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A Hoggshire Diary

In a brand new regular feature Hoggshire league umpire Sid Byes writes about the life of an ordinary everyday official at the very heart of local grassroots cricket.

Reading about those poor children who were attacked by a fox reminded me of a similar incident that happened to my Hoggshire umpiring colleague Redfern Quigg earlier this season.

"Silly old Redfern Quigg gets it wrong again. Samantha Fox wanted Terry's All Gold not 'a terrier all bald'."

Redfern was having a quick doze in the umpire's room at the Sewage Farm Lane ground when he suddenly got the feeling someone was whacking him on the bonce. He woke up to find ex page 3 girl Samantha Fox beating him around the head with a rolled up copy of the Hoggshire Weekly Bugle. She'd been invited over to perform the opening ceremony for the new disabled toilet but had become a bit brassed off when her - rather excessive - personal demands were not met. Poor Redfern had taken it upon himself to personally make sure that Ms Fox's 'rider' was properly taken care of, but Redfern (or Mr. Mango, as he's known) has got a bit of a problem - he is as blind as a bat and deaf as a post.

So when Ms. Fox asked for two dozen fresh lilies Redfern got her two frozen French lollies. She asked for a box of incense and some matches and he got her a bag of insects from the marshes. Redfern wasn't very happy either. He said that wasted half a day knee deep in mud catching wasps and she should have been grateful. The final straw was when she said she was so stressed that she wanted a session with a local qualified therapist and Redfern fixed her up with the local cauliflower-eared rapist.

"The new Hoggshire club shop is a great place to stock up on the goodies that make a day at the cricket so special."

Anyway, it can be a bit of a difficult experience when showbiz folk come to Hoggshire for whatever reason. It may sound a bit like Hollywood but you won't find Brad Pitt here - just his brother Cess.

The Umpires Association used to book a celebrity speaker for our end of season dinner. We have had some terrible ones. The so-called 'cricket comedian' Dickie Funn was the worst. He did an impression of legendary umpire Tom Spencer in the style of Some Mother's Do 'Ave Em's 'Frank Spencer' ("Ooh Betty, the batsman's done a whoopsie in my beret") and told a blue joke about Rachael Heyhoe Flint's box.

The Hoggshire Young Umpires Club is a great place for teenagers to 'hang out' and have fun.

Then last year we got that bloke from Countdown's Dictionary Corner - Richard Stillgoe. He turned up and thought it would be clever to turn all the committee members' names into anagrams. Ray Dellaware's beer belly was duly noted ('lardy ale ware'), stingy skinflint Ed Moalting ('mean old git') got a laugh but we felt sorry for our visiting Jewish umpire friend Rabbi Chris Gougoy ('I buggar choirboys') especially now that the Police have taken away his computer.

So, what else is new? Well, umpire WAGs are becoming a bit of a problem in the Hoggshire League, especially, if like Donald Lingus, the wife and the girlfriend turn up at the same time. He tried to get out of it by saying he was a sex addict like Tiger Woods. Sure enough other woman came forward to say that they had been approached by Lingus: a tea lady or three, Mrs. Darley from the Hoggshire Disabled Supporters Association and the Lollipop Lady from Scurvy Road Infants. To get him out of trouble he asked the Umpires Committee to pay for him to go to The Priory for treatment. We declined and, instead, old Jack McTavish brought in a packet of bromide that he'd had since the war for just such an emergency. He'd been giving it to a particularly frisky West Highland Terrier he owned which had a habit of chasing anyone passing by on a bike. I suggested taking the bike off it but Jock said it was better to leave it as the dog could then exercise itself and fetch him a paper.

Every woman wants to be a WAG these days and who can blame them?

Woman eh? Can't live with them, can't live without them. Some of them only care about shopping - Bert Yardley's missus cleaned the Hoggshire Club Shop right out of fudge - and being seen in designer clothes. I recently saw a certain umpire's wife swanning round the pavilion dressed head-to-toe in Evans Outsizes looking like Cher on steroids.

And that's only the tip of the iceberg. One umpire's wife regularly drives her mobility scooter across the outfield during matches. It wouldn't be as bad if she did it during intervals but only last week she drove right across the wicket during a tense passage of play between West Cemetery Second XI and Bomb Crater Park. She suddenly appeared doing 40mph, flying past me at Square Leg and right onto the pitch. She tried to do a u-turn just as the ball was bowled and got a full toss straight on the noggin. Donald Lingus was the other umpire and he jumped straight in, gave her the kiss of life and loosened her clothing ... even though she was standing up and replacing the bails at the time. I think I made the right decision. I called Dead Ball and signaled to the scorers to double the bromide in Donald's tea during the interval.

"Not another trip to the hairdressers dear!" They may be high-maintenance, but where would we be without our wives?

No-one wants to see the WAGs banned from matches but there has to be some common sense applied. Let's be honest, most of these ladies are not in the first flush of youth. I can't help but think that it must be difficult to concentrate on your umpiring duties when you know that the missus is in the pavilion whacked-out on HRT and flicking through a Saga Holidays brochure. Just don't let her near your credit card or there will be a Stannah Stair Lift on its way before you know it.

I can see why women are attracted to umpires: the power, the gadgets, the excitement, the trousers. Sometimes you can't even drop into the local Wetherspoon on Curry Night without being accosted by several 50-somethings looking for more than just the pickle tray.

Local drama group The Hoggshire Players are well known for their radical interpretations of theatre classics. However, their recent production of The Vagina Monologues gained mixed reviews.

Luckily my wife Norma is very understanding about these things. She trusts me to get on with the job of being an umpire and I let her concentrate on her amateur dramatics. Norma has been a member of The Hoggshire Players for many years and their recent production of 120 Days of Sodom won a rave review in the Hoggshire Gazette ("their very best since their 1988 adaptation of The Romans in Britain"). Sadly, I was too busy with my officiating duties to get to see it but I know that she is very excited about their upcoming version of Caligula. I don't know the play myself but she has been up all night knitting togas. Donald Lingus told me that he has already got tickets for each night.

Finally for now, just a quick word about a very serious issue. At the next meeting of the Umpires Association we are discussing climate change. It simply can't be ignored. Last winter I was walking through Cadaver Park and I saw a squirrel eating a Cornetto. That can't be right, can it? I heard one of my colleagues saying that in future the weather will change so much that cricket will only be played in winter and that the average rain stoppage will last 6 years. Mind you, the same bloke predicted that the 1997 Hoggshire League final would be played on the moon so we will have to wait and see.

Keep your finger up,

Sid