Written by Chief Sports Editor and Club Squash Captain:

Rob Wynne

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.

  1. Robbie “The Natural” Wynne vs Rich “Tin Cup” Reed
  2. Chris “The Don” Trafford vs Robbie “Baby Face” Dalby
  3. Adam “Hands” Popowicz vs Rich “Tin-Tin” Dalby
  4. Andy “Long Haul” Maynard vs James “The Gentry” Greenlees
  5. Dan “The Professional” Willets vs Dave “Markers Dream” Preston

Match One:

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.

Match Two:

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.

Match Three:

Adam “Hands” Popowicz vs Rich “Tin-Tin” Dalby

On paper this was a tricky tie for the returning Pops.  Since throwing his toys, rackets, dummy, and kitchen sink out of the pram in the home tie against Charnwood last year, “Hands” has been on a self-imposed break from our wonderful game, taking the time to forget, to reflect, to heal.  To a man the Mighty Seconds were delighted to see him back on court, and not just because we were desperately short of numbers.

Now this was a special match for more than one reason.  To break tradition, I will reveal the score before the end of the write-up.

Pops won 3-0.

The fact I have done that means there must be something a little different about this one.

Was it Pop’s choice of apparel?  Although it was very special, the answer is no.

And before you say it, I know it is still a lot better than the clobber that Matt Williams wears (who I am sure packs his squash bag in the dark).

No, the special thing about this match was the timing.  As the score was called to signal the end of Game Two, hushed whispers began to float across the gallery…

“That didn’t take long”

“Have they got somewhere to be?”

“These lads are in a rush”

“Give us some of your peanuts”

Being the all-round media savvy chap who regularly does voluntary work that I am, I had on the night taken some action shots to capture the buzz and electricity of the evening.  I like to share these moments with those not playing/not allowed out by their wives, so added the snaps to a WhatsApp group to provide a kind of running commentary.  In light of the speedy nature the match had taken, I consulted the Group Chat and noticed that the pre-match shot of Pops in his Colin Ayling hand-me-down top, taken just as the match started was sent at 20:10.  The note to say the score was 2-0 was sent at 20:13 – meaning that two games had taken just 3 minutes!

This was partly due to the super attacking playing styles of both players, partly it was due to “Tin-Tin” living up to his name, but mostly is was due to Pops’ performance.  To quote Chris “The Don” Trafford…

“He’s unplayable when he plays like this”.

In fact, the match was over that fast, by the time it had finished the fourth match of the evening which had gone on at a similar time had only just finished warming up.

And for those that don’t believe me, see below (the “7 minutes” stated in the chat obviously included the warm-up)…


Match Four:

Andy “Long Haul” Maynard vs James “The Gentry” Greenlees

Unfortunately, I missed this match as I was playing so can only go on what I was told…

Playing is third match in three days, “Long Haul” was putting himself on the line for his teammates in a true act of courage and selflessness.  Having represented both the Thirds and Firsts, it was now time to go in to bat for the pick of the bunch, The Mighty Seconds.  His opponent was the poshest man in England and all round good bloke, James “The Gentry” Greenlees.

Going from the messages on the group chat, Manky made a made a blistering start in the opening game, sprinting to an 8-0 lead.  At this point I can only assume that he forgot it wasn’t first to 9 and downed tools waiting for the final point to fall gift-wrapped into his lap.  The bad news is that it didn’t and somehow, the third in line to the throne staged an unlikely comeback and nicked the first game from under Manky’s nose.

Now you don’t become the most in demand player on the LT&SC roster without having a bit of spunk, and in the second game manky showed that he has bucket loads of the stuff.  Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, he showed his might by taking the next two games to put him within one of victory.  Greenlees however had other ideas.  Perhaps sensing that manky would surely be feeling the effects after a week of Squash, he began to up the ante and force the issue.  Again, having not seen the game I can only go on what I know, but from the looks of the Group Chat update, it sounded like a real nail-biter!

“manky 2 all”

The final game went to the wire and in that kind of pressure situation there will only be one winner.  The post-match vision of a battle weary soldier dutifully applying ice to an injured knee, proud and jubilant comrades pausing for words of congratulations, the beaten foe head in hands stirs emotions that are hard for me to describe.  So I won’t.

Manky had done it.

This is the drama of Squash, it’s what we love, it’s what we live for.

It’s what we do.

Match score 3-1.  Game over.

Final Match:

Robbie “The Natural” Wynne vs Rich “Tin Cup” Reed

I’m getting tired or writing now and I should probably do some work before I go home, so for this one I’m just going to revert back to WhatsApp.  It’s easier and you get a sense of what happened.  Basically, I played Rich Reed who spanked me in the first half of the season.  It was a dead rubber so it didn’t really matter what the score was as we had already won, so with nothing but pride to play for, we went on court…

So there you have it, an excellent night of Squash and a great start to the season for Dan’s Second Team.

It will be a night long remembered by some, soon forgotten by others.

But let the records forever show that on this day, in this place, the boys from The Mighty Second Team showed that of all the Squash Clubs in LE2, ours is the best…