BASIL Fawlty may not have provided his hotel guests with many relaxing nights, but Somerset’s cricketers benefited from his hospitality the night before they went in search of their first trophy.

John Cleese, comedian, actor and massive Somerset fan, had bumped into his fellow Westonian Brian Rose at the 1979 Weston Festival at Clarence Park and discussed plans for the weekend of the final.

The year before, Somerset had held a team meeting on the night before the game which, according to Brian Rose, “went on far too long” and used up too much mental energy.

“Why don’t you all come over and have dinner with me at my place in Holland Park?” was Cleese’s offer to Rose, which was gratefully accepted.

“It worked out perfectly,” recalls Rose.

“We dined at an enormous table, which he had bought at an auction from Holloway Prison, as we could tell from the initials which had been carved in the wood.

“He’d had it dressed up in what looked like a big Arab tent and it was more than big enough to accommodate the enteire team as well sa John, his wife and one or two other guests.

“We had a lovely, funny, relaxing evening, went back to the hotel and fell fast asleep.

“It was the perfect preparation.”

Part One: The Lord’s final…

“FOR all that we finished up winning five trophies under my captaincy, this was the greatest moment of my cricketing life.”

Brian Rose may not be alone in that opinion.

The above line, taken from the excellent ‘Rosey: My Life in Somerset Cricket’, released earlier this year, relates to Rose becoming the first Somerset captain to lift silverware as the county won the Gillette Cup final at Lord’s in 1979.

Sunday (September 8) marked the 40th anniversary of Somerset’s first trophy, when Rose and his troops defeated Northamptonshire by 45 runs in domestic cricket’s showpiece occasion.

Somerset’s two West Indian stars were the heroes of the hour.

Viv Richards scored a sparkling 117 in Somerset’s 269-8 before his compatriot Joel Garner tore through Northants with 6-29 in his 10.3 overs, including the final wickets which sparked jubilant celebrations and a pitch invasion from the thousands of Somerset fans who had descended on the capital.

Garner was not in any way overawed by the big occasion - as he had shown earlier that summer by taking 5-38 in the World Cup final against England on the same ground.

“The ground didn’t make any difference to me,” Garner said on a return to the County Ground during this summer’s World Cup.

“You have to bowl, so it doesn’t matter where you are.

“If you have a bit of luck and the wicket is in your favour, then great.

“We must have had about 16 coaches going to Lord’s on that weekend.

“The capacity here [Taunton] was about 4,000 and every Sunday the ground was full and bursting at the seams.

“We had great support, not only with the local people but up in Bristol and all around the place.

“When we went to the final, some of my footballing friends came along – as they would if we were playing around different counties. It was a nice atmosphere.”

For Richards, who adorned the front page of this newspaper the following week (‘King Richards reigns at Lord’s’), it was one of countless majestic knocks which made him one of the best batsmen of his or any era.

A three-minute highlights package of his 117 remains available on YouTube and allows supporters a chance to relive the savage cuts through point, the effortless whips off the pads as if casting for a salmon and the glorious straight drives, all of which which set Somerset on their way to victory.

“We had to almost fight our way off the field, as delirious Somerset supporters came charging on to the playing area,” recalls Rose.

“When we got to the dressing room, it was mayhem; everyone was going mad, there were champagne corks popping everywhere.

“As for myself, I sat in a corner for five minutes, utterly drained, both physically and emotionally.

“I had captained Somerset County Cricket Club to its first trophy in its 104-year history. I needed time for it to sink in.”

He didn’t have long, however, as Somerset had to travel up the motorway to Trent Bridge looking for a victory to seal the John Player League trophy and complete their perfect weekend...

Part Two: John Player glory at Trent Bridge…

“IT was a funny weekend. We had to go straight from Lord’s to Nottingham which we had to win to win the league - that’s just how it was in those days.”

Joel Garner and his Somerset teammates could not, therefore, celebrate their famous Gillette Cup victory as wholesomely as they may have wished to - the job was only half done.

The previous year, 1978, Somerset had been faced with the same scenario. Gillette Cup final at Lord’s on Saturday, John Player League title up for grabs on Sunday.

They returned with neither on that occasion and were determined to make up for it on both counts the following year.

The destination was Trent Bridge and the equation was simple; Somerset needed to beat Notts and hope Kent slipped up against Middlesex in Canterbury.

Somerset kept their side of the bargain, batting first and posting 185-8, with a vital 50 from Peter Roebuck complemented by quick runs from Viv Richards (25) and Ian Botham (30).

It was a similar scenario at Canterbury, where Kent needed 184 to beat Middlesex - which Somerset knew as they took to the field.

As Somerset took regular wickets - Garner continuing from where he had left off the previous day with 3-16 in his six overs - news filtered through that Kent had slumped to 78-5.

As Garner and Botham ripped into the Notts tailenders, a BBC technician began to assemble a microphone in front of the pavilion to keep Somerset’s players and fans could aware of events elsewhere.

Nottinghamshire and Kent both subsided, sealing a double triumph for Somerset and ensuring the celebrations could begin.

As the following week’s County Gazette put it: “The nightmare weekend of last September had gone forever - Somerset and their fans had a double to drink to.”

And, in Garner’s words: “To me, if you outplay us in every department then good luck and congratulations.

“The competition was there and we knew if we performed to our best we were going to win it.

“It was unfortunate that it didn’t go our way the year before but we put that right."

If you are planning a day at the cricket this week, don't miss your free ticket to any day of Somerset's County Championship clash against Yorkshire inside this week's County Gazette.