Following the success of the 2012 trip and the London Olympics, a tour de force of Mals plus overseas players gathered in Penzance. Our trip winning President Andy Clay was the most notable absentee. Rumours were rife, that Real Madrid had come calling! No, an oversized area aid payment cheque had finally arrived and blocked his front door!
The weather by the coast looked very misty and excitement started to build, as the thought of a relaxing cruise prior to our athletics meet, became a possibility.
The morning of 25th September broke bright, but still somewhat overcast, and on his customary early morning swim around the Longships lighthouse, the Organizator declared conditions unfit for flying and booked us all outside cabins on the luxurious Scillonia.
The flexibility of the Mal de Mer club means that at a moment’s notice, schedules, teams, starting times, etc. can be altered and nobody is any the wiser. The eager ‘Baggage Masters’ who had already taken up position at the airport, quickly ran to the quay to greet last year’s sporting heroes, and apart from taking care of the baggage, did a sterling job!
The ‘Cruise’ flew by and several ‘pods’ were spotted, but mainly on deck!
Once on Scilly, and with the motivational words of the DG ringing in their ears, the relevant captains assembled their finest teams, apart from the tennis captain who had an outbreak of propinquity!
The first afternoon of the ‘Trip’ is key to the momentum of our sporting activities. Success improves morale and also sends a signal to our Island opponents.
The garrison tennis court unfortunately was only fit for water-polo and was re-scheduled for another day.
Ray Farr’s ‘All Starr table tennis team’ won comfortably with a healthy mixture of ability and dodgy accounting practices! Sam Lighting’s volleyball team also played very well to get the ‘Mals Momentum’ off to the winning start we wanted. Alistair Hick, still befuddled by the golf day result put up a good display but was narrowly defeated in the basketball.
A reasonable start; how would Harry’s boys fair at squash? A very competitive contest ended with the Mals going down 2-3. Thanks to Pete Nelstrop again for stepping into the breach and captaining the team so ably.
Nearly everyone made the first night’s dinner! The excitement of it all really gets too much for some people.
Presidential absentees past and present, led to Calfey taking his rightful place on the top table and leading the ceremonial flushing in of our new president Alex Polhill.
Alex (Mr. President) flushed-in Rob Epton, Ben Jakes, and Lloyd Bowles our latest Mals numbering 299, 300, and 301 in the Mals Hall of Fame.
Sponsors introduced their new boys, Mark Rohde, Ed Bryce, and Tom Woodhouse. Very promising … all looked like sportsmen, we shall see!
As usual the meal was of the highest quality, the wine was flowing and the President, thinking he was in charge, thought he would flex some muscle and ‘Bushwhack’ the Organizator. The Hierarchy (well at least some of them) were alive to this and without much fuss a situation was resolved with Rob Epton being promoted to officer of the day. This proved to be a very shrewd move.
Thursday dawned clear and bright, and with some hindsight should have been re-named ‘Eptonday!’
The golfers’ Perry Pot was won by David Nottingham, and the goofers’ Morgan Mug by Dave Epton, his brother Robert running him a close second.
Down to the beach where the footballers gave a very creditable performance earning a 3-3 draw. Good to see all the new boys getting involved.
The tug of war, which is a real crowd pleaser, turned out to be another win for the Eptons’ Mals.
The weather was now taking a turn for the worse, and Admiral Snell, along with Rear Admiral Mills cancelled the sailing and decided kayaking and paddle boarding should determine the winner of the ‘Sailor Pooley Trophy’. Must be something about the tides or the beach this year as the competition was halved as well with the Mals retaining the trophy.
Now for the hockey. A new era is upon us! A fast new synthetic pitch needed a fast new synthetic captain; step forward Dave Epton. We narrowly lost 2-1 with the first goal for the Islanders going in very early. Well played all the team plus subs.
Thursday night and the Scillonian Club beckons. A quick meal, followed by a quick stroll down to the Scillonian ended in a quick thrashing for the Mals at darts and pool, with the snooker team being edged out 1 – 2. A big thank you to all at the Scillonian, win, lose or lose some more we are always made most welcome, and it was a great honour to open their newly refurbished snooker hall. Back to Tregarthens for the de-brief, 4-7, heads will roll!
Friday started breezy and bright. A big day ahead and numerous trophies to be won. The 9-hole greensome foursome, for the George Twist tankards featured Lloyd Bowles and Mark Rohde, as the worthy winners.
With the deficit playing upon everyone’s minds, a strong golf team had been selected. Unfortunately not strong enough and the Islanders won 8 – 2. Where was the ‘Rock’ when you needed him?
Meanwhile back at the bowling green our resident ‘Captain of all Trades,’ Pete Nelstrop stepped into the breach again, only to find the previous captain’s selections not up to speed. 4 – 0 to the Islanders!
Never mind, badminton, rifle shooting and archery were to follow, altitude training always pays off!
Friday night dinner was the usual scene with certain Mals dressed as badminton players! Would they cut the mustard?
Harry Marsland proposed the toast to the ‘New Boys’, and Ed Bryce ably responded. A very fine bunch of new boys, let’s hope their visit is not a fleeting one.
Thoughts of a back-to-back winning trip were also turning into a fleeting memory as badminton, rifle shooting and archery all delivered bad news. Time for troop rallying! The President called an emergency summit of all Saturday’s Team Captains.
Saturday’s weather, like the mood was overcast, but a rallying call from the cricket captain reassured the gathering that Saturday would be the turning point.
Ray Farr and Rob Epton won the Bishops Beaker, and the Nosworthy Noggin respectively.
The Garrison called; the Mals, with several Big Bash and IPL players present, duly answered. 157 for 1 in the 20 overs. Beat that!! Unfortunately they did with an over to spare. A fantastic game but the old bogey side still seems to have a hold over us.
No time for post-mortems its football. A very strong Wanderers side unfortunately put the Mals to the sword beating us 9 – 1.
Saturday night is quiz night. The President had selected a strong team who had been on fish all week, but unfortunately they also had their chips losing narrowly 74.5 to 99.
As with all trips, certain milestones are reached, but Saturday 28th September 2013, would now live long in the memory of three new Mals. Who would be the 300th Mal? Would the Hierarchy decide? Would it be done in alphabetical order? No! A Gladiatorial Challenge would face our three contenders! Lloyd Bowles, Ben Jakes, and Rob Epton would clash at the ’Tregartheon’ for the honour to be the 300th Mal!
A set of tasks cunningly devised by our Organizator to test speed, stamina, and skill were outlined by the ringmaster and battle duly commenced.
The stamina test – eating a whole pasty, against the clock was soon abbreviated, to half a pasty, due to the excessive time it was taking!
The speed/skill test – putting a shirt and tie on, drinking a pint of Guinness and putting three golf balls (tests well received by the older Mals as necessary skills). The eventual winner of the number 300 and victor ludorum was Rob Epton, with Lloyd Bowles and Ben Jakes being awarded 299 and 301 respectively. Well-done Mals. In the post-match interview it was nice to hear Rob say that he really wanted the number 299!
One more event to go before bedtime, the Boatrace. Memories of last year’s ‘Masti-gate’ were still fresh in the Islanders minds. Would they bite off more than they could chew this year? Unfortunately for three of the Mals the rigors of the initiation ceremony took their toll and we narrowly lost.
Sunday rose wet and the shooters stayed on St. Mary’s losing 2 – 4. They won 203 – 193 last year – must’ve been a bullet shortage this year.
Meanwhile back at the quay another first was achieved! The cricket team plus the tennis team set sail for Tresco. The Island has two all-weather courts and the Mals were treated to a pre-confessional tennis match. Saves all that nasty hanging about the New Inn pretending to like coffee! The centre court pairing of the Organizator plus some other bloke, blew away the Island ‘A’ team. A capacity crowd were treated to a thrilling but somewhat one-sided affair. Seriously, congratulations to new boy Mark Rohde and Mr. O, brilliant doubles play. Out on court 19 the tennis captain plus Sam Lighting comfortably overcame their opposition. Could this be the pivotal moment of the trip? Could we turn it around?
Regrettably the weather took a turn for the worst and JP’s all stars were denied the chance of some momentum building. A few sherberts at the New Inn and it was back to the garrison for the second leg of the football. The manager’s reputation was on the line (what reputation, Ed?).
An improved performance still led to a defeat but well done the Mals, we showed real determination.
Many thanks again to Tregarthens, not only for looking after us so admirably all week, but also for putting on such a terrific spread for all our Island guests.
Our President toasted our Island friends and Russ Hutchins responded with a few kind words about the Mal de Mers. Head of the Five Islands School, Linda Todd revealed the Merit Award winner, Pippa Grossett, and accepted the certificate on her behalf.
Roy Bound drew the ‘Big Money’ balls and then the dining room was cleared for the Metro-Chadwick-Galloway production of Austin Polhill. Mojos were lost then found, unlike the plot. Just time for a few nightcaps and apologies to our Island friends.
The weather had not been great this year and Monday was no exception with a bank of fog hanging over St. Mary’s, or was it gloom? We are never downhearted just a couple of unlucky breaks that’s all!
Another Mal milestone. The Texas Scramble would be the last Island golf competition that Roy Bound would Organizate. (Minute silence!) Ably won by Lloyd Bowles, Alistair Hick, Sam Lighting, and Paul (the Putt man) Calfe.
The weather started to improve and in the cricket the Mals posted a competitive first innings score of 140 – 3. Too much for St. Martin’s, and the Mals ran out worthy winners.
Onto the gigs, again many thanks to all those involved for letting the Mals take out these valuable craft. The Island gig crew won quite easily with various mixed gits, young and old filling the other podium places.
Monday night is theme night and President Al wanted to relive those heady days of the 60s. A good effort by everyone on the night. Flared trousers, flared hair-dos and some nostrils added to the relaxed, soporific atmosphere. Everything was far out man! Including some of the room bills.
Not much time left now, only one more sleep and it would be homeward bound time.
Again the weather was to have the last laugh. Fog on the mainland prevented any flights arriving, so it was to the boat again. Two cruises on one trip, what luxury! Every cloud etc. The trip back gave us all time to say goodbye several times. Thank you Prezzie Al, another momentous trip, impeccably led at all times.