This intriguing gathering has been briefly mentioned across the net, but I thought I'd try to bring together as much of the source material as I could find and put it in one place.
Now this was 1979 and the mutual animosity that existed between the British music press weeklies and The Stranglers was well documented in those self-same papers. But for one hot September Sunday in 1979, it was a case of gloves off and pads on for a chari-dee event in old London Town. The charity was Help A London Child and the venue was Paddington Green Recreational ground.
The gauntlet was thrown down in the form of an ad which promised "The Cricket Match of the Century" with The Stranglers & Friends vs The Media XI.
Press ad for the event September 1979
Could this be the opportunity to once and for all settle scores in that most English of ways? On the sports field..... Well quite frankly no!
'.... a word about your Raven review'
'... hit straight with perfection'All of the UK weekly music papers reported on the match. This was after all an opportunity for the journalists (more usually on the receiving end of the band's disdain for their profession) to get one over on the band without the usual repercussions. I would suspect that the Media XI would have taken the event very seriously for this reason. Judging from the press reports that appeared in the following week's editions, the band and their black-clad compardres took a more casual approach to the game with the possible exception of Messrs Cornwell and Sensible (both known to be cricket fans) and Eddy Grant (surely a ringer!). For the rest of The Stranglers, high tea in the pavilion was replaced by beer and marching powder!
'Kicked In The Bails'
Sounds 22nd September 1979
Sounds 22nd September 1979
NO BALLS: Who says we writer chappies haven’t got what it takes? Faced with the snarling might of assorted Stranglers, Motorheads, Yachts, Steel Pulses and the odd X-Ray Spex, Fischer-Z, Flying Lizard, Zone and the Dreadlocked Eddy Grant, a Media XI showed the true WG Grace spirit and trounced their black-garbed adversaries in a Year of The Child charity cricket match in London at the weekend.
Sportsmen to the last, the notable writers benignly allowed the blind-swishing musical bounders to accumulate a respectable 133 all out – a grim-faced Captain Sensible having particular difficulty picking the line of his own girlfriend’s bowling and a tetchy JJ Burnel smashing his stumps to dust on having his furniture rattled by an innocuous looking slower one and subsequently causing one of those unpleasant pitch invasion scenes by autograph-hunting yobbos.
Donning the pads, the jovial journalists strode to the crease only to find themselves confronted by somewhere in the region of 20 sneering, beer-swilling fielders and a hostile and hitherto unseen ‘quickie’ who swiftly dispatched three of our valiant men to the pavilion. However, a sterling and courageous knock by none other than our very own Soundsman, Dave Lewis, including several mighty sixes of the swiftly dispirited musicians’ attack before he very sportingly gave his wicket away, ensured a conclusive victory for the men (and women) in white. Film rights of the cataclysmic clash have already been secured by Kerry Packer.
JJ prior to wicket splintering!
Record Mirror 22nd September 1979
It was a glorious sunny day when we piled into the taxi “Paddington Green” I briskly asked the driver. My escort spat out of the window and I knew it was going to be a well organised day filled with thrills. As usual I was wrong, we arrived after about three quarters of an hour stuck in the sweltering traffic at a patch of grass about two metres square. I was naturally horrified, such was the length of time I’d spent rolling my hair up in ball that we were late already for the stars versus the journalists cricket match. There certainly wasn’t enough room for a good game of tiddltwinks, let alone the Stranglers throwing balls around like yobbos. “Where’s the cricket then,” I asked the driver. “How the bleedin’ ‘ell do I know,” he politely replied driving into a heat haze over Shepherds Bush flyover. At long last we found the stupid cricket match.
The game was in aid of Help A London Child and little men kept wandering around with dustbins waiting for people to throw in 20 pound notes and solid gold bananas in. The journalists team included the Freddie Truman of rock journalism, Editor Alf Martin, who had given up a whole weekend’s cupboard building to come and bowl devastatingly slow balls and to sweat blood in order to come up with a truly devastating 11 runs before he was hit in that sacred bit of a man’s anatomy and he was removed from the game.
On the stars (?) side there were three of the Stranglers , who I thought ran frightfully fast all things considered.
Sadly, despite all of this valiant effort, the Stars lost by three wickets (whatever that means, I think it’s when you knock the little sticks that are precariously perched on the three big sticks). Struggling on were David Cunningham of the Flying Lizards, who ought to change their name to the Tight Plimsolls. The incredibly athletic Eddy Grant (who virtually leapt over the wickets in his eagerness). Plus various members of Motorhead (best not described in sporting attire) and the Damned (very spotty).
The Motorhead bit of the team had to keep vanishing behind bushes and under trucks. I really couldn’t figure out if this was for Lemmy to rest or to have some more talcum on his feet which he kept whipping out from the little paper bag. At least it was talcum, you never can tell with these rowdier boys.
Hugh and Captain in full flight
The athletic Eddy Grant
Jet and Hugh discuss the finer points of the MCC Rules with the editor of Record Mirror
A wonderful day was had by all and some of our more lethargic pop artists had a good run. Unlike their usual trip to the Music Machine’s bar and back that they normally indulge in. Piles of money were made by the little men for charity so everyone was happy – even the injured Alf Martin who is currently resting.
New Musical Express (confirmed source unknown)
'Stranglers on a Dodgy Wicket'
The Stranglers made steps to improve their bad boy image the other week when they organised a charity cricket match in London in aid of Capital Radio's Help A London Child campaign.
With the help of a very athletic Eddy Grant, various members of The Damned, Motorhead and Flying Lizards, they took on a team of writers and broadcasters and were given a fairly comprehensive drubbing for their pains.
The Stranglers, who turned out all in black and had as many as 40 on their team at any one time, spent a lot of their time lying down and threatening to take the bus home.
Some brief comments have appeared over the last few years on the Burning Up Time forum from fans who went along on the day to lend their support to the band.... Or to cop a look at Kate Bush who was rumoured to be in attendance. For those fans, the band were accommodating with autographs etc, with the apparent exception of JJ who tried to do a runner in the face of autograph hunters. Some people have reported long stored pieces of memorabilia signed by Kate Bush, but it seems that one Flying Lizard was masquerading as the lovely Kate on the day. What larks!
'Eyes Off She's Mine Dammit!'
I'm sorry to say that I cannot offer any more insight into the event other than what appeared in print at the time. But what the hell, it's a good excuse to post some fantastic photos of boozed-up cricketersinblack that Freddie Flintoff would gladly raise his bat (and pint no doubt) to!!