This lunchtime I went to the British Museum to buy a keyring. My current keyring is too big and it’s annoying me, so I wanted another way to keep my keys together. Where to get one though? Then it hit me: the British Museum has loads, and once there I quickly decided upon a small turquoise Aztec serpent* (which sounds like something you might get as a tattoo, too).
The Museum is currently rammed with tourists, students and the elderly at the moment, which leads to quite a hubbub. One glamourous Italian was wearing an “I love London” vest thing. From the side you could only see the “ndon” part, and my brain, bless it, interpreted this as “I love Swindon”, which would have been fantastic. But no, she did not love Swindon (why would she? Probably never even been there. Her dad (grandad?) may have at least heard of Swindon: Swindon Town won the Anglo-Italian cup in the 70s, beating (a possible weakened) Juventus 4-0 and Napoli 3-0 in so doing).
We went on a school trip to the British Museum when I was younger. The Bedford to King’s Cross train didn’t take long at all, and I remember gasping as our teacher led us on foot through the winding roads from the station to the museum. How did he know how to do that? Years later, new to London, I tried to make the trip in reverse. Everyone I asked for directions seemed stumped. Really it couldn’t have been easier, but if you don’t know, you don’t know, do you? Now I often walk those same streets. Nice how these things work.
This trip would have been the early 90s I think, and around this time county cricket was on tv a lot. You’d get home from school and see the end of a NatWest trophy game from Hove or Edgbaston or somewhere. Tony Lewis (think Frank Sidebottom for a good visual proxy), Tom Graveney (think Bob Paisley) or Jack Bannister (think Jim Bowen, although I don’t know if I’ve seen Jack Bannister, ever) would be commentating. Funny how these things get burned into your mind.
This morning Martin and I were remembering opening partnerships from around that time. We got quite a lot: Moxon and Metcalfe at Yorkshire, Fordham and Larkin at Northants, Prichard and Stephenson at Essex (Gooch in first wicket down?), Athey and Benson at… ah, but is it? Benson was at Kent, wasn’t he? Athey Gloucestershire. What am I thinking here? Too late for Tavare? And wasn’t he Kent anyway? Why should Kent and Gloucestershire be so confusing? Haynes and Carr at Middlesex, Bowler and Barnett at Derbyshire, Hugh Morris at Glamorgan. Who went in with him? Terry and Chris Smith at Hants, I can’t remember Warwickshire until the Roger Twose era, and only that because of his name. Twose. Lancashire trouble me. Atherton might have just been arriving then, but was he opening, and if so, who with? Somerset had Graham Rose, always good for a one day bash. But again his partner escapes me. Leicestershire? Nope. Surrey had Wilf Slack and probably Darren Bicknell. Notts were Tim Robinson and Chris Broad I think. Kent? Nothing. Sussex I have David Smith, Mart added Hall and Lenham. I think there’s a missing link to be found though. Worcestershire would have been Tim Curtis +1.
So it’s by no means total recall, and there’s a bit of fudging on times I suspect, but as we were saying this morning, isn’t it interesting how the opening partnerships stay in your mind? No? Well I think it is. Why have so many stayed with me?
I think because they define their team. Perhaps because every time you read a scorecard, you read their names first (I loved the Australian approach of changing 1 and 2 each innings, incidentally). Openers always get to bat and their performance can, to a great extent, dictate how things might go. Despite this, your “best” batsmen usually go in at 3 or 4.
When people look back at this Fulham side, what will they see? To me, after much thought, it’s Murphy. He might not be the best player (although I would argue that he is), but if you want this side summed up, he’s it. In my mind he’s usually pointing or shouting, or scuttling around to make an important tackle, or clipping the ball onto the left wing as if he’s just thrown a ball for his dog to fetch.
But as much as that’s what I think of, when I’m telling Stanley about the team as it was now, I think I’ll have to start with the Hangeland – Hughes – Schwarzer trio. Because they’re really, really good. We saw against United how failing to shut down runners before they reach the back four can be dangerous, but for the most part these players have been fantastic. It’s a shame that we’re not going to see them for a really prolonged period of time, maybe a season or two more at the most, at which point you’d assume that Stockdale (or Manninger) will take the gloves. Hangeland and Hughes? That one could run and run, couldn’t it? Fulham’s great partnership; one without the other just wouldn’t be the same.