Lymington old boys Tony Oxley and Mark Thorne enjoyed a highly successful return to their old stomping ground on Saturday as Fair Oak continued their relentless march towards the Hants County 1 title. Mark in particular revelled in his first return to the Sports Ground in more than a decade as he rattled up an unbeaten 139 as his current club demolished Lymington Seconds by 170 runs.
Mark last played for Lymington back in 1993 before moving on to BAT. But he became disillusioned with the game and gave up playing until former teammate Tony Oxley persuaded him to join his Fair Oak revolution. Last season Mark scored 676 runs as Fair Oak at an average of over 67.
It's been a fairytale story for Fair Oak ever since Tony Oxley became involved several years ago. Under his captaincy the First XI has rapidly moved up through the leagues and now stands on the verge of a remarkable league championship in their first season in Division 1. In gaining promotion they lost just twice in 2003 and are now only 5 matches away from remaining unbeaten in 2004. Furthermore the whole club is on a high at the moment, with all four senior sides having lost just 4 matches between them all season and all in with a chance of promotion in their relative divisions.
Tony has been instrumental in developing the blossoming colts section at Fair Oak. "There were more than 100 youngsters at the ground on Friday night" he boasted. (Mind you, there were about the same amount of teenagers at Lymington Sports Ground on Friday night - although most of them were drinking Strongbow and carrying the club flagpole around the field!).
Tony is also coach of the successful Hampshire Under 15 side that beat Cornwall at Lymington last Thursday, and he brings a touch of professionalism to every team he coaches. Last Saturday Fair Oak even brought along their own 'waterboy' who would run on and distribute drinks to the team every time a wicket fell. Unfortunately Lymington's batsmen came and went so quickly that the poor lad was knackered by the end of the match!