[X Posted from my LJ]
On Saturday, the Loan Wolves turned out, braving the sunny but chilly Autumn afternoon to cheer on SuperBen and Jane A, our representatives in the North v South all-star game. Tremendous performances by our star Wolves accounted for five of the runs scored by their side – better than any other team. Sadly, they were subbed out to let other players have a go, and the North promptly lost the game. However, we Wolves won the wholly appropriate prize of a crate of beer for bringing the most supporters to the all-star match! We may not win games, but we can at least win something. We celebrated this great achievement in the pub, leaving our prize beer in the clubhouse till Sunday, the day of the end-of-year tournament.
The tournament should have been held two weeks ago, but local authority people decided not to play ball, as it were, and it had to be rescheduled. Sadly, the other teams from the bottom of the division couldn’t make the new date so we were mostly facing stronger opposition. Always outnumbered, always outgunned. At least we were lucky in getting a sunny, relatively warm, day for it.
Early start for all of us – in my case, earlier than a weekday – to get to Finsbury Park on time. Laden down with bat, kit, folding chair, food, drinks, picnic blanket etc, I got to the venue by 8.45. We did some stretches, and got ready for first game vs Glove Me Tender. We played well, really, but were just warming up, and were sadly defeated 15 -1. I think Paul got that 1, with a home run.
Somewhere in the first game, Frodo turned up. She had decided to go on from te pub on Saturday to a house party nearby. Where she had stayed up till 6 am, apparently. She turned up from her friends’ place clutching a pottery mug which we assumed held strong back coffee. No. It was vodka. Other stimulants of choice for the Wolves during the day included fruit, cocktail sausages, jelly babies, the few pieces of maple candy I’d scrounged from the meet-up with Emperor Fool, and that crate of beer from the all-star game.
On to a game vs this year’s development squad, which contained several baseball players who could hit the ball for miles, and had Kim from BSUK on First catching anything thrown within twenty feet of her. Lost, 13 – 9.
Third up were Oblivion. The Bolivians (as I’m sure I heard one confused Wolf call them) were pretty useful, and two outs at First spoiled my batting stats (otherwise batted .1000 for the day). This was in spite of Ben’s dad offering me the incentive of a Fry’s Chocolate Cream bar if I made it to base that game. I did suggest to him that if I ate fewer chocolate bars, I might have been able to run fast enough to beat the throws to First. Another loss, though I can’t recall the score.
Lunch interval of half an hour followed. Just about long enough to polish off our sandwiches, crisps, fruit and what seemed to be the contents of Ben’s family’s kitchen cupboard.
First afternoon game was vs Italian Suede. I managed to stop a fast-moving grounder to Right Field, throwing it in to hold the batter at First. We lost that match, by the way. Just in case you wondered. But I did get a Fry’s Chocolate Cream, so that was all right.
Then we played our arch-rivals, the Devil Strays. And, um, lost. Despite a great performance from the Wolves. Reinforcements arrived at this point – the rest of Ben’s family, and also Kate. She had a pretty good excuse for turning up late – she’d completed the Nike 10K that morning. Time of 1 hr 2’18”.
Having lost all our games, we were in the bottom-place play-off. Vs the Dev side again. This was a tense match. I was sitting it out, scoring, calling out batting order, and doing lots of shouting. We had a slim lead, but one big hit from one of the bad guys reversed that. The game ended 8 – 7 to them.
So we ended the day with our record unbroken. We won some new match balls, in an “everyone gets a prize” sort of way, and baffled everybody with our cheerfulness in the face of losing. Also escaped major injuries, which was a bonus for us.
On to the pub, where we celebrated our achievements. It was turning chilly, and we were defiantly the last team to go indoors. Another Loan Wolves Little Victory™. Inside, we found a cosy corner under a TV projector screen. Rather than MTV, this was showing, sound off, a wildlife documentary about wolves. Kind of appropriate. We watched our namesakes hunt down and devour their prey savagely, wondering perhaps why we never manage to do that.
Duncan of the Devil Strays came over to tell us, apropos of nothing, that he thought; “you guys rock!”. He promised to buy our whole team a drink when we eventually win a game. We intend to hold him to that. Coach Darren despaired at our laid-back attitude to failing to achieve victory. But then he is American.
OK, so we didn’t win. But the difference between the clueless, confused bunch of no hopers we were last year and the focused, skilful, committed team we’ve become was really marked (even if we still can’t win a raffle). We’ve survived our first season, we haven’t given up, and if the other sides have yet to fear the Wolves, I think we have at least earned their respect.