In the time the Kent Ramblas have been in existence, we’ve seen plenty of changes (on and off the pitch), but one constant has been the continued enthusiasm and excitement about the upcoming season. It turns out not even approaching our mid-30s (as a fair few of our number are) can dampen that spirit.
So, with that in mind, let’s remind ourselves of our motley crew…
Lucy Brewer: Our newly-appointed social secretary was choked up with emotion at winning Clubperson Of The Year in 2015 and it’s that devotion to the Ramblas’ cause that we’re hoping to see applied to her astounding delivery of cakes in 2016, as well as her organisational skills.
If she was a band: The Spice Girls – doing her own bit for the feminist cause and a constant presence on the sidelines (much like Geri, Posh and co. were in the charts in their heyday).
Steve Cleverley: Unfortunately, injury looks to have robbed us of the all-round (bowling, batting, often ridiculous haircuts) skills of Steve for a while, but we can hope that the big man is back on his feet as soon as possible to pull on the Ramblas shirt.
If he was a band: ABBA – unashamedly cheesy, questionable hair, but a solid body of work that is widely – and rightly – appreciated.
Mrs C: Somewhat presumptuously included here in the wake of some superlative performances in the kitchen last year, everyone – home and away sides – appreciate the Sunday afternoon culinary efforts from Mrs C.
If she was an artist: David Bowie – both are a true national treasure, loved by all who sample their respective outputs.
Michael Cooper: Managed to shake off personal frustration with the bat to really kick into some form as the season progressed, contributing to some key partnerships throughout. The patented Cooper Roll (no, Geoff, not *that* kind of roll…) will hopefully be back with us in 2016 – along with a hatful of runs (no, Geoff, not *those* kind of runs…).
If he was a band: The Kinks – equally prone to thrashing about (see You Really Got Me/Coops’s fielding) and sometimes pondersome (see Superman/Coops’s sometimes nervy start to innings), but unquestionably one of the greats.
Ian Dacre: Dakkers had a fitful season to some degree with the ball last year, but was majestic in parts as he claimed two well-deserved five-fers. When he’s on his day, though, he’s almost impossible to get away and it’s a true joy to watch him beguile the batsmen with his under-estimated skiddy bowling.
If he was a band: Doves – widely underrated (apart from those in the know) and capable of some stand-out special moments.
Alex Danks: Suffering an injury moments before the start of the season would’ve knocked lesser men, but AD didn’t let that setback knock him off his stride as he delivered some ferocious spells (including – simultaneously – the first Ramblas hat-trick and a six-fer) and contributed to the partnership of the season with the bat, to boot.
If he was a band: One Direction – young and successful (with the ladies), undoubtedly going to be near the top of the (bowling) charts come the end of the season.
Doug Danks: There’s lots to thank Doug for (bringing Alex and Tom into the world, that wonderful beard), but a relentless cheeriness allied with some delightfully thoughtful bowling and committed work in the field is why we’re always happy to see Doug don the Ramblas whites.
If he was a band: Rolling Stones – still rolling out the hits in his role as the Ramblas’ elder statesman (although nowhere near as old as Jagger and co., I’d hasten to add!).
Tom Danks: What an impact our No. 3 made in his first season, scoring runs for fun, taking the odd pearler in the field and chiming in with the odd wicket. No surprise that he was voted Players’ Player and expectation going into the new season will be high.
If he was a band: Roxy Music – with a touch of class and style, neither would look out of place in a pair of loafers and shorts.
Steve Fitch: While some of his team-mates may get the headlines in terms wickets, the often unheralded work of Stitch at the other end is vital to the Ramblas’ success. Last year saw consistency added to his game, to ensure an economy rate that stayed comfortably below five and helped his fellow bowlers prosper.
If he was a singer: Phil Collins – similarly resolute in finding the middle of the road, his bowling nags away at you like the riff on Collins’ Sussudio.
Peter Ford: There are few more popular players amongst our crew and Pete’s infectious in-field banter is just the icing on the cake, as he’s developed into a fine middle-order batsman and mean outfielder.
If he was a band: ZZ Top – c’mon, just look at the beard…
Rich Ford: Being dad of Pete and Sam might explain the hair situation, but Rich’s competitiveness and sheer doggedness were excellent additions to the Ramblas collective last year and we can’t wait to see more of those batting fireworks.
If he was a band: The Who – showing no signs of slowing down and still full of big hits and energy.
Sam Ford: Our all-singing, all-dancing wicketkeeper-batsman-bowler-fielder was again in fine fettle last season and his keen cricketing brain is aided by the ability to bat all day, keep astutely AND deliver the odd game-defining spell when required.
If he was a band: All Saints – manages to tick all the skillset boxes and still retain a bit of edge.
Howard Hardy-King: Another of our new additions, HHK is deadly with the ball in his hand – be that bowling or launching it in from the outfield where he quickly has batsmen doubting the wisdom of attempting another run. A handy lower-order batsman to boot, he’s added much stability to the team.
If he was a band: Fleetwood Mac – timeless classics with the odd smash hit.
Ashley Harriss: The invisible man still walks among us, and when he does his batting is an absolute joy to watch – with a mixed bag of agricultural heaves and lusty drives, Ash can – as opener – quickly take the game away from the opposition.
If he was a band: Motörhead – very much smash, bang and wallop, but with a touch of the classics about him.
Mark Loughlin: One of the most selfless members of the team (actually, that married with the hair and beard, is he… Jesus?), Mark took a step back from front-line bowling to carve out an equally formidable position in the batting line-up last year, but was still able to knock over the batsmen at will when required and remains a stellar fielder.
If he was a band: Queen – nary a bad word is said about either, with formidable track records (although sometimes a bit OTT when there’s drink involved).
Geoff Parrett: The man who never stops smiling (unless the tea’s finished…) is also more than capable of putting smiles on the faces of the crowd and his team-mates with his wonderfully unconventional batting that saw a maiden ton brought up in style last season. Another who’s gently tweaked his game to become a batting all-rounder.
If he was a band: Johnny Cash – three words: Ring. Of. Fire.
Ruth Parrett: Still gallantly driving up from Kent on the odd weekend to serve up what has rightly been described as The Best Cricketing Tea on the circuit, Ruth has powered the Ramblas through sustenance. Lord’s and The Oval will surely come knocking soon enough, should she wish to switch from finance to full-time catering.
If she was a band: The Supremes – consistently on top of her game, with smooth and effortless delivery.
Drew Smith: We only managed to see Drew on the field once last year… and that was a last-minute replacement for a visiting team. Still, there’s always hope that his top-order batting and persistent work in the field will be joining the Ramblas party again in 2016.
If he was a band: Simon & Garfunkel – a year out might mean leaving off past glories and, like the band, the Ramblas and Drew are rarely seen together.
Jonny Stocks: Our captain continues to improve as a batter and leader, scoring over 300 runs for the first time last year and developing a hitherto unseen flexibility in his captaining that helped the Ramblas secure a record number of wins in a season.
If he was a singer: Bruce Springsteen – plugs away relentlessly and is capable of rousing performances (in the middle and in the dressing room).
Laurie Stocks: Injury might again deprive us of Laurie’s services, but we can only hope that he can be stuck back together (glue, sellotape, nuts and bolts…) in time to contribute once more to the team that he was so integral in building.
If he was a band: The Stone Roses – peaked early on and only occasionally spotted these days, any appearances are always warmly welcomed.
Chris Thomas: Frightfully expensive and somewhat inconsistent at times, Thommo still managed to top the bowling charts last year and if injury can be avoided will be looking to up the ante with the ball, as well as find some more telling form with the bat.
If he was a band: Embrace – able to belie the sum of his parts at times to produce the odd big moment, but far from one of the greats.