When Hoggshire health officials began expressing concern about the increasing levels of chronic alcohol abuse in the county their proposal for encouraging problem drinkers to take up sport was initially treated with derision.
|Vermin Hall Hotel played host to one of Hoggshire's biggest nights of the year|
However, drunks all over Hoggshire welcomed the idea and soon began signing up to join alcohol-dependent cricket teams to play in their own special boozy league.
Now, just 3 years later, the first Hoggshire Alcoholic Cricket Awards night is testament to the vision of those who first believed in the power of cricket to help change the lives of the chronically legless everywhere.
|Player of the Year Tommy Doolally takes a quick rest between innings|
A packed Vermin Hall Hotel saw Hoggshire League chairman Cumberland Sausage proudly hand out the trophies to some of the county's most inspiring cricketing dipsomaniacs.
The coveted Alcoholic Player of the Year award was hotly contested but was won by 43-year-old street drinker Tommy Doolally of no fixed abode, near Horse Field. An emotional Doolally said: "I'd like to thank the chairman. He's my best mate. You are all my best mates. Can you lend me 50p for a cup of tea?"
|Heavy drinking roller: the late Bob Loam on his way to Weatherspoons|
The judges had faced a tough decision. Doolally's tanked-up wicket-keeping displays for his club Korsakoff's Crusaders probably swung it his way - although permanently paralytic Pancreatitis Players all-rounder Eric Fuddle would have come closer if his season hadn't ended prematurely when he drunkenly trapped himself in his fridge for three months.
Unfortunately, the winners of the Alcoholic Team of the Year - Sir Osis of the Liver CC - failed to appear to collect their award. Instead, it was picked up by team scorer Harry Yale who told the audience that he had last seen the players several weeks ago when they had gone en masse to see a binman who had been brewing potato hooch on his allotment. Yale thought that the players would probably now be dead, blind, or possibly working as a Chicory Tip tribute act in Poland.
|Tipsy umpire Derek Thumb signals the number of bottles of scotch he puts away before stumps.|
Young Alcoholic Cricketer of the Year went to 17-year-old Mark Staff of West Rampton Juvenile Detention Centre. The promising fast bowler impressed the judges by combining seam bowling, stealing sawdust buckets and an addiction to Buckfast Tonic.
There was sadness in the air when it was announced that Alcoholic Groundsman of the Year was won by the late Bert Loam, who tragically died in August when he accidentally drove his heavy roller off the cliffs at Egg Thieves Rocks whilst trying to get to the Shovel of Shyte Tavern in time for last orders. His widow Beryl - herself permanently plastered - said that Bert was so proud of the wickets he prepared that he often slept on them - as well as in skips, shop doorways and on park benches.
There was no shortage of candidates for Alcoholic Umpire of the Year. The worthy winner was 62-year-old Derek Thumb of St Mungo's. Thumb was singled out by the judges for "his impeccable bladder control during long sessions in the field, even when absolutely sloshed. Furthermore his skilful concealment of bottles, cans and flasks whilst officiating is a lesson in discretion that many would be wise to learn from."
|Multi tasking: Award winner Mary O Flaherty serves up soup for the umpires whilst collecting the scorer's trousers from the laundry ... all whilst completely bladdered.|
Finally, Alcoholic Tea Lady of the Year went to 72-year-old Mary O'Flaherty. The judging panel were particularly impressed by the fact that she had served a fine range of teas, cakes and sandwiches whilst totally inebriated on meths. Judges' spokesman, Councillor Norman Pellett, said: "it's a miracle that no-one has ever suffered major burns or scalding due to Mary having chronic DTs and being in charge of several kettles and an industrial sized urn. Although her person hygiene is still not the best, improvements in air conditioning in our pavilions has meant that even on very hot days the tea rooms are no longer no-go zones. Well done Mary."
In his closing address Cumberland Sausage spoke of his hopes for the future of alcoholic cricket in Hoggshire. "Let's hope that this night is the beginning of a golden era of liver-rotting sport in our county. It is my dream that in a few years time we will be welcoming a team of Australian binge drinkers to one of our grounds to take on the elite English inebriates for the Alcoholic Ashes ... and if tonight is anything to go by I'm sure we'd win."