Fantasy Bob's adventures in the grades of East of Scotland cricket have introduced him to some vibrant characters. After a long career with Royal High (sadly no more), FB had an extended paternity break, but returned to active league cricket with Carlton 2 years ago. Many of the same characters were still displaying their skills, only with slightly rounder delivery arms or more caution in calling for that quick single, and even more caution in actually going for it. Fielding had become an even more statuesque pastime. Several times Fantasy Bob has been met with the fond greeting, 'Good Lord, are you sure you're not dead?' Sic transit gloria.
Here is a small tribute to a quartet of these heroes whom FB encountered in the distant past and more recently. All good for a pint and a chat after the contest.
Colin McGill - Holy Cross middle order smoker. CoCo must now be 374 years old but still puts a fair number of balls on the spot and clubs a few runs. He did for FB this year getting one through the gate. FB was only too pleased to return the compliment when HX batted. CoCo has bagged many a victim who has played at the cigarette smoke coming down the wicket ahead of the ball. Like all veterans, as the on field skills wane the talking averages climb. CoCo's skill at pinning people to the bar to recount how he was robbed of a hat trick by a perverse umpiring decision in the last days before Hitler invaded Poland is now Test match quality. A great of the game, long may he turn out.
Ivor Glynn - once of Watsonians now restricting himself to guest appearances for the Woodcutters. The Royal High score book of old will show the damage he did in those halcyon days. He always looked hitable but Ivor managed to dip the ball onto a length and was invariably straight. Since there was no pace on the ball you had to strike it - many tried and many failed. 'Ivored' the scorecard read. Let's hope he keeps his axe sharp for the 'cutters.
David Essery - one of FB's former RH colleagues and the man on whom Victor Meldrew was modelled. Self-described as 'the unluckiest batsman in the northern hemispere' - a nickname he frequently managed to live up to. Fielders who seemed actually to be dead for the preceding 10 overs would suddenly leap to prodigious heights to catch one handed DJE's rasping drives; deep fine legs whose arms looked made of plasticine would suddenly wing it flat and onto the middle stump as DJE tried vainly for that apparently comfortable second. We were happy to believe it was a conspiracy. But week in week out DJE delivered some much needed stability at the top of the order and only the dressing room windows suffered his unnatural dismissals. DJE retired from the game at a disgracefully young age and lives within hailing distance of Grange Loan - one day he might drop in - he should be accorded full respect.
And finally and with great sadness, another great with whom FB played - Scott Anderson, who died earlier this year. Stalwart of London Road (as was) and SHHD (also as was). An elegant bat who could easily have played at a much higher level but was loyal to London Road. One of the few to have managed a ton on Roseburn's slow track and heavy outfield. No one looked better at the crease with his cap at a slightly tilted angle. Too young to be finally dismissed by the raised finger of that cruel umpire of time. Fondly remembered.
FB hopes in future postings to recall some other greats of the local scene. He is sure readers will also wish to share their memories of stars fading or still burning bright.