Ed Freeman: still going strong after 26 years
If there’s one player in the Lymington dressing room on Friday night who typifies the heart and soul of the club then it is surely Ed Freeman. Now in his 26th season, evergreen Ed continues to defy the laws of ageing, and his wicket-taking performances have played a key role in the club’s march to the T20 final at the Ageas Bowl. Ahead of the big match we look back at Ed’s 26 years with the club…
Ed is one of a very rare breed of Lymingtonians who have played for every senior team within the club. He says, “As well as all the Lymington Saturday league sides, I also played for all three Sunday teams (it was different back then, lad) – the serious Cross Solent Sunday League team, the Friendly 2nd XI and the totally pissed 3rd XI (‘Woodside Wanderers’ weren’t they called?). I have great memories of the late, great Bob Iles and Tony Jenkin dropping slip catches off me in the Saturday 4th XI when I was 13 or 14 years old.”
Ed (he recently dropped the ‘die’ from his name as he thought it sounded a bit ‘naughty schoolboyish’) joined Lymington in the summer of 1988 as a 12 year old, mainly because his mum “needed to get me out the house because I was cluttering the place up, slouched on the sofa”. He’d never really played cricket before but the legendary Colin Cooper (now the club’s pitch expert) was his Under 12 coach and Ed insists that it is Colin who is responsible for his technique. Although he can’t recall his very first match, he does remember manager Mark Figgins telling him to stop repeatedly bowling bouncers on the old artificial pitch at Woodside in an Under 14 game. “Figgy claimed that that sort of bowling was “unsporting”. I think I said I might not be able to bowl them in the future so needed to get it out my system. Turns out I was right!”
As well as representing just about every Lymington team going, Ed is also the only survivor from the 2009 T20 victory at the Rose Bowl and has many happy memories of that night: “Cookie steaming in from the pavilion end; the power hitting of Tommy Barton, Lammers and Kish. And it was amazing to see how chuffed all the Lymington fans were at our success, and how much they’d enjoyed the evening. The photo of Johnny Jumpers and Simon Cook with the trophy still makes me smile”.
So who does Ed see as Lymington’s potential matchwinners in the 2014 final? “If we play their largely spin attack like we did the spin bowling of Havant then I’ve no doubt the trophy is ours. I won’t single out any of our players as I believe we have variety both in our bowling and in our approach to batting. We have a good combination of power hitting, flair stroke players and some deft touch play. What more does a woman want?”
Ed maintains that Lymington’s young players should make sure they enjoy Friday night and play with the freedom and spirit that has got the team to the final. “For most of us, playing in these occasions doesn’t happen very often so it’s pointless getting too hyped up” he says.
Looking back at Ed’s long career with the club, which team does he consider to be the best he played in? “Our First XI beer race team of 2011 was truly exceptional! Kiwi, Dazza, Lammers, me..? Actually I can’t really remember… only that we were good and are still undefeated. I’m looking forward to the Aug 30th end-of-season bash to retain our crown. Actually, this current First XI has huge ability and with a little more consistency and application could do really good things in the future. Considering the age of the players, I believe Lymington’s best years of the 21st Century lie ahead.”
And when it comes to choosing his most memorable Lymington performances, he lists two from the past couple of weeks. “To beat mighty Havant in the T20 semi final and chase down 193 was testament to real togetherness and team spirit. We were buzzing at the end, as were many experienced spectators who believed it was the best Lymington chase seen at the Sports Ground. Also, to have been there at the end with Beefy on Saturday against St. Cross in such a crucial league game was special. Beef is becoming a serious all round cricketer and it was brilliant to watch him handle the pressure of the situation – top class. Also, I have to mention the 2009 T20 final win at the Rose Bowl which was a dream occasion for us as amateur cricketers. I’m not sure we were as talented then as the current team but we did have some players who could hit the ball out of the ground and a quality pacer in ex-Test Aussie Simon Cook, who had a great night. We played with real togetherness and used our collective nous. I got a pasting on the night but that didn’t detract from the celebrations with my mates.”
Ed takes a diplomatic line when asked to name his favourite Lymington captain. “Ed Ellis and Simon Beetham… equally! Actually, Tim Hunter was very good when I was a 17 or 18 year old. He gave me and another youngster Paul Coles (‘the Locust’) full roles in a very successful 2nd XI – me opening the bowling and Paul the batting. It really gave me a sense of responsibility and help me understand the role. Very rarely was I pinched to do 60 odd overs of fielding for the 1st XI, which can happen to a young player. Then again, anyone watching the recent St. Cross game might understand why!”
His Lymington epiphany probably came away at Alton in 1995 when he took seven wickets for the Second XI. “I suddenly worked out what I was doing at senior level, right at the end of the season. Current president Jerry Holt took a brilliant hat-trick of catches at first slip and I remember one of our frustrated batters getting a bill for dressing room window repairs (Griff!?)”.
It was Tim Hunter who gave him the nickname ‘Eddie Two Brains’ due to Ed’s seemingly unlimited knowledge of just about every subject under the sun. Nowadays, it’s more a case of ‘Eddie Two Twitters’ since Ed has received the ultimate celebrity (or stalking) accolade of a fake Twitter account in his ‘honour’: Ed admits that, like all alter egos, @slowmedium can be fun, charming and adventurous, but can also take him to some dark places and occasionally get him into some scrapes. “When he sledges the opposition in the lead up to a league game, it can get a little hairy. Also, when he suggested to the England and India Test boys that the #freebergexpress was going to come and destroy them I thought the Hampshire CC were going to throw me out of the Ageas Bowl before I even got started! I can’t believe he’s so relentless and doesn’t get bored of it. As Charles Caleb Colton said in the early 19th Century “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, but, let’s be honest, it’s just a massive piss take!”
Finally, does Ed have any plans to retire to the Second XI just yet? “There have been some seductive approaches regarding this, but absolutely not! I still feel fit as a fiddle, most of the time, and seem to be doing ok. I’m sure the ‘selectors’ will tell me soon enough. That said, my lawyers can’t seem to agree the terms of any potential contract with the 2nd XI skip (and commercial lawyer) Ollie Kelly. His terms are so laberinthine that I might have to go straight to the Thirds to avoid any expensive litigation!”