The Veterans Squash Rackets Club of Great Britain

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29th JANUARY 2022

GB Vets Squash return to Oxford for a further Battle

As most of the GB Vets players had somehow failed to be invited to the big Christmas Parties around London, notably in Downing Street, they had retained their extreme level of fitness into the New Year and felt ready to pit, yet again, age and experience against youthful enthusiasm (coupled worryingly with speed).

An absolute torrent of applications to play was received by GB Vets Captain Nick Sheppard to his invitation for players for the second year of this fixture. A squad of 18 players was assembled and, given a couple of Covid/Injury issues, a band of 16 duly arrived at Oxford for a noon start.

Robert Smith started with a hard-fought victory over Freddie Murley but the match soon went topsy-turvy with Ripley Oyler’s superior placement just failing to stem the outright speed of Archie Morfoot, a 3/2 Victory for Oxford. Never fear one of our superb ladies Alison Goy came through with a tight 3/0 and so the day progressed.

Our Captain Nick Sheppard, in a match of Titanic proportions, just went down with his ship against Alex McFadzean, 9/11 in the fifth. One of six 3/2 matches going either way in close combat. There was no need to worry though as his team were quickly in the lifeboats to save him.

Emile Okada v Keith Ragg – 1/3. Keith had his game face on and played out a purposeful win with just a couple of hiccups along the way.

Bill Sutton-Matthews v Steve Jackson - 2/3. Steve, having discovered that the lob was not the ideal weapon against somebody 6’4” high resorted to a drop shot bonanza in the fifth which paid dividends as Bill struggled to get down to the ball.

Bill Taylor v Mark Shildrake - 2/3. Somehow Mark managed to find a way to get the ball past another very tall opponent who seemed to have elastic arms and was in the recent past an U16 Racketlon GB team member.

Sam Greenwood V Nigel Bacon - 3/0. Sam was just too tall and reached every one of Nigel’s carefully positioned shots, a very tight 3 zip that could have come out very differently on another day.

Abbey Scott v Dawn Robinson - 0/3. another one of the Vets band of very effective ladies benefiting from the coaching of Paul Selby.

Tim Delport v John Parkes - 0/3. John fresh from his success in the British Open (O60s Champion) played his normal high tempo squash, working his opponent around the court and his superior boasts winning the day.

So where were we overall? 7/3 to the Vets and now some of the heavy hitters are on court.

Probably the match of the day - Tim Bennet v David Harris. 14/12 in the fifth to Tim, a jammed balcony watching two well matched players both of whom were extremely gentlemanly in refusing to take match ball opportunities.

Joe Sibley v Andy Murray - 3/0. Andy just couldn’t get into gear - which is surprising because he sells gear as a day job! Andy came off court rather lathered up, admitted to having a fever and thought he was about to pass out!

Trajan Halvorsen v Fergus Burnett - 0/3. Fergus silky skills saw him through against Trajan who would clearly have been a real handful if not recovering from a bad ankle injury.

A few second matches for some.

Bill Sutton Matthews v John Prestwich - 3/0. Bill’s second outing of the day was not as easy as the score suggests.

Ansita Kamachanran v Dawn Robinson - 0/3. Dawn on court for her second game with another professional performance.

Zaynab Sarguroh v Robert Smith - 1/3. Robert on court again, his lobs taking unfair advantage of their respective heights. If only Zaynab had thought to tie his shoelaces together...

Archie Morfoot v Alison Goy - 3/2. Another game of the day, with Alison bringing her A-game and just, just falling short. There was some tension on the balcony as Alison took a 2-1 lead with Ripley Oyler in particular concerned that Alison might overturn his earlier loss to the same opponent…….

Finally The Number Ones

Oxford Captain James McCouat V Mick Biggs (O40 British Open Semi Finalist)

This was such an advert for the game, brilliant shots fantastic court coverage by both players. Unbelievably it finished 3/0 to the Vets, to Mick who looked somewhat ragged towards the end it seemed like it was 20/18 in the fifth, a brilliant end to a day of Squash.

Final Score GB Vets 11 Oxford 7

Thanks go to the Oxford Captains James and Zaynab for putting together the team and the event and to all The Oxford players who between them marked most games. A special thanks also to Mike Sauvage for organising accommodation for some of the Vets players at Wadham College and for his background work in supporting the students both in preparation before and during the day.

So, showers negotiated against a team of Basketballers, hotels etc located, it was time after, of course, a couple of refreshing drinks, possibly alcoholic, to meet up at Bella Italia for a celebratory dinner.

What happened next of course drifts into the mist a little, but after being stitched up by Robert Smith into speaking in front of the whole restaurant, Nick’s Captains speech held the whole of the clientele, including escapees from the Rocky Horror show on one of the tables, in awe, as ‘quiet’ temporarily reigned, for his well-chosen words about the day and in particular thanking our hosts.

A great day and evening-looking forward to next year!

Robert Smith Cc BBC Sport E&OE