Dead Ball

Date: 3rd August 1998                                                                                         Location: Vanborough, Hants.

The annual cricket match between the villages of Vanborough and Willowhock is always keenly and sportingly contested. This year Vanborough are the hosts on a sunny Sunday, 3rd August 1998. In common with all Vanborough home matches the Neamus family, Brian and Olive, son Rick and daughter Jenny arrived at about 1.00pm to open the pavilion, mark out the pitch and prepare the tea.  They have been staunch supporters of the club since they moved to Vanborough from East London three years ago.  Both Rick and Brian play for the club, but more importantly it has been their financial support that has kept it going, with Brian sponsoring the rebuilding of the pavilion.  The club boasts the only lady player in the league, the new England cap Hailey Brent. Wiilowhock have brought along their star fast bowler Alan Johnson and their regular umpire, Reg Herbert, who played for them, and previously also for Vanborough, before he retired from cricket.  On the pitch the game is being played with all the camaraderie and good manners that are traditional in village cricket, but is what is going on off the pitch is a lot less savoury?

Meet the Cast

Tracey Johnson (21) and Alan Johnson (30)
Tracey and Alan came down to Basingstoke from East London as newly weds, having married on 5th August 1995. Basingstoke is within reach of Heathrow Airport, where Alan works as a lorry driver, and somewhere where they could afford the mortgage on a flat. It was no trouble for Tracey, who worked as a supermarket cashier, to move jobs. That was in October 1995. Alan immediately joined the local soccer and snooker clubs. Although Alan enjoys soccer and snooker, his first love is cricket. He joined the local club, Willowhock, at the first opportunity, which was in May 1996. He is a good fast bowler, so soon
became a regular player. Tracey loves to go out drinking and clubbing, which she does frequently with her friends Jenny Neamus and Hailey Brent.

Reg Herbert, 52
Reg is a Police Inspector working for the Metropolitan CID in Hounslow. He used to live in Vanborough and play for the side. He moved to Willowhock seven years ago so changed club at the same time. He played for Willowhock for 5 years, retiring from cricket at the age of 50. He now umpires for Willowhock when he can get the time off work.

Howard James, 33
Howard James is a member of Vanborough who could not play in the Willowhock game, but who is on bar duty tonight. He is due to open the bar just before the match finishes, about 7pm, but he has to leave as soon after 8pm as he can. Pete Mallard, who is playing, has agreed to change quickly and relieve him.

Jenny Neamus, 22
The only child of Brian and Marie Neamus. Marie is French Canadian so Jenny was bought up bilingual in English and French. She spent her childhood in Loughton but was, from the age of 10, educated as a boarder at the Convent of St Therasa School in Colchester. There she met Hailey Brent, a farmer’s daughter from Hampshire. The two became firm friends then and still are today. Soon after she took her GCSEs, in September 1992, her mother left her father and returned to Canada. Her parents divorced in 1993. By this time she had decided that she wanted to be a teacher and was taking “A” levels in French, English and Italian. Being bi-lingual made the course easy. In 1994 she got three good grades, winning a place to study French at Sussex University. She has just completed that course and will start a teacher
training course in Basingstoke in September. Three years ago she moved into a house in Vanborough with her father, Brian Neamus, her stepmother Olive and Olive’s son Rick.

Brian Neamus, 49
Brian was bought up in the East End of London, the son of a scrap metal dealer. His academic record was not good, although he had a head for business. He was soon helping out with his father’s scrap metal business and gaining quite a reputation for himself. In 1971 he met a young French Canadian girl, Marie le Clair, whom he married in Montreal the following June. She came back to live with him in Loughton. Four years later they had a daughter Jenny. After Jenny went to boarding school in 1986, Marie began to tire of life in Loughton. By the late 1980’s their marriage was failing, with Brian preferring to spend his time in East End pubs and friends houses until late into the night, quite often staying over in hotels or with friends rather than go home. In September 1992 Marie left him, returning to Canada. Their divorce was finalised in 1993. Later that year, while Jenny was still away at school, he met Olive Smith, a widow and part owner of a local car dealership. They married on 10 July 1993. Brian took over the scrap metal business in 1977 when his father died, running it successfully for a number of years. Three years ago he decided to sell up in the East End and move to the country. He bought a used car dealership in Basingstoke and a house in Vanborough, a village just outside Basingstoke. He lives there with his daughter Jenny, his wife Olive and Olive’s son Rick. He decided to take up cricket again. The Vanborough club was in need of players, but even more in need of money and helpers. He and Rick started playing for the club while Olive did the teas. He and Olive also gave the club some financial and practical help to rebuild its pavilion.

Olive Neamus (nee Gladwin), 48
Olive Gladwin was born in Stepney and bought up in the East End of London, the daughter of a used car dealer. Her first husband, George Smith, worked in the car dealership. She and George had a son Rick, born in 1973. Her parents died in a car accident in November 1991. From then she helped to run the business, which she jointly owned with her brother David. George and David were killed in a car accident in 1993. She and David’s wife Carole carried on the business, getting considerable help from Carole’s son Chris. Rick was at University in Birmingham, studying Italian, so he had little time to help. Soon after George’s death she started dating Brian Neamus, a scrap metal dealer, whom she married on 10 July 1993. Three years ago she and Brian decided to sell up in the East End and move to the country. At that point she sold her stake in the car dealership to Carole. Brian bought a used car dealership in asingstoke and the two of them, together with Rick and Brian’s daughter Jenny, moved into a house in Vanborough, a village just outside Basingstoke. She and Brian joined the Vanborough Cricket club, where she does the teas. They also gave the club some financial and practical help to rebuild its pavilion. Olive managed the whole project, doing plans, organising contractors and dealing with any disputes. It was quite a shock for the contractors to be more than adequately dealt with by a woman in the genteel countryside around Hampshire. They never tried anything on a second time.

Rick Neamus, 25
Rick was born Rick Smith, to George and Olive Smith in Stepney. He gained 3 “A” levels and studied Italian at Birmingham University. His father and uncle died in a car accident in 1993. In 1995 his mother gave him £15,000 from the proceeds of the sale of her share in a car dealership,  intending it to be used to buy somewhere to live when he left University. Instead he dropped out and blew the lot on a round the world trip. When Rick returned he lived with his mother, her new husband Brian Neamus and Brian’s daughter Jenny, in Vanborough. Brian insisted that he change his name to Neamus so that they could have the appearance of a normal family. Rick agreed reluctantly, preferring a life of comfort with the family rather than trying to find a place of his own. He took several jobs but none of them lasted long. Currently he is unemployed and spends most of his time motor cycle scrambling with his cousin Chris. For someone without a job he always seems to have plenty of money.

Hailey Brent, 21
Hailey was born at Tennent Stud in Vanborough and has lived there ever since. She spent her childhood in Vanborough but from the age of 9 she was educated as a boarder at the Convent of St Therasa School in Colchester. The school had really good sports facilities and Hailey made full use of them, indulging in every kind of sport. She lives for her cricket and has achieved her ambition of making the England junior side, which she did at the age of 15. The village has given her its full support, making her a local hero on the way. The local club, Vanborough, allowed her to play for its Colts team and she has since graduated to the adult side, the only woman player in the district. This is her second season with the adult team. She has already had two fifties and several scores over thirty, although that first century has eluded her.
Two weeks ago she won her first cap for England ladies. At school she met Jenny Neamus, the daughter of an East End scrap dealer. They became firm friends then and still are today. That was quite strange because they could not have been less alike. Jenny is an only child whereas Hailey is from a large family. Hailey is a strong, sporty type who excels at hockey, netball, soccer and cricket. Jenny, on the other hand, is far more artistic, preferring to paint or play the piano. As well as spending a lot of time with Jenny, Hailey has become friends with Tracey Johnson, who moved into the district in 1995 at about the same time as Jenny. She came down from London as a newly wed with her husband Alan. They have a flat in Basingstoke, where Hailey, Jenny and Tracy meet. Alan is always out down the pub, playing snooker, playing soccer for Basingstoke or playing cricket for Willowhock.

Pete Mallard, 24
Pete Mallard is a bachelor living in a flat in Basingstoke. He drives an E-Type Jaguar convertible. He was born and brought up in Hook, Hampshire, where his parents still live. He is a doctor who works at the A&E department of Basingstoke General hospital. He is a keen cricket and rugby player, but he rarely gets time to play either. This Sunday he will play his first game for four weeks and only his fifth of the whole season.  He is a fine opening bat, who played for his school, Winchester and the University of Durham. He could probably have played County Cricket if he had not concentrated on his studies to become a doctor.

Match Report          Vanborough Pavilion