Back in the day, when The Village Cricketer was a young pup seeking his fortune in the big wide world, he made his way to London town.
To a common northerner educated at a West Midlands university, London was a heady and exotic mix of posh women, confusing work and expensive pubs, where strong lager costing £3 plus a pint meant you could be both broke and legless by 9pm, before having to raid a cashpoint to spend £30 on a cab home.
Needing an outlet for his cricketing ‘talents’ TVC went on the internet and – looking for a club in South West London – came across Barnes CC, the home of the mighty pheasant, and The Village Cricketer’s first ever ‘legendary cricket club’.
Barnes’s first XI was useful – breaking into the Middlesex Premier league, and featuring such world beaters as Darren Sammy and Chris Whelan (now at Gloucestershire). The rest of the firsts was made up of English former public school boys, Australian former public school boys, South African former public school boys and occasionally a mad Kiwi or two.
The Village Cricketer, being common, generally played 3rd XI cricket (with the rest of the commoners), broke into the 2nds in his latter years (slightly less common), and once or twice top scored for the 1sts when making up the numbers in Evening Standard cup or pre-season (not so) friendly games.
The Village Cricketer has played for a few clubs in his life – but of all of these – Barnes was the greatest. You could play on a small, picturesque and magnificently manicured ground in SW13, which was at times a batting paradise. There was competitive cricket for all standards, and a legendary Sunday 2nd XI captained by The Colonel, a former advertising exec turned white van man, that took a lighted cigarette into the shower and could bowl respectably with either arm.
Oh, and the bar saw some action too, especially if a couple of the Saturday league XIs had won. The Village Cricketer has yet to find another club that could match the post-match drinking scene that exists at Barnes.
So, if you move to London and want to play decent cricket with a great set of lads and follow it up with some monster drinking sessions, then this is your club – especially given that it is hosting the pre-Ashes cricket writers charity match on Monday 29th June 2009.