Friday, December 28, 2012


Ian 'The Sauce Bottle' Jessup looks to have crafted one of the best outings in the Summer Series so far with an excellent and even spread along the sands and suburban sunbake of Queenscliff, Freshie and Curl Curl last Wednesday - Boxing Day, and our first adventure out of doors when the rest of the country is on the bean bag watching Dennis Lillee (errr, no), Pup going at it with a straight drive.

Correspondent Pork Pie was absent in bleak city (yes, on the BB), so I'm working from feedback from the SSS spy network - BUT, I think a few small twirls of the 2B might be in order.

Firstly, a very good roll up considering the day, and the many fans that might have headed off to the Christmas 5 Days orienteering in Victoria. With 148 entries, and another 15 or so in Group Think mode, we get a very tidy 160-165 ponies nervously eyeing their trainers to see if it's a full submersion in the salty stuff, or just a sniff. Apparently there also was a wind factor, although one can't imagine this would be anything like what might happen to the World Cup O crowd in Wellington shortly - battling the Southerly as they run 'Mr Speaker'!

We seem to have had depth in most fields, although no JM's, and only Bryony being Legendary. Nevertheless, some good contests/results are apparent, with Glenn a full bladder in 43.30 looking like our only stallion on 600 points. Steve Ryan fell ten short in OM, 'Green King Ale' a further ten in MM, with Vets 'Handy' Andy Simpson and Tim 'Bob' Rogers sharing 540's to pip 'The Paddlepop Stick' by 10. Malcolm might have been on dry tyres and got too close to the wet at #29. Lisa Grant was our only woman 500 pointer, working up her pace for another attack on the winning jersey at Sprint The Bays.

Good to see Mike Halmy's children on the burst, with Adam flying in the Subs with a sensational 540, and Bethany only missing the gold coin by ten in JW (390/400 to Sweden's Annie Forsberg - on her way to the World Cup no doubt). Paula pulled on the right stockings for a 420 kill in VW, Karin well clear in SVW, Martin 'The' Slade 'School Of Art' worked the pigments a tough too roughly in SVM, just missing a spot in the corner of the canvass to go 440 to 'The Hawk's' 450 in SVM. Heiko looks to have returned to winning form in the Immortals (Sue also), with Jimmy holding ten over 'The Cheese' in the WaM - and winning like his grand daughter Blyss did in the SJW's. Michelle and Wendy called a truce in WaW, both carding 300's and then retiring for a Pimms at Harboard Diggers.

According to 'Mr Statts'. 90% of runners began via #6 or #7. Not suprising really, but how about the competitor who began with control #5! You can almost hear Will Anderson saying...."The Sydney Summer Series, the perfect way to stand out from the crowd". A cracker.

Runners have reported on the 'sucked in' nature of the setting, with 'The Bottle' egging you on (mmm, something about ketchup on the eggs here - if only I can find it), especially to the north, with points seemingly within reach. Just another one, just another bagger. The rich pickings across the northern arc are just perfect in this regard - with an outer loop almost on the level working, but the nice higher earners (16,28,8,30,14) needing a touch of the puff-o-meter, and demanding a sort of sea gull like swooping and diving approach. Perfect for this beach setting!

The south looks a cruel claim, with Ian putting 100 points over at the Queen - and another 30 on top. A very tough ask here I would have thought - especially if it was hot (PP not sure of the weather). Still, a nice loop (24,12,1,21,11,2,22,3,23) that popped 190 chips into yesterdays Herald. Add the salt at #25 along Freshwater Beach, and you were on a winner. I see lots of good looping, a feature of Ian's setting, with hardly a lonely beep station. Maybe #8??

Anyway, I'm looking on rather enviously at what must have been a top event. As you would expect from the Mayor of Manly. So, well done Jesso, and the GO crew. And cheers to all who braved the urgings of country aunties - and went for a run instead of taking another slice of Madeira. The 'Rusted On' Award to each and every one.

Now, next Wednesday sees Dave Stitt in charge at the excellent Incinerator in Willoughby. This Burley Griffin marvel provides an architectural anchor to a very enjoyable area for Summer Series funsters to have one more flog of the fetlocks before boarding QF47 and the dash to the Oceania Challenge/World Cup Orienteering Carnival in New Zealand. Dave enjoys a wide scatter and will no doubt go east for a touch of bush track, west for a bit of wrist spin, south to count cars on the overpass footbridge - and a even might get us a discount at the Bang & Olufsen store. Plenty of parking and a great childrens play area add to the flavour as we bang it on for the second half - and experience the deep thinking of the long standing Garingal Secretary. Join us!

Finally. Because of impending absence in NZ, 'Party Pie Face' will blog briefly next week with a paragraph or so that can be used as a catalyst for race reports of events at Killara and Putney, and also 'The Incinerator' (I won't have time, although I'll be there). Until then sports fans, back to the Baenie with a Reschs in hand.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012


On a night with our lowest ever winning scores, our largest ever number of runners with scores below 100 - and where 80% of competitors scored on or below the half way mark, we have something to think about. Pork Pie leans forward, licks the pencil and scratches his head - it looks like a long night at the Stewards inquiry.

Another toughie, probably our toughest of all time, and capping off a trio of long flogs that is making old cunning runners wonder if they have woken up in some sort of Sydney Striders nightmare. Lets have a little look behind last nights goings on as Sydney Tramways brings us the Balmoral Line, and a nice day out at the beach.

Chief Motorman from the Bennelong Shed, Gordon 'The Track Grinding Car' Wilson (not Driver Bluett as per original timetable), had been predicted, by none other than 'The Pie Shop' himself, to be casting the thirty knucklebones in a wide scatter - and invoking his occasional dining partner, Contour Kate, in his plans. Little did the 204 trusting passengers anticipate how wide he would go, how very wide, or how much Kate would figure. Little did the crowd aboard the O and K class cars (the Toastrack Trams of the Sydney Network) imagine that 'The Grinder' would demand so much from their $10 excursion fares.

But a demand it was, and one of the biggest calls over many years of summer fun with the Aunties at beautiful Balmoral. Let's start at the Suakin Drive Depot and examine the network, the cars and their crews.

Firstly, nice to be at this well presented depot with good parking and not the meters of 'below stairs'. The BNO bunting acknowledged their recent winning of the regional NSW tram depot garden competition, and welcomed runners to the ticket office. Slipping in the ten bob note resulted in an A4 sized colour ticket in portrait format - with magenta the circles requiring an Ian Thorpe foot to cover them. Mmmmm, this looks a worry, mused excursionists as they boarded O class #1278.

Looking closer, the map had two close in clusters (one with a sting in the tail), and an elongated leg warmer to the north. There was a little beach action, a touch of tramline, and a property perve loop for those that didn't want to get wet feet. Much puzzlement and string twirling, saw bathers reluctant to join the departing car, hoping there would be another one along in a minute when their thoughts had settled. Secretly, they were holding off the 5.32 O class service, hoping that the 5.48 might be a later model R class car with the more comfortable seats. Alas, it wasn't to be.

How to begin? How to end? The western claim (9,12,7,27) was one obvious starting point, and gave a nice 'high line' link to #30 and points further north. The eighty points immediately south/east also had fans, with #10 giving a nice line to the drop via 22. The attraction with this beginning were the views - magnificent at #13 and very enjoyable along the 13-10 track. The sting was #21, a beautiful bit of setting that had you working for the three tenners (Luciano etc, etc). I note that Larry, in his excellent on-time 330, worked a 5,13,6,9 beginning - ignoring the temptress at W Path.

So a beginning in two parts. How to add was the next puzzle. Accepted advice from old trammies at Balmoral, is to avoid climbing more than once if it can be avoided, and this figured as passengers puzzled over their routes. If dropping from either the west start or the east start, swapped returns worked, but ignored the clutch of points in the conductors money bag - and those further north. We have often seen a biggie on the creek line below #8 giving the shove a broken down tram needs in these parts - but not last night. 'The Grinder' poked a ten on a 'bridge too far', dropped the creek from his thinking, instead focussing on the tramline formation, where a 14/29 claim saw competitors rise at about the same speed as their beachgoing relatives did in the 1950's. The other devil here was #19 - one for the half way down Harry's maybe, but not worth the effort if you were flogging home before the Mr Whippy van left the Suakin Depot.

With 'only' 170 points available up top (and I'm including car #21), runners needed more chips on their buttie. As it turns out, many heeded the Motormans mantra, and worked north from 30 to pencil 24,17,28 before turning the trolley pole, and home via 3,15,16 and around to 29,8. Others, with a less strict travelling inspector on board, collected #17 and then looped north to add 25 and 18 before reversing the car. There is a confusing gaggle of streets and tramway points around 3,15,16, with several trips taking wrong tracks here. Onesuch was Dan 'The Stationmaster' Redfern, rising from #3 (after punting an in/out to 15 and feeling it) to 16, but counting the wrong number of streets, and ending  up on a straight track instead of claiming at the twenty point bend. This whole part of the map is where passengers kidded themselves that they had avoided the main climb, but the puff-o-meter knows otherwise! Especially those that liked the 15,14,29 link - but twigged on the bridge in the park below the fence corner (and above the rabbits?!) that they were at the very bottom, and it was upsey, upsey with traction motors screaming as the driver had the old girl working in full series.

Other routes of interest were Mal 'The Indian' Bradley (370 VM) doing a full outer circle, leaving off the middle and south, and confining his Balmoral Burn leg close to the run of the same name. Mark Schaefer went high north, dropped to 26,4 and then pressed home via the middle for his 400 net, while Paula began 1,13,10,22 and ran the beach before a 26-25 flog (not tempted by #18) got her height and a passing Athol Wharf tram home. Although 100 points over, Miss Finland looks to again be our VW winner.

If staying close to home, the top 170 points was most commonly augmented by a drop along the old tram route (29,14), sand in the volleys at 23, and taking the steps up to 22 for a potential 280 pointer.  This was hard work, and still well short of halfway on the staff roster! 'The Blue Engine' was having his way with you, and you had no answer!

I don't think many would have bought the ten cents ticket to #1, and so honorably award this last nights 'lonely pot'. Everything else heard the dong of the tramcar gong, even if heavy traffic and slow work on the uphill line meant time penalties - and a please explain from the 'on-time running' superintendent.

So how did the excursionists fare at this toughie from 'The Track Grinder'? Suffice to say, most age category winners were as per programme, with perhaps the standout win on the night being Mel 'Ting Moment' Cox with a simply sensational 360pt toppie in the super vets. Lazzo, despite his excellent planning, was still thirty in arrears here, and had to stand on the way home. We are also seeing some of the overseas orienteering competitors on their way to the Christmas 5 Days and the NZ World Cup in town - with Sweden's Lina Andersson (SJW) and the 'Get Your Guns' duo of Annie and Anna (JW's), claiming the points in this nice down under warm up (and transport history lesson). I should also mention 'Tearaway' Ted Mulherin working his horse tram to victory in the Immortals. Malcolm's 240 (to Ted's 270) gives him a good 2nd here, with Heiko overcooking the powerstation, and causing his tram to work back to the depot in first notch (a 58.28 outing not popular with his Central Coast passengers).

Other items of interest. Glenn working an all stops car in 65.59 (close) for 390, one of only two cars to work the full Balmoral route (the other car being driven by Motorman Coady, ably assisted by Conductor Parker, who also get the Government Transport Award for longest on course - their R1 class tram being out of the depot for 85.36 minutes!).

In the always interesting 'just made it' category', Sue Thomson (IW 200pts) punched the depot bundy clock in exactly 45.00!! and takes out first prize. The one second unders followed, with Brian 'The Brain' Brannigan (VM 330) and Jason 'The Scissors' Gleadhill (MM 240) the purest at 44.59 apiece, and Glenny, Jimmy Forbes, Carolyn, Stu Deane, Martin Mansfield and Keryn Hassall all carding a .59 and thanking the responsiveness of their trams to the white departure light at the Gearges Heights stub terminus. In the dreaded 'just over' group (five victims), 'The Atom' and 'The Mattrass' both pinged in a cruel 46.01, Kenny went one under in 44.01 with Ian 'The Turin' Froude (53.01) and Sindy, Celine, Matt and the Empress Josephine missing the beheading at 47.01. Cruel timing, and a likely rebute from the fat controller.

Our most popular score was 250 points, with 15 runners going this route. Among them, Chris 'The Beanstalk' Jacka (OM 90 over) and Antoniya 'The Ballerina' Bachvarova (MW 70 over) were the wider claims, whilst Peter De Lissa 'Pork Pie Makes Of This The Better' (OM) and Ian 'Bedside Manner' Cameron (SVM) both put their controllers in the neutral position with seconds to spare - recording no penalty in this clubby and age varied class.

As The Pork Chop always says, there are many more stories to be told about the night and scores to be revealed. "Soon my lovelies, soon", all will be on the SSS web site. In rounding off then, there is no getting around the fact that we had a very tough ask last night. in one of our greatest locations. Gordy took to us with the point lever, and bludgeoned the passengers into lower scores than most anticipated - or liked. Despite the low totals, much about the setting was excellent in route option terms, in orienteering terms, with very difficult decisions being mulled over, and often modified on route. I think we might have had a revolution if it had been a simple loopy excursion over this length/width, but that, thankfully, wasn't the case with lots of (admittedly poorly paying) options. I'm hoping the course might invite comment - with all feedback to this blog most welcome. PP will reiterate guidelines to try and get back some semblance of scoring reason shortly (and notes a 'no problem' view with a tough biggie - as long as the majority of points are within a reasonable claim, and only go for a few outliers).

I always like to salute the organisers, so thanks to all the BNO crew, and to Gordy, Terry etc. A great roll up, excellent facilities, views, the beach - and some choice real estate to finger as we passed out (no, I mean by!).

So, to next week (yes, the SSS rolls on with Ian Jessup hosting #13 at Harboard on Boxing Day!). The important news here concerns the assembly area - moved from Freshwater Reserve at the beach to Jacka Park (cnr Oliver Street & Wyndora Avenue). Note there is a playground at Jacka, BUT NO TOILETS. Be prepared. And enjoy this classy beachside area that 'The Sauce Bottle' is bound to fully exploit. Also note the altered event timing, with starts available from 3.30pm (to 6pm), so everyone can get a swim in. Bring the cossie in this perfect way to run the body back together after too much Christmas pud.

Speaking of Christmas, correspondent Pork Pie and all the Summer Series crew, wish you all a very happy Christmas, and holiday break. Thanks for supporting the greatest cunning running programme in Aussie - which continues into the new year with Dave Stitt's incendiary outing at the Incinerator in Willoughby on January 2. All those NZ Oceania Challenge orienteers departing on QF47 on Thursday morning, this is your one last chance to flog the fetlocks in anticipation of running the Kiwi dunes - and the enigmatic map called "Mr Speaker". Should be a blast!



Thursday, December 13, 2012


Michael 'Your Friendly Neighbourhood Butcher' Burton donned the blue course-setters apron and sharpened his knives, as he dressed the window display with prime cuts and choice offerings for Christmas. Michael, mostly known for his juicy steaks (and the 'GalaxyWurst' sausage), augmented the beef and lamb displays with a range of poultry - including that senior bird, the 'Coogee Duck'. For many buyers, eager for a bargain, the duck proved a tough bird. A very tough bird.

"Tell me more Pork Pie (hereafter old Duck Pie?)".

Arriving shoppers, parting the plastic fly curtain and ordering the Wednesday special, received a portrait wall chart indicating thirty common cuts. Somewhat resembling a slabby and untrimmed Porterhouse with a fatty middle, the spread looked reasonably within budget and thoughts strayed to higher quartile scoring - until the duck factor kicked in. A duck-in here, a duck-in there - ah ha, the Butcher was going to make you flap your wings to earn your points. It was to be an evening of 'Doing a Larry', ducking in and out to the many dead ends to pick up the meat.

So, looking at the course in more detail, we see the Butchers Block itself hosting several tough whacks with the cleaver (21,12,22,24), while the lamb loin chop pairing of 16 and 25, also needed well glued false teeth to chew and digest them. Further west, cleaner loops meant less 'duck-in' work was required, although checkpoints 19,20 and 30 all saw runners ping and reverse direction. The south western Butchers trio were pretty tough ducks - with the long flogs to water level at 21, 12 and 22, all rendering the returning uphill shoppers breathless putty in the hands of the Coogee maestro.

Given the threatening land owner, the linking path to Woodford Bay was rendered (boiled down if you will) out of bounds, making the fifty points at 16/25 an out and back flog of testing proportions. This 'duck-in/out' took the cake, and I suspect the stuffing, out of most who ventured here, but was probably the cut of steak most quickly discarded by runners on a more sensible budget. As noted above, twenty one looked the worst of the others, although #12 required a similar effort - and only gave you a twenty dollar hamper for your troubles.

In making a selection of the cuts (points) available, many liked the look of the Tambourine Bay shopping, and  especially the 26,27,30 collect that seemed an affordable add to the main Longueville offering. The bush tracks in the middle of the course are well and fondly remembered, and Michael included good scoring here for those that like a touch of eucalypt in their mint sauce. The wider loop west (19,9,29,28,18,27 - ignore #8), worked well for the guns, although they had to annoyingly duck-in/out to #30 in working their trip here (a brilliant bit of setting). The way out and back to the creek/west was either go 11,20,10,30,19 and a clockwise claim, or work up the peninsular (some after beeping the Blockies themselves), and run in at the north via 6 and 7 before booking 26,27 and an anti clockwise route.

If of any interest, correspondent 'Duck Pie', managed a win in LM with 360 points, and an 'anti' circuit that began in/out to 11, then 1,22,2, the Block to 4,15,5,17,6, the creek to 26,27 reverse engines, in/out 30,10 in/out 20 and flog home. In other observations, the 17-6 joint could be carved on either side, scrambling 26 to the road worked, the natural stone bridge at #10 gets the 'natural beauty' award (closely run by #7, the sewer manhole) - with a very difficult decision on the lonely pot. Number eight in the west was easily dropped from the wider claim as I have mentioned, but worked for the 27,8,29,9,19 runners. Maybe the dreaded #21? Maybe the pair in Woodford Bay (16,25)?? Mmmmm, much to cogitate on - especially if enjoying a sirloin with a nice Shiraz.

So, a wide course offering from our friendly butcher, but plenty of interest and choice. Not so spread as 'The Heavy Rollers' last week Epping epic (good correspondence after last weeks post), but a challenge all the same. 'The King' at the head table won the night, posting a final 550, after his full girth measurement of 590 inches was reduced by a 40 point vegetarian penalty. All hail to Richard for another magnificent run.

We see a couple of zero point totals on the Specials blackboard, and a sensational minus 230, at the other end of the dining table - and plenty of action in between. Now that we have given the event 11 meat tray a close inspection, lets pop the competitors on the barbie and see how they cook.

Our age class winners are (again) much as before, with fearsome competition in many categories. We have mentioned His Royal Highness, King Richard Green taking out the MM title with his 550pts - pipping Glenn's all stations 600 (-60) 540 in the same age category. The Open's saw ties in both classes, with OM stars 'The Pen' and 'The Hangman' both carding Glenny's 540 (Steve in early, Mark a 580 minus 40), and with Catherine and Gill both posting 490's in OW (this time Catherine in with a nicely timed 44.48 and 'I'm Not' working a 510 minus 20). In MW, Carolyn 'New' Haupt worked the City of Sails trollybus to a clear win with 400, holding off rival MW fancies Rachael and Mary by twenty.

Briefly in other winning postings (I'm suddenly thinking chocolate - weird in a butcher's shop), the Curries both won in SJ, 'The Underarm Ball' and Georgia took the J's, Pete Annetts and 'West African Slavery' tied in the vets (holding off 'The BSA' by 10) while 'The Blast Furnace' and Ross Emslie tied up a ton each in the SVM's (Neil interstate) with 390 apiece - both interestingly home in minus ten after 45.30 and 45.39 final beeps. Paula and Karin won various V's, the 'Pie' managed a rare win against 'One Flick & Their Gone' in LM (360/350, with 'The Pants' back on 330), and with Mary Jane going back for seconds in LW. 'Not' June Stanley had a full head of steam up to crash through in the Immortal Women, and Heiko suffered a rare loss in IM - going down by ten to Teddy and Mal.

Interestingly, Wendy Stevenson walked last night. Her 260 just shy of 'The Paving Stone's' 280, and giving her OW rivals a night off. The 'Bus' is keeping something in check for a bike event I gather. Jimmy walked with granddaughter Blyss (she posts an inaugural 140 in SJW), giving Wazza and Mel a kilo of mince in the WaM's  Also, in the stars on the bench stakes, Eoin 'The Rothbury Estate' Rothery, only at half speed in SVM with 260 points - or is that pints (of Merlot of course, the choice of meat men in the far west copper mines).

The Feet generated another excellent roll up at the Longueville Butchers Block, with 204 entries, and another 18/20 or so following mummies and 'partners' into the shop. Always a popular venue this BB. And one where our most popular score (260pts with 17 runners) was the same 'most popular' as the last time we were here!   Velly weird missus Pork. Actually, the 17 nags on 260pts only just made it, with 15 runners going sixty better in carding a trendy 320 - including mum-to-be Sue Davis, Miles 'The Trumpeter' Ellis and Garingal Master, Emmanuelle 'The Conservatorium' Convert (also on trumpet).

We again had runners from interstate (Melissa 'Terry' Thomas from Red Roos in the ACT (350 in OW - and no gap in her front teeth), and Clifford  'Mr D'arcy' Heath from Bayside Kangaroos in Melbourne (a smouldering 340 in VM), and what might be a prelude to the NZ Oceania Challenge in January - runners from Europe coming down under to begin their campaign, including Aran Lankow (OM), Sweden's Per Ivarsson (SVM) and Paivi Srppola in VW. Welcome all.

Our longest on course award goes once again to Ian 'The Incan Ruin' McKenzie, walking for 97.40 to collect all and a 70 point Guiness pie. 'Princess' Amelia and 'Prince' William weren't out quite so long (84.23) but managed to convert their 170 point lamb roast into a minus 230 point serving! No gravy for these two. While I'm on a theme here, Stephanie 'No Relation' Allen earned 320 but then lost 320 after refusing a police escort and taking the wrong tram home. Her zero post is a classic tale of selfless enjoyment - and the merits of crispy bacon.

We had two 'one second overs', with Andy Hill going 52.01 and the Bryan Merzeo 'Estonian Folk' Group doing likewise with a 42.01 outing (in flashy skirts). Tough stuff - like the Duck! A close shave worth another gnaw of the bone, is Paula 'The Saveloy' Savolainen - home in 44.59! How's that for timing, and not burning the Ozzo Bucco.

A couple of other scores to finish (before shop closing). We had four competitors that enjoyed The New York Cut (400pts), including Andy 'Randwick Racecource' Graham and 'The Ink Bottle'; eight that went for the Rump (300pts), including Gordon 'The Blue Engine' Wilson, 'The Vegie' (great to see Ronald out from under the Pinus Insignus), Ian 'Big Blue' Miller and (having jumped ship) Tania 'Park' Kennedy; three that ordered the Pork Chop (200pts), including tour driver Kerry Hass 'Pass'; and a singular 'Frankfurt' (100pts) in Barbara 'Keep Working Barb' Junghans. Excellent scoring throughout the price category, with something for everyone in the 'Make Mine Meat' stakes. Full scoring will be up on the web shortly of course - as is our style at the Summer Series Showroom.

A couple of final points to conclude a wonderful evening of 'Jamie's 204 Ways With Lamb'. Did you hear of Michael and Connie getting their car 'bogged' putting out controls! Where, which one?? A prize  for the first correct answer. And Richard 'The King' downloading after his top run - into a 'Clear' Si box!! Nearly lost the lot, but recovered by a quick thinking Foot (was this you Andy?). Phew!

So thanks Michael for another cracker, and to the other Feet for helping (good to see 'The King of the Rock' there). A great night eating Peking Duck - and a tasty Reschs to follow.

Next week Gordy is leading the Bennelong team in our traditional pre Christmas run at Balmoral. Although the focus is expected to be Balmoralish with a whiff of beach and the excellent old tramway line cutting, we are starting up the top at Suakin Drive, so expect a little Contour Kate in the mix. This is an outstanding venue of course, and Gordon knows how to dampen the running top. Expect fireworks from the BNO star as we ease into the holidays, with fish & chips on the beach, or pot pie at the pub, as temptations to end the evening - and almost our first half. Make it a date.



Thursday, December 6, 2012


Chief Boronia Park groundsman, Dmitry 'The Heavy Roller' Stokov, had the boundary rope well beyond the normal field dimensions in last nights 20/20 challenge at Epping. Indeed, such was the width of 'The Rollers' deployment, that arriving teams were forced to field back up and part time batsmen in order to bolster what loomed as a night of dot balls. And as the Wisden reporter packed up his trusty pencil, the senior sheet told a sorry tale - with only two batsmen playing all 600 deliveries, and hardly anyone managed a five!

Despite the uncharacteristicly slow pitch, and the dearth of high scoring, round ten attracted a good crowd - with 209 paying at the turnstiles, and another 16 or so being admitted to the outer under Group pass arrangements. The run of good SSS weather saw teams taking to the field in mild mid/low 20 degree conditions - ideal for a steady accumulation of runs, that is until they saw how the curator had prepared the ground, and its green top.  

The click of turnstile and clink of coin delivered a landscape format match programme that drew initial gasps from team managers. Look at the spread, the width, the distance between wickets! Dmitry looked to have gone west with the enthusiasm of John Wayne in dusty chaps. Apart from the daunting control spread, another curiosity was noted - 'The Heavy Roller' had angled the paddock to get more sun on the centre pitch, giving the north lines a drunken lean (somewhat akin to the many well lubricated patrons from Wee Waa's finest families, often seen holding forth in the members bar at the SCG).

This was our second match at The Sanctuary, although the first to use the Boronia Park Pavilion. The course looked very wide, very very wide, and instinctively, runners thought more of a defensive shot through the covers than a hook to backward point. It had that effect. A three would be good scoring, with very few expected to post a six over the brickpit chimney. What was probably the most disappointing to our lower order players was the amount of points well out of reach. The course seemed about 12/12.5 klms, longer than the MCC rule book recommends, and with the significant scoring well to the west (rather than only a few curly ones out there for Glenny and the King), low totals were going to be the order of the day. Dot, one, dot, dot, two, dot. You get the idea.

Let's look at the course in more detail.

Close to the start/finish we had a nice ten/twenty that attracted significant interest. There was a nice connect running clockwise from these two that led to the Sanctuary itself (and its tough forty point ask), and a loop west to the brick pit and the upper reaches of Terry (Murphy) Creek. Here westerly extensions drew batsmen from their crease, often to their regret, chasing a boundary or two before realising the lunch break was coming up and the need to completing the circle. The puff O meter was often in full deployment as the long run home took its toll on poor footwork and timing.

Most seemed to feel the pull of a clockwise circuit, typically running 1,16 (not sure why the map showed green on this leg, when it was an all clear track??!!),27,13,28 (most ignoring 11/12),18,22,30 and some sort of construction via 9,23,8,21 (hopefully) and a series of dot balls home. On this loop, the in/out to 18 had the flavour of a Billy Bowden crocked finger 'six' indication, with the clue change catching a few. Number thirty required exertion, whilst the run connecting 22 to 23 rewarded those that like to feel their spikes bite into the couch.

Although most traffic seemed to be clockwise, a few took off westwards bagging 17,14,21,8 before drinks at Terry's. If you had the runs in you, working the ball off the pads towards long on, and going 21,29 (ignore #4 - probably our lonely pot),24,20,19 and 25,6 to the creek, had its reward - and could result in team selection for the Hobart test. In this outer ring, #5 at short cover also distracted, and might have run #4 for 12th man duties. The fiddling around in this 5,24,20 area needed concentration to avoid a run out, and was a nice part of the map, and the setting. Just a pity it was so far from home for the majority of the players.

I've mentioned the Sanctuary being a low reward for effort, but note 'Not' Terry 'Creek' Bluett got in a bit of O practice by legging these two twenties in his 280 LM point total. The cool hand of Contour Kate also was at work here, keeping many a batsman from chancing a cheeky run. Number 28 also required a bit of a drop to secure, but not the effort of the Sanctuary twins and as a consequence, had more fans. Most other points and locations were clear enough (when you got to them), with only a few reporting slow running at #23 to the third umpire. 'The Cucumber' reports lost time at #2 for some reason, but not to quite the same extend as his recent innings for the Central Coast Cowboys at Lake Haven - where his middle order innings ended in LBW after arguing with officials.

Nice to see the small O flags once again, and the WHO mob in full regalia. A toughie Dmitry, and a rather low scoring flog, but lets take a look at the team performance before repairing to the Ladies Stand and a chance to meet our country cousins.

Our top score was 520 runs from WHO's opening bat, Andrew 'Graeme Gooch' Hill. This is a welcome win for Andy who has been shaded in recent innings by some strong colts from the Garingal team. Most of the other winning scores in the age divisions were exceptional runs - and much as expected, with perhaps a few of them to remark upon here. Firstly no sub juniors - a surprise as young Dunk is usually the first to pad up in the SJM, and we have been enjoying the exploits of sister Ellen or 'The Mayor'. Secondly, we see a remarkable run from Mal 'The Nail Gun' Ramsey, taking the honours in JM with 400 to shade 'The Mattress' by ten. Michele Dawson wins in JW with a quiet 260, and the only post in this category, while Gill took the long handle to the Open Women bowling, piling on 460 to go past Wendy - out for 430 after a reverse sweep skied to square leg.

Greg 'The Oil Rig' Barbour was in good touch in the vets, shading an earlier innings from Mike Burton (510/490), while in VW, Karen 'The Holiday Cottage' Blatchford ran 350 to outpace Paula. Karen has been Newcastle's form batswoman of late, and didn't disappoint here. Another score perhaps worth a smudge of the 2B - the three equal winners in WaM, with 'The Clay Pan', 'The 70's' and 'The Glove' all posting 230's.

As this season has seen the last test for 'Punter' Ponting, Pork Pie thought he would look for a likely replacement bat for the number four position from within the SSS ranks - and offers the following 4th placegetters: In the mens team, JM's Michael 'Darling Harbour' Brereton (230 after a 57.40 outing), Mark Schaefer (OM with 480 points), Neil 'The Organ' Lefevre (MM, 420), Malcolm 'Motto Guzzi' Bradley (a nice 430 in VM), Ian 'Doc' Cameron in SVM with 330 (this is technically 5th, as we had three SV batsmen in equal 2nd), Dave Lotty in the Legends (290, including consecutive boundaries over silly mid off), and Lloyd Gledhill's 250 in IM. Our women's team offers, Clare 'The Tattoo' Williams from IK with 390 in OW, Louise Brierty (300 in MW), Helen MacDonald (clearly benefiting from brother Alan's bowling instruction, with 270 in VW), Carol & Debbie with equal 4ths in SVW (250's), and Hannah & Robbie in the groups - with 190.

I've mentioned we only had two 600 runners, Glenn (home in 53.46 for his 510) and Lee 'The Enigma' Coady - working the slower ball for 350pts in his long stay (69.01!!) at the crease. The cruel second strikes again, but helps to confer Lee with the special 'longest at the crease' award. Something we wished Ricky had achieved in Perth.

Our most popular scores were three groups of eleven batsmen each (you can see where the theme is coming from!). Team 280 with several Garingal stars, including Lisa 'Linseed Oil' Linssen as captain and TKF Cox as wicketkeeper, are in group recovery after just not quite getting to the 300 run mark that would have ensured a Christmas bonus. Alison Curtin went closest, having thrown the bat at 360 points, but underestimated her return run. 'The Venetian Blind' is hoping coach Miller will forgive.  Team 260 included a range of ages amongst its players, and were ably led by opening bat Rod Eckles 'Cakes' and his partner at the crease Mitchell 'Hoping For A' Bye.  Also noted amongst this inner city team are captain Duncan 'Kings' Cross and cunning leg spin bowler Chris 'The Googly' Cunningham. Lastly we have the eleven 240's. This team included several well known players, including legendary fast bowler 'Tearaway' Ted Dexter...oops, Mulherin, Clifford 'Ted' Heath (captained the parliamentary team in 1980), and specialist number five Nicole 'Pup' Sellin. Junior star Kaj Bollerup is also noted in this line up, and feared for his away swing bowling. 'Bowl 'em up Kaj' is the cry as our 240's take the field.

Some good Group scoring this round, including the tidy 370 runs from Annaliza and Michael Merryment, and, by way of contrast, Heidi & Angus not liking the off cutter in their modest 100 pt post. Dave Stitt is noted 'groupless' this innings, posting 180 after a 65.01 (another 1"!!) occupation of the crease.

There are many other interesting and amazing scores, generally of more modest proportions than many of the fancies will be used to, but there you go! Big thanks to Dmitry and the WHO crew for putting on another SSS biggie - and failing to tempt The Pork Chop once again into the arms of The Sanctuary! Next time maybe, but it will have to need several thirty pointers I suspect. Be also good to see the area around the old brick plant finished, and maybe a checkpoint on the chimney!

Next week sees the Feet taking off their socks once again, this time giving the lower limbs a touch of carnivorous running as we tackle Butchers Block Point and the delights of Longueville. 'The Planets' is our course setter, and one hopes he keeps his natural speed and spread in check as he places pots perspicaciously with us mere mortals in mind. This is always a great event, with its interesting mangrove and creek side tracks, the excellent harbour views and that nice touch of mortgage pressure often evident hereabouts. Make it a date, perhaps a semifinal fling, as we close in on girth expanding times and ruination by Visa.

Speaking of finals, the following event (#12) at Balmoral is our traditional pre Christmas work out at this sensational location. Although we are starting at Suakin Drive, I'm informed that the Bennelong Bunnies are going to drive us towards the beach and the waft of shark and tatie. A great way to end the first half. But wait!.... 'The Sauce Bottle' is going one better, putting up a corker on Boxing Day at Freshie to really end the year. I'll talk more about this one next week, but note than Ian is advising of earlier starts (from 3pm) with last starts at 6pm. It's a public holiday so no excuses about work causing a no show. The Manly Mayor is promising a sensation!  



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