Eaton Bray Lawn Tennis Club
Posted on May 12, 2008
Everyone has a dream. Some come true, others slowly fade away into oblivion. Such was ours; thanks to the imminent relegation of Luton Town, they can no longer afford to rent our tennis courts and play on our artificial Subbuteo pitches. I was only sent two anyway and one of those had beer stains on it. No one bought a plank, our grandstand builder has vanished (VAT issues I think...) and I've had to walk home from the Cayman Islands having spent all my spare dosh on one last rum and coke. So bringing league football to Eaton Bray will have to remain a dream. Always optimistic though, I've put a letters in the post to the London Wasps and Inter Milan (with a few Euros) so we'll see what comes of that...
My homecoming caused much excitement, and a huge party was thrown for me at the Village Hall. To keep it a surprise from me, the Chairman booked it under the pseudonym of his hur-humphth birthday party (I'm not allowed to say which one but it wasn't his 59th or 61st). Whilst entertaining some party-goers I'd cleverly manoeuvred into a corner so I could regale them with interesting stories of my secret assignment in the Caribbean, I was approached by a lady I didn't recognise. Now this usually starts alarm bells ringing due to past experiences, but as she wasn't dressed as a policewoman I acknowledged her, at which point she reached into her handbag and extracted a folded photocopy of my last Focus article. Having introduced herself as Lesley, a founder member of our tennis club back in 1988, she proceeded to ask me to sign the article. My first ever autograph! My cornered partygoers looked on in awe (or something resembling disbelief) as I gave her my full attention and commenced a detailed narrative history of the last fifteen years of my involvement on the committee.
I'd only got to 1997 when she excused herself to attend to a 'personal matter' and I never saw her again. I expect the excitement of obtaining my signature had overwhelmed her; same for the other people I was talking to as they'd gone too. The band played 'I Think We're Alone Now' and I danced with myself.
I don't believe I've reported yet on our other recent moment of fame? A few weeks ago, Eaton Bray Tennis Club was the answer to the third clue on BBC Three Counties Radio 'Treasure Quest' programme where studio contestants have to solve clues to guide their intrepid reporter, Victoria (aka 'Cookie') around various locations in the county to find the treasure. This week there was a sporting theme, and after several false starts, the clue 'Old Macdonald's place by the river. Can you hear a donkey make a racket'? was successfully found to be our club! There were 12 of us playing as the reporter arrived, running breathlessly from the car park, followed at some distance by a huffing and puffing soundman carrying most of Dixons on his back. We hid her fourth clue in a bucket of tennis balls, which we asked her to hit over the net (with my new racquet!) until she uncovered the clue. She was pretty good in fact and asked what happened if she got all ten balls over. 'If you get ten balls over', quipped John Palmer of dodgy umpiring fame, 'then you're in the first team'!
Having successfully found the next clue, which was something about local leisure centres, Cookie turned her attention to me and thrust a microphone in my face as I was unexpectedly interviewed about the club, live on air! To say I was a tad nervous is a huge understatement, but as this is our 20th anniversary year, it was a good opportunity for a 'plug' about what we do, both socially and on the courts, especially in the wonderful sunny weather that adorned our three new courts that morning. She then scurried off with her heavily laden soundman in pursuit, in search of the next clue, leaving us to enjoy our tennis and bask in our newfound fame within the three counties.... I did drop her a note asking if there were any top media jobs going at Three Counties, but I guess she's been too busy to get back to me. So I put 'On the Radio' by Martine McCutcheon on continuous loop on the CD player and danced with myself....
For any further information about the club, including when we get together for our social tennis sessions up at the School Lane courts, or our various activities, please call either Chairman Ross Bagni, Coach Nick Boys, or if they're all out and I'm not presenting News at Ten, me, Andy Cross.
Source: Focus, May 2008
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