Cricket 2011: When bowling is not bowling

 

 

By Gord Fleming (84-87)

“Another year, another championship”, said HSRCL Alumni squad leader Gordon Fleming as the clouds rolled in. “And another Thunderbird post-game wrap-up” added his insistent editor from the sidelines. “And stop recycling the same damn story year after year! We call it ‘news’ for a reason!”

The captain thought about this briefly and then turned his attention back to the task at hand – defeating an HSR Staff that was surely hungry for victory after forfeiture of last year’s match (recycling! – ed.).

To the Alumni , victory  was nearly assured as was foretold to them. He looked at his watch as the thunderclaps drew nearer. “The rain and thunder are going to end this one”, silly-mid-off and alternate short-leg Dr. Kissick mused. “All we have to do is score one or more runs than the Staff team has and we’ll win” (dammit, recycling! – ed.).

Dr Jamie Kissick at bat!

An excellent strategy, to be sure. But beyond the simple math of “high score wins”, forces beyond the comprehension of most of the participants were at work.

That morning, four of the Alumni players awoke to a shared vision. Warner, Ian, Gord and Ken (names cunningly encrypted…or are they?) saw a tall man with an axe over his shoulder, the head resting gently against a heavy woolen cap that matched the colour of his leather boots. His greatcoat was wet, pulling his shoulders down, emphasizing his long beard and bushy moustache (now we’re talking… – ed.).

He spoke.

“Je m’appelle Chartrand Richelieu”. Continuing in heavily accented English, he recounted a tale of how he arrived on the shores of the new world and worked his way inland until he found a home not far from where this afternoon’s match would be played. “I ‘ave come to ensure dat justice always be done at the old Mill – ‘eed my words. I will ‘elp you make sure that the championnat stays out of the ‘ands of H.S.R. Staff….”.

All four men awoke abruptly at that moment, each in turn dismissing the apparition as a strange dream. As Ken spread peanut butter and hazelnut compote on a chocolate muffin, Ian laughed and said, “hey, that peanut butter looks just like a moustache and the knife looks like the axe that…” He looked up at that moment to see only the wide eyes of the three other men that shared his dream.

“Chartrand Richelieu” they all pronounced in unison.

They hadn’t heard the name before this morning’s vision, and only sketchy details were available on the online historical record for the area, but what did exist confirmed the strange story of a French immigrant accused of sorcery in his home village, ostracized to the point of having to flee the country. Arriving in Halifax in 1811, he traversed Lower Canada, never staying in one place for very long, as its connection to his home country caused him considerable discomfort. He finally settled in a cabin near present–day Harcourt, mastered the woodland skills of the day, and became a very popular fellow among the townsfolk, who just called him “Chat”.

Some of this popularity was due to his introduction of a game he called “quilles”, a precursor to what is now known as “bowling”.  The townsfolk took to this immediately, as it helped them while away hours that they would otherwise have been wasting on drink and wenches. Soon, every man, woman and child in the town would be participating in organized tournaments.

Several successive victories by a team of former wenches inspired Chat to craft a challenge award, which would symbolize local supremacy in the game that he had brought to the town. “Let all who come ‘ere be knowing, dat le championnat of “bowling” be represent by the trophee dat is in my ‘ands.”

As the four men learned the true history of the man who came to them in an apparition, they began to wonder what it all meant. Why was this spirit of a long passed era speaking to them of justice on a “mill site” and promising them a championship? What was the connection between the approaching storm near the end of the match and this shared vision that the Alumni skipper knew to mean certain victory? Since when does bowling have anything to do with cricket? How will this story escape the complicated narrative corner that it has written itself into?

And so it was that the Shat Richly Memorial Bowling Trophy was hoisted by a foursome of HSR staff, a symbol of a victory sealed months before in an inner-suburban bowling alley west of Toronto. What they did not know was that it was also a symbol of a humiliating defeat suffered centuries earlier, not far from the place that brought them together.

One grey afternoon in 1815, a group of Englishmen, all dressed in white arrived in Harcourt, and found Chartrand Richelieu in the tavern, enjoying a hot tea made from the vegetation available in the surrounding forest.

“We’re looking for a man named Shat Richly”, said the tallest among them.

“Richelieu. Chat Richelieu”, he corrected the man. “You are speaking to ‘im”

“We are given to understand that you are a skilled bowler. We have come to challenge you for your trophy”.

“I’m retired”, replied Chat. “Besides, the Former Wenches are reigning champions, not me”.

The Men in White looked puzzled as the tall one continued. “We have been sent here by men of considerable means to challenge the legendary Shat Richly to a match. The reward to the winner is, we assure you, substantial”.

“Chat Richelieu”, he corrected them once more and with considerably less patience. “’How substantial?” he asked, after a pause.

“Certainly enough to afford proper tea from now on” answered the tall one, turning his nose away from the steaming cup that sat on the table between them. “What do I ‘ave to do?” asked Richelieu, before taking a long sip of the brew that the Men in White were quietly ridiculing.

“Put your best team together and meet us here tomorrow at 1”, replied the tall one as he handed over a map that showed a clearing in the woods some nine miles west. “We’ll take the trophy with us, clean it up and prepare it for a proper presentation, along with the cash reward”.  He then leaned in and continued, “of course, we’ll need you to give us something as a show of good faith”.

Richelieu stared at the table for a few seconds, took another sip of his tea, and reached into the inside pocket of his greatcoat. “It’s all I ‘ave of any worth”, he said as he handed over a folded set of papers. “They’re deeds to several plots of land that I own around the nearby lakes”.  He slid the papers across the table and said, “you ‘ave yourself a match, Mr…..?”

“Stafford. My name in Herbert Stanley Robert Stafford” he said, clasping Richelieu’s outstretched palm.

Richelieu spent the rest of the day rounding up the Former Wenches and a handful of other skilled bowlers, recounted what had just transpired in the tavern, and set up the bowling green to crack off the rust from so many months of idleness. After a few practice rounds, no one in the group believed that any outsider could pose serious threat to their domination of a game that was the calling card of their community.

They played until nightfall, ate heartily, slept and then set out for the clearing early the next morning. When they arrived, they saw a large group of Men in White, running around a field that had two arrays of wooden stakes in the middle.

“Que Diable?” exclaimed Richelieu as he dropped his bowling ball and bag of pins. “What en nom d’enfer is this ‘ere?”

As Stafford approached him, he held his arms out to indicate the entire field behind him and yelled out “this, my good fellow, is Cricket!”

“But I’m a bowler!”

“And you accepted our challenge as such. Now take the field, if you please”.

The rest of the Men in White began to laugh as Chartrand and his mates began to realize that they had been cheated. Knowing that playing was their only option, they gamely walked onto the field without having the foggiest notion of what they were supposed to do as the Men in White ran up the score.

The final humiliation came when Richelieu cast a glance at the table on the sidelines. He saw that the trophy he had sent with the Englishmen was not there. In its place was a cheap molded man affixed to a small silver leaf tossing a bowling ball. “We call it the Shat Richly Memorial Bowling Trophy!” cried one of the Englishmen, barely containing his laughter.

As he realized that these Englishmen had taken his land, humiliated him and probably knew damn well how to pronounce his name, the rage built in him like a ground fire looking for its next hollow stump. “You will pay for this dearly for this, Monsieur H.S.R. Stafford (OH COME ON! – ed.)!

As he raised his clenched fist to the skies, they suddenly darkened and a hard rain began to fall. Thunder could be heard approaching from the Northwest as sheets of lightning flashed insistently overhead. The Men in White scrambled to find shelter under the tallest trees in the wood.

Chartrand Richelieu stood alone in the middle of the field and thought about the day that he was exiled from his village in the French countryside. He began to laugh quietly to himself as the cries of men were once again silenced one by one by the lightning strikes, and the familiar smell of braised flesh filled the air.

He walked to the edge of the field to gather his things. He picked up his axe, placing the handle on his shoulder, the head resting gently against a heavy woolen cap that matched the colour of his leather boots. His greatcoat was wet, pulling his shoulders down, emphasizing his long beard and bushy moustache. He closed his eyes, using his powers to see a day that was centuries away. Four strangely dressed men appeared before him.

He spoke.

“Je m’appelle Chartrand Richelieu. I ‘ave come to ensure dat justice always be done hon le site of the old Mill – ‘eed my words . I will ‘elp you make sure that the championnat stays out of the ‘ands of H.S.R. Staff….”.

How’s that? (WTF. – ed.)

Box Score

INNING

1

2

STAFF

28

X

ALUMNI

31

X

Chat Richelieu

Revenge

Cup of Pine needle tea with a side of plantain weed.

2010 Cricket Match

NEITHER RUNNIN’ NORWALKIN’ – ALUMNI UNABLE TO LICK STAFF (AT CRICKET)
by Gord Fleming (84-88) – Staff Alumni Cricket Team Coach

HALIBURTON – The regrettable list of cancelled championships that already includes the WWI-Era Grey Cups, the 1919 Stanley Cup, and the 1994 World Series has a new entry today. The 2010 Haliburton Scout Reserve Cricket League championship was scuppered immediately prior to the scheduled opening bowl, owing to a combination of factors, chief among which were immediately opening bowels.

As the Alumni team members arrived at their pre-season training camp on Kennabi’s North shore, they were informed that the Staff team, their most bitter – and only – rivals, had been decimated by an outbreak of what was presumed to be Norwalk-like virus. A chill descended upon the cocksure and jovial mood of the undefeated Alumni squad, as each was in turn ordered by team physician and silly-mid-off Jamie Kissick to refrain from licking staff for the time being.

As the first day of training camp progressed despite the uncertainty, the intensity of the rivalry was underscored as rumours began to circulate that Justin Way, the long, long, long serving captain of the Staff side had devised a way of using the outbreak to his advantage. It was reported that he had begun offering undefined incentives to his stricken players to “say hello in really, really friendly ways” to the healthy Alumni in a nefarious plot to weaken them.

I’m not going to comment on unfounded rumours” said Alumni captain Gordon Fleming. “They seem a little far-fetched. I mean, incentives? Why would they need incentives? Have you seen us? We’re like the team your team could smell like”. He then put his hands on his towel-draped hips and exclaimed cryptically, “I’m in a tent!

Later that evening, league commissioner Kevin Bell announced the match was expected to go on as scheduled. “We are looking forward to the Staff side’s full recovery in time for Sunday’s match. We know they are doing everything they can to get their strength back, and the league is doing its part by reminding them of the heavy fines they face for failure to show”.

Asked to comment on the possibility that such fines might push ill players onto the field – giving the Alumni a competitive advantage – Fleming said “we like winning way better than losing, but we want to do it because we score lots of runs, not because the other team has them”.

The grueling Alumni training regime therefore continued as planned. “We’re focusing on diet and mental toughness this year” said head trainer Grant LaFontaine, as he combined chocolate, marshmallow and graham cracker to construct the signature sandwich of the Alumni side. “The mental toughness is built up through sharing and meditation, in a circle of unity around the campfire, which represents the flickering spirit in all of us that feeds the burning red-hot coals of desire for victory” he added, as players behind him appeared to be exercising their eyes by rolling them.

The diet part is partly Karma-based, through offerings of food to our opponents. For example, we started an oyster bed in the creek outside the Hurst gates earlier this year, harvested the first batch a few days ago, let them warm up in the sun for a couple of hours and fed them to the Staff at snack. We had to be a little creative because we feared they might not accept our heartfelt gift without some suspicion. So, we replaced the creamy centres in the Oreos with them. Karma favours good deeds done anonymously”, he explained, as Fleming frantically mimed slashing motions across his throat in an apparent attempt to prevent the trainer from revealing too much about the Alumni strategy.

 

Grant Lafontaine tending to his "oyster farm"

Nervously laughing, Fleming pushed the trainer aside and took over. “What Laffie is trying to say is that we have an interest in keeping our competition strong so that they bring out the best in us. We brought them a traditional offering of yummy delicious nutritious shellfish to put the hot bubbly fire of competitiveness in their bellies. Yeah. That’s good. Print that.”

 

Asked if the Alumni shared in the feast, each player stared straight ahead and gave the same answer: “No. We’re all allergic. Yes, all of us. I know, weird coincidence, right?” This was in most cases followed by a wink or a fist bump.

As dawn broke on the morning of the 2010 HSRCL Final, the skies brought steady rains as Alumni player representative Jeff Lake brought news that the outbreak had taken a turn for the worse and the commissioner reluctantly declared that for the first time in its 28-year history, there would be no championship match.

As a spontaneous tribute to their stricken rivals, the Alumni players donned their whites and took their positions on the Mill Site Field for a moment of silence, a touching display of sportsmanship for which the Alumni were well – rewarded with a glorious victory by forfeit.

I know the Staff will be delighted that we were able to take to the field not just to honour them, but to make sure that a champion would still be crowned in 2010”, said Fleming. “It wasn’t quite the same, but a win is a win and we had a gastroen-terrific weekend!

2009 Cricket Match

With a scandal-plagued 2008 season all but forgotten, the HSRCL resumed operations in 2009 with the kind of renewed hope and excitement that only a single-game-winner-take-all season can produce.

Is this not the most exciting sports league on Earth?” asked eccentric league commissioner Kevin Bell rhetorically. “Yes, it is not!” he replied, probably not realizing that it wasn’t really the answer he was looking for.

What happened in 2008 will stay in 2008” he continued with a wink. “It’s time to restore this great league to its rightful glory, and watch these two great rivals play a match that is certain to entertain and excite as only HSRCL cricket can!

Heavy Sunday Rains threatened to scuttle the season altogether, with the Alumni Players’ Union demanding assurances that the field would be safe. “We’re, like, ten times older than our opponents as it is” said Alumni Captain and Player Rep Gordon Fleming. “If we fall, we may never get up again. Half of us already have different hips than the ones we were born with. I have to put my team’s safety first.”

The field was deemed acceptable for play mere moments from the scheduled first bowl, and the squads finally took their positions on the field. Stepping into competition for the first time in over a year is hard on any athlete, so no one was expecting the entertainment and excitement to start right away. Long time fans were not expecting it to start at all, but they, as always, kept their thoughts private.

The Alumni team entered the match as heavy underdogs. This is a team of veterans whose best days are long, long, long behind them, and none of them was expected to add much more to their individual lists of accomplishments. If this wasn’t enough, the team continued to have hard luck at the crucial position of bowler, with injuries and holdouts constantly draining the pool. Facing a staff team with a very deep bench, the odds were not in their favour.

As with any sporting event however, there are always intangibles that prevent anything from being a sure thing. Premier race car drivers crash, ace goaltenders have off-nights, star quarterbacks throw ill-timed interceptions. In today’s HSRCL Final, it would be the hard sucking sound coming from the bats of both teams.

At the end of the first innings, the score was 11-8 in favour of the Staff. This should not be mistaken for an indication of a tight contest with outstanding defensive displays or Halladay-like bowling. The story of this match was the bats, and the bats were as cold as a shaved Yak.

This continued through the second and final innings, with no player making any sort of case for match MVP. The match was played in record time and the score was a record low for both teams Alumni – 43, Staff -35. It would be nice to report that the Alumni Team staged a dramatic come-from-behind win, but there was no drama here. “Our strategy was simple – score more runs than the other team, and we did that today” said Fleming. “If anyone asks you about the fundamentals of the game, those are them”.

So, indeed, mothers of losers everywhere:  it’s whether you win or lose, not how you play the game.

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2008 Cricket Match

Alumni Team fails to make it 4 in a row – Plans to focus on rebuilding for 2009

Highly anticipated as always by its long-time followers, the 2008 HSR Cricket League season was about to begin, with its exciting single-game format, where all two teams make it to the final and a champion gets bragging rights for nearly an entire year.

This has been an excellent strategy to build up the kind of rivalry that keeps the fans coming back” said league commissioner Kevin Bell (89-93, 05-08). “We don’t charge admission, so we have to find other ways to generate income for the league and its teams. Nothing’s worked yet, but by golly, if we wish hard enough, the money will come!

As always, the HSRCL pulled out all the stops to make sure that 2008 would be its best season ever, with plans to make eventual inroads to untapped markets that up until now have shown little interest in this brutal, fast paced and furiously exciting sport. “We think that this is a new beginning for the HSRCL” said Bell. “We’re going to be bigger than the NFL within two years”.

Despite the hopeful tone of the commissioner (and perhaps because of the obvious absence of any kind of business strategy or sense of reality whatsoever), the real story was the speculation that if the Staff team had posted a third consecutive losing season that its board of directors was going to consider folding or relocating the franchise. Either decision would have been a disaster for the two-team league.

We came in to win, as always”, said long-time Alumni captain Gordon Fleming (84-88) when asked to comment on the future of the league. “I don’t pay much mind to the suits in the Admin office. We mind our own business. Our business is winning matches.

Clearly lacking a business strategy of its own, the Alumni team played its worst match ever, failing to capitalize on the weakest offensive numbers yet seen during the HSRCL’s modern era, on the losing end of a score that is too embarrassing to print (ed. Note – you just don’t remember!). Bats for both squads were deafening in their silence, leading to speculation that the clearly superior Alumni team’s performance was directly related to the rumours of the league’s potential demise.

That’s a bunch of codswollope”, said returning Alumni veteran and resident anglophile Jamie Kissick (74-76, 88-98) following the game, as he held a large bag with a dollar sign on it and a note that read “to the Alumni team from the Staff, with many thanks”.  “We tried as hard as we ever do. Sometimes the effort just doesn’t pay off.” He refused further comment and threw the bag of money into his trunk, nearly slamming Commissioner Bell’s fingers in the process.

Maybe we were a bit complacent after feeding the Staff team its lunch in five of the last six final” said a clearly preoccupied team manager Gord Fleming, holding a similar bag. “We just couldn’t pull it together today. We know this is a great team on paper, but we don’t play on paper. We play on grass.

Star bowlers Scott Turner (98-00) and John McVeigh (98-02) commented briefly on the match, curiously without bags of cash like those that were distributed to the rest of their team. Turner, with a bag over his head, could not be clearly heard, but the words “disgusted to be associated” were clear before he trailed off again and left the field.

McVeigh, when asked about the significance of his traditional First Nation outfit, replied cryptically that he wanted to honour his ancestral origins in the Alaskan Bowledmyassoffand Nevertookabribe tribes.

We may never know what he meant by that, but it does appear that the narrow Staff victory will ensure the survival of the HSRCL into the foreseeable future. In that sense, everyone’s a winner.

See also 2008 Reunion Weekend posting.

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2007 Cricket Match

Here Today, Gown Tomorrow: Celebrations but no Wedding Bells for Alumni Team
by Gord Fleming(84-88)

 

On August 12th, 2007, the 25th Annual Haliburton Scout Reserve Cricket Match was played. Few that participated in that first rain-soaked match in 1983 could have predicted that the two-team HSRCL (Haliburton Scout Reserve Cricket League—Ed) was here to stay. Back then, with nothing more than broken canoe paddles, sawed off broomsticks and a ball made of fragments of electrical tape, the two English guys on staff brought the grand game of the old world to an improvised sports field at HSR.

The now-defunct Lords and Loon Islanders were the Original Two in a league that started out mainly to provide older staff (Loon Islanders) a venue to wail on (wale on? Ed.) ITs (Lords) when it was decided that late-night lard and eyebrow shaving raids were sort of inappropriate.

Over time, equipment would be improved, players learned the actual rules and terminology, and the Original Two franchises were replaced by teams representing current and former staff respectively, resulting in the HSRCL as we know it today.

The 2007 edition would be the first match played under the new format of timed innings, replacing the stodgy old “all out” rotation that so badly slowed the pace of the sport. It offered players the incentive to swing for the fences and play a more aggressive running game, as runs were more important than staying alive.

You need to try something new when fans and players alike are getting bored” said league spokesperson and MVP bowler Shaun Donald (98-06). “You shouldn’t have time to recite three Norse sagas in your head between ball contacts”. When asked which ones, he would only reveal that they were all works by Snorri Sturluson.

As players from both sides emerged to greet the day, they slowly allowed the little scratching thought at the back of their waking minds to take it over: today’s match was their most important of the year. It was also their only game of the year – a must-win, sudden-death, winner-take-all, hyphenated-superlative laced contest for all of the glory and legend that comes with a championship. They had worked so hard all season to get here.

Some may cynically point out that they played no actual cricket, but they certainly watched some baseball on TV and possibly chased the cat around now and then. One may even have taken some pointers from the pros at the 2007 World Cup.

Yes, I picked up some excellent tips by listening to World Cup of Cricket updates on the radio sports briefings” said Alumni Skipper, Gordon Fleming.“Mostly, I learned that if we lost, my body might be found somewhere under mysterious circumstances – so I came here motivated to win.

The alumni team and its die-hard supporters started their intensive pre-game preparation with a hearty meal that included at least 117 of the major food groups, carefully prepared by team chefs Warner and Beth in their awesome recreational mobile conveyance.

The players built their mental toughness with visits to a kybo in which a once vanilla-scented air freshener was hung by the neck until dead as a cruel warning to other air fresheners not to even bother trying.

The Alumni team then hit the field led by new staff ace John McVeigh, decked out in a beautiful wedding gown.

It’s tradition to wear white on these occasions”, said McVeigh. “I really believe that one should respect traditions, even if some of us don’t really have the right to wear white. I’m not naming any names because what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse, you know? I have to honour that as well”.

So, with a dude in a dress and a new format, the 2007 HSR Cricket Championship was played to a small but enthusiastic crowd, as balls were hit, thrown and caught and people in white ran around the field. In the end, the Alumni team triumphed over Staff team by a margin of, oh, I don’t know…Let’s say…18.

I think that was a key component in our victory” said Skipper Gord during the post-game wrap up. “Like every year, I told our team that the secret to winning is to score a little bit more runs and have the other team score a little bit less runs. I don’t know the exact statistics, but in my experience, the success rate of this approach is pretty high”.

Wise words from the Captain, ringing loud and true as he hoisted the HSRCL trophy for the third straight year.

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2006 Cricket Match

How’s That!—Alumni Team wins 2006 Match
By Gord Fleming (84—88)

Watch a video of the 2006 Cricket Match filmed and edited by our videographer Dean Janowski (02-05).

HALIBURTON – The 24th Annual Staff vs. Alumni Cricket match was a hotly anticipated event, as clearly demonstrated by the HSR Staff team, which somehow managed to keep their whites looking their whitest for almost two months. They were a well-organized squad, with two full teams of players ready to take the field. The Alumni team on the other hand was again hastily cobbled together from a ragtag bunch that turned up to eat some eggs the morning of the game, and a few mystery guests who arrived just prior to the coin toss.

There was much at stake after last year’s one-run Alumni loss, which also saw the end of the career of veteran bowler Mark Burns who sustained a severe knee injury while executing about the coolest fake-out ever to secure an out in the late stages of the game. Another blow to the Alumni squad was the no-show of star Silly Mid Off Dave “the iron man” Taylor, whose consecutive match record ends at 23. Pending review by the league commissioner, he is expected to be heavily fined.

Several off-season call ups filled the void, part of the new youth movement that the Alumni management has identified as its new direction. “Like that creepy beaver skull at the Trapper’s Cabin, we were getting a little long in the tooth there” said captain Gord Fleming. “We needed some young arms and strong bats to make up for the injuries, stiffness, ear hair and alarming weight gain that can slow a veteran lineup down“.

The new approach paid off in another exciting match. Bowlers on both sides sometimes delivered balls within the batsmen’s reach, and the batsmen responded by periodically hitting them. Every now and then, runs were scored while search parties were dispatched to the forest to retrieve hit balls. Following a fast-paced first inning, two 20 minute halves were given to each side to generate as much offence as possible. Some was, and the Alumni triumphed over the staff by four runs.

We knew that all we had to do was score a little more and have the Staff team score a little less to give us a good chance of winning“, Fleming astutely observed. “It was close though. I think we’re finally starting to see some parity. That’s important in a two-team league“.

Next year’s tilt will have the added dimension of being the 25th match – a strong incentive for any team to claim victory. Fans and casual observers alike will want to plan a trip to the Mill Site next August to see this historic event first hand. World Cricket supremacy will be on the line!

See also 2006 Reunion Weekend.

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2005 Cricket Match

by Gord Fleming

After a year-long layoff, sports fans were treated to the return of the HSRCL, as it kicked off its 23rd season, wrapped it up and crowned its champion on August 10th. As there are only two surviving teams,  everybody already knows who’d wind up in the final, so nobody can think of a good reason to have more than a one-game season.

Carrying on without the benefit of any corporate sponsorship or paying customers, the HSR Staff and the HSR Staff Alumni continue a rivalry that dates back to the demise of the Original Two, the HSR Lords and the HSR Loon Islanders.

Dave Taylor, the only remaining player from the inaugural days of the original league reminisced prior to taking the field in his usual Silly Mid On position.

We played with sawed off broomsticks and canoe paddles. We used Bisquick to draw the lines. There were wasps everywhere. Not to mention the puddles of Red Man chew all over the pitch. These kids just don’t know how good they’ve got it”. Taylor’s production has understandably tapered off of late, but he is still feared.

The HSR Staff Alumni team once again fielded an impressive team made up largely of Daves, led by team manager Gord Fleming and legendary but oft-injured bowler Mark Burns. The team was complete only after the stunning signing of current staff member free agent Justin Way.

Team Manager Gord Fleming had this to say:

“Our future plans keep getting thwarted by staff that just will not leave the farm team to join the senior club. We fully expected to land (star bowler) Shaun Donald in the off-season, but he surprised…well let’s face it, he surprised absolutely no one by returning to the Staff side for one more season. Nicking Justin was sort of payback”.

The match itself got underway under the “impartial” eye of Camp Ranger Kevin Bell, a first-time umpire who is on the injury list due to chronic back problems. With his bat out of the Alumni lineup, they would be in tough. At least the Alumni could count on a few calls going their way (thanks Kev!)

What followed was a low scoring bowlers’ duel, which featured the usual assortment of very wide bowls, several dropped balls and the always amusing everybody-run-blindly-into-the-woods-and-tear-open-your-legs-on-the-junipers-ball-search plays.

The highlight in the late going of this very close match was a stunning fake-out by bowler Mark Burns in the dying moments of the Staff half of the second innings. He wound up and followed through, but held on to the ball. The runner took the bait and ran from the box as Burns knocked the bales for the out. He paid for this sweet move with a blown knee and had to be carried from the field, nearly a hero.  It is not yet known if this is a career threatening injury, but several threats were subsequently received by the alumni team by a woman claiming to be his wife Georgina.

The Alumni were unfortunately unable to capitalize on this bit of heroism, as the clock cruelly ran out on them with only four runs separating them from victory over their most intense – and only – rivals.

The Alumni team congratulated the Staff team on its hard fought victory, but indicated that it will be making some exciting off-season moves and promises a much improved on-field product next summer.

See also 2005 Reunion Weekend.

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2004 Reunion Weekend

Friday August 6 – Sunday August 8

Arrival
The feeling starts when you see the green sign pointing to the way from the highway. The Kennaway/East Bay Road winds and curves in a still – familiar path through the woods. Always a new hole in the asphalt or in the woods to the left or right, but it’s still that same old road: the one that brings busloads of kids back and forth on Saturdays. The one that winds just a little more when it brings staffers back from town after a night at the Molou. The one that winds more still for the unfortunate identity thieves who are returning from Parade Night at the “curling rink”.

The big log gates aren’t there anymore to welcome us to “luxury in the wilderness”, but we feel welcome just the same. The parking lot is still packed with cars, the M.O.K.s pickup is still scooting past with garbage and a couple of really messy kids in the bed, and the distant yet pervasive sound of a 9.9 on a lake run still provides the soundtrack.

Home again.
This is the weekend that many former staff look forward to the most – the chance to go back to where we learned so much, met so many friends and spent what are very likely to remain the best summers of our lives. The crown jewel of HSR Staff Alumni Association events, the annual Alumni Weekend gives us the opportunity to recapture that magic, even if it is in a sort of  “Who – Live at Casino Rama” kind of way.

We arrive with just enough light left to throw up a tent, and just enough time to head down to Smokey Hollow for the campfire (or at least a camplightbulb in drier years). There we are treated to modern interpretations of the Japanese Submarine and Big Jerk skits and songs that beg the questions of what one’s best option is for dealing with Drunken Sailors, and what precisely was wrong with Father Abraham’s Seven Sons.

This sets the tone for an always-too-short weekend where former staff members join the current ones to enjoy a few meals, swap some stories, go for a swim and play a little Cricket at the Second Happiest Place on Earth (we all know the truth, but why risk lawsuits…).

Forecast for Twister Point: 13oC and drizzle.
During this past winter, your HSR Alumni Association Executive began planning a different sort of weekend, recognizing that many things have changed over the years, and hoping to interact a little more with today’s staff members while allowing them to conduct the business of the camp smoothly. Initial suggestions of re-enactments of the classic naval Battles of Mud Bay were quickly voted down, as gasoline prices were at an all-time high, and there was no guarantee that the kitchen would be left unattended long enough to stockpile the necessary ordnance (potatoes, stale bread and fruit).

Instead, in order to stay out of the way during the hectic Saturday changeover, the Alumni gathered at Twister Point for a gigantic fire (to which Twister Point is no stranger) and a few burgers and dogs (ibid.). Some generous soul also provided a 3-litre bottle of Faygo, not realizing that this is a beverage not to be experimented with. Ever. The Alumni in attendance got a little reminder of what it was like to be on one of HSR’s campsites, preparing a meal on an unnecessarily cold and damp Saturday afternoon. We felt kinship with the poor kids who decided to do some camping during this, the Worst Summer Ever.

The Hub and Cub
There was a time when the alumni could retire to the guest sites, build a fire and pull frosty adults-only soda pops out of coolers, sing Cat Stevens songs and reminisce about RCBs and Wozzles that may or may not have involved some degree of actual criminal activity. Those days are gone, and maybe it’s just as well.

Having spent a couple of Alumni Weekend Saturdays at the Wilberforce Legion, your Alumni Executive determined that leaving camp in search of two-dollar beers was not really the intent of the weekend. We wanted a little more quality time with the staff, in a social atmosphere that would be a little out of the ordinary for those doing longer sentences at HSR.  It was therefore decided to set up a “pub” that would welcome everyone, with plenty of family – oriented beverages and pub-style snacks that might not be on the regular menu. A stage was also set up by Alumni hepcat Warner Clarke, who brought his gear and bass-playing wife Beth for some sweet open-mc jams.

Serving mocktails with HSR-appropriate names like Gough Syrup and Buck Island Iced Tea, the Hub and Cub also featured traditional pub fare such as chicken wings, potato skins, deep fried cheese – all of the things that keep cardiac surgeons up to date on their yacht payments. Musical alumni and staff members kept a packed house entertained well into the wee hours with skilful renditions of classics by the Eagles, Pink Floyd and Neil Young, as well as some newfangled stuff that the kids are listening to these days.

A good time was had by all at the Hub and Cub. Perhaps smoke and alcohol free pubs have a future after all…

Brunch at the Snack Shack
There is something to be said for waking up the morning after a fine pub night without the taste of a mouth full of wool soaked in tree sap and the sensation of a drill bit lodged in the brain. Recalling the past folly of volunteering in such condition to make Sunday breakfast for the staff, we also resolved to do our own brunch when we were damn good and ready. This would keep us out of the way and allow us to plan our strategy for the afternoon Cricket match. The sun shone brightly and warmly on us and our pancakes, more than making up for a typically terrible HSR Saturday.

It was there that we heard the news that a Scouter who arrived with his troop the previous day had passed away on site during the night. There was a great deal of reflection as we had our meal, many of us agreeing that if our time was up, HSR would be a more than acceptable last stop before moving on. Later, we learned of the respectful and dignified manner with which our young friends on staff responded to this sad event – a response we doubt any of them were prepared for, despite the old motto. We were certainly downhearted for the Scouter’s family and for the troop that could not have expected such a tragic start to their week, but also extremely proud to be associated with the HSR staff who upheld the Promise and the Law so brilliantly that day.

Showing our age? Comments like that ain’t cricket!
With a team made up almost exclusively of Daves (including the legendary Taylor, who has participated in every HSR Cricket match since its inception in 1983), the Alumni hoped to win the 2004 space on the trophy. Expectations were low, as the roster was not finalized until two minutes before the coin toss, and, as Shirley Whitwell (the Dave Taylor of the HSR kitchen) pointed out, many of us were “beginning to show our age”.

Anchored by the Googly Yorkers of bowler of Mark Burns, a surprising performance by young rookie Lori Anne “Dave” Donald and the defence of Kevin “Dave” Bell and Dave “Dave” Taylor, the Alumni quickly all-outed a staff team that featured Donald’s brother Shaun – a fine All Rounder – in their first innings.

In a long Alumni at-bat, monstrous numbers were posted, as the staff defence was quite powerless against the onslaught of wood shots, clever running tactics and distractions provided by Bell’s running re-enactment of Simpsons episodes. In the end, the staff team had to concede the game, as they knew there was not enough daylight to catch the mighty 2004 Alumni team. Age ain’t nothin’ but a number, Shirley!

The final score: Alumni: A Lot, Staff: Not So Much.

High Tea and High Tailin’
As always, the joy of winning the match was tempered by the melancholy of knowing that we had to leave again for another year. Before we did, we were treated to the traditional and always delicious high tea back at the Hub. Crudites, little crustless sandwiches, and scones with whipped cream and jam washed down with the finest Earl Grey were laid out to ensure that our long journey back to real life would at least be made on a full stomach.

As the sun went down, we climbed into our cars and set out on the long and winding dirt road as we replayed the weekend in our heads with freshened memories of our own time there. We would like to thank all of the Alumni for coming up and helping out, and the staff for being so welcoming, and for reminding us of why it is that we are already looking forward to the same time next year.

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