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GB Vets Club visit to Jersey

DECEMBER 5th - 7th 2014

I have been visiting Jersey for some 5 years now, as part of a ceremony held on the North side of the Island on the Friday before Remembrance Sunday in early November. This is in memory of my namesake uncle, who was sadly wounded, and subsequently died, on a Special Boat Service reconnaissance raid in 1943. My visits also included squash with, or against, Allen Brown, who had suggested that I bring a full Vets team with me to enjoy the hospitality. Unfortunately, he decided to take a round-World holiday at the inappropriate time, to celebrate a biggish birthday (a bit over 45) and also engagement to his partner Debbie. So, we had to find a different weekend, which did not clash with England Squash Masters regional events or other pressing matters, and settled on December 5th to 7th, with some prayers being said re weather forecasts.

The team comprised myself, Peter Culver, Alastair Niven, Aubrey Waddy (with partner Alison) and Chris Wilson, all chosen for their competitively social attributes. Three of us, Al, Peter and me, left early on the Friday in order to fit in 18 holes at the La Moye Golf Club, arranged through a local good mate of Al's from his Wimbledon Club days. A very good day, spoiled only by a spot of rain on the 18th and Peter missing a vital putt which would have given him and me a half in our match. Then it was on to meet the others at Allen and Debs house, and their neighbours, where we were staying. We decided to forgo the optional hit at the squash club, and instead concentrated on a meal out at Gorey, on the eastern extremity of the Island, reached by bus to avoid any speeding (30mph max, so everyone has BMWs or equivalent) or drinking limitations. Entertainment on the return journey was provided by the St Helier branch of the Manchester United Supporters Club, with all of us learning a few more rhymes for that wonderful footballer Stephen Gerard.

Saturday was wonderful weather, clear and cold, for the round-Island sight-seeing trip, so nice that Debs insisted on driving her sports cabriolet with the roof down and with Peter (fall-guy) and Alison in the back. The views to the north of Guernsey, Sark and even Alderney were very clear, as were those of France to the east. A good lunch at 4-mile beach on the west of the Island put us in good order for the afternoon match, and Peter was confirmed in his fall-guy status by being selected as No 1 for the team, on account of his youth (<60).

The match result was an encouraging 4-1 win for the visitors. Peter's 3-1 loss at No 1 to Hugh Jones was probably the closest of the games, and no disgrace as Hugh has been a mainstay of various ages of Jersey teams over some years, and where sadly he chooses not to show in England Squash Regionals or Nationals. The rest of us had a little bit to spare in our matches, but we were grateful to Allen for choosing exactly the right team which gave us good and friendly opposition. I have to apologise for our No 5, Chris, who was particularly severe, in taking on and beating two opponents who were keen to be involved. The match was followed by a meal at a local restaurant and then back to Allen/Debs for drinks until quite early next morning.

This last and the deteriorating weather inhibited our sporting activities on the Sunday, with only me and Al venturing out before lunch. I was thrashed by Hugh again on a very cold squash court, while Al managed 9 holes of golf before being thoroughly drenched. A quick visit to the Southern extremity of the Island at Noirmont Point, where the wind forced even Aubrey to hang onto, rather than wear his hat, gave everyone great appetite for lunch, this time at St Aubins Harbour.

We would like to thank everyone at Jersey squash for the great hospitality shown to us, especially Allen and Debs who acted as hoteliers, drivers, guides and fixers. It was brilliant, and I am very keen to see this continue as a regular fixture for the Vets.

Philip Ayton