NEITHER RUNNIN’ NORWALKIN’ – ALUMNI UNABLE TO LICK STAFF (AT CRICKET)
by Gord Fleming (84-88) – Staff Alumni Cricket Team Coach
HALIBURTON – The regrettable list of cancelled championships that already includes the WWI-Era Grey Cups, the 1919 Stanley Cup, and the 1994 World Series has a new entry today. The 2010 Haliburton Scout Reserve Cricket League championship was scuppered immediately prior to the scheduled opening bowl, owing to a combination of factors, chief among which were immediately opening bowels.
As the Alumni team members arrived at their pre-season training camp on Kennabi’s North shore, they were informed that the Staff team, their most bitter – and only – rivals, had been decimated by an outbreak of what was presumed to be Norwalk-like virus. A chill descended upon the cocksure and jovial mood of the undefeated Alumni squad, as each was in turn ordered by team physician and silly-mid-off Jamie Kissick to refrain from licking staff for the time being.
As the first day of training camp progressed despite the uncertainty, the intensity of the rivalry was underscored as rumours began to circulate that Justin Way, the long, long, long serving captain of the Staff side had devised a way of using the outbreak to his advantage. It was reported that he had begun offering undefined incentives to his stricken players to “say hello in really, really friendly ways” to the healthy Alumni in a nefarious plot to weaken them.
“I’m not going to comment on unfounded rumours” said Alumni captain Gordon Fleming. “They seem a little far-fetched. I mean, incentives? Why would they need incentives? Have you seen us? We’re like the team your team could smell like”. He then put his hands on his towel-draped hips and exclaimed cryptically, “I’m in a tent!”
Later that evening, league commissioner Kevin Bell announced the match was expected to go on as scheduled. “We are looking forward to the Staff side’s full recovery in time for Sunday’s match. We know they are doing everything they can to get their strength back, and the league is doing its part by reminding them of the heavy fines they face for failure to show”.
Asked to comment on the possibility that such fines might push ill players onto the field – giving the Alumni a competitive advantage – Fleming said “we like winning way better than losing, but we want to do it because we score lots of runs, not because the other team has them”.
The grueling Alumni training regime therefore continued as planned. “We’re focusing on diet and mental toughness this year” said head trainer Grant LaFontaine, as he combined chocolate, marshmallow and graham cracker to construct the signature sandwich of the Alumni side. “The mental toughness is built up through sharing and meditation, in a circle of unity around the campfire, which represents the flickering spirit in all of us that feeds the burning red-hot coals of desire for victory” he added, as players behind him appeared to be exercising their eyes by rolling them.
“The diet part is partly Karma-based, through offerings of food to our opponents. For example, we started an oyster bed in the creek outside the Hurst gates earlier this year, harvested the first batch a few days ago, let them warm up in the sun for a couple of hours and fed them to the Staff at snack. We had to be a little creative because we feared they might not accept our heartfelt gift without some suspicion. So, we replaced the creamy centres in the Oreos with them. Karma favours good deeds done anonymously”, he explained, as Fleming frantically mimed slashing motions across his throat in an apparent attempt to prevent the trainer from revealing too much about the Alumni strategy.
Nervously laughing, Fleming pushed the trainer aside and took over. “What Laffie is trying to say is that we have an interest in keeping our competition strong so that they bring out the best in us. We brought them a traditional offering of yummy delicious nutritious shellfish to put the hot bubbly fire of competitiveness in their bellies. Yeah. That’s good. Print that.”
Asked if the Alumni shared in the feast, each player stared straight ahead and gave the same answer: “No. We’re all allergic. Yes, all of us. I know, weird coincidence, right?” This was in most cases followed by a wink or a fist bump.
As dawn broke on the morning of the 2010 HSRCL Final, the skies brought steady rains as Alumni player representative Jeff Lake brought news that the outbreak had taken a turn for the worse and the commissioner reluctantly declared that for the first time in its 28-year history, there would be no championship match.
As a spontaneous tribute to their stricken rivals, the Alumni players donned their whites and took their positions on the Mill Site Field for a moment of silence, a touching display of sportsmanship for which the Alumni were well – rewarded with a glorious victory by forfeit.
“I know the Staff will be delighted that we were able to take to the field not just to honour them, but to make sure that a champion would still be crowned in 2010”, said Fleming. “It wasn’t quite the same, but a win is a win and we had a gastroen-terrific weekend!”