On September 16, 1979, the Stranglers held a cricket match to promote their new album The Raven and raise money for Capital Radio’s charity Help A London Child. They assembled a black-clad group of punk and reggae musicians to face a team made up of their usual adversaries and objects of abuse: rock journalists. Earlier that year, JJ Burnel had gaffer-taped writer Philippe Manoeuvre to the Eiffel Tower (Burnel: “it was only about 300 feet up”) and left him there, with his pants pooled around his ankles. “He wasn’t best pleased,” Jet Black remembers.
Cricket is played by teams of eleven, but the Stranglers were only four. To fill themselves out to the Stranglers XI for the charity match, the band recruited members of Motörhead, the Damned, X-Ray Spex, Flying Lizards, Steel Pulse, and other bands—a lot of people, according to their opponents in the Music Press XI, who claimed they saw a few supernumerary players on the field. Even Eddy Grant was on the massive team of rockers (“as many as 40 [...] at any one time,” the NME reported) that assembled at Paddington Recreation Ground on that storied day.
via Aural Sculptors
Lemmy showed up with a note from his doctor excusing him from the match because of a wart on his foot, but he lent his team moral and chemical support, while Kate Bush cancelled, according to Hugh Cornwell’s account in The Stranglers: Song by Song:
That was a fantastic event. [The Stranglers’ publicist] Alan Edwards came up with the idea of playing against the music press and managed to secure Brondesbury cricket ground in north London. Our team were dressed head to toe in black and wore black pads, black gloves and black caps. We even used black bats.
Kate Bush was going to play but pulled out. Lemmy turned up but had injured himself and had a sick note from his doctor, which was quite funny. He said, ‘Don’t worry. I’ll be watching on the boundary. If anyone needs a pick-up, my friend has a bag of whizz!’
Jet played and maybe John did. Some of the Finchley Boys played and a couple of members of the Damned. It just so happened that a friend of our dealer at the time had been a Hampshire [C]olt and was a demon fast bowler in his youth, so we got him out of retirement.
We batted first, with Jet and one of the large Finchley Boys opening the batting. We were all out quite cheaply, but managed to secure a tie because when the other team batted we kept sneaking on extra fielders to stop the run flow.
The opposition started complaining, but it was all for charity, so it got a bit ridiculous. The funniest point was when Richard Williams, who was editor of Melody Maker, came out to bat. He was brimming with confidence and had very expensive new equipment and strode out looking very professional. But our dealer clean bowled him almost immediately and Richard became very upset.
via Aural Sculptors
The blog Aural Sculptors has three press clippings about the match, and all of them contradict Cornwell on its outcome (“a fairly comprehensive drubbing,” the NME reported; “the Stranglers [...] spent a lot of their time lying down and threatening to take the bus home”), but at least Record Mirror corroborates Lemmy’s “bag of whizz”:
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 [I think] it was talcum, you never can tell with these rowdier boys.
Continues after the jump…