Thursday, February 01, 2007

The day I knocked an aussie on his arse

Summer of 1974 (-ish), and Ian Chappell, captain of the Australian cricket team is packing his kit bag in the dressing room after another succesful saturday whooping the England cricket team's sorry arse in a test match at Headingley.

His team mates are already on the bus wating outside the ground for him to join them so that they can travel to their hotel and get roundly pissed, erm, celebrate their third day performance in this five day test match, celebrate hard because they never played on a sunday in those far distant days of yore.

As captain of his nations team he has to be interviewed by the press and stay behind for a while to sign young boys autographs and so he's i a hurry when he finally makes the dash from the dressing room to the road outside where the team bus and his team mates are impatiently awaiting.

As he approches the exit through the Herbert Sutcliffe Gates at Headingly he sees that the driver has kindly positioned the door of the bus right ouside said gates and so he breaks into a trot with the intention of leaping onto the first step and away, in Lone Ranger stylee.

So he's not really looking at all as he passes through the gate, makes the two short steps onto the pavement outside and gathers himself for his leap, and as he clears the ground he is suddenly aware of movement to his right , something approaching at speed on a collision course, something that is unstoppable...

And the inevitable happens, he is hit by a mighty force straight into the ribs, his forward leaping momentum is suddenly halted dead and the kinetic energy of the fast travelling object is transferred into his abdomen and propels him sideways and backwards, to land flat on his arse some yards away, gasping for the air that has been knocked out of both lungs with the hysterical laughter of his team mates on the bus ringing in his ears, as he looks up he sees the unstoppable object, unstopped, moving quickly away from him.


With the test match at Headingley the Leeds cricket team had been playing an away match on that very same day and as a 15 year old scoreboy to the team I had been taken almost unwillingley to the Leeds Supporters Club in the Headingley car park after the match where all of the boring farts in the cricket team watched highlights of the days important test match and talked of their own unimportant roles int he Leeds cricket team - cricket is boring, cricketers even moreso, I only did the job because they paid me half a crown for the season plus all the beer I could drink in the bar afterwards.

And that was quite a lot of beer, even at 15 I could put the stuff away until it started coming back up again, but in common with most of those saturday afternoon/evening sessions, by 7pm I was ready to make the 20 minute walk to The Woodman pub where my friends would soon be arriving for our big night out, them fresh faced and freshly washed and attired, ready for a nights totty spotting, me already pissed and suitably disheveled.

I was late as I left The Supporters Club and in the manner of all pissed men who are late to their next pub appointment I leaned forward at 45 degrees to obtain some momentum, focussed firmly on the pavement to avoid the drunken trip from which there is never a dignified return, and set off at some speed, power walking, large cricket scorebook under one arm, remaining arm pumping away to gain more speed.

A drunken stare takes in only 20 degrees of vision, there is no peripheral sight at all, just a vague awareness of buildings, pavements and the occasional pedestrian who has stepped to one side to let you steam on past, and so I only barely remember the bus parked at the side of the kerb, I do however remember the rowdy noise from within, it was a couple of hours since the Headingley test had finished for the day and it wasn't unusual for busloads of pissed up spectatros to be waiting to leave, little did I know that these were not spectators however.

I'd almost reached the Herbert Sutcliffe Gates when, in a millisecond, something moved into the blurred part of my vision to the left, there was no time to take avoiding action, stopping was not an option at this speed, I raised the arm with the scorebook, elbow high and fended off the flying object with a forearm to its chest, it was a person and it took my full velocity.

It flew sideways and backwards and landed heavily on its arse with a whoosh of expelled air, I couldn't stop, my speed was far to high and was not diminished by the collision, I turned my head slightly and shouted a fleeting "sorry", and hurried on my way to The Woodman and more beer - no-one gets in the way of a boy and his beer.


It was five minutes later as I steamed through Headingley that the bus finally caught up with me, the boy leaning forward at an alarming angle, travelling at an alarming gait, unable to stop for anything until he reached his pub, the boy with the deadly scorebook under his arm, the boy who had achieved what the England Cricket Team had miserably failed to do that day, knock Ian Chappell on his arse.

It was only then that I realised who was on the bus, only when it drew level with me in traffic and I glanced sideways to see the whole of the australian cricket team, minus Mr Chappell, banging onthe window, pointing at me, cheering and waving amid shouts of "good on yer mate" and "yer little barstard".

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