Times Cup Final between Independents and St Nicholas 25th April 2018
Captained by Nigel-a-proper-captain-sweeps-the-courts Shuker, Independents faced St Nicholas, ably led by Yvonne Kay. On Nigel’s team the ladies were: Pam Parkinson, Gill Fourie and Karen Lamb, with Pete Wright, Stuart Davey and the Captain, Nigel – our own Chairman being relegated to putting the all- important scores on the official blue score sheet. For Yvonne, the ladies were Lynne Barnard and Louise Hustler, with Gary Walton, Matt Honey and Mohammed Aslam.
The scene was set; the supporters were ready; the teams had knocked up. If there’d been a drum roll, I’m sure it wouldn’t have been out of place!
In the first level doubles, Pete Wright showed some excellent anticipation as Aslam for St Nicholas served with confidence, forcing the Independents’ men to lift the shuttle for Gary Walton to smash. From start to finish, this was a good, battling game of badminton played in a friendly, competitive spirit. On the adjacent court, Pam Parkinson and Karen, used their strength from the back of the court to good effect with some accurate backline clears. Louise’s quick anticipation of the opposition’s smashes, however, produced long, exhausting rallies. Careful judgement on the back line by Lynne was countered with effective backhand drops from Karen Lamb as all four ladies moved tactically around the court. In the second men’s doubles, Aslam again served with consistency, this time partnering Matt Honey. Frequently diving full length to retrieve the shuttle, Matt just kept the rallies going in this match, which was received in an extremely sporting manner by the Independent pairing of Stuart and Nigel. Eager to keep the score down, Stuart’s calm competitiveness was needed in this very close game of doubles. The second ladies’ couples, Karen and Gill for Independents, and Yvonne and Louise for St Nicholas, had an equally well fought match.
As we went in to the mixed doubles, both teams knew they were still neck and neck and, however clichéd, there really was everything to play for.
Having promised me she would be going to the Presentation Evening on Friday 18th May with a ‘Well I picked this one (meaning the esteemed Mr Wright) up at last year’s event’, Pam and Pete went on court at top mixed to face Lynne and Gary. I can only say positive things about this game (I only ever say positive things anyway!) but it was the start of many entertaining and close mixed games. Pete’s effective drop shots were retrieved ably by Gary as he moved around the court, with Lynne cutting off many of the cross court drives. In the second mixed, Gill and Stuart faced Yvonne and Matt, the latter continuing to dive around the court in his determination to keep the shuttle in play. His accurate cross court net shots were excellent throughout the night, as was his support of his playing partner. As the third pairings of Nigel and Karen for Independents and Louise and Aslam for St Nicholas, started their game, the match was still in the balance and nobody knew which team would come out on top.
In the penultimate game, Pam and Peter played the number twos for St Nicholas, Yvonne and Matt. I scored this game and can testify to the length of the rallies and the competitiveness of all four players. The game had us on the edge of our seats as Chairman Andy started to add up the points on the official score sheet and bite his nails, nervously. Whether Lynne and Gary knew how many points they needed in the final game of the night, against Gill and Stuart, nobody will ever know, but both Independent players performed like their lives depending on this game. That’s how important badminton is.
It is always such a shame that one team has to come second, particularly when the match, from start to finish, had been played in such a friendly spirit. As points were nervously counted and checked, it was up to Chairman Andy to announce that, with just a 5 point lead, St Nicholas had won The Times Cup for 2018 – this promoted an immediate three cheers from the Independents’ team.
What will I remember from the match? Well, obviously, the manner in which it was played and the excellent handicapping of the game (thanks Rick Smith!); but also the support given by those on the benches who had come to watch their teams. I’d also like to give a big shout to the Committee members who gave up their time to help run and score this important culmination of league badminton in Blackburn. You know what’s coming next – yes, the Presentation Evening at the Blackburn Golf Club on Friday 18th May. At just £12 a ticket (£6 if you’re a Junior) you really must be there to support the league you play in and congratulate those who have competed and won this year. Contact Cathy Hunt for your tickets before the 10th May.