31 Mals reported for duty at the Penzance Heliport. A mighty turnout, considering all those who had not long finished performing in the Beijing Olympics. Published New Boy, Nathan Summers didn’t make the trip, but was ably substituted by Roy Dale. After two false starts, David Nottingham followed on a day later.
The flight, baggage reclaim and check-in at Tregarthens went like clockwork. Due to the state of the tide and that of the D.G., the briefing was brought forward an hour and a quarter. New boys and Mals were welcomed and the recipe for a successful trip was spelled out.
Sporting captains moved amongst the throng and the teams for the afternoon’s events were selected.
Beach football, now a proper Mal sport, was unfortunately lost 5-2. Apparently the Islanders had a Brazilian, which must have been most off-putting!
Davis Cup commitments meant that the Islanders could only field two pairs for tennis. A 1-1 tie meant that the Mals retained the trophy – Captain Galloway shuffling his squad tactically to ensure keeping his hands on the silverware.
The school sports – where we normally get our noses in front – went against form:
Basketball – Lost 40-20
Table Tennis – Lost 3-2 (who we gonna sack?)
Volleyball – Won 2-1
Squash unfortunately, and through no lack of effort, ended in a silver medal.
At dinner, Ben Jakes introduced his staff and our president Alan Guest was flushed in. Outgoing President, Shaun could only reflect on what might have been.
Sponsors introduced their new boys: Roy Dale, Graham Barton, Mark Bagshaw and Graham Willington, then the old new boys Alistair Hick and Peter Nelstrop were flushed into the ranks of the Mals.
Thursday dawned fine and clear and shorts were spotted on the golf course. Dave Dallaway won the ‘Perry Pot’ and Peter Nelstrop retained the ‘Morgan Mug’. No time was lost and before you could say “I’ll have a pasty” we were on our way to St. Agnes with our old friend Gerald Thompson aboard the Surprise.
As usual, a good crowd had gathered to greet us as we landed on the ‘new’ quay at St. Agnes! Flexi – is the by-word, not only for Harry, but for the Mals in general, and Andy Smith and Roy Dale decided to take the marine life on. Just below the Turk’s Head and with the onlooking crowd going berserk, it wasn’t long before the mackerel found themselves 18-0 down. The whole atmosphere changed unfortunately when Roy Dale got his only birdie on the trip!
Across at the sand-bar, the swimmers had a bracing swim – well I believed them – and all came back to the Turk’s Head suitably refreshed.
Back to St. Mary’s and the hockey. A slightly depleted Mals squad somehow built a 2-0 lead. However, midway through the second half the pasties kicked in and unfortunately the Islanders fought back with three goals to leave us staring at a 3-2 defeat. Hard luck Mals! Dinner was a convivial affair, only to be interrupted when our first pair of snooker players departed for the Scillonian. The remainder of the Mals followed on behind, and a competitive and friendly evening was had by all.
Darts – Won 9-6
Snooker – Won 2-0
Pool – Lost 7-2 (who we gonna sack?)
Friday, and global warming had definitely come to St. Mary’s! More shorts were spotted on the golf course and Andy Smith and Geoff Snell were triumphant in the George Twist Tankard competition.
With the temperature running at 19˚C, the sun deck at the golf course was full, as everyone waited for our island golf competitors to turn up. Unfortunately things turned out ‘worserer’ than we thought and the Mals golf team lost 7-2.
Meanwhile back in the Atlantic (no – not the pub) several reputations were being dunked! Admiral Snell, Sailor Pooley and Harry (probably trying to escape the trip) found themselves swimming when the old tug did a mollywopsit and landed briney side! The Mals trip is always a leveller and after profuse apologies to shipmates and the air, sea rescue, several Mals were keel hauled! The Mals scored 3 6 and the Islanders 3 3 which meant we lost! If we adopt that idea for scoring in all sports next year we should have a successful trip.
Reinforcements were now required to turn the trip around! No sooner said than done, when out of the sun Dave ‘bomber’ Epton landed at St. Mary’s International!
Dinner was the usual rowdy affair, Alex Polhill proposed a toast to the new boys and Mark Bagshaw politely responded. The President awarded his green jacket to Mark Coombes for a Champagne moment on the golf course, and the D.G. reported the highlights of the 2008 AGM. David Martin was declared President elect and Paul Calfe Deputy President Elect. What have we let ourselves in for?
Our badminton, archery and rifle shooting teams departed with the supporting Mals in hot pursuit. We lost the badminton 2-1, won the rifle shooting, with Phil ‘The Jackal’ Jones scoring an incredible 98 out of a possible 100, and claimed a silver in the archery.
Saturday already, weather still fine, off to the golf course for a Bishop’s Beaker and a Nosworthy Noggin! Won respectively by hotshot, Phil Jones and David Nottingham.
A quick lunch and up to the Garrison Ground for cricket. Games against St. Mary’s are always tough and despite good performances from Duncan, Calfie and Jamie, the Mals were defeated.
No time for cucumber sandwiches. It’s football time! Wobbly legs and blurred vision unfortunately led to a 6-1 defeat, a final scoreline that didn’t reflect the game and which flattered the opposition somewhat.
After a very relaxing dinner, the Mals departed to different venues on the Island, meeting back at Tregarthens once the pubs had shut for a hearty sing-song until the early hours.
Sunday’s normally casual start was interrupted when the goofers decided to send their golf clubs back to the mainland a day early. What stalwarts these ex-caddies are!
Down to the quay for the cricketers and Barmy Army supporters, and up to the heliport for the clay shooters.
Having arrived at Tresco in good time, several Mals went ‘off-piste’ on their way to the New Inn, where the delights of a £7.50 ham sandwich were enjoyed by many. Onto the cricket, the Mals scored a tidy 111 off 20 overs. Would that be enough? Indeed it was, the home side could only muster 46 all out. Credit to all the bowlers, especially Ray Farr, who only needed 2 balls to finish off the dangerous tail!
The D.G. decided to take the rank and file beach-combing before everyone boarded the Surprise back to St. Mary’s. Here we joined the defeated clay shooters on our way up to the Garrison for the second away leg of the football. Bandages, pills and true grit alone wouldn’t keep out the Islanders and despite calls to “keep it tight early on”, within 2 minutes the Mals were 1-0 down. Were we down-hearted? Never! The Mals soon took a healthy lead, but the trip was taking its toll, having fallen behind again, a late rally secured a well-deserved 4-4 draw. Well done to those non-footballing Mals who joined the cause and gave everything.
The guest night dinner was a most enjoyable affair. The food was, as ever, top drawer, and an evening spent with some old and some new island friends was just what the doctor ordered. The headmaster, Mr. Penman, told us about the recipient of the Mal de Mer Merit Trophy. This year’s winner was James Hicks, who was described as a good all-round student, an excellent example to others and someone who commanded great respect from his fellow students and teachers alike.
The D.G. announced his retirement from the post (and now you’ve got me – you lucky blighters!) and Brian Pooley proposed a toast. The President said some kind words and on behalf of the Islanders, Julian Morel laid down some thoughtful challenges. Ray Farr inherited the green jacket for his stunning cricket display on Tresco.
The Thespians entertained us into the early hours with a ‘who-dunnit’ police thriller starring a Fat Controller, Bogie and Boil and a voluptuous belly dancer – where had she been hiding all trip?
A few more drinks and it’s time to get up again.
Monday’s weather started somewhat changeably and the threat of another game of golf was all to much for Biggles Epton, who, with the President’s permission took off on a sortie to sill some more slugs that were in danger of surviving at home! This was all too much for Wilf Feely, who revealed that most of the Mals were related to Geoff Snell in some way!
The Texas Scramble victors were Martin Gibbs, Alistair Hick and Uncle Sausage, with a score of 2 under. Clubs sorted, it was back down to the quay and off to St. Martin’s for cricket. 74 runs for the Mals was never going to be enough and St. Martin’s duly won. Only two recognised events left on the calendar.
Unfortunately, the on-shore wind made it too dangerous to venture past the quay, so the gig racing was confined to inside the harbour, where several gigs containing Mals, islanders and hybrids fought it out. A healthy draw was declared.
Dinner was a bubbly affair, awards were handed out and the green jacket for the final time was awarded to Biggles Epton for his fly-by at the golf course.
Last event now – the boat race – and in front of a sell-out crowd, the Islanders were absolutely ‘thrashed’ by over 2 lengths. All that training through the week had paid off, and apart from Graham Willington (a new boy drafted in as part of our youth policy), nobody had peaked too early.
Early flights on Tuesday meant a bit of last minute packing and settling of bills. First flighters said their farewells at the hotel and hello again at the heliport! “See you at Shrewsbury”, was the cry, apart from one senior Mal, whose only dream was to have ham and chips at the Turk’s Head!
An excellent trip, well handled by our President.
Wednesday 27th September, 2023
Monday 2nd October, 2023