A slightly odd evening. First of all there was John Hillier taking a break and letting Jersey’s Zane Duquemin coach the new British senior discus record holder Lawrence Okoye 🙂 Then, as I drove out by the cricket pavilion there were a bunch of lads with ‘Germany’ printed on the backs of their coloured jackets. Crikey, I thought, they’re back. The last time they arrived in the Island they stayed for five years! Upon closer inspection they appeared to be the German national cricket team, over for a tournament. Neither were they blond haired and slapping their thighs in time to oompah music – they were mostly rather dusky. Similarly the French cricket team don’t wear berets and strings of onions. The Israeli team don’t have curved noses and go round muttering ‘oy vay’. Mostly all European cricketers outside of Britain, wherever they come from, are rather dusky.
The Irish national cricket team is, strangely, an all-white affair though their coach is the West Indian Phil Simmons. There are presumably many players of sub-continent extraction in club cricket in Ireland but they haven’t yet made the national team. I think there are a sprinkling of Aussies in there who presumably discourage the rest of the lads from smoking briar pipes and wearing big green hats.
But back to the Germans. They were most unwelcome invaders between 1940 – 1945. They deprived all Channel Islanders of their liberty and much hardship ensued towards the end, after the D-Day landings. No tears were shed when they were turfed out. But time is a great healer. In the 1960s the Supreme Commander of the German forces in the CIs, Von Schmettow, returned to Jersey on some sort of pilgrimage. Other old soldiers returned with their families. St Helier is twinned with the German town of Bad Wurzach. There is little remaining ill feeling towards the Germans in Jersey despite the atrocities visited on the wretched victims of the Nazi regime elsewhere.
Why is this? Simply because the occupying German forces were, in the main, well behaved. They were largely respectful to the residents, treated them with courtesy, and suffered the same deprivations in those last few awful months. For all the deserved contempt that the Nazis in particular received after the War and up to the present day the conduct of the German forces in the Channel Islands can be held up as a small counterbalance.
But they still can’t beat us at cricket.