The Muriel Williams Cup is the open quiz competition that acts as a curtain raiser to the league season in Bridgend. As I mentioned in a previous post , this year is the 40th anniversary of the quiz league, and the committee were determined to push the boat out. To this purpose the League had engaged the services of Mark “ The Beast” Labbett as guest of honour, and Mark brought his Only Connect winning teammates Richie Parnell and Gary Dermody with him. It worked. The Tondu Railway club was packed out, with far more people than I can remembeer in either of the previous Muriel Williams evenings. The climax of this particular evening was Mark’s speech, in which I was interested to hear him explain why Bradley Walsh picked on the nickname of ‘the Beast’ for him. Before the Chase the only nickname I’d heard being applied to Mark was the rather unimaginative ‘Giant’ , for fairly obvious reasons. But apparently Mark explained to Bradley that Labbett ( La Bête ) is the French for ‘the beast’. I studied French to A Level, and have even taught the subject, but that never occurred to me. D’Oh !
As for the quiz , well, it was compiled and presented by the League’s resident question master Dai Rees. Dai is very well known in quiz circles in Bridgend and Cardiff, and back in his serious playing days was widely recognized as one of the finest specialist sports quizzers in the country – being , amongst other things a former finalist in the Brain of Sport competition. The Muriel Williams can be a funny old competition. Two years ago, the first time that I played, we won, with a team of just me, Neil and Andrew, the smallest and possibly least strong team I’ve played with in the competition. Last year we were runners up to the Nomads. This year, well, this year you have to say that we were all blown away – ourselves, Tondu Railway Club ( marvelous hosts of the evening ), the Nomads, all blown away by – well, no, not by Mark and the boys , but by the team from the Crown in Maesteg. I use the words ‘blown away’ advisedly. They were a good five points ahead of the second placed team, and in a class by themselves. They have always been reckoned to be a very good team, who have maybe been let down by some inconsistent results in the two seasons I’ve contested the league. Well, boys, all I can say is if you play like this in the League this year you’re going to be a very, very hard team for anyone to beat ! I’m looking forward to the start of the league in a few weeks already. Which, come to think of it, was the point of the whole evening.