In at the Deep End

4 02 2008

The mysterious message said “9 o’clock. Saturday morning. Outside the swimming pool”.

This was intriguing. Were the club following the lead of Ana Ivanovic, the Serbian world number 2 tennis player who learnt her game in an out-of-use swimming pool? Were we now going to have the first net of 2008, in the pool?

It was a motley crew that presented themselves at nine o’clock. Some looked like refugees from the Friday night before, some just looked bemused to find that Saturday morning existed, while others had not grasped that Scotland is cold if the puddles are frozen and were standing there ‘metaphorically’ in their t-shirts.

Still events became clearer when the crew, numbers swelled by the usual late-comers to an impressive two cricket teams worth, shuffled into the now closed swimming pool. That arch scrounger, the Ground Convener, had gone and bagged the mats used to cover the main pool and the toddlers’ pool.

However the cover for the main pool looked a formidable adversary and several edged casually towards the friendly blue toddlers’ mat in the hope that that would be their task for the morning. Alas there was to be no escape and clutching various straps of assorted usefulness the group edged towards the sleeping green behemoth at the edge of the empty swimming pool.

Nevertheless the cricketers girded their loins and they proceeded with the discipline, organisation and speed of a well-run four on a slippery wicket in the second eleven.

This precision teamwork saw the green giant of a mat eased over the toddlers’ pool, in the depths of which a few of the crew stood looking very much at home, and with a relay system the mat was successfully lobbed out of a first floor window to ‘land’ on other crew members despairingly trying to take the catch below.

Yet more careful planning had the mat carried down the road, prescribe a couple of graceful pirouettes to get through a gate, and then sweep up a hill to await the arrival of an ‘artic’ to whisk the spoils way to Nunholm.

The rescue of these mats to spend their declining years in the summer sun and enjoy some non-chlorinated air for the first time was an operation to make even that Christmas favourite, the Great Escape, look tame by comparison.

The Ground Convener however had not finished with the valiant crew and more was to follow. The monster mat was unloaded short of the old railway bridge at Nunholm, (there was no way underneath for the lorry), and a short, but brutal, route march then ensued which involved carrying this thing up the hill, over the car park, and across to the nets. Amidst some wheezing it was dropped with a thump by the nets and it lies there to this very day.

Its purpose? Well, it may herald the arrival of a boundary jacuzzi for the midweek 20/20. It may be used as part of the pre-match warm-up with the firsts required to run round the ground with it on their shoulders. Alternatively it may become the star attraction in a Sports Club outdoor gym.

However it may also be used as an additional cover for the square and be assigned to those forgetting their cricket teas this season for them to ‘Do the Monster Mat’ and to get it onto the pitch before any deluge arrives.

(The Motley Crew can be seen in the pictures section at www.dumfriescricketclub.co.uk catching their breath).

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