Tuesday, 1 May 2012


At the start of each month Fantasy Bob has been recalling songs with the new month in the title. May is more challenging than previous months. ‘Here we go gathering nuts in May’ is a much loved nursery rhyme. But there is doubt that it is about nuts and may at all. While the final line ‘on a cold and frosty morning’ makes sense to many Scottish cricketers, frost isn’t typical of May mornings elsewhere. Folk music specialists therefore suggest that the original words, mangled in the telling down the generations, should be knots and may – may being a traditional name for hawthorn and knots being bunches of flowers. So there you go. 

Dirge warning
lie down before listening
FB also resisted deploying Rod Stewart’s Maggie May or Eric Clapton’s May You Never since, fine efforts though these are, they are obviously not about May as a month. Instead he finds he has to rely on the Bee Gee’s First of May. FB apologises.  This song is an absolute dirge and well worth emigrating to avoid hearing. Its first line – ‘When we were small and Christmas trees were tall’ is completely risible. But needs must. First of May was one of many dirges the Bee Gees produced in their early years before they got their trousers whitened and tightened and found their mojo to produce Jive Talking and subsequent hits. First of May was issued in January 1969 and got to number 6 in the UK singles chart in March. But don't worry - the charts of that year were packed with good stuff so the damage inflicted by this dirge was not terminal. 

Turner -
never showed
FB an attacking shot
1969's cricket featured two 3 match Test series against W Indies and New Zealand. For FB the match between England and NZ in at the end of July marked his first visit to Lords. He was staying with his uncle and aunt who lived in London and doing some of the sights. He turned up for the 4th day – then a Monday after the Sunday rest day. The match was only going one way.  He saw the last wicket of England's second innings to leave them a lead of 361.  NZ were then bowled out for 131with  Derek Underwood getting 7 for 32. That second innings was also notable for Glen Turner’s 43 off 226 balls.  The Test also marked the debut of Richard Hadlee, who gave no real sign of the greatness to come.  After that introduction to Test cricket for FB, anything seemed exciting. It was as well then that Honky Tonk Women had stormed into the charts that week blowing away the memory of First of May for ever.

England won the series 2-0, the same margin by which they had beaten W Indies in the first half of the summer. The W Indies tour is celebrated for their visit to Ireland when they were bowled out for 25 on a pitch which sounds much like Edinburgh’s Meadows after a thunderstorm.  Wet, green and soft.  And then some.  To reach 25 was an achievement – they were 12 for 9 at one stage. Ireland's captain Dougie Goodwin took 5 for 6, the most famous scalp being Clive Lloyd on his first visit to the British Isles. The match was played on a strange format of a one day 2 innings match – presumably a marketing device to ensure a full day’s play if the Irish were skittled - but the result would be based on the first innings. Ireland declared at 125 for 8. West Indies' second innings was slightly more productive as they managed to reach 78 for 4 by the close of play.  There were allegations, strenuously denied, that it was not only the pitch that was responsible for the West Indians' downfall but that the Irish had plied them liberally with Guinness the night before, extolling its medicinal properties.  Still a claim that many visiting teams seem to believe.

Ireland v West Indies 2 July 1969


  1. Perhaps FB and his Carlton colleagues could try the Guiness method on some of their opponents this season - worth a try I'd have thought.

    1. Some of FB's opponents in the lower divisions are already committed to this method as part of their intensive pre-match preparations.