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Jul 31

Good Auspices at Stiffkey

Stiffkey may only be associated by most with its notorious Rector, Harold Davidson, who after being defrocked in 1932 on charges of immorality died in 1937 after being mauled by a lion in an amusement park in Skegness. But for the Grantchester, Stiffkey is the venue of our annual trip to North Norfolk to play cricket against the gentlemen of the village. Several of the team make a weekend of the occasion.
A resident of Stiffkey who stays regularly in Grantchester set up the first match. He is also a member of GCC. It was therefore disconcerting to find out that having misread the fixture list he was in fact heading for Cambridge to watch the game.
As we assembled at the ground in brilliant sunshine two birds of prey were spotted in the clear sky. The cognoscenti tried to name them but they were flying high. Was it a buzzard or a merlin or a hobby or a red kite? The Grantchester like nothing better than holding forth on subjects they know nothing about so the correct answer was not confirmed. But there can be no doubt that it was truly auspicious. But for whom were the omens going to be beneficial?
Grantchester lost the toss and were inserted. There was no need for alarm. In Nelson’s county 111 was put on for the first wicket by AP Stafford and M. Dawkins. Dawkins was out for 45. AP carried his bat for an impressive 117, including 16 boundaries. This was the first century by a Grantchester player in the new era and a ground record at Stiffkey. The gods were smiling on GCC. There were no other contributions of note though M. Jones batted breezily in the closing overs. M. Delaney took 3 for 26. Grantchester 195 for 7.
After tea Stiffkey started steadily and it was not until the 15th over that the first wicket fell to N. Woods, bowling his off-breaks. Their top scorer M. Hunter was out for 37. Though Stiffkey were always behind the clock, the Grantchester skipper S. Wilson would brook no slackness in the field. Woe betide any player who moved from his position. An admonishing cry of, “ Stay where I put you,” was directed at several nomadic fielders including AP himself. This grumpiness was attributed by some of the senior players to a lack of sleep. But when AP came on to bowl the match was quickly settled. With a clever variety of pace he took 3 for 12. After their allotted overs Stiffkey were 113 for 8. A victory for the Grantchester by 82 runs and now 7 wins from 7.
The evening was spent in a delightful spirit of camaraderie with the opposition and, for those of us staying a second night, until Last Orders. The Rector of Stiffkey still lies in the village churchyard and the birds of prey wheel overhead.

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