World Cup fever: An Englishman walks into a pub

Reader Paul McGreivy, from County Sligo in Ireland, tells a tale of how he experienced Ireland’s World Cup win over Pakistan last time round

I moved to Ireland 10 years ago but there is very little cricket here in the West. I used to play in the Hertfordshire County League at a half-decent level but being over 35, with a sore back and a house to build, I never really thought too much about taking it up again.

Until one bizarre day when I popped into the local shop-and-pub to catch, erm, the last post.
There they were … 100 of them – dazed, confused and excited – jammed into a small smoky room, qatching the final overs of Ireland playing Pakistan in the last World Cup.

Have you ever seen 100 men in a bar getting excited but 99 of them didn’t have a clue what was going on?

“Pull up a stool there, Englishman, you must know what de bejeezus is going on here. De fella running up and down and stopping is he the one with the ball?”

“Err yes he’s the bowler,” I replied.

“And tell me dis now, when can the fella hit it? Is it a bit like de Slitter (an Irish hurly ball)?”
So to cut a long story a bit longer, there I was in a pub in the west of Ireland, full of half-cut, early-evening, red-faced farmers, who didn’t have a clue about cricket, but were ferociously supporting their country and trying to understand the game. There I was cheering on the boys in green and explaining every shot. I’d only popped in for a stamp or four.

“Yes. They need three to win now,” I said.

Then the local councillor enters the bar and starts talking in his usual, mega-phonic voice, as the 99 lay silent waiting, transfixed.
“Shud up ya eejit can ya not see we’re watching de cricket, we’re going to beat de Indians!”
I nearly cried when I heard …
So as the ball sailed through the deep midwicket boundary I found myself clapping and shouting “yes, yes!!” as the 99 looked on open-mouthed at me. Then after an eternal pause, they burst into cheers and hollows in the pub.

So as I walked back to my office, I looked down at my recently acquired two stone beer belly and knew then there was only one way I was going to shift this.
I now drive (200 miles) every weekend to the outskirts of Dublin – two stone lighter – with my six-year-old co-pilot wearing his green Ireland T-shirt, holding his size one bat.

When he plays for Ireland, he’ll have 99 red-faced farmers to thank.

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10 Responses to World Cup fever: An Englishman walks into a pub

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention TWC Blogs » Blog Archive » World Cup fever: An Englishman walks into a pub -- Topsy.com

  2. Andy C says:

    Whereabouts are you Paul? I have family in Co Sligo, near Ballaghaderreen (where there is, I understand, a cricket club now)

  3. Paul Mc says:

    hi andy thats in rosscommon i think ul find. yep they have a team but no ground

  4. Eddie Bosano-Andrews says:

    I play for Dundalk CC in the North East and I’ve played against Sligo CC twice, I carried my bat the second time.

    Why drive all the way to Dublin when there’s a county side ?.

    Andy C Ballaghadreen do indeed have a club they’ve won the Connaught League three times and are notorious for treating friendly matches like World Cup finals.

  5. Andy C says:

    My wife still can’t believe that they play cricket that far West – she thought it was a wind up until she saw the clubs’ websites. Years ago she’d wanted to move to Ireland but I’d always said no as I didn’t want to stop playing cricket, trouble is now there’s cricket but no jobs !!

  6. Eddie, Paul is well aware of the club in Sligo, the problem is we are still looking for a ground so players are playing in various other clubs until then. The work continues !!!

  7. I’ve always found it odd that there is this perception that cricket was not played much in Ireland before 2007, there are some clubs here that pre-date county clubs in England.

    I was at the Sportsmans Dinner in Lurgan CC earlier in the year and the after dinner speaker was Angus Fraser, at one point when talking about cricket in Ireland he asked the question as to whether twenty years previously it had been played here, well if he had payed a little more attention to his surroundings he would have noticed the large wooden board listing all that clubs captains going back to 1922.

  8. Paul mc says:

    Dear old gus did the ground swallow him up all the way back to stanmore. A lovely guy I remember with deep affection picking the bloody ball out of the long grass too many times at elstree by him and his brothers.
    Game in the west has taken off in last 5 years again. This however at the present is a bit sporadic. But we are trying desperately to sort out a good quality local ground, until then will be lots of traveling!!!

  9. Andy Miles says:

    My mother’s family name is Kempster. It’s a unique surname and I have discovered that the first man to score a first class hundred for Ireland was a Kempster and that the name was linked with cricket in Galway and Dublin in the 19th + earely 20thy century. Perhaps it still is. Would love to know and how these Kempsters link in to the Kempster homeland of Bucks and Herts. Can anyone out there help ?

    • Jane Leslie says:

      Just saw your message and I can tell you all about the Kempsters. My father was James Francis Kempster and my grandfather was Francis (Frank) Greetham Kempster both of whom, as you know played for the Gentlemen of Ireland. F.G. was born in Ballinasloe because his father, James Forth Kempster had taken the job of County Surveyor for the East Riding of Galway. He was from London and was born in Half Moon Street, Picadilly. There was a lot of cricket played in Ballinasloe in the mid-1800s and it was there that F.G. and his brother, Jack, took up the game. They both went to Trinity College, Dublin and F.G. was captain of the Trinity team in the 1870s. I was told recently that Jack also played for Ireland on a team of 22 players who played against an English team which included W.G. Grace.
      My father, Jim Kempster, grew up in Dublin and played cricket at St. Stephen’s Green School and then briefly for Phoenix. He then moved to Leinster C.C. where he played for many years.
      I can trace the Kempster family back to around 1760 but I have no link to Kempsters in either Bucks or Herts. They were, for the most part, around London and Middlesex and served in the army and in the Royal Marines. While I am no longer a Kempster, my husband and sons all played cricket in Waterford and I hope that the cricketing tradition will carry on into the next generation.