The Veterans Squash Rackets Club of Great Britain

home > tours > dublin
GB Vets Tour to Dublin March 2011
(Planes Boats Car and Foot)

A select team of players, namely Hardy, Howes, Pearse, Garrett and Searle set of by various means to assemble in Dublin on Friday 18th March to play the annual match against the Fitzwilliam Club.

Howes and Garrett, with Mrs Howes in tow, departed Thursday to travel by car to pick up the Irish Ferry to Rosslare. After borrowing a set of jump leads to start their car the Howesmobile left ½ hour late, to collect David Garrett from his riverside dwelling and attempted to make up time to catch the ferry.

Arriving in Fishguard with time to spare we headed to the local greasy spoon for a quick bite to eat before check in time. Howes turned white when checking his ticket to realise that he should have been at Pembroke Docks not Fishguard. Well Fishguard is in Pembroke after all and an easy (but expensive) mistake to make. After purchasing a ticket for the Stenna Line ferry we eventually set sail on a calm sea to Rosslare. Meanwhile Keith Searle and partner Maureen travelled by an economy airline and were safely in their hotel in Dublin.

Young fit Hardy arrived on the Friday morning while the Howes’s and Garrett had a leisurely drive to Dublin via the Wicklow Mountains. David had rallied in Ireland on numerous occasions and was proud to show off his navigation skills in delivering us on time at the gates of the Fitzwilliam Club. So four of us plus three were settled in at the Club and our hospitality host Patrick Murray greeted us and invited us to lunch, a theme that followed over the next couple of days. We were then offered things as rare as Rocking Horse stuff. Tickets for the Rugby at face value. We dispatched David, the Vets Club Treasurer, to negotiate and after a hopeful hour he told us we were misinformed and they were available for 450 euro each. Thankfully we didn’t take up their kind offer.

With a change of plan only a couple of days before, the squash match was to be played on the Friday night instead of before the Rugby on the Saturday. We needed to acclimatise to the local environment so headed to Dublin Bay for a stroll along the front. Hardy’s complaint that all the seats were occupied and he couldn’t lie down was ignored as he was supposed to be the fit one amongst us. Match time was at 5.30 and we were still one short. Pearse, Chairman supreme of England Master’s Squash, was still on the ferry from Holyhead. He had booked his ticket expecting us to play as usual on the Saturday.

Fortunately Bruce Staunton was on hand to collect Martin from the port and then we were complete. I would like to report that we were triumphant in the match, but that was not to be. Apart from Stuart (The England O’55 Captain) at #1 who won 3-0, beating the Irish O’45 #2. The rest of us succumbed to better and more often younger opponents.
We tried hard, gave a good account of ourselves but fell short of the expected victory.

More food and drink was then on offer and at 11.00 some of us were taken to a “quiet” pub in Glencullen in the Dublin Mountains. If ever you go to Dublin this is a pub worth visiting with at least 2 music rooms and probably 3/400 patrons on an average night. Very lively to say the least. More drinks back at our host’s accommodation and we staggered off to our respective resting places.

On Saturday morning we returned to the Fitzwilliam Club for more squash. This time a mixture of doubles and singles, playing different opponents from the night before. Again I am saddened to report that Stuart Hardy was the only victor. Stuart and yours truly started well in our doubles match, but a combination of hangover and atrocious squash from myself saw us fail again. After a light lunch of soup and red wine, a trip into Dublin was in order and so the UK party joined the merry throng in the Dublin streets in anticipation of an English victory in the Rugby and a Grand Slam to celebrate later that evening. All except Martin who having blagged a ticket to the rugby from the English Team Coach, headed off to Landsdowne Road.

The next chapter left blank on purpose but entitled “How we didn’t win the Grand Slam”. So back to the Fitzwilliam for the evening event which was a combined dinner for the various teams that had played that day. The Vets Club, The Jesters and the PUBS, public schools tennis. As always the hospitality was amazing and a splendid evening was had by all, not spoilt by the speeches from the losing captains. After more nightcaps at our various host’s abodes, we staggered off to our slumber.

Sunday saw the merry band of men disperse their various ways. Some to head home others to enjoy another week in the Emerald Isle. Many thanks must go to our hosts, Patrick Murray, Jim Flynn, Trevor McVeagh and Damian O'Reilly, and our opponents Damian, Jim, Seamus Woulfe, Michael Roden, Colm Andrews and Trevor McVeagh.
We look forward to hosting the Fitzwilliam Team in the UK next year.

Geoff Howes
March 2011