The 106th Middlesex Wanderers tour came to an end today as the players and officials of the
tour landed back in England on Monday lunchtime after a hot and sultry week in their 43rd
country, India. This time last year, Martin Baker spoke to Yeovil's Steve Stott about last
years tour to Myanmar and Brunei, and the results of that interview can be read on
here. This year, Steve captained the side that
went out to India, and once again has helped in the production of this article.
Off the field the team experienced teething problems when they arrived in India. Ending up
in a different hotel to the one originally booked, they suffered a single night in a hotel that
had the environment of a prison camp, but fortunately made it into their pre-booked hotel for
the remaining nights, which turned out to be of a far higher quality.
The results on the pitch were undoubtedly as successful as Wanderers manager Eddie McCluskey
(formerly of Enfield) could be hoped for, with the
Wanderers winning both of their games without conceding a goal. The first was against the Delhi
Regional Champions, Shastri FC, and the Wanderers won their game 3-0. Wayne Cort of Harlow
Town proved to be the hero, netting two goals, whilst Deiniol Graham of Colwyn Bay grabbed the
third goal. The team played in a startling temperature of 42° C (108° F), a far cry
from the conditions that the British players are used to playing in.
On the following day, the Wanderers met a Delhi Select XI, where the stronger of the two
Indian teams narrowly
lost out 1-0 to a header from Hednesford's Andy Comyn. There things got even hotter, with
the Delhi heat rising to 44° C (111° F). Steve says that the problem was that it was
a very dry heat. The humidity was not so much of a problem, it was more the intensity of the
heat, not helped by both games kicking off at 5:00pm Indian Time where the heat of the day
was still there.
With the sun still bearing down sharply on the pitch during the first half in both matches,
trying to take on water during the game was a necessity, but with both games being televised,
and both referees having formal assessors in the crowd, the rules were being stuck to and
the Middlesex Wanderers had to take on water whenever they could grab it.
Yeovil and Wanderers captain Steve Stott played both matches, whilst his Yeovil counterparts
Kevan Brown and Rob Cousins appeared as half time substitutes in the first game, whilst playing
the full game for the second match. Rob Cousins played in an unfamiliar role, playing as a right
wing-back, but proved to be successful as he provided two of the Wanderers goals, news of
which will certainly make Yeovil head coach Colin Lippiatt think strongly about his team
formation next season!
Steve said that much of the strength of the Wanderers side was clear cut, saying
"generally we had a physical and height advantage. Although the Delhi sides were very sharp and
skillful, we managed to make the set pieces count. We also did well with our passing, as it
was obviously very important for us to keep the ball in that temperature".
Fortunately, the recent political problems between India and Pakistan did not affect the
Wanderers as the major problems were up in the north of the country in the Kashmir region.
They kept one eye on the papers, in case concerns were raised regarding civilian aircraft, but
were not unduly affected by the troubles. Apparantly the team were more troubled by the
after effects of sampling the local food - there were more than a couple of "Delhi Bellies" for
the delicate British tourists to deal with.
Of course, travel all that distance for two football matches and you have to do all the
traditional things that tourists do, and so on their final day, the squad headed for the Taj
Mahal. Steve described the four and a half hour coach ride to get there as the "journey to
hell" as the Indian road system of potholes, and cows crossing the road (just like Somerset
then, you should be used to it by now Steve! - Ed) doubtless took its toll on the players
posteriors. As part of the scenery on the journey, the players saw about five or six accidents
as basically "there are no road rules". The air conditioning on the coach had packed in so
Steve said "by the time we got there, I don't think we appreciated it as much as we should
With the Cricket World Cup in full flow during the tour, Steve said that the crowds were not
quite what they would have hoped, with a couple of thousand spectators for each game. He added
"its unbelievable how much they love their cricket out there. Cricket is by far the number one
sport out there and all the key advertisements are done cricket players. Football is really
a minority sport out there behind probably the likes of hockey". Despite that, he regarded the
tour as a success, as the tourists all enjoyed themselves and those that saw the matches saw
The only question left, of course, will be which country the 107th tour will take place in,
and doubtless after this years experience, what's the betting they will hope for somewhere
Wanderers Squad: Paul Gothard (Dagenham & Redbridge), Chris Taylor (Stevenage Borough),
Andy Comyn (Hednesford Town), Rob Cousins (Yeovil Town), Kevin Finlayson (Queen's Park),
Craig Hinton (Kidderminster Harriers), Simon Parke (Guiseley), Paul Proudlock (Gateshead),
Kevan Brown (Yeovil Town), Mark Smith (Stevenage), Steve Stott (Yeovil),
James Virgo (Dover Athletic), Wayne Cort (Harlow Town), Richard David (Inter Cable Tel),
Deiniol Graham (Colwyn Bay)