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Chapter 1 : Bath CC v Ealing CC, Sunday 9th August 1998 at North Parade

Abbot Ale National Club championship Semi-final

The Background :
On the momentus day that "No Matter What" by Boyzone suceeded The Spice girls at number 1, Bath CC played their first ever National Knockout semi-final at a sun-drenched North Parade in front of a crowd, the like of which has not been seen before or since for a club game. Clinton and Lewinsky were hot news, france had recently been crowned World Cup Winners and the brilliant Sex and the City was the hottest show on the box.....and it was Mak Kingwell's 40th birthday.

The previous round had seen the 2nd Battle of Hastings when, on this occasion, Roman invaders laid waste to the Kent (or is it East Sussex) countryside. Stuart Priscott won his not inconsiderable weight in Abbot Ale and it was the same man who was to enjoy another large volume of the same tipple after the semi-final. The previously impromptu - but now clearly organised - Bath Band/choir were in place for the start of the game, boosted by Barry Maggs on trumpet and armed with a new range of songs to supplement the Theme from the Great Escape.....most notably the utterly inspired "You've lost a wicket Ealing" - how we all wish we'd thought of that one!

The Game :
Ealing had been to the final twice previously whilst, to Bath this was all one big and very exciting adventure and, much to the delight of the huge crowd, the home batters set off in terrific style. Priscott and the young Dave Burton had rattled up 100 inside 19 overs and, when Burton departed Gordon Swinney strode to the crease and was at his imperious best, rattling up a quick-fire 53. It was Priscott, however, who was the mainstay of the Bath innings and when he was finally out for a magnificent 118 a combination of the heat, the excitement and emotion of it all lead to a partial collapse that had a supporter/Doctor scurrying off to the Police station to secure some ilicit drugs to aid Percy's recouperation. It could all have been so different, however, as in those pre-DRS days Priscott was bowled when in the fifties only to be recalled by the eagle-eyed square leg umpire who had noticed that the bails had been removed by the wicketkeeper rather than the ball. It could all have been so different (insert your own  "Sliding door" version of club history since 2.12pm on 9th August 1998).

Bath's final total of 250 was formidable but not insurmountable - even in the days of the particularly low and slow post-tea pitches at North Parade. My-bat-my-ball Priscott opened the bowling as had been the way during the cup run but even he was looking worried as the visitors batting gathered pace. Dave Burton eased some nerves with a magnificent run out but it was the wily Mike howarth who struck the most decisive blow, having danger-man Bahl stumped by Swetman just as he threatened to do some real damage.

From that point on the result wasn't really in doubt and the visitors' reply gradually dwindled away. Thorburn and Swinney both took 2 wickets as the dream of lords came ever-closer. Priscott and Sage picked up two more each before the final wicket fell to the returning (and disappointing) Shrubsole. Cue much celebration - Percy's weight in Abbot Ale was consumed once more and Bath CC were off to Lords.... the rest is history!

What will happen in 2013....make sure you are there to see it unfold!

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