Written by Chief Sports Editor and Club Squash Captain:
The Mighty Seconds kick-off the second half with the second string hoping not to finish second.
That’s right Squash fans, the squash players of Leicestershire have awoken from their Winter hibernation bleary-eyed, over-weight, a yard slower but never-the-less ready and willing to travel to the furthest reaches of the County in search of a game of Squash and some post-match grub.
For the Mighty Second Team, the opening fixture of the second half saw them play host to local and bitter rivals, Leicester Squash Club. The rivalry between the two Clubs is long-standing and runs deep, rumour has it that new members at the London Road Club are made to don a blindfold and cape, stand in front of a select band of senior members and repeat an anti-Leicestershire Tennis and Squash Club mantra whilst being repeatedly flogged with the rackets of previous Club champions.
I should add that I have never been privy to this activity, nor have I ever heard any hard evidence that it exists, indeed it may be that it is something I have just made up, but the fact that the story has been committed to print should prove beyond doubt that it may or may not happen.
Anyway, onto the match itself. During the Winter break, the home side had worked tirelessly in the transfer market and were delighted to complete a deal for free agent Janak Kika. Janak has been out of the game for a while, but the power-brokers behind the scenes could see that he was exactly what the side needed. An older head with bags of experience, a calm head and most importantly, the ability to hit a winner. Three qualities the Mighty Second team were desperately missing – particularly when they have to call on A-A-Ron Kenney. Unfortunately, Kika was unavailable for selection as he had travelled to America having spent hours of various Squash related message boards in search of and successfully finding a vintage pair of the Asics squash shoes he wore in his last match back in 1997.
Furthermore, following his questionable use of a series of friendly Club matches to falsely massage his Squash Levels (https://es.squashlevels.com/player_detail.php?player=45678&show=last10), George Brown had risen to the top of the Second Team order but having decided to jet off to a mid-season Winter training camp (and to hopefully think about his actions), it was the old-guard who fought to defend the Clubs honour.
With the pre-match atmosphere positively bristling with tension (apparently, I turned up half an hour late), the line-ups were revealed and we were ready to go.
- Robbie “The Natural” Wynne vs Rich “Tin Cup” Reed
- Chris “The Don” Trafford vs Robbie “Baby Face” Dalby
- Adam “Hands” Popowicz vs Rich “Tin-Tin” Dalby
- Andy “Long Haul” Maynard vs James “The Gentry” Greenlees
- Dan “The Professional” Willets vs Dave “Markers Dream” Preston
Dan “The Professional” Willets vs Dave “Markers Dream” Preston
Being the multi-tasking-hardworking-handsome-successful-Father-of-two that I am, it was unfortunate that I was unable to arrive at the specified start time. Sometimes things get in the way and are unavoidable, what can I say? It happens to the very best of us and a solid stance on priorities, principles and beliefs should never be compromised. As it turns out, the post bath-time episode of Peppa Pig was just too gripping for me to tear myself away from. What some may have seen as a simplistic slap-stick sketch aimed at pre-school age children, I saw as a truly wonderful piece of comedy writing, and there was no way I was going to miss it.
With my tardiness, Pops marking Traffs’ match and Manky sat chatting to Steve, Dan was forced to ask James “The Gentry” Greenlees to mark the opening games. Having not seen any of the action in the first two, I can only assume that this was the reason, and the only reason that Dan lost them both. Once I had arrived and took over, it was a very different story.
The third game opened at a steady pace with both players attempting to pin the other in the back corner. The Professional’s game is built on line and length (as well as blocking/barging/striking), so there was only going to be one winner of these exchanges. Indeed it was Preston who was unable to get in front of the bandana-man Dan, and with his opponent floundering, Willets could mop up the loose balls like Matt Williams mops up the remining sauce of his chicken curry with his final chip. A well thought out and well executed game.
Game 4 and more of the same please Dan. Well it started off the same, but at the mid-point things turned a bit messy. Both players are fairly sizeable (not like A-A-Ron, I just mean tall), so there were increasing ‘traffic problems’ around the centre of the court. With neither player willing to give an inch, it took some genuine world-class marking to keep proceedings in order (now I know how Berscow must feel). Alas and alack these physical exchanges took their toll on the Leicestershire Captain, and it was Preston who was able to hurdle the final hurdle and take the match 3 games to 1.
An valiant yet ultimately disappointing effort from The Professional who will no doubt be looking to improve on this performance as the season continues.
Chris “The Don” Trafford vs Robbie “Baby Face” Dalby
Bucking the trend of working from the bottom up, the second match on court was the second string pairing. Both players are known for their quickness of movement and hard no-nonsense hitting. This season has seen Dalby hit new heights and is playing some of his best squash – some say this is down to a new found love and dedication towards the game, others don’t. As for Traffs, he has spent the entire Christmas break repeatedly walking up and down hills and mountains, forever casting furtive glances at his go-go-gadget watch to ensure he is maintaining his optimum heart-rate for ultimate fitness gains. Couple this with a series of on-court-coaching sessions with Ollie “The Technician” Wood to improve technique and tactics, and you have a very dangerous, physical and resolute animal on your hands…
Trafford had little answer to a swash-buckling Baby face and promptly lost the opening two games.
However, there is no worse scoreline in Squash than being 2-0 up (some would argue being 3-0 down is worse but they are wrong). Much like in football when a side goes two-nil up, if they concede it is often the case that a full-blown capitulation ensues; the side loses, they end up getting relegated, the Board’s hand is forced and they embark on a huge cost-cutting exercise, mass redundancies ruin the lives of countless families, relationship are broken, children are abandoned, the Town struggles to cope with the impact, shops on the High Street are boarded up, crime rates go through the roof and the Town becomes a no-go-zone, in an abandoned state the land becomes over-run by rodents, with no natural predators the species thrives and grows, a breed of super-rodent evolves and spreads from City to City, a post-Brexit Government is in disarray and are completely blindsided unable to react, mass panic ensues and we have no choice but to move to Scotland to hide behind Hadrian’s wall.
Ok, perhaps that was slightly excessive, but at 2-0 up, Dalby was hit with a relentless barrage of hitting that he simply had no answer to. A resurgent Trafford had fire in his veins and hit Baby Face with everything he had; ferocious forehands, brutish backhands, voluptuous volleys and delicious drops. In a blur the scores were tied and we went into a decider.
Having been on the receiving end of a truly earth-shattering beat down, Dalby was on the ropes. Punch drunk, dazed and a little scared, he had nothing left in the tank – the fight had gone. The Don was able to maintain his composure to see out the final game and claim a well-deserved victory to the rapturous applause of the small but high quality crowd.