Week 11 24th February, 2016
Where’s the Daddy, Mr Ainger?
My apologies for the break in reports. Too much to do, too little time is my excuse. Nice to have been missed though!
Back at the ever popular Norden Sports Centre, it was lovely to see the courts in full use as Captain-my-Captain Howard, resplendent with his bionic arm band, graced the courts adjacent to my reported game as St Phillips faced yet another of the Blackburn Seniors teams.
My attention, however, was firmly upon the eagerly anticipated Blackburn Seniors A match against the Hit and Miss A team squad of: Ashley Gibson, Abdul Malik, Keith Ashton, Cheryl Parry, Alison Leaver and Helen Borrowdale. Yes, welcome back H is back in the league: badminton players beware! Search as I might, I could not find the Seniors A team men, however. Their ladies were there, steady as ever: Jenny Woods, Joanna Holt and Claire Edmundson; but where oh where were Daddy Ainger and Nathan? Rick Smith took no time in telling me that a very extended Valentines weekend for the new pater had put paid to Ainger, and that the smash that is Nathan had simply vanished. Fortunately, the young pretender, AKA Brad Savage, and Matt Cole, were more than ready to prove themselves worthy opponents against the mighty Hit and Miss.
In the level doubles, Cheryl and Alison were well matched against Jenny and Claire. Good use of the court by all four players (one of whom I believe was told by her partner to move a little quicker, but perhaps not quite in those words!) made for an extremely entertaining first game which was suitably split between the two sides. In the men’s, Rick and Brad faced Ashley and Keith and gave a similarly sporting performance. Despite having man flu (ie cold), Rick worked hard to stretch his experienced opposition, with the young Brad literally bouncing around him. Whether it was Ashley’s jump smash (which I never did catch on camera) or simply Keith’s impression of a lollipop crossing man, with matching racquet handle to boot, the Hit and Miss couple eventually proved too much for the Seniors’ battlers. In the second ladies’ match, the nippy left hander, Alison, partnered H against the home team’s Claire and Joanna. Again, a neck and neck ladies’ game with some excellent retrieving from all four players resulted in another split match. In the final men’s game, Abdul’s flick serve and elegant drops to the net worked well as he partnered the nonchalant Mr Ashton against the young Seniors’ pairing of Brad and Matt. Despite some great rallies, the experience of the Hit and Miss men proved a little too much for the home team.
On to the mixed doubles, and it was the match I’d been waiting for – not just to catch a glimpse of Ashley’s elusive jump smash. Yes, it was the clash of the cousins as Cheryl faced Rick. I lost count of how many times Rick’s shots touched the net chord; and his Jenny’s retrieving simply wore me out watching. After a long, very close, very exhausting battle, it was Cheryl’s deceptive flicks and Ashley’s punishing drops to the net (still no sight of that jump smash) that won them both games. One of these days, Rick, you’re going to get him. Believe me. On the adjacent court, Helen proved she still had what it takes as she partnered Abdul against the promising pairing of Matt and Joanna. Again, the home pairing’s court awareness was excellent but the might of the Malik was even better. Next up, Keith and Alison faced young Brad and Claire. With mutterings of ‘not him again; his backhand is better than my forehand’, Claire knew she had a battle on her hands, and not just from the opposition. The Seniors’ couple put up a brave fight but the dazzling speed of Alison, and Keith’s florescent attire, eventually wore their opposition down. In the penultimate game (I hope you can tell I’m an English teacher!) Abdul and Helen almost came to blows when they faced Rick (who had just about recovered from the marathon against his cousin) and the indefatigable Jenny. Daring to stray to the back of the court (ie Abdul’s territory) Helen felt the force of her partner’s racquet in a very close shave against her top lip! And the moral is, don’t cross Abdul! Again, the Seniors’ couple showed incredible spirit and determination as they scurried around the court. In the end, after another two very close games, however, it was Abdul’s consistent run of serving which saw the opposition victorious. The final opportunity for Ashley to display his jump smash was beckoning as the man himself took to the spare court with his partner, Cheryl, to face the youngsters, Matt and Joanna. Even crouched by the side of the court, however, the closest my camera got to a jump ended up a blur on the screen. As the Hit and Miss couple came off the court having won both games, I knew I would be berated for my slow camera skills.
Though not reflected in the result, this game was a closely fought battle from beginning to end. Somehow the Seniors’ team found the strength to remind people of the alteration to the end of season presentation dance. April 15th at Great Harwood Cricket Club is going to be an excellent way to finish in style – and, at only £10 a head, what’s not to love. As if that’s not enough, the popular buy 5 tickets, get 1 free, is making a come back. So, a team of 6 players can be wined (well, you probably have to buy your own) and dined, before dancing the night away, for the princely sum of £50!
As you can imagine, tickets for this are selling like hot cakes – so get yours quickly from either Jenny Woods or Claire Edmundson.