A real Captain sweeps the floor before the match starts
My second visit to St Wilfred’s, this time to watch a very entertaining game between two evenly matched teams. Having swept the court, Nigel-real-Captain-Shuker of Independents was quick to get the game started with the level doubles. Partnering John Oldham (more on him later!) they met stiff opposition in Chris Tomlinson and Ian Bythell. The clever tactical court coverage of the Caprica Healthcare men and excellent smashes down the middle worked well against the Independents’ couple. The rallies were long and hard fought but, eventually, the Caprica pairing was victorious. Chris, whose smile seems to be a permanent fixture on his face throughout the games he plays, beamed from ear to ear when he put the final winning shot on to the floor. If only I’d been quicker with my camera!
On the adjacent court the ladies had a similar battle. Sue Hivons and the awesome power of Rosie Southworth took on Janice Schofield and Gill Fourie. Sue’s well placed drop shots and excellent court positioning ensured the mighty Rosie could smash to her heart’s content. Janice’s brilliant anticipation and counter smashes, however, coupled with Gill’s superb court coverage and cross court drop shots, eventually proved too much for the Caprica ladies in the second game. In the next ladies’ match, Gill and Rosie again clashed, this time playing with Pam Parkinson and Angela Woodward respectively. Angela’s well balanced footwork and effortless cross court winners complemented Rosie’s aggressive smashing. All four ladies covered the court well, with Pam often reaching the unreachable shot. In the end, however, it was Rosie’s scampering after shuttles which she never thought of as dead which ensured the Caprica ladies’ victory in both games.
Back to the men’s: it really was a ‘which game shall I watch next’ kind of fixture! This time Nigel-real-Captain-Shuker partnered Stuart Davey as they faced the ever smiling Chris with Mark Jelic. Stuart’s controlled net play and aggressive body shots helped the Independents’ men to dictate the opening of the game. Mark’s tight short serves and well-judged line calls, however, ensured their opposition had a good run for their money. Eventually, the Independents’ pairing took control, winning both of the games. The match as a whole was finely poised.
On to the mixed doubles and suddenly the wily O.A.P. and his partner, Janice Schofield, came in to their own. Throughout the evening I was offered various epithets to describe Mr Oldham, not all of them printable. Fortunately his wife, Mandy, came to my rescue with the said ‘wily O.A.P.’ Ian Bythell’s probing flick serving, coupled with Sue’s steady net play, were eventually broken down by the experience of this clever left hander. The mixed doubles battles between all of the couples were supported by both teams watching at the back of the court, with many, again, applauding a good shot from the opposition. Perhaps the most competitive of the mixed games came between Ian and his former team mate, Stuart Davey. Neck and neck in both games, Ian’s acrobatics came in to their own when he dived off court to retrieve the shuttle only to produce the winning shot.
The banter at the back of the court varied from the fire and subsequent road block at Whitebirk which had momentarily delayed the Caprica 2nd lady, Angela, to the suggestion that maybe a gossip column on the Blackburn & District website would get more readers. Obviously, the matching kit of Stuart and Pam was noted by all as an indication that they had been forewarned of my visit. Again, then, a very enjoyable and productive night of badminton was had by all, especially yours truly.