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Going for a song

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Alison Mitchell Alison Mitchell | 14:57 UK time, Monday, 11 May 2009

I love cricket, I play the guitar and I love Eric Clapton, so you can imagine my excitement at receiving an invitation to the 'Bunbury Bashes', a black-tie gala dinner organised by the Bunbury Cricket Club, where Rory Bremner would be MC, comedian Peter Kay would do a turn and Eric himself would perform live.

The Bunbury Cricket Club is a pro-celebrity club, founded and run by the inimitable David English MBE, which has raised over £12m for different charities over the years.

It has also helped to produce a few England cricketers through the English Schools Cricket Association's annual under-15s Bunbury Festival - nine members of the 2005 Ashes-winning team took part in it.

Alongside the ESCA, other causes supported by the 'Bashes' include the Leukaemia Research Fund, the Crossroads Centre in Antigua (an alcohol and drug facility founded by Eric Clapton) and an orphanage in India called Joybells.

Eric Clapton (2008)

This was my first experience of a Bunbury do and I walked into the glitzy Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane day-dreaming about meeting Clapton and being invited to jam - I'd been practising Signe and Tears in Heaven all afternoon.

The dream was interrupted by the England women's team manager diving out of the hotel with a mobile phone in her hand. "I've gotta find the World Cup," she exclaimed.

She'd put the trophy in the boot of the taxi which brought her to the hotel but forgot about it when she got out and the taxi driver had driven off with it. Happily it was recovered and captain Charlotte Edwards could carry it on stage with her for the Loyal Toast (a toast to the Queen, that is, not to the World Cup).

As it was an Ashes Tribute night, a raft of legends assembled on stage for a Q&A after dinner. It was marvellous to see Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson alongside Rod Marsh, while the opposite corner was filled by Sir Ian Botham, David Gower, Allan Lamb, Andrew Flintoff and for 'Aussie bashing' value, Rugby World Cup winner Jason Leonard, who is an avid supporter of the Bunburys.

The major fundraising part of the evening was the charity auction, flush with such 'money can't buy' offerings as three days of fly fishing with Allan Lamb, becoming a character in a Jeffrey Archer novel, a day editing the Daily Mirror, country pursuits with the Bothams or joining Piers Morgan to help judge Britain's Got Talent.

Lord Jeffrey Archer was the auctioneer, encouraging 1,200 guests to part with the sort of sums that make you gulp.

I seriously considered bidding my entire savings on an Eric Clapton Fender Stratocaster personally signed by the great man (you could watch him sign it in front of you) but the bidding stretched just marginally beyond my budget. The whisper was that £21,000 was a snip compared to the £45,000 his guitar fetched last year.

The most amusing part of the auction was when Lot nine was called - "private dining with Beefy" Mike Gatting piped up and said he'd pay good money NOT to have dinner with Beefy and was immediately fined £500 for being rude to our country's greatest all rounder.

It didn't take long before Lamby also pledged £500 to avoid eating with Sir Ian, Flintoff followed, then Lillee and Thommo and before you knew it over £10,000 had been raised.

It was a fabulous evening for so many great causes. I felt privileged to be there, not least to play a small part in helping to support the Bunburys but to be reminded of the camaraderie and enduring friendships that cricket produces, both between those in different walks of life but also between the most fearsome competitors.

The sight of Lamb, Lillee and Thomson standing on chairs, arms around each other's shoulders, watching Clapton perform, was one of the great photo opps of the evening.

There are Bunbury matches taking place all over the country through the summer. If you turn up to support one, you never know who you might meet.

And no, my day-dream didn't come true!


  • Comment number 1.


  • Comment number 2.

    Wow!...what an evening. (DocSynth on Twitter)

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    Fantastic blog, Alison, thanks so much for a fascinating account of the evening. David English is one of my heroes - not often heard of, but raises so much for deserving causes.

  • Comment number 5.

    Watching Enoch Powell, sorry, I mean Eric Clapton bang out his same old borrowed music catalogue.
    Joining Piers Morgan and oh wait if that wasn't enough joining him to present a really exciting reality T.V show -and when I said really exciting I meant really, well, really quite terrible-
    Finally becoming a character in a Jeffrey Archer Novell.
    Now im not sure whether there is indeed a Heaven or even a Hell but Alison Mitchell if you enjoy these activities I would seriously consider investing in a fire extinguisher.

  • Comment number 6.

    Well done, well written, Allison. I wish I could write as well as you! You described the evening's proceedings so well, you make me feel as if I was there to see it all!

    It certainly was a fun-filled, star-studded evening at the 'Bunbury Bashes'! And what a great time in cricket it was when those great cricketers plied their trade in the middle in front of packed stadia all over the world!


  • Comment number 7.

    Great night, lucky you. Here's another name connected with a great from the music industry, David English, real name of Melvin Franklin from the legendary Temptations days.

  • Comment number 8.

    What a lovely way to raise money. For those people, like me, that are excited at the prospect of Bunbury matches all over the country, it looks like Suffolk is about as far from London as they travel.

  • Comment number 9.

    LukeMoore - Eric Clapton as Enoch Powell?

    Ya Wha'?

    I've missed his Plectrums Of Blood speech, so if you could point me towards some verifiable sources I'd be grateful.

    Otherwise, good blog Alison, jealous as anything.

  • Comment number 10.

    A quick visit to wiki gives us this info on Eric Clapton
    'On 5 August 1976 Clapton provoked an uproar and lingering controversy when he spoke out against increasing immigration during a concert in Birmingham. Visibly intoxicated, Clapton voiced his support of controversial political candidate Enoch Powell and announced on stage that Britain was in danger of becoming a "black colony". Clapton was quoted telling the audience: "I think Enoch's right ... we should send them all back. Throw the wogs out! Keep Britain white!" (the latter phrase was at the time a British National Front slogan).[49] This incident, along with some explicitly pro-fascism remarks made around the same time by David Bowie, were the main catalysts for the creation of Rock Against Racism.

    In a 2004 interview with Uncut (magazine), Clapton referred to Powell as "outrageously brave", and stated that his "feeling about this has not changed", because the UK is still "... inviting people in as cheap labour and then putting them in ghettos."[50] In 2004, Clapton told an interviewer for Scotland on Sunday, "There's no way I could be a racist. It would make no sense".[51] In his 2007 autobiography, Clapton called himself "deliberately oblivious to it all" and wrote, "I had never really understood or been directly affected by racial conflict... when I listened to music, I was disinterested in where the players came from or what colour their skin was."[52] In a December 2007 interview with Melvin Bragg on The South Bank Show, Clapton reiterated his support for Enoch Powell and again denied that Powell's views were racist.[53]'

    Not something I was aware of before. But I doubt Clapton is the only working class kid from the West Midlands to have vaguely racist thoughts. [Not excusing, just explaining!] Wonder how he feels about Alan Lamb emigrating to the UK?

  • Comment number 11.

    Im sure the Womens' manager will thank you for pointing out a nearly unforgivable mistake. Good light hearted blog... and it goes to show the other side of sport and what it can achieve.

  • Comment number 12.


    What redeeming value does bring up dirt serve?

  • Comment number 13.

    splendid sparrow,

    I was merely explaining someone elses reference.

  • Comment number 14.

    If I may make a friendly suggestion: For clarity, please put quotations in inverted commas.


  • Comment number 15.

    Wish I was there.
    Nice post, you painted a lovely picture, made me smile :-)

  • Comment number 16.

    Clapton is a moderately-good guitarist who stole everything he knows from blues guitarists.

    He has no sonwriting skills at all.

  • Comment number 17.

    Wow that must have been a fantastic event.
    Your words have painted a wonderful picture of how these evenings go and I take my hat off to you for remembering the proceedings so clearly (some alcohol must have passed your lips surely).
    Thanks again and if you ever need an escort for another, please count me in!!!

  • Comment number 18.

    SaintlyMark: Cheers for that, I love the guys music but I never knew that (and I didn't see the South Bank episode).

    Bit difficult to reconcile that with his love of blues and reggae :)

  • Comment number 19.

    Great article Alison; sounds a fantastic evening & proves once again the everlasting friendships gained from playing cricket


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