April 22, 2006. Bisley
VICTORY, said John F Kennedy, has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan. And so it was the fatherless Framlinghamians, only hours earlier tantalised by the taste of a glorious hat-trick of victories had to swallow the bitter pill of egregious defeat. Fortunately, many years treading the wide stone-flagged corridors of the Albert Memorial College, taught the riflemen to be stoic.
As such only the merest tremors were in evidence on bottom lips as skipper Nigel "Bullseye" Burnip announced the Old Frams were second as he relinquished his long accustomed and avaricious grasp on the Q Match trophy. Though generous in defeat and paying fulsome treatment to the victors of Cranleigh, Burnip was subsequently forced to seek emergency dental treatment following the low-key ceremony due to excessive teeth gritting.
Bathed in sunshine for the first meeting of the year we welcomed a huge turnout of 12 OFs including debuts for and the useful Adam "Southpaw" Howard-Dobson the breathtakingly talented "Handy" Sandy Walker helping to add to the building sense of inevitable triumph. The gangling metronome duly obliged with a 48.4 at 500 yards and 48.5 at 600 giving rise to murmurs of approval from the regulars.
But with three players doing county duty for Suffolk on a nearby range, and John "Hooligun" Halahan joining the London side for the friendly match the morning’s practice session was left to the Hon Sec. Literally.
For almost an hour the excitable Mehta-Maid had the range entirely to himself. Yet despite expending more ammunition than the US Marine Corps invading a Mexican wedding, his hand and eye remained resolutely uncoordinated.
Alas, despite his involuntary quarantine on Century range the Hon Sec spread the ghastly infection to the rest of the team as the drew toward the afternoon’s competition. No-one could seem to settle as the blithe spirit of anticipated victory turned slowly into a lurking spectre of ugly defeat.
The vile disease spread like bird flu through a dovecote and the casualties mounted. The usual whining about tricky wind conditions, incompetent butt marking and shouts of "Ray Charles would have made a better wind coach than you" marked the day.
But it was too late. We had succumbed to the dreaded Yips.
Even Bullsye himself, normally more reliable than an atomic Swiss timepiece, caught a nasty dose and at 500 yards could barely bring himself into the black. McDowell, ever erratic, tiptoed expertly along the fine line between genius and insanity before losing his balance altogether and plunging haplessly into the madness. His feeble 44.3 at 500 only added to the misery of the realisation that the crazy voices in his were real, and they were the voices of team-mates.
Others gamely chipped in. Mike "Double entry" Coker, Jeff "We have a problem" Houston, "Vorsprung" King and Brian "HRH" Smith all did their best. Sadly Mike Coker who managed to escape the initial bout of the Yips went down with hayfever and was unable to see through his shades never mind a rear sight.
But with the team nominated before the off and Mehta-Maid still working out which end to point down the range, and even Halahan - Lord Stickledown as he was so dubbed by a grateful nation after last year’s heroics - suffering, it did not look rosy.
Some poise was recovered at 600 with Horton Minor plugging a creditable 95.12, putting 60 per cent of his shots in the V-Bull, and Robin "Witchdoctor" Curtis brandishing a recently acquired rifle performed promisingly, capping 92.
Indeed, with a new handicapping system in place, Curtis takes the best shot of the day with a monster 106 (gross) and with it his first high gun medal.
With the gloom and unaccustomed taste of defeat behind us - after we swept the board in 2005 - the OFs swear to redeem themselves over long range on May 13.
And, as Neil Armstrong once said to his Granny, "watch this space".
Q match scores & results 2006
|Sandy Walker ||48.4 ||48.5 ||96. 9|
|Andrew Horton ||49.7 ||46.5 ||95.12|
|John Halahan ||43.1 ||48.1 ||91. 2|
|Nigel Burnip ||42.2 ||48.2 ||90. 4|
|James Mehta ||41.2 ||43.1 ||84. 3|
|TEAM TOTAL ||223.16 ||233.14 ||456.30|
|Old Cranleighans ||236.20 ||234.19 ||470.39|
|Old Framlinghamians ||223.16 ||233.14 ||456.30|
|Old Alleynians ||225.15 ||230.17 ||455.32|
|Old Lawrentians ||228.8 ||226.13 ||454.21|
|KCS Wimbledon ||team one man short
|Old Albanians ||team one man short
||No team entry|| || |