The opportunity for game was limited in our village.
What with the day to day efforts to survive, to provide the labour needed in the fields and the help needed at harvest time our days so often left us exhausted and longing for rest.
Our days revolved around the daily tasks of making ends meet but on the one day of the year when all work was suspended there was a sense of joy and relaxation within the village and we made sure it was a memorable day in every way.
Children could be children and the games they loved came out; the requirements long stuffed into the corners of rooms were dusted off and put to their very use.
For us boys it meant the bats and ball would come out and we would head to the village green to play out loved game of bat and ball.
Sides would be picked and the games played in fierce competition. There was never any prize but rather the pride of being on the winning side, of contributing to the outcome, of doing your bit to the best of your ability.
The games reacquainted us with neighbours and villagers we had no time to engage with during our busy days.
It was an opportunity for us growing boys to show how in the period since out last encounter we had grown bigger and stronger. Every boy, me included, wanted to show off the added skills we thought we possessed.
We wanted to hit the ball further, throw it further and catch it with skill not shown before.
Every year the Pascoe boys banded together and selected the team they thought would bring them victory once again.
We were known as the Kinner boys and I was always third pick behind George Arthur and Alf Parker the two strongest boys on our side.
The game was played over a two-hour period and the Pascoe’s always put up a real fight. Two catches put your side back in the field so we always had our best catchers in the mid field as the ball a heavy cylinder of leather and pebbles took a lot of hitting to reach the forest edge and very few ever hit it that far.
Hits were counted, pitches were countered. The team with the most hits and least number of outs was the winner.
Good pitchers were invaluable and that’s where I stood out as I could pitch over arm with a lot of accuracy and made it hard for the Pascoe’s to clobber me.
As with every game in every year the time flew and whilst we did battle a crowd gathered along the edge of the field to watch as the game ebbed and flowed, neither side dominating the other.
As with so many games played over the years ours came down to the final bat. We had a timekeeper who would call out the minutes remaining. The intensity of the match increased the closer we got to a call of time.
By the last five minutes the Pascoe’s were sixteen hits and nine outs against our fifteen hits eight outs.
It was our turn to bat and George Arthur was the man in. He hit the first ball pitched at him deep into the right field only to be caught. We were now a hit behind but equal with the Pascoe’s on outs.
I was next to bat. I hit the pitch deep to left field and it hit the ground, we had matched the Pascoe’s in hits. It was all even and Alf Parker was next. Alf had had a poor day being caught out every time he struck the ball. But now all hope of victory rested with him.
The first pitch he swung and missed. Our hearts sank; we were on the edge of our seat.
The next pitch he connected and the ball flew straight up in the air. Our hearts further sank as the catcher positioned himself under the ball to take what was going to be an easy catch.
But for whatever reason, he fumbled the ball and it hit the ground just as the timekeeper called time.
We had won by an extra hit. We were excited congratulating each other and all saying what a great game it was.
One of the conventions of our games was that at the end all would shake hands and no grudges would be held after all many of us had to go back to work the next day and there was no value in holding anything against anyone you may need to rely on the next day.
But there were bragging rights and we made sure we exercised those for the next week.