Musings From The Padded Cell

JB Gets Married

“When a man opens a car door for his wife, it’s either a new car or a new wife.”
Prince Phillip

The scruffiest man on the planet, JB aka Captain Chaos, is getting hitched again today. Somehow I have the honour of ensuring his tie is somewhere near his doubtless blood-stained collar, free of his breakfast and that the ring is nowhere near him.

Two old farts on a field.

It will be a proud day for the little madman; his smile will be wide, those twinkling half-Irish eyes beaming, perhaps a little moistened by the occasion.

On this day alone we may even forgive him if he chooses to “dance” as only he can do, a frenetic, dyslexic jig, the kind unlikely ever to grace Strictly.

Stevie D, Our Kid, Duck, Me, Jonathan Elliott & Jonty Haigh.
Seated (the older lads) – Brent Shackleton, JB & Dave Tattersall

We grew up together at the Villas but he’s older, so I did not make his gang initially though we were both from similar sides of the track .

Our parents had worked hard and sacrificed plenty to get us on a different path. Although we were not exactly rough ‘uns, we thought we had an edge, so to speak, amongst some of our “posher” mates.

Cricket – what else – brought us together as it did a whole gang of us growing up around the expanse of grass on All Alone Road.

And not just cricket, for the field was a venue for all manner of sports and other teenage kicks, all year round.

BVCC Juniors 1974

From an early age JB never ducked the truth nor tried to sugar coat it. When I once asked him where he was on the team photo above he simply replied: “My parents could not afford the gear.”

In an instant I forgave mine for sending me out in yellow socks and my grandma’s knitted blanket.

Although he finally did get the gear to join us – not that we were flush with designer bats and logos like today’s kids – had he been dressed head to foot in the best money could buy he would still have looked like a tramp.

How time passes? BVCC Juniors circa 1977 captained by JB

By the time of the photo he was a no-nonsense junior captain and a good one as far as my cluttered teenage memory confirms. We started to win things and he was one of those that instigated our success for many years to come.

Off the field, eschewing his Dad’s manual skills as a joiner, JB opted for the dark arts of the IT world. Ever since few have understood what he did other than that he got paid a small fortune and English was his second language.

If you’ve ever tried to decipher an email or text from him you will know why.

Would we ever dress so bad again? Miami Vice we were not.

Of course we went on holiday and I remember vaguely some mad night where JB ended up with a Spanish policeman’s gun being pushed up his nose. Given his lack of diplomatic skills it was a miracle he survived.

By now we could all see the traits that would define him; stubborn, tough and always up for the fight. Being five foot nothing meant little to JB, especially on the rugby field, where he relished scraps with eight foot flankers. Most of these he lost.

He liked his cars too – fast especially – and drove like a madman. On several journeys back from cricket matches I quietly said my prayers and promised a return to the God of our schooldays if we survived.

Ford XR3i

He had a white XR3i which one night we decided to paint completely white. JB took this in his stride as he did most of the pranks we tormented each other with during those days.

Of course, attacking his clothing was never an option; nobody would have spotted the difference.

Young JB stood up, extreme left

He won’t mind me describing his cricketing abilities as modest but what he lacked in grace and skill he made up for in pure fight.

Arguably his best day on the field was in 1986, our treble-winning year, in the Waddilove Cup Final against our old pals Denholme CC. Here are the scores for you stattos back in the day of the forty-over game.

Villas – 153/9 (J Brennan 55)
Denhome 111 (M Adams 6/41, B Shackleton 4/66)

At 90/8 we were staring down the barrel – as usual – with only JB left as a recognised batter. The late Denis Wood and team number eleven, Mick Adams, were left to keep him company.

Batting with courage and grit, those two little scrappers, JB and Denis, got us to a respectable total. In the end we were comfortable winners thanks to some excellent bowling.

We also had an unbreakable team spirit that never featured in stats about runs and wickets but was our “star” player on many days.

JB contemplates the end

Like all of us from that marvellous era, the eyesight and the bodies may well fail us far too often these days but you can never take away the competitive spirit that has preserved us for so long.

His appearances may be sporadic these days but the sprawling dives in vain after elusive balls still amuse as he crashes in a painful heap on the turf, the ball long gone, more plasters required.

Leading by example and about to crash to the ground again.

Those in the know refuse to change next to him as, in an instant, the contents of his bag will merge with those closest.

Not a week goes by without him asking: “Has anybody seen my…?”

We’ve been on several cycling holidays together and he is the only man I know who would choose to take apart his bike about half an hour before setting off for a week. He insisted on taking several GPS gadgets but we would have been better off with a pigeon.

Oh Dear!

JB in full chaos mode

There have also been the numerous walks under the guise of recreation but really just another piss up. One year he was testing some walking sticks for a major expedition but inside a mile had lost both.

In recent years, JB and Sally have opened a B&B on the outskirts of Posh Bradford otherwise known as Ilkley Nr Leeds to him. Sally’s dream, she has tried her best to keep JB at a distance as far as guests are concerned.

JB has a career change

Unable to resist a challenge the little man has taken up DIY. He’s even put up some shelving at the cricket club where players marvel each week at the abject lack of craftsmanship and the wonkiest shelves ever made.

Modelled on a roller coaster some weeks they are far more entertaining than the cricket. To date few have risked placing anything valuable atop.

JB gets as low as his ageing body will allow and performs a new shot called the Hover Sweep.

A few years ago we had that magic day at Scarborough where all our yesterdays collided one more time, if at a gentler pace.

Winners again, maybe for the last time, friendships forged over generations in the pure gold of honest sporting endeavour savoured under a late summer’s sun, a beautiful and emotional day.

As good a day as can be…September 2015, Scarborough.

So enjoy the day you scruffy old bugger and let a new life begin.

Congratulations Mr and Mrs Brennan.

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