After that glorious autumn of 2017 “when we” were rescued by the ubiquitous Mnangagwa we thought the only way was up baby, but then in the Summer of 2019 there was the return of Bob.
But I digress, so let’s start at the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start.
In the beginning there was Dave, and he planted the lawn, the seed of an idea to bravely move the tour to somewhere different. It was brave, it was rude, but ultimately I think for all concerned it turned out quite well.
In the early months of the year Lawny had communicated with a tour organising company and they had agreed to sort a 4 day tour around Cheltenham. To this end details had been communicated with the club members and all interested parties had signed up, paid their deposits and eagerly awaited the final tour details.
On Monday 17th June several car loads of various PH cricket members drove down the M4 to Cheltenham and squeezed into a basement car-park under the inglorious Citris Hotel.
Initially we were happy to see clean rooms, bedrooms with beds and toilets and showers, pleasant enough.
Everyone was able to unpack their gear and get themselves unloaded into their respective rooms. Then we all met downstairs in the reception area and here we found the first “fault”. There was somewhere to sit and socialise, but there was no bar….
Anyway it was agreed to get our various accompaniments and adjourn to the Moon Under Water, a local Weatherspoons and hold our first meeting.
There upon the various guises of the “Underworld” PH tour of 2019 were unveiled.
David “Pablo” Lawn started proceedings and we all had to prove our various disguises, espouse a greeting of some sort and show our accompanied tool of choice.
As can be gathered, the black sheep of the day turned out to be some nut dressed as the dictatorial Bob Mugabe (may he never rest in peace). Various other guises went down well and there were a few spectacular words of wisdom uttered.
After a drink or two the members moved back to their cars and we got on our way to the first T20 game of the tour.
This proved to be at some remote farm field on the precarious side of a hill with a slope even Lords would be proud of. North Cerney CC turned out to have a mixed bag of a team with one fellow in his full Indian ODI kit. The game didn’t start well for PH when Lawny gave Ian out LBW to a wide leg side ball. But PH captained by Dan, posted a respectable score, before the oppo were able to just overhaul it, as well as losing a few balls in the surrounding wheat fields. After a quick shower we all drove down the hill to the local tavern for the first fines committee meeting. Drinks all round and the fines agreed upon on a consensus status rather than dictatorial (luckily for some) we then drove back into Cheltenham for dinner and drinks.
Dinner was quickly voted for as being Indian and once everyone was ready we walked to the restaurant and had a good chow down and a few beers. Following this we walked back in the general direction of the hotel looking for a pub for some more drinks. It turned out being this late on a Monday night the best place was Bentley’s, and by the end of the week there were possibly a few who spent more time at Bentley’s than they did at the hotel.
Tuesday morning found breakfast to be had in the hotel reception…
Well, it was the only day anyone ate at the hotel it was that bad.
Once everyone was sufficiently satiated, we walked into town to find Mulligan’s adventure golf, where everyone played through 18 holes of variously laughable putting styles. Then we found Taylor’s for some lunch and beers and to watch England play some fantastic cricket on the TV. Unfortunately, our game was eventually called off so people just carried on drinking. Once England had won, everyone had a shower at the hotel before meeting in the Wetherspoon’s for the evening sundowner. Then we moved onto the Bierkeller for a quiz (but more to try and beat a bunch of youngsters and earn some beer money). Later in the evening it turned out Bentley’s was calling….
Wednesday started with breakfast in Weatherspoons. This was proving to be quite good sport as we jostled at the bar with the first patrons of the day as they raced to get their first pint of cider and favourite chair, from which they rarely moved until closing….
The activity of the day was go-carting, so into a bunch of cars we trundled and drove off to the local circuit. Safety briefing done and all kitted up we began to race around the circuit when suddenly they tried to test us with the red lights. Well that didn’t work for some and there was a bit of a pile up, and Jamie nearly ended up in traction. Luckily we just got him off the track and gave him a glass of water so we could all get back to the fun. It ended up with the 3 tallest lads somehow winning with Symo senior really showing the youngsters how to do it. And that was his final act of the tour as he departed soon after. We left the carting arena and went back to the hotel to grab a bite to eat and load the cars and headed off to our 2nd game of the tour at a lovely club and field in the country, Bredon CC in Tewkesbury. Phil Woods took the reins and somehow we ended up in the field first. They were a good young bunch and smacked us around a bit and then bowled us out quite easily. The highlight being the argument between Stupples and the scorer over when he should be retiring. It also highlighted to the rest of PH how we’ve been done over and got the youngest, slowest, less skilled of the twins….But the club did have its own bar and we had proper sun-downers in the club house and were able to do our fines meeting straight away.
By the time we got back it was another late night and people just grabbed whatever food they could, and in the end a few of us ended up having drinks in the hotel reception area. And when Symo suddenly opted for a Guinness over our normal lager, something was up!!! A card drinking game ensued and the highlight of the night was when young (or old – depends whose writing this!) Ian downed something disgusting, taking an age to digest and turning red and purple, and then slowly throwing up in his glass. Absolute class of the man: no mess was made. Of course there were others who ended up at Bentleys again that night!!!!
Thursday began with a delightful breakfast at Weatherspoons, and although the “Don” Symo tried to enforce bloody marys all-round, it seems the mafia have lost their touch. We all got sorted and headed down the road to the Civil Service Ground for our final game, which it seems was going to be a proper 40 over match. There was a festival going on at the same time so we did have some good tunes to field to at least. On their side was a Zimbo lad who had on a full leg brace and who stepped up to open the batting (We had just seen him in the nets hammering a few balls from a bowling machine with no pads on…)
Our bowling was pretty poor which allowed them to set quite a score, and then our batting was even worse, and the guy in the leg-brace even bowled. But the tea was great again and after the game we were able to retire immediately to the bar. Final fines were sorted and once everyone had had a drink or two it was time for the “race”. Symo laid out a course and Ian and the twins would fight it out in full batting gear to see who was the Queen of the pitch. There ensued a great race with full on stepping in each other’s lane and a full-stretch dive from Stupples junior to steal 2nd from Ian.
Then we drove back to the hotel and changed into something smarter for our tour dinner at a nice Italian. Wine, beer and food was great with laughs all around. (As I write this I am going through the Whatsapp messages to remind myself and laughing all over again). We then moved onto another bar for a final round of Gins from the kitty and we found a phone where-upon a few lewd phone calls were made to missing members of the club.
Then it was into a house-turned-club with loads of alcopops for a dance or two before, you guessed it, wait for it, Bentleys again!!!
Some made it back to the hotel earlier than others…..
Thanks all for a memorable tour
Your irrefutable president Bob