Food

You can tell a man who likes his food. This one’s No Man’s Land, the space between the bottom of his tee-shirt and the top of his trousers would need the Humber Bridge to span it, while the remains of last night’s kebab that decorate large tracts of his bright ginger beard would certainly be of interest to the local Foodbank. We know all this because as we turn left off Gordon Road, we are inches away from running him over. Driving in to the split-level car park, the large sign on the rear of the big, white pavilion proudly proclaims that this is ‘The Rose Green Centre, Home of Bristol West Indians Cricket Club’. As it turns out, there are more mobile goalposts around the ground than roses, though the scented fragrances in the well-maintained ladies’ & gents’ more than make up for the lack of Rosa Rubiginosa anywhere near the boundary edge.

With BWIP and Twyford House both occupying early-season mid-table positions in the WEPL BNS division, it’s the hosts who strike two early blows, Neiland Cadogan and Ishtiaq Ishaq pinning James Young and Arthur Trotman in front as Twyford slip to 22-2 with only a handful of overs gone. Mark Fowler and captain Rich Trotman however prove that old(er) heads are always useful in a crisis by adding 56 for the third wicket before Trotman is snaffled at slip off Rushabh Yadav.

The wicket is duly logged by scorers Samantha and Carol, though Samantha’s role today is very much of the multi-tasking variety – amongst other things, she’s running a highly regarded refreshment service from the confines of her scorebox. There’s a wide variety of hot drinks on offer from the help-yourself tray in the back left corner and to add further to the luxury of the moment, two bowls crammed full of colourfully-wrapped sweets sit invitingly on the front ledge of the structure.

The third and youngest member of the Trotman dynasty, Henry, enters the fray and with an ‘Anything dad can do, I can do too’ attitude, sets about getting involved in another fifty-plus partnership, during which Fowler passes his own half-century milestone.

‘Well ran,’ enthuses the more diminutive of the two Twyford House supporters as the batters make a certain ‘one’ into a scampered ‘two’, the running proving to be slightly more aesthetic than the spectator’s rather shoddy grammar. It’s not a pretty listen when one gets their past participles mixed up with their past imperfects – and it sounds as if it could be pretty painful, too.

The impressively long BWIP pavilion building has a large function room at one end and a bar/eating area in the middle, with the changing rooms and scorebox (sponsored by BRB Supermarket (Easton) Ltd) at the far end. The function room is a hive of activity today as Bristol Central YFC is holding its annual presentation event here. As the afternoon wears on, troupes of white-shirted, red-tied boys and purple-kitted girls

congregate in the area outside the building, in which long-serving chairman, Derek Scale, is overseeing a huge number of awards for players ranging all the way from U7s to U18s. The unofficial attendance for the BWIP v Twyford House game this afternoon must be in the region of five hundred, but only 29 of them are actually watching the cricket.

While attention is fixed on the goings-on at the front of the pavilion, there’s plenty of interest round the back, too, where there’s a whole gathering of people seeking sunny solitude away from the general hubbub, an enthusiastic chef manning a barbecue that’s churning out literally tonnes of Caribbean chicken and, for the more intrepid amongst the throng, the opportunity to follow a path that ends, quite literally, in a laurel bush.

Back on the field, Trotman Junior is bowled by Ishaq for 31 and Fowler eventually departs, caught off Yadav for a well-made 79. Wicketkeeper Jacob Neville and Matt Collins maintain the momentum, however, putting together the third fifty-partnership of the innings before each is run out, while a final burst from Chris Bolton and Vinoth Krishnasamy takes the visitors to an imposing 270-7 from their 50 overs.

Tea at Rose Green is an impressive affair, the buffet including a good variety of sandwiches and cakes, a proper selection of fruit and an array of spring rolls & samosas that isn’t on display for very long. The green-apron-ed provider of these delicately spiced treats watches on with a smile of supreme satisfaction that only society’s cooks can fully appreciate.

As umpires Jackson and Whittington retake the field and the BWIP reply is about to get underway, the Bristol Central U12s and U13s arrive at the function room for their hour in the spotlight, but Vishal Mamgai edges to Neville off Divij Wadhwa seconds before the speeches begin. Raj Chudasama and Yadav steady the ship before Yadav is caught by one Trotman off the bowling of another and applauded contentedly by the third who’s quietly observing from second slip. Chudasama nicks Krishnasamy to Neville for a 46-ball 23, but skipper Ashur Morrison and Dylan Young see the total safely into three figures with only three wickets down.

One pulled ‘4’ from Morrison knocks the front number plate straight off a boundary-edge car that’s parked a few yards from where an enthusiastic dad is attempting to explain the technicalities of the Cruyff turn to his Bristol City shirted son with a half-inflated football that’s clearly seen better days, just like the non-cricketing quartet who are indulging in a heated exchange at the other end of the car park. After ten pretty fruitless minutes, neither child nor quartet are anywhere near reaching a positive outcome.

The Rose Green ground is in a natural bowl sporting grassy banks on two sides, with an unfinished, roofless, breeze-block cuboid that was once intended to be a building that

contains nothing more than a single chair and a lack of meaningful graffiti loitering at the foot of the higher incline. Morrison attempts to damage this too, but the builders were clearly aware of the potential threat and built it forty yards further back than the pitch-side car park.

Krishnasamy suddenly pulls up with a torn muscle or strained ligament or chronic fatigue, leaving Bolton to complete his fourth over and take the bowling responsibility at the Estate End, but after conceding a trio of boundaries, the newcomer induces an outside edge from Young for Neville to pouch his third victim of the day.

By now the U14s and U15s are receiving their statuettes in the function room as the 12s and 13s are tucking into their post-presentation barbecued chicken – clearly this corner of Bristol isn’t the place to buy a coop if you’re a hen. In the time it’s taken the footballing teenagers to eat their fill, Arthur Trotman and Fowler have reduced the hosts to 139-9, with only last man Roshard Robinson to come. While the BWIP tail-ender won’t win too many awards for his batting style, his fluorescent orange and green boots are a sight to behold and add hugely to the spectacle as he and Mahin Omar add 28 entertaining runs for the final wicket – indeed, the effect created by Robinson’s scurrying boots and the rays of the late afternoon sun bears a remarkable similarity to a Wassily Kandinsky painting when viewed from the number plate-less car.

As the last rites are delivered, there’s a loud whoop from the direction of the pavilion. Thankfully, it’s not more grammatical shrapnel from the Twyford fans, but a victory celebration from the domino table, whose incumbents have been attempting to dispense with their tiles since the clock struck one. And therein lies the charm of this little corner of the Bristol conurbation. Here’s a club that truly serves its community – on one hand, hundreds of youngsters provided with a focus throughout the winter months thanks to the unwavering dedication of Mr Slade and a huge team of volunteer coaches and administrators; on the other, the cricket section continuing to provide opportunities to people of the young and not quite so young variety as it has done for the last fifty years and counting. There may be a lack of roses here, but there are an awful lot of good things taking root in this flourishing Whitehall garden.

As we turn to leave, the Baggy Greens are about to beat the Poms in Group B of the T20 World Cup. And as this piece is titled ‘Food’, it’s fair to say that if England harbour genuine hopes of winning the thing, they’re certainly making a bit of a meal of it.

Twyford House CC: 270-7 (Fowler 49, Neville 42; Ishaq 2-33).

Bristol West Indian Phoenix CC: 167 (Morrison 36; A.Trotman 4-21, Fowler 2-31).

Twyford House CC win by 103 runs.