Village Cup: Freuchie Face English Opposition
If you’ve ever visited Freuchie on afternoons when they compete in the National Village Cup, you will readily understand why the little Fife community’s name is inextricably linked with the event.
There are always scores of cars packed around the boundary edge. And tough-as-teak characters chewing their fingernails in the clubhouse and exhorting their compatriots to chase another victory.
The language isn’t always befitting maiden aunts and there are precious few airs and graces once the tension kicks in, but these Sabbath occasions are to be cherished by aficionados of the grassroots game.
In recent seasons, the club has struggled to retain the vibrant playing base which used to be taken for granted while former captain Dave Christie was in his pomp. Indeed, there were even fears at the start of the summer that the fabled club might be on the edge of oblivion.
Yet, true to type, this redoubtable organisation has bounced back from adversity and demonstrated in the process that reports of their demise were absurdly premature.
They defeated near-neighbours Falkland in the semi-final of the Scottish section of the competition, which they famously won at Lord’s in 1985. Then they emerged triumphant in a bowl-out against Meigle last Sunday, oblivious to the ravages of the weather.
The upshot is that Freuchie are looking forward to another tussle with English opponents when they confront Hawk Green this Sunday. It’s the sort of occasion for which generations of Christies, Crichtons, Cowans and Birrells might have been born.
And, although former skipper, Robbie Birrell, insists that it isn’t the be-all and end-all for his charges, it’s pretty obvious he and his confreres will be up for the challenge this weekend.
As he told CricIndex : “We’re playing Hawk Green on Sunday, with a 2pm start to allow them time to get here. They are travelling up on Saturday night to Bothwell and they are hoping to arrive with us around 12ish.
“They play in Division 1 of the Derbyshire and Cheshire League, so we are expecting them to be a very good side, but we will always do the best we can in these matches.
“As for our player situation, we are just managing to get two elevens out, and we are working very hard to rectify this. But, if we can get through the next three weeks – given holiday commitments – we should be fine for the rest of the season.
“As a club, we are really focused on getting back up into the Championship, and we are working away quietly in the first division at the moment.
“The next two to three weeks will determine where we will be playing next season, but we are all working together to achieve as much as we possibly can.
“The Village Cup, although it captures everyone’s attention, is not the priority at the club, but we will be giving it everything on Sunday.
“Hawk Green will be a very strong side, but with home advantage, you just never know on the day!”
As for the influence of Dave Christie on the community which bears a street named in his honour, Birrell was unashamedly proud of the impact which the man who turns 80 this year has had on Freuchie.
He added: “You can’t overestimate what he had done at this club. And he and his wife June are doing it still. There’s really nothing more to add. Their contribution speaks for itself.”
These individuals’ response to adversity has been admirable. They have knuckled down to their task and helped transform the situation with a can-do approach.
If you fancy a piece of the action, why not pop along and relish cricket in the raw?