The Wolvercote Cricket Club Awards night had arrived a what a night it was…. The glamour and the glitz of this annual event had drawn wolves from near and far. Our resident Welsh Dragon could not be better testimony to the adage ‘once a wolf always a wolf’ and had yet again come out in support of the pack. Chairman Crouch, having successfully peddled a number of worthless pieces of earl grey stained parchments to unsuspecting Asians, had scampered back from the exoticism of the orient, lest the Communist Party find out his dubious deals. Big diff Tim won the battle of the captains by exchanging places with the Procter in the southern cape. Amongst all this fuss, good old Sadler had spent all Saturday morning trying to match the time required to cover the 300 yard distance between his flat and the venue, with the time required to cook perfectly al-dente pasta (this, in order to balance his duties as a husband and a wolf – imagine a wolf being banished to the doghouse on a cold night!).

Well, the stage was set for Wolvercote’s finest representatives of the gentleman’s game to be recognised for their summer heroics. As always, the evening kicked off with the infamous buffet of the Plough’s own take on Indian curry. One always suspected that pickings would be a bit slim this year given that times had been incredibly tight for the Plough (thanks to Quinny’s self-imposed abstinence). But the complete absence of a cheese trolley (which generally was the saving grace for the non-descript curries on display) managed to ruffle the feathers of the staunchest of Plough loyalists. Dinner conversation ranged from the politics of Zimbabwe to the purchase of Coca-Cola shares (the opportunists had spotted Quinny’s beverage of choice) until all went silent when the glamour for the evening arrived on Jason’s arm (the glitz had already been provided by Toshif’s velvet blazer!).

Ogling at humans of the female kind complete, Crouchy kicked off the proceedings by revealing what a dinosaur he was in describing his relations with the club all the way since the jurassic period. One feared this was going to be a year by year account (much like Jason’s match by match account of the pitch and the weather) of the growth in the pack’s ranks. Mercifully the finer details were left to the audiences imagination. He then proceeded to make a vain attempt to eulogise his own magnanimity in stepping down as Chairman after listing all the great things the Club had achieved under his reign. He even handed out mementoes to all the great and the good of the wolf-pack (right from the tea-makers to the fantasy league builders) who had helped him during his time as chair and gain bragging rights for others’ achievements! Crouchy’s desperation to get a hurrah was apparent when even Nas got an accolade for his teas (leading to murmurs that Nas might have been better served by a cookery book rather than one on cricket history!).

Sorry to break it to you Crouchy – but not a tear was shed. And I suspect by the time this report is sent out, your fat arse will be back, in and as, the wolf Chair.

Moving onto the highlights of the evening:

1st XI awards

Tim bagged the 1st XI batsman of the year for providing top order solidity in the early part of the season before the fateful drive from Babbsy which cracked his arm. Rumour has it that Babbsy’s genuine distraught following Tim’s retirement was less in sympathy with Tim’s injury and more in relation to the fact that the only shot he had middled all season had not made it to the boundary.

A completely bemused Toby Shelley picked up the bowling award fully convinced that this was a cock-up worthy of the Oscars and that Crouchy had opened the wrong envelope. Somewhere in the middle of the room, Mo Shafqat was breathing half a sigh of relief in hope that this might just be the year when he doesn’t have to explain to his family why the little brother always got the silverware.

JVS’ magnificent catch in the outfield won by unanimous vote (there wasn’t much competition here given that the rest of us couldn’t have caught a cold if we’d tried).

Mo Shafqat’s nagging line and length bowling had earned him a 6 wicket haul earlier in the season. On the night, it won him the captain’s choice award for 1st XI performance of the year. He was now visibly holding his in anticipation…

And finally, the player’s player of the year went to Mark Child who stood out like a beacon of hope in a season where the wolf willow wielders had well and truly underperformed. While Mark occasionally struggled to discern between the front and the back of his bat, and his on field sledging left a lot to be desired, his run scoring prowess was pivotal in ensuring the season was not a whitewash. Truly well deserved. While Mark was no doubt revelling in the honour, no one was happier than Mo bhai…. he might as well have conquered Everest!

2nd XI awards

The quirks of the awarding criteria came to the fore yet again as Jason Elliott won the 2nd XI batsman of the year – this when he had aggregated less than 100 runs in just five innings. While some might suggest this is called playing by the book, others were hankering for a review of the awarding criteria.

Sam Payne, basking in the knowledge that he had avoided the duck cup picked up the bowling award for his 17 wickets with thriftiness that would have made Shylock proud.

Dan Jacobs picked up the catch of the season and received a specially customised trophy (courtesy Quinny) commemorating his stellar work behind the stumps.

Richie, in his first ever public speaking event, fought against all his instincts to award the performance of the year to the resident vicar (read Rob Glenny), knowing fully well the consequences of self-nomination. He did however manage to doctor the Vicar’s acceptance speech to ensure his century was foremost in people’s minds. I for one thought Glenny fully deserved the award on the basis that this was the performance that catapulted my standing in the fantasy league!

Finally Dan Jacobs won the hearts of his fellow teammates with his all round display from both sides of the stumps to round off a memorable debut season and pick up the player of the season award for the twos.

3rd XI awards

The 3rd XI were probably the highlight of the season having ushered in a new era of cricket at Wolvercote. It allowed the has beens an opportunity to remain relevant a bit longer while also providing a grooming ground for the will be’s.

The batting award was rightly won by Marc Lewis who was the mainstay for them and returned with the highest average for any batsman across all three senior teams. Je dit, bravo!

Alyn Davies picked up the bowling award for his outstanding out-swing bowling. Unfortunately, he lost his brains in the process and was suckered into choosing Scylla over Charybdis (read Trump over Brexit). While he deserves our congratulations, all he will be getting is commiserations for his poorly designed venture across the pond. No doubt he’ll be back with his tail between his legs.

Neil Sadler, having provided a gourmet meal for his wife narrowly erred in his time, speed, distance calculations (he is after all an english teacher) but did bag the catch of the season (witnesses say it was the best they’d ever seen). I daresay this was one of those rare occasions where the third’s actually held onto a catch leaving the opponents wondering what had happened to the ever reliable non-catching ability of Wolvercote III.

Quinny proved the ball is mightier than the bat and made it a clean sweep for the bowlers in terms of captain’s choice awards for his six for eleven (he’ll be singing about this until the day he kicks the bucket). Unfortunately, this came at a high cost – the surprise and emotion of the moment entirely overwhelmed Quinny and he promptly broke his 41 day tee-totalling streak (much to the delight of landlord). Christmas had indeed arrived. Meanwhile Amit Borlikar (he of the Movember beard) was seen hastily reversing all his long trades for Coca Cola that he had put in just moments earlier.

Walshy flew the hobbit flag high and proud and picked up the players player award for the third’s. His dynamic stand in captaincy, and stellar batting performances had clearly not gone unnoticed and he did the shire proud.

The important ones – General awards

Chris Potter deservingly won the Friendlies Player of the season. He’s been a workhorse all season pottering away at organising events, transporting people, participating in games etc. He’s been a great social secretary and long may his efforts continue.

The champagne moment of the evening was the award for the friendlies performance of the season. Some say you need to do a two and a half twist of the tongue to get this right…. Some say you need to venture into the jungles of Sri Lanka and meditate for 11 years 11 days and 11 minutes to even attempt this feat…. Most say don’t bother. However Quinny, having only provided a cursory glance to a scribbled piece of paper provided his most valuable contribution to humanity and in a sweeping roll of the tongue flawlessly pronounced all 1008 syllables of Ramesh’s full name in a single breath. This was in recognition of Ramesh’s friendlies performance of the year for his hatrick against the Audley Ducks.

And last, but by no means the least, Matt Wells received the coveted Clubman of the year. Often the wolves behind the scenes tend to get overlooked in terms of their invaluable contribution in ensuring the functioning of the Club and just holding fort as a member of the pack. Dear Old Matty has been a stellar figure in the mid-week friendlies, picked up umpiring duties, acting as treasurer of the club and just been an absolute joy to have in the pack. He’s been a true testament to the wolf spirit and provided an exemplary example of how to bear the vicissitudes of life with a smile. Bravo Matty and we look forward to having your wisdom and goodwill continue to shine over the pack. A more popular or deserving winner would be hard to find.

Overall, it was yet another successful season for the club. The youth set-up had been nationally recognised, the third’s had kept up with recent tradition of a promotion every year, the firsts had created history by reaching the airey cup final and the seconds, well they’d just about been second best at everything!

To the entire wolf pack, I wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas and new year ahead. See you next season with renewed spirits and greater intent. Ooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwww!