Prior to this match The Marlow Club were table toppers and we were in third with the second place team only one point ahead and we had a match in hand over them both. Fortunately we were able to put out one of Hart’s strongest ever third teams:
1) Paul Barker 2) Mac 3) Tom May 4) Ashley Smith 5) Rick Creber
First up: The Marlow Club has the hottest view on display anywhere in the Berks leagues and so a visit, despite the journey, is always worthwhile. My early arrival was rewarded well, by what can only be described as a model, stretching off for about 20 minutes in full view, wearing some pretty tight stuff. You can forget your Caversham bar staff, this is the place to be.
Anyhow, buoyed by the fact we were putting out a full strength third team we were looking forward to the night and an opportunity to get a foothold back at the top of the league. First up was Ashley (after a brief cold shower). There is not much to say about this one really, won the first, won the second, won the third. 3-0 Hart. Actually yes there was, I busted a string in the knock up. I NEVER break strings. Only rackets.
Next on was Mr May. Rumour had it that Tom was not on top form and had been found wanting on the court recently – It definitely looked like that, with the first one down the pan at 10-9 when it really should have been so much easier. Tom was back in the game by taking the next two and the advice from the balcony of ‘just keep him moving, get it to the corners’ was taken a little too literally and despite opportunities to kill off points, Tom was keen to keep the game going by giving the ball back to his opponent. And so Tom found himself in a 5th set, when it should probably have been 3-0 on another night. Sadly he lost it 9-7. 3-2 Marlow. Its worth noting a few interesting ‘home favour’ decisions across all matches (I’m not bitter) on the night, and when Tom played a shot and won the rally, the ref tried to give the point away on the basis that Tom held his racket up in the air. “I thought you were conceding the point by putting your racket in the air?”. Generally, when playing squash, your racket is recommended to be above ground level. Ending in a let??? Very weird.
Rick was on at the same time and from what I saw, was playing very well against a more than handy no.5. The game flowed back and forth on what I would rate as the match of the night. At one point with Rick being 2-1 up it was opening up. Again, a couple of dubious decisions saw a frustrated Rick lose in a tight fifth game. 3-2 Marlow.
Mac went on court against the old timer with the bandana. It wasn’t looking great after quickly losing the first couple of games but Mac managed to edge a game back before losing out in a relatively tight fourth game. I think I have seen Mac beat this guy before so it was a shame not to repeat that on the night. 3-1 Marlow.
Lastly, Dog3V2 went on to try and rescue something from the night. After a couple of very uncustomary first few points lost, the result was never, ever in doubt (is it ever when Paul is playing??). With a typical iceman display, it was a brutal display brushing their no.1 aside with ease. I noted 3 beads of sweat on the brow after the match but no sign of sweat on the shirt. Also, in keeping with the refereeing display, an interesting ‘angle’ appeared in this match. In what ranks as the best ever get out clause in a match, try the following some time (as demonstrated by Pauls opponent). Your opponent has you running everywhere in the rally, you are stuck at the front of the court and he lobs the ball, looking like its gonna die in the back corner and you are never gonna get there anyway…..with everyone pretty much following the path of the ball with their eyes, throw racket on the floor and ask for a let. Claim that the racket was knocked out of your hand. Yes let. Prompting some quiet vomiting in the mouth from the balcony. 3-0 Hart.
And so….on the night we actually outpointed our opponents 11-9 in games but its the wins that count and they had 3 so the match score was 14-11 Marlow but at least this puts us in great position for a playoff place if we make sure we win well from here on in.
MoTM has to go to Paul for the clinical destruction of his opponent (and not getting into a spat over the dropped racket). WoTM is a split between the hottie no.2 with the pink top and the Pilates instructor.