St Matthews v St Phillips
On a cold, wet and windy night these two well-established, experienced teams met at a very busy Accrington Academy. Many questions were asked, such as ‘Who is the oldest player in the league?’ and ‘If I put a bell in the shuttle, would you mind playing in a blindfold?’ in what was to prove a very entertaining, friendly match.
First up, Brian Chappell and Hefin Parry for the home team faced the indomitable pairing of Andy Wood and Mick Ormerod. Despite the titanium rebuild in Hefin’s arm and some very effective centre smashes from his partner, Brian, the St Phillips men proved too strong. Andy’s cross court shots coupled with Mick’s clever drops to the net worked effectively in this evenly matched battle. On the adjacent court, the St Matthews’ ladies, Andrea Walmsley and Aliya Ayub, fought hard against the experienced pairing of Denise Whithy and Elaine Norris. Clever serving by the St Matthews’ couple and energetic smashes from Andrea were, unfortunately, not quite enough as the fast shuttle suited the steady, careful tactical play of the St Phillips’ ladies. Next on court it was the time of the pocket dynamo herself, Pauline ‘it’s in the blood’ Whitehead, playing with Aliya; they faced the finesse of Julie Butterworth partnering Elaine. Another closely fought first game produced some delicate, tight net play from Aliya with Pauline as energetic as ever in her court coverage. Julie’s intelligent reading of the game and punishing drops to the net really stretched the St Matthews’ ladies to the limit. Eventually, however, the fluency of the St Phillips’ ladies and the tactical understanding between them saw another victory to the away team. In the final level doubles’, Hefin partnered Stewart Hope as they stepped up to face Mick and our Chairman, Andy Howard. Professing to be facing his own demons (as if the sight of Stewart and Hefin was not enough!) our Chairman battled hard, dominating at the net with his aggressive style. Stewart’s no mercy approach, however, and excellent cross court defence of the away team’s smashes, eventually wore the St Phillips’ men down in what was to be the home team’s first games of the night.
In the mixed doubles, Brian and Andrea were first up against Denise and Andy Wood for St Phillips. The home team’s Captain, Brian, played some lovely accurate mid court push shots and his partner, Andrea, played herself quickly to the net with fast approaches. Unfortunately, however, the strong smashes of Andy proved too much for the home team. On the next court, Stewart, flushed with success and purporting to have ‘sweaty eyes’, partnered the pocket dynamo, Pauline, against our Chairman Andy and Julie. A neck and neck battle, Andy was determined to make amends for the men’s and, despite Stewart’s plea to Julie that perhaps a blindfold would be in order, the away team won both games. Another closely fought game then went on between Aliya and the titanium enhanced Hefin, who faced Elaine and Mick. This match saw some elegant shuttle control from Hefin matched by Elaine’s excellent anticipation at the net. Forcing the St Phillips’ pairing to chase the shuttle, even Hefin’s strong straight smash was matched by the opposition who, again, won both the games. Next up, Brian and Andrea faced our Chairman Andy and Julie. This time it was the St Matthews’ Captain, Brian’s turn to shine and shine he certainly did in both games. Unfortunately, by winning these games where his partner in crime, Stewart, had failed, Brian found himself footing the bill when the team went to the pub after the game. (That’ll teach him!) The final match of the night saw Stewart and Pauline face Andy Wood and Denise. Again, the strength of the St Phillips’ pairing proved too much for the home team, who saw everything lifted hammered down to their feet.
It was lovely to see so many old faces and friends at the fixture. Just as last week’s report focused on the young players coming through, we must not forget there is plenty of life in the old dogs yet!!