Is Grace greater than Sin?
Joe West was sitting in his garden admiring the bees at work when his wife called him, "Joe, it's Roger from the club. He wants to have a word with you."
Joe eased his tired body out of the deckchair and ambled across the garden to the door to his kitchen, as he passed his wife, Mabel, he gave her a hug and a kiss and said, "I have an idea what this is about love."
He went into the kitchen and picked the receiver off the table, where Mabel had left it, "Hello, Roger, what's on your mind today?"
Roger Shipman, the treasurer of Hambling Cricket Club, replied, "We'd like you to come to a specially organised meeting tonight, Joe. The members have come to a decision and want to put a motion forward."
Joe smiled, and replied, "You put the beers on, and tell "em" Joe'll be there."
"Thanks, Joe, it has been an awful day for me thinking how I'd ask you."
"I can imagine, but don't worry about a thing."
Joe put the receiver on the hook and walked out to the garden to sit with his wife.
"What was that about, Joe?"
"The members will be asking me to stand down tonight," Joe said with a grin.
"How can you be sure of that?"
"They think I haven't seen what's going on in the league. I disapprove of the way the league is being run, to them I am a dinosaur, an anachronism, a throwback to the good old days when honour meant something. These days, winning is all that matters."
"What is happening that upsets you?"
"For a starter, teams are bringing in "ringers," people from out of the village, to play during the season."
"I thought the rules stipulated to play you had to live in the village for three months?"
"They do, but most of the teams have found ways to bend the meaning. They bring in people for the planting and reaping, and when the season's gone, these "ringers" go back to the city until next year. To me, it is against the letter of the Law, but I'm not running the league anymore, so it won't matter what I say or think. On the bright side, it'll give us more time together, love."
"Won't you miss the club, you've been captain for the last ten years and a player for much longer?"
"Perhaps, for this year, but after that, I won't. To tell you the truth, I was going to hand my resignation in this year."
"That's new to me, does anyone else have an idea of your plans?"
"Not that I know of, I was going to wait until the right time to tell the members. Now, would be as good as any."
Joe gave a smile, as Mabel said, "You old fox, you want to take the wind out of their sails tonight!"
He gave her a hug and a kiss, then said, "It will be a grand farewell gesture." Then he winked.
Joe and Mabel pottered around the garden and took their tea on the patio. Looking at his watch, Joe commented, "The time is here, love." Then he kissed her goodbye and walked into the house.
Mabel watched smiling as her husband walked down to the clubhouse, in her mind she had the image of the men who ran the club fidgetting as they thought how to break the news to Joe.
Joe strode with dignity into the clubhouse, he ordered his pint of beer at the bar and walked over to the trestle table that was put out for the meeting. "I know what you are going to say, so you can stop fidgeting, Roger."
Roger put his pint mug on the table, and said, "It's with sadness, Joe, we'd like you to step down this year as captain."
Joe took a swig of beer after he swallowed and wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his old sweater, he replied, "Is that all, I was expecting more. Well, here's some news for you. I am not only standing down, but I am also resigning from playing for the team."
The table went silent, then Timmy Carver, club keeper, asked, "Why?"
"My grandfather was a founding member of this once noble club, back in the days when playing for your local team meant you lived here all year, not just for the harvest season. Don't think I hadn't noticed, and I am not the only one to see how the league is bending the rules. I am just the only person who is brave enough to voice the opinions of the members." Joe stopped to let the news sink in, and then he finished his drink, took the glass to the bar and walked to the door.
It was taking a while for the news to take effect, so he paused at the door and turned to say, "By the way, I was going to resign the captaincy this year anyway!"
WIth a grin, he stood at the door watching as the members looked back with stunned faces.
Then, he turned, walked out, and closing the door behind left a century of history in his dust.