Dave & Sam Stephens step down from the Elf

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Short message from Sam Stephens

Evening all, just to let you all know…

I have spoken to our skipper and officially/partially/heavy heartedly retired my Health career after 12 of the best years of my life. I have done a lot of my cricketing learning and have achieved some of my proudest moments with the team.

Dad and I will be available for the Darley Abbey Friendly side for the rest of the season, one of the reasons being I want to force myself into the batting side on a Saturday and to give us a little change. 

It’s been a pleasure gents, I look forward to reading match reports throughout, and I shall see you all at our next Elf club day!

Sam

WHCC Dave StephensWHCC Sam Stephens SQUARE

V Lapworth (24/05/15)

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Walsall Heath 179-9 (40 Overs) Lapworth 181-3 (38 Overs) LAP win by 7 wickets.

The ‘Elf travelled down to leafy Lapworth in Warwickshire to hopefully put an end to their 2 game losing streak in the month of May.
Skipper Dave Preece lost the toss and the Elf were put into bat by the home side. In grey overcast conditions, it looked like the correct call by the hosts.
Two returning ‘Elf regulars went out to open the batting, Andy Gorton and the Elf’s Kolpak player, for his second consecutive season, Ian Chuck.
The latter was soon to find himself back in the hutch when he played what can only be described as a forearm smash to a full toss, it certainly wouldn’t have disgraced the grass of Wimbledon, 15-love to Lapworth.
Gort was then joined by six-time (yes, SIX time) fielder of the year Rich Fell, who grafted his way to 9 before being trapped in front of all three stumps by Seeley.
The skipper Dave Preece was in at number four, as he and Gorton put on a steady partnership before Gorton himself ballooned a catch to square-leg. An unfortunate end to another well grafted knock, the Elf opener made 28. This brought Vice Captain Rob Hewlitt out to bat with the skipper. Both were going nicely before the VC Hewlitt was caught by Pratt for 13.
Enter Gary Fitzpatrick. Still down as a ‘guest player’ Fitzy and Preece put on a great 58 run stand to add some much needed momentum to an innings that was lacking direction. This time it was the captain who was out for a well produced 37.
A little bit of a lower order wobble saw Lapworth drag the ‘Elf back from 160-5 to 164-8 with Nathan Reeves going for 1, resident Iron Man Chris Hall getting bowled for a duck and Nathan Martin going to a fantastic delivery from Winter, the most impressive of the 6 bowlers on show who had the ball swinging like Christine & Neil Hamilton and had great figures of 8-1-23-3.
Fitzpatrick was joined by Tom Davies or ‘insert nick name here’. Davies and Fitzpatrick added 15 more before sadly the latter was caught in the last over on 47 to see him miss out on a well deserved maiden 50. The Elf set Lapworth a chaseable 180 for victory.

In the second innings of the game, Elf openers Chris Hall & Nathan Martin made a great fist of it by restricting Lapworth to 12-1 off the first 10 overs, Hall edging ever closer to his 260th wicket for the club.
Even at drinks, the Elf lads were great spirit, having the home side 55-2. Chuck this time deceiving Bart Kay for 11. A big hand to Kay who came on to field for the Elf for a few overs when they were a man down.
Unfortunately a 140 run partnership really took the game away from the away side. Ben Wright played some exquisite strokes before being caught by the Health’s top run scorer Fitzpatrick for a well made 86 with the score on 166-3 in the 36th. The home side’s skipper Faber saw them home with 56 not out with two overs to spare.

 

Batting Runs
Gorton, A c Owen b Seeley

28

Chuck, I c b Winter

1

Fell, R lbw b Seeley 9
Preece, D b Owen  37
Hewlitt, R c Pratt b Owen 13
Fitzpatrick, G c b Seeley 47
Reeves, N b Winter 1
Hall, C b Owen 0
Martin, N b Winter 1
Davies, T Not out 10
Preece, J Not out 0
Extras

32

Walsall Health

 179

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Martin, N

8

1

20

0

Hall, C

8

2

30

1

Davies, T

6

0

24

0

Chuck, I

6

1

23

1

Preece, J

2

0

18

0

Hewlitt, R

3

0

21

0

Fell, R 3 0 21 0
Preece, D 2 0 14 1

 

 

AOB
Hewlitt Jr & Hewlitt Jr Jr were at their energetic best today and spent the majority of the game in the nets, playing the world’s longest test match. Rumour has it they’re coming back tomorrow when Charlie will be 856 not out and Fred will be about the start his 36th spell from the field end.

BEST BATSMAN
A few candidates this week but it has to go the Health’s all-round sportsman Gary Fitzpatrick with a well made 47. Some real good strokes in there, he even hit his first six!

BEST BOWLER
Even though he did not take any wickets, Karel Poborsky/Diego Forlan/Nathan Martin chipped in with 3 spells and finished with 8-1-20-0. He was really unfortunate not to take a really sharp caught and bowled in his last over to get the wicket his effort’s deserved.

BEST FIELDER
A tough call today, the trophy may have to be split three ways between Hewlitt, Fell and Reeves. All were ever-present and stopped plenty of runs. Great effort lads.

RACH’S POP SCENE.
Rach’s wine this week was also backed up with a really impressive picnic (which was probably better than the tea!) The Elf lads even had a dabble with some pizza pieces that looked like mini samosas. Picnic effort: 9/10.

DAI WATCH
Dai ‘sat with the lads’ whilst they were batting this week but strangely went to the score box when the Elf were fielding, leaving Gorton Jr no one to talk to. Dai also had the embarrassment of mistaking Elf resident ginger Tom Davies for a lady, probably Geri Haliwell.

Written by Tom Davies

V Coventry Willow CC (17/05/15)

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17th MAY 2015

WHCC v Coventry Willow CC

Walsall Heath lost to Coventry Willow CC by 38 runs

On rather cool overcast afternoon ‘The Elf’ welcomed Coventry Willow. A very much new look team from the one that we faced at the end of last season.

Dave Stephens opened the bowling and also his account for wickets. That nagging line and length was back. A dropped catch and a couple of harshly turned down appeals could have seen earlier dismissals, but Dave did not lose heart and soon got the rewards his excellent spell of bowling deserved. Back to back, two time fielder of the year Rob Hewlitt opened from the other end. In recent seasons limited to the occasional overs Rob stepped up with 5 overs, getting a wicket. Mr Tickle-esque in the field, however, bread and butter catches from last year proving to be a little more difficult this time around.

Enter the King of Spain, who’s regal deliveries tied up an end very economically for 5 overs… while at the other a fully match fit, Iron Man, The Excellence of Execution, ‘The Elfs’ Premium Strike Bowler was back. Chris Hall with the breath taking figures of 8 Overs, 4 Maidens, 10 Runs and taking 3 wickets.

In the second game of his first season, Lyndon Billingham, took a majestic catch, high and swirling he moved backwards, reaching high over his shoulder, snaffling a far from easy chance. Nathan Reeves unlucky with some excellent efforts to add to the catch tally early doors, but his overall energy in the feel was to be admired and set the standard.

Tom Davies (insert ginger based nickname here) in his first game had a fantastic spell with the ball too. Matt Wright taking a skied catch at Gully to give him his greatly deserved wicket.

Another bowling change from the skipper saw the Slater / Wright combination. Slater showing improved control with his Malinga Style Technique, like JP controlling an end with 5 excellent overs. While Wright got a stumping with his first delivery of the day. The Skipper, Dave Preece, standing in for the resting Super Andy Gorton, did well behind the stumps. Whipping off the bails twice during the spinners spell and helping Wright achieve his first ever wicket maiden.

Hall & Wright saw out the remaining overs. Mike Sayers pure energy, in the field all day, put his body on the line time after time, I am sure Katie will have great sympathy for her brave little soldier when he hobbles home. There may be a bruise or two that will need some TLC.

A target of 123 was set for ‘The Elf’ to chase and after a rather nice tea we resumed the field. The Gort demonstrating that he is a real Team Man, umpiring for the entire innings, a gentleman of pure class.

The Skipper & Nathan Reeves opened the batting. And sadly the tone was set for a bad day in the middle. The Captain out second ball, while Nathan was caught spectacularly on the boundary after a couple of lusty blows. Billingham & Slater continue their attack on the duck race, while Dave Stephens and Mike Sayer did get off the mark with 4 runs each. Chris Hall flourished the bat with his usual style but lost his wicket teasing to promise so much more. Wright, 1 n.o, the last man standing after a day of shambolic batting.

However, Rob Hewlitt, Tom Davies and Jonathan Preece can all take credit in their efforts. Rob, immense in the context of the game, held the innings from total collapse. Trying to preserve his wicket and also keep the score board ticking was a very big ask. forging a good partnership with Tom who did exceptionally well. While JP didn’t get a high score, only Rob faced more balls.

All out for 85 runs and 38 away from victory. The result reflected in the dull overcast weather. Onward to Lapworth next week, where after last season one can only imagine that they have half of their first team, a Warwickshire Colt and any other ringer they can lay their hands on to exact revenge.

Batting Runs
Preece, D b Joshi

0

Reeves, N c b Joshi

4

Sayer, M b Joshi 4
Billington, L b Imran 0
Hewlitt, R c b Nabell 37
Slater, S c b Imran 0
Stephens, D c b Nazeen 4
Davies, T lbw Nazeen 16
Preece, J c & b Khan 2
Hall, C b c Raj 7
Wright, M Not out 1
Extras

10

Walsall Health

 85

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Stephens, D

8

0

25

2

Hewlitt, R

5

0

24

1

Preece, J

5

1

14

0

Hall, C

8

4

10

3

Davies, T

4

2

8

1

Slater, S

4

0

21

0

Wright, M 6 1 20 2

AOB
Nice to see Lyndon’s wife Fiona with the girls Olivia & Nancy, not forgetting Rich bringing down George. Cakes from tea well received by all the children.

MAN OF THE MATCH
& TOP BATSMAN
Rob Hewlitt
Offered the greatest resistance with the bat. A sterling effort.

TOP BOWLER
Chris Hall
3 Wkts From 8 Overs 4 Maidens giving up a miserly 10 Runs

TOP FIELDER
Mike Sayers
Mike & Nathan Reeves both excellent in the field, but Mike just edges it because of the shot taken to the shin.

RACHEL GORTON’S – POP SCENE
No wine this week and back to home 2 jugs pop pouring duties. The Outfit – A Polo top with matching scarf, jeans and converse footwear todays look.
However, black and blue, might have been the colour scheme, well at least for JP, had he hit a ball off her while warming up to bat

DAI WATCH
The Welsh Wizard took refuge in the scoring box, bizarrely colder and breezier inside than out. He has also decided that Lyndon is now an ex-president and former Commander & Chief of the free world.
While Lyndon doesn’t mind being Parkes and now Lyndon Johnson, the question remains, will he ever get more names than Tom?

 

Written by Mathew Wright

V Peopleton CC (10/05/15)

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10th MAY 2015

WHCC v Peopleton CC

Walsall Health lost to Peopleton CC by 49 runs

The ‘Elf’ travelled to Peopleton based in the holy lands of cricket – Worcestershire.

Dai to the rescue.

Welsh Wonder Dai Preece steps in to save the day.

It was a late call from Fitz who had pulled a Fetlock in conspicuous Sunday AM activities, so the mighty Dai Preece stepped up to make the XI complete.

So we followed the skipper into the middle with some short boundaries and a thick cut outfield. Sam and Dave Stephens opened the bowling. DS with another solid shift tying up an end and keeping the score board low; while the super charged Sam claimed three wickets and took 2 caught and bowled chances. One which was like getting through for a touch down in the red zone rather than a cricket match.

Richard Fell standing in for the physical wreck Andy Gorton… After deciding to list his injuries it was determined just to say the eyelashes on his left eye and his right ear lobe are injury free…

It was the introduction of the ‘King of Spain’ the undisputed Welsh Wizard JP who took charge with a wicket first ball! A 3 wicket super spell saw an extensive selection of bamboozling balls beating batsmen beautifully! A caught and bowled being the highlight. However, great concern that we could lose the star man while retrieving the ball from a neighbouring field containing a couple of sheep, but being a true team player, his teammates came before a potential hot date.

Dai running from one side of the field to the other between overs was a sign that Preece Snr is still active in many ways! He covered that much distance at one point Stuart Slater thought he might need to sponsor him. Added to this were some excellent stops on the boundary.

Matt Wright took one wicket in a 6 over spell. Thanks to Rob Hewlett catching a rocketing drive with lightening fast reactions.
Rob added to the catch with two wickets of his own mopping up the tail.

Slater turned over the Malinga style arm surely to be developed into a dangerous bowling weapon.

This was after Iron Man Chris Hall playing his first game of the season opened his account with 2 wickets. One of which was Peopleton’s star man who was just 7 runs short of his century. Great to have the PSB back in action!

Strong words from the skipper were required to keep us focused to the end of our time in the field. ‘Anonymous’ quipped, Dave had finally found a use for his redundant hair dryer.

Chasing 197 after a very mediocre tea, the batsman set about our reply. The Gort smashing 45 and sending one of the opposition to hospital with split webbing, while the skipper managed 27 gallon victim to some erratic bowling. A couple fully tossed over his head followed by a screaming Yorker!

Sam Stephens with 17 added to the early total, but then a collapse ensued. Only Richard Fell with 19 off 34 balls and Not Out stemmed the flow. this was a superbly stubborn effort from the former skipper who just refused to be beaten.

Slater, D Stephens and J Preece chalking up positives for the duck trophy award.

Chris Hall unlucky not to build on a good start while Matt Wright batting at 9 did well against their premium bowler.

A little highlight in defeat was Dai hitting a 4.

So, the Invincibles’ dream is over for this season, but the Golden Generation remain strong onwards and upwards to next week.

 

Batting Runs
Gorton, A b Deeprose 45
Preece, D b Rigby 27
Stephens, S c b Thompson  17
Hewlitt, R b Deeprose 1
Fell, R not out 19
Slater, S st 0
Hall, C c b Thompson 6
Stephens, D c b Mason 0
Wright, M c b Mason 4
Preece, J b Billington 0
Preece, Di b Billington 4
Extras

24

Walsall Health

 148

 

 

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Stephens, S

8

0

42

3

Stephens, D

8

0

30

0

Preece, J

8

0

25

3

Wright, M

6

0

30

1

Slater, S

2

0

23

0

Hall, C

5

0

31

2

Hewlitt, R ? 0 2 1

AOB
Disappointingly…Some arrogance and snide comments from the opposition left a bitter taste in the mouth when were gracious enough to field for them after they lost a player.Fines was one of the funniest for some time. Elloner Rigby, Sheep Bothering, Wrestling and the first ever mid session toilet break!

MAN OF THE MATCH
& TOP BOWLER

JP with three wickets and the most economical of the bowlers who had the full compliment of 8 overs.

TOP BATSMAN

Andy Gorton just shy of his 50
Rich fell a close second for his pure determination.

TOP FIELDER

Dave Preece led by example and gave us a kick up the arse when we flagged.

DAI WATCH
The great man played and stepped up to bail us out. Rolling back the years and just brilliant. A Class act.

RACHEL GORTON’S – POP SCENE
With a week off work Rachel wearing a rather nice scarf and big sunglasses set about demolishing two bottles of wine.
Yet still had the good grace to assist with refreshments where the opposition fell short.

 

Written by Mathew Wright

V Sportsman CC (26/04/15)

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26th April 2015

Walsall Health CC v Sportsman CC

Walsall Health beat Sportsman CC by 3 wickets.

The eagerly awaited first game of the season was ON; after the office of Mr Andrew Gorton Esq had predicted monsoon conditions. However, the weather gods provided Sunny yet brisk conditions, as ‘The Elf’ were put in the field after losing the toss.

Sam & Dave Stephens opened the bowling. The father / son combo controlled the scoreboard from the off. The blistering pace of a not fully fit Sam was too much for the opening pair. An early opportunity for
A chance of a catch rocketed to the dynamic Lyndon Billingham on his ‘dayboo’ from the the bowling of DS! Saving a certain four runs the ball did not quite stick. And that would set the tone of valiant efforts with Nathan Martin diving high and to his right, Sam Stephens with a difficult effort diving backwards, John Preece dropping a sharp chance off his own bowling and the skipper Dave Preece lunging heroically and taking two bites of the cherry before the ball was grounded.

6 time fielder of the year Richard Fell was watching from the side lines no doubt thinking they were all easy takes!

Good energy in the field as always, but Stuart Slater & Lyndon Billingham arguably the star men. Stuart with a couple of diving efforts to save certain boundaries and one improvised football skill again to save 4 runs. While Lyndon proved to be ‘Johnny on the spot’ mopping up ball after ball.

Wickets needed to fall and it was Sam Stephens with the break through. With pace an precision as he skittled over the first wicket of the day. Nathan Martin bowled a tight line and length with arguably one of his best spells for the club and deserved to get a wicket.

Enter 2014 player of the year Ian Chuck; who with his first over of this campaign delivered the good with a Wicket Maiden. The excellent all rounder proving his worth once again. JP showed signs of having a formidable year as ‘The Elfs’ own ‘King of Spain’ was teasing and tempting his opponents with some height and flight on with a selection of bamboozling left arm deliveries!

‘The Don’ Lyndon Billingham now made his bowling ‘dayboo’ amongst his efforts were a couple of teasing deliveries and one that was edged tantalisingly slightly out the reach of Super Andy Gorton.

Not bowling a single ball during 2014, The reigning Batsman of the year and our daring skipper Dave Preece turned is arm over with a useful spell taking 2 key wickets and proving that he leads by example whether it’s with the bat, the ball or in the field!

Birthday Boy Matt Wright celebrated the start of a new season with 3 wickets in 3 overs. Greatly aided by the magnificent Gort behind the stumps whipping off the bails for 2x stumpings.

The innings drew to a close with 178 the target set. D Bhopal top scoring for the visiting team with a very well played knock of 65 runs!

With 179 needed to win, Gort and Chuck took the field. And it was Chucky who was again proving his player of the year credentials top scoring with a patient and critical 75.

Sam Stephens looked set for a big score from number 3. However, despite a solid start, was undone by a viciously turning ball.

2014 Fielder of the Year – Rob Hewlitt made a quick fire 19 runs off 16 balls that gave the charge to the line some momentum.

Dave Stephens and Lyndon Billingham both opened their accounts to stake a claim on this seasons duck trophy.

Dave Preece, unusually in a middle order birth, steadied the ship. Nathan Martin with brave running throwing his bat in a way other than into a tree, falling over but picking himself up to make it into the crease.

Dynamic running, grit, guts and an iron nerve saw us get over the line with three balls to spare.

Walsall Health open the season with a hard fought victory hopefully the first of many.

Batting Runs
Gorton, A c b Nasser

3

Chuck, I b Wiseman

75

Stephens, S b Hallam 24
Slater, S b Hallam  2
Hewlitt, R  lbw Hallam 19
Preece, D not out 25
Stephens, D lbw Nasser 0
Billingham, L c Nasser 0
Martin, N not out 9
Wright, M DNB
Preece, J DNB
Extras

18

Walsall Health

 180

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Stephens, S

7

2

15

1

Stephen, D

8

0

29

0

Martin, N

8

3

32

0

Chuck, I

3

0

8

1

Preece, J

5

0

23

0

Billingham, L

2

0

30

0

Preece, D 4 0 13 2
Wright, M 3 0 24 3

RACHEL GORTON’S – POP SCENE
With two jugs leaving last seasons student life behind Sunday hang overs are a thing of the past. So this season we look at ‘The Elf’ refreshment technician or ‘Pop Girls’ match day fashion sense.This week saw skinny jeans with a converse foot ware option. A layered approach with a cammy top, cricket sweater and denim look oversized shirt.

DAI WATCH
The Welsh wonder was frozen on the sidelines as the afternoon temperature plummeted on the sidelines. The Bronx hat donned by Dai was more Compo-esque last of the summer wine tribute.

A.O.B
The hottest thing of the day proved to be Rob Hewlitt lulling people into trying a chilli scratching that were hotter than Dai in his speedo’s during the 1970’s.Rachel (x3) & Andy G both fell down a pot hole by the benches to comedy effect!Music in the changing rooms this season was well received. And shower club is back!

MAN OF THE MATCH & BEST BAT
Ian Chuck
A wicket maiden and top scoring with the bat 75 runs.

BEST BOWLER

Take your pick between the skipper Dave Preece who got two crucial wickets of high order batsmen, Sam Stephen tight spell while injured or Nathan Martin with arguably his most controlled spell of bowling for the club.

BEST FIELDER
Stuart Slater or Lyndon Billingham both put their bodies on the line for the cause.

Written by Mathew Wright

Wrighty and Welsh Tom prove Elfers are multi-disciplined athletes

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The first Walsall Health Cricket Club end-of-year mini golf and darts competition brought predictable and not-so-predictable results as Tom Davies scooped the darts trophy and Matt Wright cruised home in the golf.

With all competitors kitted out in festive jumpers and headwear (with everyone particularly impressed with Hewlitt Jr’s Sunderland hat), some bookies were speculating that the Welsh Wizard could complete a historic double of both trophies.

It was fair to say that Ed Sherran and Michael McIntyre had let themselves go a bit over Christmas.

It was fair to say that Ed Sherran and Michael McIntyre had let themselves go a bit over Christmas.

As it was, Matt Wright overcame the field at Star City with a superb round of 87 across the two courses in his first appearance in a WHCC golf tournament, etching his name on the trophy alongside Rob Hewlitt, Nathan Martin and Tom Davies.

Bad teds.

Bad teds.

This put our hero two shots ahead of joint second placed Rich Fell and Tom Davies (both on 89) followed by Ian Chuck on 90.

Slates forgets to breathe in as Andy Gorton begins to feel the pace of keeping up with the young uns.

Slates forgets to breathe in as Andy Gorton begins to feel the pace of keeping up with the young uns.

Sojourning to the New Talbot in West Bromwich, the gallant troops continued to showcase their sporting prowess, overcoming a less than punctilious approach to catering by the kitchen staff that saw Matt Wright come perilously close to slipping into a hunger-induced coma.

Mat Danks – in his first ever games of darts – saw off experienced players Rich Fell and Nathan Martin to win his group after a sudden death shoot out to win a group also featuring Ian Chuck.

Meanwhile, Charlie and Freddie Hewlitt dominated their group with the former ousting his brother, Andy Gorton and Stuart Slater to go through to the final.

And in the third group, Tom Davies swatted aside Shannon Simmonds, Nathan Martin and Matt Wright to secure his spot.

WHCC Christmas Tom DartsDavies made short work of the final, winning in some style in the three-way clash to secure the trophy for the valleys.

With such an impressive turn-out (in addition to a pretty great get together the previous night to say hello to Steve Fell during a festive return from the Iberian peninsula), it’s probably fair to say the lifeblood of The Elf is alive and well.

Let it also be said that in small huddles during the day hushed and excited chatter was turning already to next season and our hopes, dreams and aspirations….

It could be a blinder.

Chuck rules the roost as player of the year at The Elf P.U.

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Super Skipper Dave Preece

Super Skipper Dave Preece

Batsman and bowler extraordinaire Ian Chuck was the big winner as The Golden Generation celebrated a tremendous 2014 season at the Lyndon House Hotel in Walsall.

Chris 'Ironman' Hall - winner of the Tim Oliver bowling trophy

Chris ‘Ironman’ Hall – winner of the Tim Oliver bowling trophy

Chuckie, who was devastating with both bat and ball all season and enjoyed a crescendo that saw him finish the season with his first century, was awarded the trophy by new Elf chairman Rick Jarrams.

Skipper Dave Preece said: “2014 was the season when Chuckie became the player we all knew he could become.

“He has always been an amazing bowler but this year his batting improved tremendously and he has been instrumental in the club’s success this year.”

Preece himself won the batsman of the year having pillaged more than 450 runs this season including record-breaking back to back centuries.

The Bowler of the Year trophy – now named in honour of Tim Oliver – was fittingly won by Chris Hall whose season – despite being interrupted by illness – was littered with devastating bowling performances.

Legend Jonty Nicholls receives his award

Legend Jonty Nicholls receives his award

Jonathan Preece, winner of the coveted Duck Trophy.

Jonathan Preece, winner of the coveted Duck Trophy.

Rob Hewlitt took another step closer to holding the record for most wins of the Fielder of the Year trophy after another brilliant year in the field.

Rob Hewlitt - heading ever closer to Rich Fell's record.

Rob Hewlitt – heading ever closer to Rich Fell’s record.

Clubman of the year was won by Mat Danks for his efforts with the club’s website and promotions and Jonathan Preece proved he was the ultimate team player, winning the Duck Trophy after losing his wicket trying to get Chris Hall his first half century.

Club legend John Nicholls received a trophy for taking 250 wickets for The Elf during an illustrious career with the club.

The coveted Brian Stuart Dressing Room award for most iconic moment of the season went to Nathan Martin who – it has been mentioned – threw his bat in a tree during a game against Lichfield Nomads.

The legends, players and fans also enjoyed the premiere of the Walsall Health 2014 movie which you can watch here.

Nathan Martin - famously threw his bat in the tree.

Nathan Martin – famously threw his bat in the tree.

Clubman of the Year: Mat Danks

Clubman of the Year: Mat Danks

v Lapworth (17/9/2014)

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Walsall Health beat Lapworth.

The last match of the season saw the mighty Walsall Health take on Lapworth.

ALL HAIL IAN CHUCK, CENTURIAN!

ALL HAIL IAN CHUCK, CENTURIAN!

With the rumour mill grinding with talk of Lapworth bringing a strengthened side since being skittled out for a meagre 28 runs in May, apparently their worst defeat for over four decades. With the highly rated youngster Reuben Arnold going through a structured warm-up pre-game, and a succession of six-foot-plus players arriving one by one, it certainly looked a strong team, but would the sum of its parts be greater than the spirit of ‘The Elf’?

With the record books suggesting the team may have enjoyed its most successful in the club’s history, an epic end-of-season match was to unfold.

Walsall opened the batting, with the superb Andy Gorton and mercurial Ian Chuck. And in true Super Gort fashion, the seasoned opener got the scoreboard more than ticking over, hitting 42 runs off 43 balls.

The returning Sam Stephens – so instrumental in May’s demolition – was less destructive with the bat today. But Sam’s eventful afternoon was far from over. The skipper entered the fray.  And, as usual, he delivered a fine batting performance.

David Preece unleashed his classic arsenal of attractive stroke play amassing yet another 50. All the time Ian Chuck, our South African Superstar, was chipping away towards his maiden century. In recent weeks iChuck has put in some brilliant performances with the bat, however, this was truly the embodiment of saving the best until last.

With the innings coming to an end it was the bold running and unselfish play of Rob Hewlitt keeping Chuck on strike and Commando Rolling and diving to safety after running a single only the athletic Hewlitt could deliver.

So the imposing Lapworth attack was roundly despatched for 235. And of that total 32 extras and a measure of petulance gave us a chance to shine as a Team.

Although this was a home fixture the game was being played at Rushall rather than Aldridge due to pitch availability. And our back room team delivered another unbeatable performance.

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The Greatest Tea ever? Part one

Shannon Simmonds: Opening the teas with a strong shot selection of sandwiches.  Refined skills with the crusts cut off.  And an enviable repertoire of ham, cheese, tuna and salmon.

Rachel Gorton: The star performance in the middle order. A bold and expansive selection of pizza, samosas, spring rolls and chicken nuggets to name a few of the tasty treats.  In summary belly-busting brilliance from this catering all-rounder who is just as skilled with a jug as she is with the buffet table.

Siobhan Preece: The skipper’s wife finished off a sterling tea performance with a hat-trick of butterfly cakes, scones and lemon cake that bowled us all over.

The Greatest Tea Ever? Part one

The Greatest Tea Ever? Part two

Surely a call up to the Great British Bake Off is pending!?

So the very full Walsall Health take to the field, to be confronted by young rising star Reuben Arnold.

Our opening bowlers went about their task to contain the scoreboard and duly did.  Nathan Martin – the coolest Angry Man – delivered his best bowling performance of the season and, although there were no wickets for Martin or fellow opener Sam Stephens, chances were created and after 16 overs they relinquished a miserly 52 runs.

Every member of the team excellent in the field. Prepared to put their bodies on the line to stop runs on a bobbly and bumpy pitch, there will be some no doubt nursing some, bumps, bruises and grazes this week.  And by the end of the game our skipper and Ian Chuck could barely walk, yet never once did their efforts wane in the field.

It was century man Chuck who got the breakthrough wicket and saw the end of Lapworth’s danger man, although Richard Fell’s patented ‘Moon Ball’ came very close to this honour after some challenging overs.

Jonathan Preece - three wickets for Champ to end the season on a high!

Jonathan Preece – three wickets for Champ to end the season on a high!

Jonathan Preece, The Elf’s King of Spain, graced us with his regal slow left arm trickery.  JP bagged a glorious three wicket haul, frustrating his opponents to the point of a bat and glove throwing hissy fit in the case of Lapworth’s Davies!

Rob Hewlitt has a claim to the throne as the King of Swing containing the opposition despite the short boundary while Stuart Slater, took time out of his International Man of Leisure duties to chip in with a wicket, turning the screw on a Lapworth side that were feeling the scoreboard pressure.

Matt Wright was unable to keep his wicket taking streak alive despite a couple of half chances. The middle order more like a WWE encounter of The Big Show and Batista set about stemming the tide, but they were no match for the Excellence of Execution, Chris ‘The Hit Man’ Hall removing three of Lapworth’s heavyweights.

It must be noted that Sam Stephens took arguably the catch of the season, diving and taking a marvellous left handed catch only for the umpire to claim he never had it under control. It was 100% held and, after a few heated words, the game continued.  In fairness, at this level you would like to think the players word would be good enough.

This didn’t dampen the spirit of ‘The Elf’, simply spurring us on to a satisfying victory to wrap up an excellent season. Everyone contributed either with the bat or ball.  Magnificent as a unit in the field.  Arguably the difference on the day is that we play for each other all of the time.  Some are claiming this to be the ‘Golden Generation’. Post-match, skipper Dave Preece said: “This was a really fitting way to round off the season with contributions coming from throughout the team to secure a hard-fought win against strong opposition. “The team spirit this year has been immense and in this game, as throughout the season, every player contributed at one point or other to spur the group on. Ultimately, another genuine team effort. Acarn spake. We all carn spake.”

Batting Runs
Gorton, A

42

Chuck, I not out

100

Stephens, S  7
Preece, D 52
Hewlitt, R not out 2
Slater, S DNB
Hall, C DNB
Fell, R DNB
Martin, N DNB
Preece, J DNB
Wright, M DNB
Extras

32

Walsall Health

 235

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Martin, N

8

0

31

0

Stephens, S

8

3

21

0

Hall, C

6

2

20

3

Chuck, I
Fell, R

6

4

7

0

Wright, M

3

0

15

1

Preece, J 3 0 22 3
Slater, S 3 0 19 1
Wright, M 2 0 21 0

Man of the match: Ian Chuck – maiden century, took a key wicket and fielded through injury.

Top bat: Ian Chuck – 100 NOT OUT

Top bowler: Tough one: Sam Stephens and Nathan Martin bowled amazingly well, while JP did the damage and Chris Hall had nerves of steel at the death.

Rachel Hangover Rating: 6/10. Due to tea duties Rachel exchanged the booze for a buffet.  So not to let the family down Dad, Andy, held up the family name after an indulgent Saturday at the Ludlow food festival.

v Highwood Park (7/09/2014)

Standard
Jon Nicholls - 250th wicket for the Walsall Health legend.

Jon Nicholls – 250th wicket for the Walsall Health legend.

Walsall Health beat Highwood Park by 100 runs.

Guest reporter Matt Wright reports back from a red letter day in the history of The Elf.

It was a day for records, milestones and personal achievements wrapped up in a blanket team effort and application as Walsall Health continued the domination of Highwood Park this summer with a third consecutive win against the Himley-based outfit.

But the penultimate game of the season was more than just another 100+ run win for The Elf, it saw two if it’s bowlers achieve the breathtaking feat of taking 250 wickets for the club.

The first landmark wicket of the day saw club legend Jonty Nicholls trap Greenway lbw for just one, sparking on-field celebrations akin to an England Ashes victory to celebrate the marvellous achievement. In all, the big man bowled a spell of eight overs with four maidens for a economical 15 runs.

Like the proverbial double decker bus the second 250th wicket was taken by ‘Iron Man’ Chris Hall, trapping Highwoods Talisman Chris Brownhill (who also took three key wickets for the home side) LBW and the winning wicket of the day, once again sparking wild celebrations for the strike bowlers’ achievement.

Chris Hall - 250th wicket, not bad considering it seems like about 50 of them were this season.

Chris Hall – 250th wicket, not bad considering it seems like about 50 of them were this season.

Without question, it was a strong batting performance.  Andy Gorton opening with a quick fire 38 and some lusty blows, one of which nearly wiped out his daughter Rachel and cricket WAG Shannon as a mighty six hurtled into the crowd.

This was backed up by the steady Dave Preece keeping the score board ticking over with early pressure.

Chuck, Slater and Hewlitt continued to pile on the the runs.  Slater demonstrated that the warm weather Caribbean training was worthwhile as he set about equalling his joint highest score.

Hewlitt – back on form in his preferred number 5 slot – looked like he had rediscovered his early season form and was, as always, a dynamo in the field.  Chuck beating himself with shot selection, but only after some sterling work that saw him smash 39, making that three birth his own in recent weeks.

Rich Fell – as ever – proved dynamic with the bat and in the field.  His patent Moon Ball was given an airing and he made a fine gesture in turning down overs to allow Hall to bowl for his 250th wicket, a selfless act that is to be applauded and truly demonstrates the ‘Spirit of the Elf’.

Rob Hewlitt - back to his best with the bat

Rob Hewlitt – back to his best with the bat

Hall wasn’t just after records with the ball.  He also tried to achieve his first ever 50 with the bat.  Finishing on 49 not out, he was supported by the dynamic Nathan Martin who played to set up the opportunity. Hall was denied by inches as a one bounce four took him to 48 and with the innings coming to an end he ran out of balls to face as John Preece, dashing between the wickets just failed to make it home after the final ball.

After a mid-season injury it’s been great to have JP back in the fold and nothing is better than calling for his Suduko Ball to bamboozle the opposition, duly tying West in knots for an LBW.

With the landmark wickets taken early and at the end, it was Nathan Martin who softened up the top order with angry pace before Matt Wright‘s introduction set about the collapse.

As Dai Preece wryly commented in a thick Valleys accent: “Matt Wright ripped the heart out of their team.”

Wright grabbed three wickets in a game for the first time, mainly thanks to a smart stumping from Gorton seeing the end of Highwood’s Cox, their highest run scorer on the day with a nifty 36, before a sharp catch from Chuck dismiss their danger man Shaun Allsop for just six.

Hall – without question the star man with the bat and the ball – proved his undoubted quality, coming so close to getting a 5-for and 50 runs in the same game.

With individual achievements in this game grabbing the headlines, all of it is made possible by the ethic of the team, embodied by the skipper giving everyone a fair opportunity to contribute and supported by hard work and commitment in the field.

Batting Runs
Gorton, A ct b Holliday

38

Preece, D b Holliday

17

Chuck, I lbw Brownhill 37
Slater, S ct b Craig 16
Hewlitt, R b Brownhill 34
Fell, R ct b Brownhill 12
Hall, C
not out 49
Martin, N ct Alsopp 15
Preece, J run out 0
Nicholls, J DNB
Wright, M DNB
Extras

14

Walsall Health

 236

Bowling Overs Maidens Runs Wickets
Martin, N

5

0

24

0

Nicholls, J

8

4

15

1

Hall, C

8

2

39

4

Fell, R

2

0

4

0

Preece, J

2

0

8

1

Wright, M

3

0

15

1

Man of the Match: Chris Hall

Top bat: Andy Gorton – got us off to the start we needed and Hall’s head might explode if awarded a clean sweep.

Top bowler: Hall & Nicholls: 250 wickets for the club.  Amazing.

Rachel Hangover Rating: 0/10. Pitiful stuff after a virtually tee-total weekend. If this is what working for a living does we’d prefer she went back to doing whatever it was she did before, to be frank.