Norton of Morton

Read a new instalment of Norton of Morton every Saturday at 4 o'clock

Saturday 27 April 2019

My greatest sporting achievement

In which G.M. Norton relives one of the greatest days of his life.

I’ve enjoyed a few days off with my family over Easter, which was just what the doctor ordered. Naturally, this involved a couple of trips to the park, where I was surprised to witness my youngest daughter display some rather impressive football skills. Neither my beloved or myself are particularly sporty. Well, I’m not sporty at all. My favourite sport is snooker, which perhaps says it all.

My seven year old has been taking part in an after-school sports club once a week for a good while now and some coaches from Manchester United have recently been sharing their wisdom (although perhaps they should concentrate on the first team, given recent results). When I commented on my daughter’s footballing ability, she instantly replied, “I’ve been coached by Manchester United.” She’s a chip off the old block as far as a quick wit is concerned.

This display of sporting prowess got me thinking to my favourite personal sporting moment. 

Let’s set the scene. I was at primary school, aged eight or perhaps even nine years old. It was a hot summer’s day, bees were buzzing around and it felt like the end of the school year. There were quite a few other children that weren’t in, including many of my friends and those that were in my class were gathered on the grass for a game of cricket. The pitch where we set up was quite close to the playground. Quite soon, it was my turn to bat.

I hesitantly stepped forward, bat in hand and stood waiting for the bowler to hurl the hard ball straight at me. I could feel the sense of expectation from the person next to bat that they would soon be called into action. The ball was fired across, I swung my bat with the usual effort, and to everyone’s astonishment, it connected with the ball. I stood still and watched as the ball moved with unexpected velocity across the green blades of grass and onto the tarmac playground. Suddenly, a great noise erupted all around me. “Run!”

Not usually one to obey such pithy commands, I felt compelled to seize my moment and obliged my audience. I managed quite a few runs, my face undoubtedly crimson and forehead wet, before the fielders managed to retrieve the ball back to the bowler.

Well, thought I. That was something to tell the grandchildren, as I mentally prepared to make way for the next batter.

The bowler, obviously aggrieved at what had just unfolded, aimed the well-travelled ball at me with extra venom. Michael Palin, as the ball with now be known, must have became quite good chums with my wooden bat, as somehow, they once more combined forces to give your by now exhausted protagonist the chance to add to the growing run total.

There were looks of bewilderment all around me and much scratching of heads. Or perhaps there was just the usual break-out of nits.

With Michael Palin finally returned to the sweaty palm of the perplexed bowler, I suddenly felt the self-assurance build up inside me. As Palin sailed across to me, I knew what was going to happen. Thud. No, don’t worry, I wasn’t hit in the face. I’d hit another corker.

I could hear the teacher counting my runs as I continued my breathy quest to break the school sporting records.

By now, with the sun bearing down on me, I didn’t have much energy left so the swinging of my bat became extra louche. Not that it mattered. I was unbeatable. It was perfect hit after perfect hit.

This continued for what felt like forever, until the teacher had had enough and declared old Norts as ‘not out’. I suppose it was only fair that the other children could have a turn. I forget the exact number of runs but it was in the 70s. I felt like a King. No, a God.

The following day, my friends had returned to school, so I told them all about it. “Yeah, yeah, Gaz”, they said. “Course you did.”

It was at that moment that I knew. I needed better, more believing friends.

G.M. Norton
Protagonist of 'Norton of Morton'

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