We hope you’re ready for a story of triumph, friendship and love? Good. Let’s begin….
This story starts 12 years ago and features two local heroes, James and Pippin Hackett, as well as a bandit of unlikely athletes from Leatherhead Hockey Club.
In memory of his mum, who sadly lost her battle to cancer in 2005, James Hackett teamed up with his equally sport-loving wife to conjure up ideas that were going to raise some head-turning funds for St.Catherine's Hospice and Chestnut Tree House. Whilst the egg and spoon race was a close second, the Hackett’s settled on creating a day celebrating sport, life and all round fun. And the sport they chose?
Oh yes. That sport that everybody loves but nobody seems to play.
But rather than just stopping with a single game of rounders, the Hackett’s decided to go the whole hog and arrange a full-blown rounders tournament to take place once a year. The locals cheered in triumph at this wonderful news and gathered year on year to take part in the social gathering.
Years went by, tournaments were won and lost, but the band of blue didn’t catch whiff of the legendary rounder’s tournament until the summer of ‘17.
And whilst they entered that year’s event with high hopes, they were shortly cut from the ranks after losing their second game and ultimately, their place in the quarter-finals.
But like the true sportspeople they are, they turned to the comforts of green bottles and French cricket to see away the afternoon.
12 months came and went before the band of blue returned to the playing fields of Leatherhead. With the same number of beers, but slightly more players, they started the day with some hitting and throwing practice – and applying much needed sun cream!
Other surprises at this year’s event included a vintage coffee van, an ice-cream van and Egg! A welcomed addition to the team.
Memories of being caught, chased, balled and stumped out by rounders South London legends, LHC were prepared for the day to go much like the year before – quick and painful.
After losing the coin toss for game one, LHC were up to bat first. Being unable to secure a half, we knew we had to pot as many rounders as we could. Batting in number order (helpfully provided on the back of their hockey shirts), Beast was up and got the game into motion.
Not only did they survive the full 15minutes without losing all their batters, the LHC Mighty Mixed bagged 11 rounders – 5 of which were contributed by the fabulous Sally Hole and her deceptive left-hand batting skills.
Taking to the field, the stopwatch started again as we jumped, ran, rolled, balled and launched our way through the next 15minutes of play. Things were getting a bit sweaty, tensions were high, balls were flying all over the place. But the band of blue persevered right up until the final whistle blow.
11-10! Ahead by only a rounder but it was enough for them to go through the first round with a victory and to be one step closer to outperforming their previous year’s performance!
Keeping their heads cool, the LHC Mighty Mixed skipped, hopped and jumped through the next two rounds with a 12-1 win and a 16-7 victory in their third game!
By now, news quickly spread down the field that LHC Mighty Mixed were back with a taste of victory. Except all they could taste was the beer bubbles and some professionally fashioned cuts of melon…
Last game of the day saw the Mighty Mixed move to a new pitch as they took on a team they hadn’t yet crossed for the finals. The gloves were off! Well, most of the gloves were off… the opposition’s baller kept hers firmly on.
Up to bat first yet again, LHC were starting to feel a little nervous. The first handful of bats saw our team stumped or caught out, leaving half the number of batters than when we started! And we still had 12 minutes on the clock. Trying to remember how to bag a rounder, the band of blue managed to bag three as the minutes rolled on, plus a bonus rounder for two lots of three no-balls. Quite the jump down from the double figures they’d been scoring earlier on in the day, they had no idea how this small figure would stand up against the opposition.
Taking to the field for the fourth time, our plan of action was to stump fourth as much as we could to eliminate all chances of rounder scoring opportunities! And it was working. The opposition rarely made it past first or second base, and the few that did sneak through luckily seemed to be sporadic rather than planned. With absolutely no awareness of the opposition’s score or the time, LHC kept their heads down and the ball moving, hoping their efforts were enough to keep their modest score as a winning number.
The final whistle went. Handshakes began. But the question remained. Had LHC Mighty Mixed done enough?
They looked to Hackett for the final score.
He checked the numbers.
4 to LHC
3 to the opposition
Yes! They only went and bloody done it! From Zero to Hero, the Mighty Mixed team had managed to blag their way through an entire rounders tournament and came away with the mini victory trophy!
The moral of the story? Dream big kids, it really can happen!
This incredible day has so far raised £30,000 for the St.Catherine's Hospice and Chestnut Tree House charities, with this year’s event raising £1,335. It takes place every summer with the next prospectively scheduled in for Saturday 13thJuly 2019.
At just £10 a ticket to enter, who’s up for a game next year?