• It’s hardly surprising that the English like the Germans so much. Their love for football, sausages and beer very much mirrors our own and they have even embraced our game of cricket now too. With that in mind, what other reason would you need to join the quorum of Quokkas on this years’ tour of Hamburg? A quick straw poll to find out what tempted the others drew an almost universal “you’re not married with kids, are you Ches?” response. True, but despite lacking that additional motivation, I was no less keen to sample the world famous Reeperbahn, fish market and some of the finest Weizenbier known to man.

    PHOTO-2018-09-13-20-43-32Skip was so keen to get there that he selected the `Oh my god that’s early’ red eye flight from Heathrow, which meant a room at the Travelodge and a desperate search for culinary delights in Hounslow the night before. Whilst the Yak and Dac somehow found a Michelin star curry house, my search unearthed jam doughnuts washed down by a solitary Cobra.

    “Can anyone recommend a dish at the Travelodge restaurant?”
    “Yes, pringles”.

    At least the view from the hotel window was impressive.

    The pre-tour excitement and Yak snoring enabled me to get exactly one hours’ shuteye – the perfection preparation for a weekend where we normally envy the amount of sleep Navy SEALs get on their training courses. Things could be worse, you could be waiting for your passport to return from Her Majesty’s Government or worse still, forget where it resides completely.

    For those allowed to leave the country, the check-in was uneventful, but my request for balaclavas seemed not to resonate with the clubs’ hierarchy. Instead we took ownership of the latest piece of tour merchandise and the new `mug a granny’ Quokkas hoodies had us mistaken for oversized fans of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. When matched with shorts, we presented ourselves as a group of boy scout leaders. To be honest, on the Reeperbahn no one bat an eyelid.

    PHOTO-2018-09-14-14-16-42With no time for the usual Irish breakfast send off, we prepared for the first game with Alpha beers and pina coladas at the fabulous StrandPauli bar. Sitting nicely on the edge of the River Elbe, the deckchairs, sand and lashings of late summer sun ensured the day flew by. Afterwards we took residency at a restaurant far exceeding our standard of attire and consumed our own bodyweight in veal schnitzel, warm potato salad and basil-flavoured gins. Has anyone got that taste of Basil out of their mouth yet?

    The tour party hit the streets of Hamburg and was soon bolstered by The Professor, Lockie and Evil Dave, who had somehow found his passport. Apparently, it was in the passport draw, next to Mrs Evil’s passport, in a passport holder with the word `Passport’ emblazoned on the front. He muttered something about Brexit, but after a bottle of Jagermeister had entered the bloodstream he seemed happy enough.

    Well lubricated, the group was keen to put their purposefully selected sequences of human movement on display. We made our way to the excellent Molotow Musikclub in search of the next Beatles and to the soundtrack of Franz Ferdinand, Tocotronic and Kraftklub  we spent several hours convincing the locals that tomorrow would be best spent watching the Quokkas dismantled in a field somewhere on the outskirts of the city. Despite best efforts and Kevin Keegan stickers offered as enticements I feared that would not be enough to convince anyone.

    It’s surprising how quickly tomorrow comes when you are having fun. Thankfully Michael D was on hand to provide us with some local grub (yes, according to my friend Wiki, burgers do originate from Hamburg) and that set us up nicely for the long day ahead.

    PHOTO-2018-09-15-14-48-08We were warmly welcomed by our hosts at the wonderful Sports Club THCC Rot-Gelb, but on a first glance it appeared that `one of the few grass wickets in Germany’ had metamorphosised itself into a coconut matting. Perhaps the long Indian summer was to blame. It appeared to have also affected the lush outfield, which didn’t quite replicate the lush bowling green advertised on their website www.cricket-hamburg.de/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/THCC-Ground_1500x520.jpg [the Chesney school of marketing in action right there]. Less than smooth outfields are the norm on tour, so we just got on with it. I moaned, obviously.

    As is customary, we sent the locals into bat (we always want to make them feel like they got a game) and initially we found the openers to be stubborn. However, Evil Dave continued his fine form with the ball by taking a brace of wickets. He really shouldn’t have bothered, as that just brought a talented Australian called Cam and the equally adept Murali to the middle.

    When we took drinks 15 overs and over 130 runs later, it looked like we were going to have our work cut out keeping things below 300. The combination of the square leg boundary located inside the fielding circle (which meant sixes were downgraded to fours – thank god for that aye Dac?) and some high-quality batting was proving problematic.

    PHOTO-2018-09-16-17-24-05Thankfully, Cam took pity on us and retired during the drinks break. Then when our new and extremely hyperactive Quokka, Jigger, brought a little more pace to the attack and we started to make inroads. Jigger eventually got Murali out and with the talent safely back in the hutch, Skip saw that the coast was safe and made a long-awaited bowling appearance. He, along with The Egg efficiently cleaned up the tail, with The Egg claiming the prize wicket of expat captain Andy. Despite this we still were set over 200 from our 35 overs. Have we got even close to that on a first day of a tour?

    Tea was a strange mix of cold toasted sandwiches and two absolutely wonderful cakes. I miss the days of a box of pork to be honest.

    It’s not often that a batsman acknowledges that he was probably out lbw and that didn’t happen here when our designated batsman for the tour, Milind, was triggered by Evil. Müllmann fell not long after, leaving him somewhat exposed in our annual runs challenge. Like our rivals, the real talent was at three, with The Professor finally deciding not to hide his bushel at nine, ten or jack, and showing us what he can do when he has upgraded from a piece of balsa to the clubs’ plywood Slazenger.

    PHOTO-2018-09-15-14-48-07We knew he played straight, but with the confidence hair highlights brings to a middle-aged man, he started to display a bit of flair in attack. Having seen off the openers he then picked off the bad ball and of course was resolute in defence when required. We had spent tea trying to construct the ultimate batsman out of the few genuine cricket shots from Quokkas players – it appeared the shoe-in-Guru-cover-drive was now under threat. Myself, Tom the Yak, Skip and Slick provided some support, but not nearly enough and just a little shy of his maiden Quokkas half century the Professor was out trying to move things along. In the end, even with 12 batsman we still didn’t come close, but most importantly we survived to fight another day.

    A delightful dinner provided by our guests, accompanied by a few sherbets and the shortest game of 21s in Quokkas history was the perfect kick start to the evening. I don’t recall too much about it, other than consuming lashings of beer and German death metal, an unusual arcade claw game that replaced soft toys with sex toys and having to suffer the appalling Codeko remix of MGMT’s Kids {Ed: I’ll pass on adding that link] at the titty twister bar night club. For those with insomnia, the fish market completed the evening, with a blues band entertaining the revellers and fishmongers alike.

    It felt like my head had hardly hit the pillow when the call went out to be in the lobby for the taxis back to the Sports Club THCC Rot-Gelb for the second game of the weekend. Lidl and Michael D saved the day, providing us with enough sugar to bring on type 2 diabetes. My 18 trips to the toilet during the day suggested that either I have the smallest bladder in the world or that that ship has already sailed. I digress.

    PHOTO-2018-09-15-18-16-51With the batting order reversed, The Egg and Evil strode out to the middle, with Fruiti following them into the middle shortly afterwards. He and Evil Dave proceeded to put on a fifty partnership, finding the short square boundary especially appealing. After a short cameo from Jigger that saw him take on their quickie, Dac was in and looking to avoid a pair. He was going well until Müllmann sent him back to the hutch. Dac claimed he middle it, but Milind’s video of the shot in question was inconclusive.

    The fast bowler called Bai was too good for Lockie and myself, but Skip stood firm and with Tom the Yak in support played an excellent captain’s innings, scoring a very swift half century and eventually carrying his bat. 180 looked a little short, but with a completely new bowling attack at Skip’s disposal, Murali tucking into far too many beers and no sign of the German Ladies National Team captain, we were confident.

    PHOTO-2018-09-16-15-50-13Milind and Müllmann opened the bowling, one ever so slightly more accurate than the other, but the pair combined well, restricting our opponents to 25 for 1 from the first nine overs. Murali, now into his fifth larger top, demonstrated exactly why you shouldn’t drink and drive kids, showing absolutely none of the exquisite timing from the day before. You can’t take liberties like that when The Egg is bowling and he duly claimed his wicket during another excellent spell. That was proceeded by The Professor substantiating his all-rounder status, with a terrific six over spell of line and length bowling claiming three wickets.

    PHOTO-2018-09-17-10-17-40With us cruising to victory there was enough leeway to bring me on. Right on que the prementioned Tina turned up and began dispatching me into the tennis courts. Fortunately, she began to run out of partners and in an attempt to win the game single handed, The Yak had her caught on the long on boundary. With a nipper to bowl at, I looked far more comfortable and eventually got one to land somewhere near the wickets and the game was ours.

    A trip to Germany would not be complete without some pork knuckle and we rounded off the tour with dinner at the Schoppenhauer restaurant. The non-vegetarian’s within the party were more than impressed with the menu and we proceed to eat our way through half a hundred weight of meat. With tour fines handed out, Professor acknowledged as best on tour and a keg of beer drunk, it was time to hit the bright lights of Hamburg one last time.

    A short uneventful flight back aside, that was pretty much that for the 2018 Quokkas Tour of Hamburg. All I can say is that once again it was brilliantly organised (thanks to anyone that helped with that), great fun to participate in and I can heartedly recommend it to any husband and or/father. Oh yes, I nearly forgot, I moved 2-1 ahead of Müllmann in our usual runs challenge. At his age you have to wonder if he will be back next year. I know I will.

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  • Our resident media mogul comprehensively reports in:

    “It has been two years since I last traveled abroad with the Quokkas. If the destination is not land-locked and the locals don’t have a penchant for pork and pike perch, then quite frankly I am not interested. Budapest certainly ticks all of those boxes, but with the Hungarians having a reputation for being the gloomiest and most pessimistic nation in Europe, I just knew this place was made for a fun-hoover like me. So once again I signed up for world’s greatest cricket club tour and headed to Luton.

    Straight away I could tell this was going to be a good weekend, our flight from Luton wasn’t at some ungodly hour and the airport had two bars! Resplendent in my brand new ‘don’t get too close to a naked flame’ Quokkas blazer I ordered a lager top….which granted me the honour of first fine of the tour. Skip eased me into the tour with a Jägerbomb chaser and we were off and running, well drinking wise anyway – a two hour Easilylatejet delay for “unnecessary maintenance” meant we had to sample the delights of the departure lounge a little while longer. Every cloud has a silver lining however, as this provided the perfect opportunity to sample Luton’s finest pork baguette. You don’t have to go all the way to Hungary to get your recommended daily pork intake you know!

    We settle in for a few games of 21 and the noise and buzz created attracts possible additions to the touring party. Perhaps it’s a love of coach driver attire or Fudger’s fake tan, but there is no time for sharking, we’re boarding!

    We face our first tough call of the tour almost immediately after take-off. Do Yak, Slick and I spend our combined £17 on two red bulls and three vodkas, or a half bottle of bubbly? The Vodka wins – let the David Boon style drinking commence. I hate flying, but time passes quickly, especially when the Quokka Top Trumps finds their way to us. It’s a shiny new and updated deck, but with the same obvious printing error as last year; Chez – Drinking Prowess 4. Does anyone proof read these things? The second tough call of the tour is selecting the right category when discovering Verger in your hand. Thank god for Drinking Prowess!

    We land safely and having bled the airport cash machine of every last Forint, we make our way to the wonderfully titled Swing Hotel. Comfortably ranked 206 of 333 on Tripadvisor, it’s perfectly nestled between a Kebab house, sex shop and Budapest’s largest bakery. Scratch the surface however and Skip has found a gem here, there is no lift to get trapped in and I’m assured the bread rolls are not easily confused with burned hand-grenades as they were in Serbia. Sadly there is no time to enjoy the kind of artwork typically found unsold at car boot sales up and down the UK. We need to Quokk’n’roll before our guide, Adrian, drinks all the beer.

    Having made fine use of Budapest’s ‘free’ public transport, we were led to Adrian’s favourite drinking holes. Along the way we experienced our first taste of Zwack, in the form of Unicum Next Generation and Palinka (umm, I can still taste it now…no I really can). Suitably lubricated, talk turns to football, cricket, jobs, recent additions to families and the general joy of parenthood. My suggestion of 51% joy, 49% hell is Conan-smashed into the stand by Binman’s “95% shit really” assessment. No one is going to argue with a sleep deprived father. With expectant dads (big congratulations to Mr and Mrs Evil, Mantis & Yak) looking nervous, we made our excuses and hit the dance-floor for the first time with Evil Dave and Egg pulling some interesting shapes.

    The night is a success, but as we passed the witching hour the 50:1 male to women ratio sees the Quokkas disappear back to their beds faster than a Fudger half tracker. On route Skip doubles the local bakery takings for the year by acquiring its entire supply of sausage rolls and cake.

    Somewhat surprisingly we don’t have a 6.45am wakeup call the next morning, nor a 5 hour drive to another country. Tour logistics manager I thank you. Suitably rested we consume a huge fried breakfast with Guinness chasers, whilst enjoying the Lions crushing the Aussies again to make it 2-0 in the series. We felt for the Aussies, but being true Englishmen (and gentleman) we didn’t mention this minor victory for the rest of the tour.

    With the egg-chasing over and Mr Saucisson suitably fulfilled, we make our way to the temporary national stadium of Hungarian Cricket. Floods had apparently ruined the proper ground, but this is a great replacement. Picture the scene, the Maracana stadium…. only with table tennis tables in the stand and onsite paintballing. The excitement is starting to build, that is until I am absolutely crushed by Evil Dave in a game of first to five.

    Cutting players is very unQuokkalike, but you will be surprised to hear we were not scratching around for a spare fielder, instead Skip has to select a final eleven from what is without doubt the Quokkas strongest touring party in living memory. However, it turns out to be far easier to remove the chaff from the wheat, with Egg and Skip joining my good self on the side lines to consume our weight (not Skips, obviously) in cherry beer.

    That’s one less International cricket cap on my CV than I had hoped for, but this gave the three of us the chance to get a good look at the talent circling the field, as well as the Quokkas dismantling the Hungarian XI bowling. That said, a first ball duck for tour debutant Arunev gets us off to a flier. Thankfully Saucisson and Conan soon have us back on track, supported gamely by Fudger and Evil Dave, who smashes 12 balls to all parts of the ground for 25. Mantis also gets in on the act, but only after convincing not only the umpire but also the opponents that he hadn’t got the biggest nick in cricketing history. With Conan about to reach 50, Binman plays around a straight one, getting a second ball duck in the process and leaves Mr Invincible standing. The question is will he ever get out?

    Match 1: Quokkas CC 173 (Conan 46no, Dac 26, Evil Dave 25, Mantis 24)

    With tea sadly not forthcoming from the locals, Skip really comes into his own by unveiling the world’s largest supply of sausage rolls and apple turnovers. Cherry beer ensures that no one dehydrates and then it’s time for Slick to lead the Quokkas back into battle. A huddle, rousing team talk and gently directing his troops from the fine leg boundary seems to work a treat, as wickets steadily fall. Evil Dave’s break dancing doesn’t seem have left him worse for wear and he grabs several to make him prime candidate for all five B and F points, but he is ably supported by the Yak and Dac. What chance do Hungary have?

    Despite its low alcohol content, my like for cherry beer prevents me from offering you a detailed breakdown of the bowling figures – that’s what the book’s for. A comment at dinner about hearing me laughing loudly at several beamers suggests that the usual high standard of bowling was maintained throughout. I can at least inform you of the overall outcome, which was a fantastic and somewhat comfortable  70 run victory for the Quokkas. Tremendous work chaps. 1-0 to the Quokkas!

    Match 1: Hungary Select XI 103 (Evil Dave 3/21, Attack 2/15)

    As the sun starts go down we settle in to watch the joggers and have a few post match beers. Needless to say there was more than enough reasons for Skip to hand out fines, meaning everyone gets their share of Zwack – the drink of champions. Some more than others. The lack of a Quokkas wristband ensuring Mantis had to ‘double up’. At this point Evil accurately bade him goodnight.

    Like Chairman’s girlfriends, the night was still young, allowing Adrian to guide us in a zigzag formation out to dinner. Fellow expat Steve was clearly chomping at the bit for pike-perch and promptly fell flat on his face in his haste to enter the restaurant. Skip’s never ending list of self-inflicted wounds and my wasp sting apart, this was about as bad as it got mishaps and injury wise all tour. Not bad considering the potential for drinking hand repetitive strain injuries and Eastern European tours offers. That said, Mantis decided to break every Quokkas dress code rule, thereby consigning himself to paralysis of the brain. Thousand yard stares bring on comments of “here’s Mantis”. But perhaps “you are here Mantis” might be more fitting.

    Although not falling foul of the evening’s dress code, Hairdresser’s tie did catch the eye and drew suggestions that he spends his winter evenings walking on all fours with a rubber ball chained to his mouth. Somewhat better dressed was Conan, donning a smart short sleeve shirt with accompanying bow tie. As everyone knows bow tie wearers are all serial killers which, as the Zwack fines come in thick and fast, encourages our very own Chez n Dave duo to compose a sure fire Quokkas hit in `Bow Tie Killer’. Qu’est-ce que c’est?

    Goose legs consumed and with Dic-Dak bowler hats in place, we make for a bar where the beautiful reside. We watch cyclists go nowhere, chat up Americans and pick up potential lady-boys, stopping only to take in Hairdresser’s post-modern expressionist dance routines that have the Quokkas in stitches and the locals running for the hills. With all drinks seemingly on the house, courtesy of the bar owners love for Skippy, it was hard to move on, but we’d drunk enough 151 proof rum, so it was time to see a baker about some sausage rolls.

    I awoke to find all that separated me from the Bow Tie Killer – still fully dressed (trousers apart) including aforementioned neckwear and arms crossed like Count Dracula – is a deflated Skippy (Binman got peckish apparently). I quietly leave him to catch up on his beauty sleep to see if the bread rolls are edible.

    It’s day three and the second and final match of the tour. I just about make the side and am almost instantly walking into bat as Skip, donned from head to toe in Lycra, runs (that’s stretching it a bit) himself out. The track looks plastic and the bowling loopy, so I dig in for the long haul. One or two Quokkas come and go. Arunev shows that he’s been taking running between the wickets lessons from Fudger, but it doesn’t matter when you can cover drive for six.

    The scoreboard rattles along at a reasonable pace, although shouts of “get out” from one impatient rent a mouth suggest I’m hogging the bowling. The Egg comes in and speeds things along, toe ending the ball to various points of the ground before Fudger takes up the reigns with some tremendous hitting. My wicket eventually falls before I can put Plan F into action, so it’s left to Mantis to do the honours. He doesn’t. ‘kin’ell Mantis, that’s a fine.

    Match 2: Quokkas CC 223/8 (Ches 79, Faggy 36, Arunav 32)

    We give the home team 223 to chase and quite frankly it always looked too much for them, especially when they run themselves out. We offer several batswomen (I did mention that half the side were from the Hugarian ladies team didn’t I?) second chances through poor catching and the non-turning pitch reduces the threat of the likes of the Egg and Slick, who I can confirm has entered the Guinness Book of Records for the most wides in an over. Despite this we still somehow manage to decimate their top order. Good work Skip. Cometh the hour, cometh the best bat in Hungary and boy can this guy hit.

    I’m dispatched over my head for six and the feat is repeated several times until the scoreboard starts to look a little tight. The ball is handed to Faggie, in what can only be described as a win/win situation. Either he gets the wicket to take the match or is dispatched, to much hilarity. Immediately Fudger has him caught behind, but no it’s dropped! The next ball is hit all the way to Serbia to howls of laughter, but it’s Fudger who has the last laugh as he cleans him out and we’ve won! Just. Zoltán Gera, Ferenc Puskás, Oszkár Asbóth, Joseph Pulitzer, Erno Rubik, László Bíró, Bela Lugosi, Zsa Zsa Gabor, you boys, er, I mean girls took one hell of a beating, by 18 runs.

    Match 2: Hungarian Womens/Mens XI 208/8 (Just about everyone took 1 wicket each, even Slick!) 

    2-0 Quokkas! We celebrate with paraffin (or is it Palinka? I’m not sure) and a huge bowl of goulash as we debate the best ever Aussie batsman. As night falls a football match breaks out, but a Budapest nightclub is waiting so we head off leaving the joggers in peace.

    There’s not much to tell about Sunday night. A few quiet beers down the local with hardly a lady in sight. I recall that there was certainly some dancing, but I couldn’t tell you much more than that. We did bump into one of Skips relatives, they quite liked a drink too and the evening ended with yet another stroll to the river to watch the sun come up.

    For some the tour is over, but for others a late flight provides us with another day to enjoy the delights of Budapest. We use our time wisely, venturing out to the famed spa baths to soak up some sun, ease some aching limbs and cleanse the mind. The steam rooms and ice cold baths work like a treat, bringing the remaining tour party back from the dead. Rejuvenated, we destroy some meat platters, take advantage of happy hour Zwack cocktails and contemplate the magnitude of our achievement: The Quokkas have not just won two in a row, but they have completed their first ever winning and undefeated tour.

    Just like the lions we are victorious, but of course it’s cricket that is the real winner. See you all in a pike-perch loving venue next year.

    Chez”

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Recent Comments

  • Strong.
  • Proper swing bowling that was. Pitch it up.
  • Fabulous article which made us smile in the Spanish sunshine...
  • You forgot to mention Harry getting to bowl an over aswell. ...
  • Please see point 5.