Where does the time go? Another year, another trip. Thirty-six stout men and true gathered at the refurbished airport at Lands End for a sporting extravaganza on the beautiful Isles of Scilly. Well only just thirty six, one Mal had been left behind only to be picked up by the under chauffeur!
The flag was raised on time (albeit by a thread) signifying the eighty-third anniversary of the Mal de Mer Club’s formation.
Our Monday trip to St Martins had been cancelled so a trip to St Agnes, and the Turks Head had been deemed a reasonable substitution. Twenty plus Mals took to the balmy waters while the rest took to the beer and pasties. Despite ordering at least five pasties, Admiral Snell made do with just the one.
Captains picked their squads and then the ‘Games’ commenced.
A strong tennis squad with various internationals made light work of the St Mary’s tennis team winning 3–0 just the start we needed! Down at the school Alan Guest’s table tennis team also won 9–7. A closely fought volleyball match ended in a 2-0 victory, well done Alistair. Could we make it a clean sweep Yessirree! Jules aka ‘Meadowlark’ Kerby led a spirited team to a 20–8 victory. Just what the President ordered, 4–0! Was it the preparation or was it the pint and a pastie? We shall never know, but we’ll have it all the same.
First night dinner. The DG introduced our minders for the week, and President Harry performed his final official duty by flushing in Joss Davidge for 2015.
New Boys Darrel Foulk, Mark Rohde, Paul Williams and Jules Kerby were also flushed in.
Thinking he was going to be on the trip on his own, President Joss had brought along a whole posse of New Boys. He introduced the Mals to his son Jack, plus Tom Mileham and Martin Breddy. Mark Rohde then introduced us to Volker Eberle, who was on his way back to South Africa via Scilly. As it says in the brochure it was now ‘Beer o’clock!’
Thursday started and finished warm and sunny. The golf course was in excellent condition and the Perry Pot and Morgan Mug were won by President Davidge and Pete Nelstrop respectively.
Time for the beach! Paul Calfe made his debut as manager in the beach football, and as they say in the song, Things can only get better! Not only were we narrowly defeated (4–6) but we played in the wrong strip! Probably the most disappointing part of the whole shambolic affair was the manager trying to blame the DG for the wrong shirt fiasco! Schoolboy error!
The swimming team took the plunge again.
Possibly due to the wrong wind and tide the Scilly regatta team did not show. A very disconsolate Admiral Schnell announced “Pasties all round!” to try and keep spirits up. Not going quite so well now, would the beach volleyball team regain our momentum? In short no! Dave Dallaway’s All-Stars narrowly failed 0–2, but at least they had the correct kit! Just the hockey to go before supper. Could the “Rock’s Boys” stop the rot? Would they be wearing the right kit? Affirmative to both. Despite going one down at half time (against the run of play) the captain made a brave decision and took himself off to referee the second half. We won 4–1, a good marker etc. No seriously, a great team effort and a well deserved victory. I wish Wardie would take himself off more often! (And I don’t mean to Juliette’s Garden!).
No time to linger at Tregarthen’s – it’s Scillonian Club time. Darts ended in a 2–5 loss, but victory in the pool (5–2) and snooker (2–1) redressed the balanced and gave the Mals a good excuse for a singsong back at Tregarthens. With the overall score standing at 7–3 to the Mals, what would tomorrow bring?
Bright sunshine greeted the Mals at breakfast. Indigestion soon followed as the Golf Organizator explained in fluent Swahili the golf competition rules and handicap system.
Where’s Roy when you need him? The nine hole American foursomes competition for the George Twist tankards was won by Eddie Gladden and Mark Rohde. Handy result considering Mark Rohde hadn’t returned, or engraved his tankard from two years ago! An apparition that appeared on the course during the competition was later identified as Roy Bound. Just shows you must be careful what you wish for!
Time for reflection out on the clubhouse decking, waiting for our opponents to appear. Most of the golf matches went down to the wire but unfortunately, although closer than last year the Mals went down 3.5–5.5. I think we need the Golf Organizator to set some new rules for next year!
Unfortunately the bowls also ended in defeat 14–21. When do we start to panic? President Joss reassured all the Mals that we were still on course and despatched the badminton team to the sports hall. The badminton used to be a spectator sport, but by the time the crowd arrived at the hall, the dastardly deed had been done and the Mals, although giving their all, went down 1–3. Bring back Ray Farr!
Would the Islanders draw level? Not when we have ‘Buffalo Bill’ Epton on the Shooting team! A great team effort and superb leadership led to a comfortable victory 59.2–58. Have it! Frightened by our marksmanship the Islanders took their arrows home and the archery was cancelled. Definitely time for a singsong! I’m sure we could release a Christmas album!
Before you know it, it’s Saturday. The weather again was monotonously bright.
I think Alex had sent for Roy as a golf consultant to help explain the handicap system. I hope he didn’t pay too much, as that feeling of deja vu came over the Mals! Everyone completely perplexed, humoured Alex and Roy, and just filled their scorecards in. The result ended with Paul Simmonds winning the Bishop’s Beaker and Paul (does my team look good in this?) Calfe winning the Goofers, Nosworthy Noggin.
A change in the Brochure led to the Mals playing a mixed Island cricket team. Ably captained by Jamie Pooley, the Island team were restricted to 110 runs and with 7 balls to spare the Mals comfortably knocked them off. With some young legs in the side, optimism for the first football match against the Woolpack Wanderers was at a ten year high. Coach, Andy Smith after last year’s debacle, had got some more badges but unfortunately they were out of a cornflake packet and we were defeated 7–1. Not quite a reflection of the Mals’ endeavour, however an improvement all the same, although still a loss.
Tregarthens had kindly laid on a big screen sport, so the Mals could watch World Cup rugby, England v Australia. Seemed a good idea at the time. I can say with much authority that no inspiration was gathered from our national team.
Still more sport before bed, the Cleverdicks Challenge and the Boat Race.
Who would believe the Mals quiz team would consist of some of its greatest sceptics! The closest contest since its inception led to the Mals being narrowly defeated. Well done and commiserations to Shaun, Pete, Jamie and David.
Ben Jakes selected his team for the drink off, all stout men and true. Not stout enough and we lost by at least one pint. Time for more drink to help us forget.
Ah a lie in, it must be Sunday! Storms were forecast and the Islanders were on our tails, with shooting, cricket, tennis and football on today’s menu – would they get in front?
Out first was our own ‘Hole in the Wall Gang’, Butch Gladden and the Sundance Smith! Eddie’s early nights paid off, earning the title of ‘Top Gun’ and the gang also winning the gunfight! Great start to the day.
Next up, Tresco tennis. The Islanders after a heavy defeat on day one, decided to employ a sports psychologist to play with our minds! Not only did they turn up late, they only brought three team members! A closer match, with the Islanders winning 2–1, but losing on aggregate 2–4.
Jamie’s all star cricket team with victory still in their nostrils took on a rampant Tresco team. Their openers were never troubled and hit the bowlers all over the field. Scoreboard pressure proved too much and the Mals never really got close, and the rain came too late. Back to St Mary’s for footie. A more competitive game resulted in the Mals losing 1–4. Even-Steven for the day.
Guest night dinner which is always good chance to catch up with our Island friends. The meal as usual was of the highest standard and President Joss made everyone welcome with his heartfelt words. Andrew Hicks responded on behalf of the Islanders (preparing him for his Sky debut), with some kind words about the Mals. Linda Todd, headmistress of the Five Islands School, told us that Cameron Hicks was the recipient of the Mal de Mer Merit Trophy and the reasons for his award. Well done Cameron.
Various Mals from Lincolnshire won the ‘100 Club’ draw, and with that the room was cleared for the Thespians take on 2015: a Scilly Odyssey.
A plot! A storyline! What a difference a year makes. “It’s acting Jim but not as we know it!” “One of the best musicals this year!” Joss Davidge, The Brochure 2015.
Monday, last full day (just). A foggy morning greeted the Mals on the golf course. The Texas Scramble was won by the Prez, Dave Dallaway, Jules Kerby and Dave Windeatt. The rearranged cricket match against St Mary’s was sadly cancelled due to overnight rain on the run ups and the gig racing cancelled due to the fog, All very unfortunate! What’s a Mal to do? “I know, let’s have sing song down the Mermaid”! Just like old times, a real good finish to a great trip!
Still the Themed Dinner to go. Every year Carina and her able crew astound us with their creative skills. The reception/bar area was out of this world but the ‘piece de resistance’ was the dining room, decked out as the helm of the Starship Enterprise, and the Mals decked out like something out of a ‘black hole.’ Well done Carina! Astronaut food was served in plastic bags and absolutely delightful.
OH NO! It’s bill paying time. Would it be foggy in the morning?
Breakfast was the usual disjointed affair with goodbyes liberally banded about, knowing we would meet again at the airport. Little did we know apart from three Mals and a New Boy we would all be stranded until catching the boat at 4.00pm! The usual sea-sick sweep was initiated and credit to all the Mals, no one was a winner! (Apart from the 100 Club.)
Many thanks to all on Scilly, Tregarthens, the President, and a special thank you to the Organizator for all his hard work. The Pastie saga, now just a distant memory!