GCC vs. ST Mercenaries – Match Report
Sun 10th Sept 2017
After the mission to Marlow and a successful guerrilla raid on Chigwell the men from GCC-squadron were ready for some much-needed R&R. The Metronome had promised his bongos he’d be home for Christmas; Cunners knew his hammy wouldn’t last another day on the front line; and Saj had run out of excuses for turning out of bed late and half dressed for morning inspection.
Word soon got around though that General Clayderman, resting easy and growing fat in his Oxfordshire eyrie, wanted one more push. A final attempt to shift his piano another 22 yards towards Murdoch’s London Bridge HQ. Surprise lay at the heart of General Clayderman’s plan of attack, but nothing escapes the all-seeing eye of the Murdoch empire and the cat was out of the bag before you could say ‘hack the phones’. GCC would be going into battle against an oppo with no aerial cover, no plan B, and none of the proper protective gear. But that’s the way they liked it: the tastier the better.
Saturday evening and Sgt Struthers stood in the Sunday Times briefing room contemplating the day to come. Murdoch’s instructions had been to leave no stone unturned in a search for the most vicious and dangerous mercenaries money could buy: men who could lay out the enemy armed only with a 5 ½ oz projectile, a quick arm and a minefield of a pitch. Number one on his list was a renegade ex-GCC soldier, a man who’d been so deep undercover he’d forgotten which side he was on: Lt Col Andy ‘The Major’ Garrow. The Major responded to the call to arms and soon was en route from rural Kent, where he’d been living the simple life – for the time being.
Struthers’s plan was to cut off the GCC advance five miles south at Dulwich Sports Ground and there rout his opponents. It was simple and when he looked round him, he knew he’d found the players to execute it.
As the two sets of men approached one-another the next day, the wind whistled across the Turney Road wasteland, cutting through their acrylic jumpers and air-tex shirts like a Rabada yorker through Dawid Malan’s defence. The summer kit no match for winter’s onward march. Men shivered and glanced up at the skies as their leaders argued over the day’s format: would they have enough time for a result before the heavens opened and providence intervened on the side of the neutral?
GCC skip, Captain Tom ‘Nova/Frank/Cumberbatch/Fassbender’ Leahy, mentally fatigued from a long season’s campaign, challenged Struthers to put his mercenaries where his mouth was and get a score on the board. He’d made many right calls during the season and got the men out of some real scrapes but would this be a toss too far? Only time would tell.
As the initial skirmishes unfolded, neutral observers could see GCC had the upper hand. ST men came and went with clockwork regularity: the miserly Metronome setting the bar high for the GCC attack and his reinforcement, Sam ‘Sasquatch’ Fryer, pushing it even higher with a spell of fire and brimstone that had the ST money-men running for cover.
At 95-9 there was just one man left to tell the tale. Alone at the crease towered the grizzled Sgt Struthers; his mercenaries sent back to whence they came. High on adrenalin, punch drunk, shouting for more and taunting the men of GCC-squadron, Struthers set himself the ultimate challenge: last man stands! ‘Why not?’ thought the skipper, ‘let’s give ourselves some more sport before administering the coup de grace.’
Perfidy. Treachery. Deceit. The wily Struthers, Hannibal redux, set the trap and into it fell the men of GCC like a Roman legionary at Cannae. 31 runs later the skipper finally put an end to Struthers’s machinations, but as the men broke for tea, fox-like Struthers allowed a brief smile: his last stand had given the ST mercenaries the chance they needed.
Fortified by a cup of rosy lee and a slice of Battenberg from the NAAFI, first over the top for GCC-squadron were the old dependables – Sgt Maj Woodhouse and Cunningham major. Morale took an early blow as Woodhouse was dispatched to meet his (bat) maker just three balls in. Then calamity, as a suicidal blue-on-blue incident sent Flight Lieutenant Elliot (on loan to GCC from the RAF) back to base. Cunningham major calling him out from cover only to expose his own man to withering enemy fire.
They say bad luck comes in threes and in the service you know when you’re onto a hiding. Murtaza the kingpin – bowler’s bane, master stroker and bed-loving latecomer – so often the batsman to lift the lads when spirits were sapping, was taken down by a spitting cobra, claymore mine, man-trap of a ball. Brave Saj walked off the field unaided as the blood spilt down his sturdy chin. The men knew he’d be back. But sooner, rather than later, they hoped.
Once patched up, with a bandage that threatened to throttle rather than offer succour to the great man, Saj prowled the up and down the side lines like the caged tiger of Struthers’s nightmares. He didn’t have long to wait as another spiteful delivery dismissed GCC’s newest recruit, the burly Thomas. Back into the fray strode the patched-up man from Pakistan, but this day calamity came in fours, not threes.
An Exocet missile of a delivery aimed straight at the heart of Cunningham major, who had shouldered the GCC load while men fell all around him, took a wicked deflection off his wooden guard and struck the man down with a blow to the face that would have sent lesser mortals to their graves.
MEDIC!!! HELP HIM!!!
Pole-axed and leaking copious quantities of vital life-force on to the Turney Road turf, a rescue mission spear-headed by DI Humphries (GCC’s Met liaison man) got Cunningham out of harm’s way and back behind the lines where he could be assessed properly.
This was no patch-me-up-and-get-me-back-out-there-job though. ‘Get on the radio and get a medevac here pronto,’ yelled DI Humphries as he fought to stem the bleeding.
Sirens, screeching tyres, flashing lights. The NHS’s advance guard arrived to make the initial assessment. ‘Get thee to a hospital,’ said the boy in green. More sirens, more flashing lights, and the sound that every wounded cricketer craves – the chuck, chuck, chuck of the ambulance’s diesel engine. Five minutes later and Cunningham was on his way, but life gets no easier when your final destination is King’s A&E.
Out on the field, the shell-shocked GCC batsmen shivered as bombs exploded all around them. Every one a nail in the coffin of General Clayderman’s master-plan. Broken in body and in spirit, the ST mercenaries ran amok among the retreating forces. A yorker here, a bouncer there, and before long the last man trudged back into camp. In scenes reminiscent of the last days of Rome, the retreat from Kabul and the fall of Singapore, GCC capitulated just 14 runs shy of the ST mercenaries.
To wily old Sgt Struthers went the spoils and bragging rights: it was the last man stands wot won it…
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Jamie Elliot (life)
Rob Navratil (life)
Hugo Nisbet (life)
David Woodhouse (life)
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