I am standing at the window of the study at Bleasdale Towers.
Outside, the world has turned white overnight.
A bitter wind sends snowflakes pirouetting across the golf course.
Drifts blanket the climbing roses in the Billy Boston memorial garden.
I drum my recently manicured finger nails impatiently upon the window sill.
Finally, Fotheringay struggles through the gates at the end of the driveway.
Tying tennis rackets to his feet doesn’t seem to have helped his progress to the post office.
It is painful to watch.
So I draw the curtains, put another shovelful of coal on the fire and settle down in an armchair.
Of course, back in Victorian times tramping around in the snow was highly fashionable.
Back then, the race to the South Pole was a source of national pride.
Indeed, expeditions to the Antarctic were as big as the Premier League back in the day.
The race between Scott and Amundsen was all over the front pages in 1911.
For more than a century though the truth of that affair has been hushed up.
Only today can I reveal what actually happened when the two men came face to face.
Picture if you will a hut, fifty miles from the South Pole.
A terrible blizzard shakes the walls.
Voracious polar bears lick their lips and sit expectantly outside the door.
Inside, the two men huddle around the dying embers of a griddled husky.
One of them would soon be a national hero.
The other, an embarrassing footnote in history.
For they had insufficient supplies left to make it to the pole.
But they did have a dartboard and a set of darts.
So it was agreed that they would play a game of 301.
The winner would return home, telling everyone he is the first man to reach the South Pole.
The loser would return home in disgrace.
The Swede soon finds himself needing just tops for victory.
The plucky Englishman has yet to locate his starting double.
It is at this juncture that history is made.
Pausing only to pull on a woolly hat, Scott walks to the door.
“I am just going outside and may be some time”, he says to Amundsen.
Never again does an Englishman get involved in winter sports.
Until Eddie the Eagle falls off a ski jump.
Never again does a Swede through a decent dart.
Until Stefan Lord wins the News of the World.
At this point, Fotheringay finally makes it into the study, clutching between his frostbitten fingers the match cards from this week’s first round in the team knockout.
Of the eight seeded teams this year, just one fails to make it through to the second round.
Wins for Darrell Moore, Darren Rathbone, Dean Stockell, Jimmy Pilling and Tony Kemp ensure that the Cricket Club provide the only surprise on Friday. A couple of victories for Brad Ashton and Jamie Spore mean that only the vagaries of the Plate Competition await the well beaten Beach Road Boys.
Elsewhere, there are regulation victories for Highbury ‘A’, Dockers ‘B’, the Mount, the Cons and the Bowling Club as they comfortably make it through at the expense of the Blasted Heathens, the Femme Fatales, the Workingmens, the Strawberry and the Royal Oak respectively.
However, the Aged Ones give the high flying Dockers ‘A’ squad an excellent run for their money in the Land That Cabs Forgot.
Having taken an early lead through Geoff Moyle, the Peripatetic Pensioners soon find themselves 3-1 down, this after a hat trick of wins for visitors Tom Duggan, Mark Shewan and Adam Blyth.
After a quick buffet of blended savouries, the octogenarian ocheologists come out for the second half fighting. Pretty soon Harold Davies and Joe Lavery have squared proceedings at 3-3 with but two games remaining.
Sadly, just as happened to those elderly bank robbers on Friday, the denizens of the retirement home run out luck just when it looks like they are about to get away with the swag. Andy Slinger edges the visitors ahead in the penultimate leg, a 5-3 victory and safe passage into the second round duly delivered by last man Mark Smith.
There is high excitement in our final march this week, as the Collapsible Comrades take on Highbury ‘B’ at the football club.
Yet things seem to be going smoothly in the direction of the visitors, this after three splendid early wins for Gaz Whitehead, Stan Billington and Kenny Harrison. That the Collapsibles don’t make it a clean sweep at the interval is down to the never say die efforts of plucky homester Cliff Ashby.
Things continue to go the way of the home side at the start of the second half, courtesy of an ebullient Anthony Rhimes. The rot however, is temporarily stopped in game six as Alan Taylor edges home to put the visitors 4-2 ahead.
But back bounce the B’s in tremendous style in the remaining two legs. Wins for John Michael Shaw and last man Geoff Ward tying the match at 4-4.
Into extra time and a nervy encounter between big hitters Anthony and Stan. It’s a good job I have a manicure appointment with Foo Foo Laroo on Saturday morning, so badly gnawed are my finger nails by the time Stan finally makes it 5-4.
Finally, it is all over as Gaz Whitehead, who started proceedings with a 148 opener an hour earlier, sees off John Michael in securing the tie at 6-4 to the Collapsibles.
And then we walked out of the door, waving our farewells.
As I’m sure Amundsen did as Scott departed the hut a century ago.