John Fish B.Sc. Publishers of Tenby in Wales (UK)


The Landsker Cup

The Festival Match tomorrow would be the fortieth such match in fifty-two years. It was something of a minor miracle that only twelve had ever been cancelled and this was largely due to the mild maritime Pembrokeshire weather. The only exception had been the 1955 match which was promptly abandoned after a pitch invasion by a herd of cows destroyed the square and deposited enough manure to re-fertilise a small African nation.

The annual fixture between Hodgeston and Pwllgwaelod Cricket Clubs had been started by Sir John Williams (a passionate cricket supporter who owned great chunks of Pembrokeshire, which included the diverse parishes of Pwllgwaelod and Hodgeston) as part of the local Festival of Britain celebrations following the Second World War. Sir John acted as chief benefactor, sponsor and on occasions, match umpire.

The great traditions of the Festival Match fascinated Arthur Milns, who was re-reading its history through the scorecard books of past games in his study. He felt strongly that Sir John's vision was being kept alive by his own personal interest in the chronicle of the match. He diligently noted the fluctuating fortunes of both teams: highest and lowest scores, batting and bowling averages and the names of all the personnel involved throughout the last fifty-two years. He even had pie-charts and graphs drawn up and displayed in his study to show the changing fortunes of the event. He considered himself the model of a local historian, whereas others merely perceived him to be the most boring man west of Carmarthen.

He also enjoyed the unique moments that the match had thrown up from time to time. He giggled to himself as he remembered that wonderful incident ten years ago when the angry and frustrated wife of Pwllgwaelod's opening batsman had driven her car onto the pitch in a fit of rage. She parked it just short of where the unfortunate man was standing, waiting to receive the first ball. She flew out of the car and demanded that he choose between cricket and her. Thankfully, he chose cricket and the game continued.

Unfortunately, Arthur Milns' great tome on the history of the Festival Match, which had the uninspiring title of 'The Festival Match', did not mention such trivia. Instead it pointed out its background and its singular set of rules.

He shivered slightly as he thought about the importance of tomorrow's game. If Hodgeston should lose, it would be the third time on the trot. Therefore, as specified in Sir John's rule book, the Landsker Cup would be retained by Pwllgwaelod, where it would be permanently housed in their clubhouse. Never before had this happened and, what was worse, the cost of purchasing a new silver cup would have to be met from Hodgeston's funds.

More importantly, perhaps, Hodgeston's pride would sink to an all-time low. Lower in fact, than after last year's debacle. That had indeed been a disaster from start to finish. Scoring only 84 runs had been unforgivable and, modesty aside, if it wasn't for the fact that Milns himself had not struck a decent score, the total would have been a damned sight lower still. Losing by nine wickets had been one of the worst moments Hodgeston Cricket Club had suffered in recent years.

He closed his books quietly and placed them back on the shelf. The thought of tomorrow had depressed him slightly and he was no longer in the mood to review better days. Arthur Milns knew that losing tomorrow would be a catastrophe and, perhaps, the final nail in the coffin of the club he had loved for so long.

Suddenly, the door swung open behind him. "Arthur! It's mother!" His wife cried out. "Mother's gone again!"


Extract from Silly Mid Off by Dave Ainsworth

Published at Tenby in the Pembrokeshire Coastal National Park (Wales, UK)

As a Star of Pembrokeshire Series Paperback