Three cheers echoed from both teams. The trophies and cloth badges were presented at the bottom of the Pavilion steps by Mr John Edbrooke, the London Field Officer. Even the members looked on approvingly from the Long Room. The 92nd London as a team received 2 pairs of batting gloves from Wisden Edwards as a special award. Subsequently Pte. David Adkins received a pair of cricket boots for his all round performance from Lockwood Brown of Dartford and Sgt. Dean Hall received a pair of batting pads from Slazengers as a tribute to his good Captaincy.
Dozens of photos were taken. Parents and friends shared in the jubilation. Then tea and cakes in the Players Dining Room made a super finish to the afternoon.