Blackburn Seniors D v St Matthews – It’s a family affair meets a few popular pensioners
First up for the home team, the lady herself, Elaine Smith, partnering smiley Captain, Anne Masterson, as they faced the pocket dynamo that is Pauline Whitehead, and Aliya Ayub. Smothered in a cold and dangerously sucking a cough sweet, Elaine weaved deftly at the net as Anne’s accurate drops forced the opposition to some excellent court coverage. The dynamo that is Pauline, however, made effective use of the cross court drive and, with Aliya’s intelligent long serving, won both games. On the adjacent court, the two youngsters, Morgan Shanks for Blackburn Seniors, and Rees Parry for St Matthews, faced each other. Playing with Andy Dadswell, it was lovely to see Morgan’s determination and commitment in this, his first season in the league. Andy’s strong clears and brilliant backhand control meant Rees, playing with the experienced Stewart Hope, had to work very hard indeed. Stewart’s clever centre line serve and net control eventually won both games for St Matthews.
Next on court, Mel Rushton, Macy’s mum, played with Anne, against Aliya and Pauline Clarke. As her mum’s cross court smashes reigned supreme, Macy busily filled me in on who was who: did I know that Anne was her Maths teacher and also taught Year 4 Class Worship? I did not. The St Matthews’ strong front and back partnership saw some serious focused play from Pauline, resplendent in her headband, with Aliya’s excellent smashes making it very difficult for the home side. The men’s pairing of Andy and Stephen Smith for Blackburn Seniors battled it out on the adjacent court against the talented Rees, this time partnering the St Matthews Captain, Brian Chappell. This close match saw some excellent battling rallies from all four men. Efficient line calls from Brian to his young partner and punishing cross court backhand drops meant the Blackburn Seniors’ men had to dig deep. Despite some elegant net shots from Stephen, again the away team were victorious, going in to the mixed doubles with a commanding lead.
The young left handed talent of Morgan, partnering the lady herself, Elaine, next faced the experienced pairing of Pauline Whitehead and Stewart. She may be small, but she is mighty has been used in the past to describe this garrulous St Matthews lady. Pauline’s dominance at the net coupled with Stewart’s well controlled service returns kept the youthful legs of Morgan very busy indeed. Despite some lovely controlled centre smashes, again the away team won both games. Captain, Anne, playing with Andy, next faced Rees and Aliya from St Matthews. It was a shame that my courtside photography didn’t catch Rees’s jump smash as I’m sure it was spectacular. Using her height to good effect, Aliya dominated the net and, despite Anne’s accurate long serves and Andy’s strong smashes and controlled backhand drives, the St Matthews’ pairing won both games. Stephen and Mel were next up against Brian and Pauline Clarke. Another close game, with some very loud line calls from Stephen which made everybody at Norden jump, not least his partner, Mel, finished with another two games for the opposition. In the final game of the night, Stephen and Mel faced Stewart and Pauline Whitehead. Careful not to jeopardise her recently insured car, Pauline, running like a greyhound, covered the court well. Mel’s aggressive net play and Stephen’s effective drop to the net eventually saw the home team win their first game of the night. Still reeling from her partner’s head (literal) shot, Pauline dared to come back on court, this time more watchful of Stewart’s straying racquet.
As always, Norden provided a very entertaining match for me to report on. The constant chat from both teams and friendly camaraderie made for an excellent evening of badminton in which young and old players mixed with courtesy and sportsmanship. Just as it should be.