Thursday, 30 December 2010

Whitelaw in the papers....

Scotsman, Dec 27, 2010...
Matthew Hunter training with Andy Whitelaw in 2003 at Marcos

Monday, 20 December 2010

Rocco rocks up and claims the booze...

The Xmas team trainers handicap took place with 12 folk turning up to contest the Xmas booze.
Brian Sloan(+4) and Rocco Pannozzo made it through the round-robin as runners- up. They faced group winners Jonathan Frame and Mike Douglas(+5). Jonathan won his but Mike fell victim to Rocco and took his rightful place in the best-of-3 final.
It went all the way to the third game and Rocco(+6) took the whiskey while Jonathan(+3) consoled himself with the runner's up prize of a bottle of wine provided by the captain.
Laugh of the night was when Ali G questioned whether Richard van Lienden's handicap should be adjusted from -4 to -8. Richard got the wooden spoon off -4!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Fives home v Colinton Z(Thurs, Dec 16,'10)

Barbarians go third

A great win for the Barbarians against Colinton Castle 6. This week, injuries again caused a reshuffle with Jonathan Frame making his debut at 1 supported by regulars Brian Sloan, Richard Nisbet and Dean Wood. And following his stunning debut last week, Robin Pollok again took to court at 5. A freak golfing injury had left me on the bench, but I played from the balcony to get the 2 ref points (Dougie, please note J).

First on court was Robin. Now, many of you may realise how sensitive the real Robin is. But following his hilarious report of last week, Robin remarked that he was going to have to watch how he played in case it made the match report. I thought he was joking, but gone was the skipping in the corridor, and there was only one ball on court for the warm up. I was worried that I’d broken his pre-match preparation and that he’d fall apart under the pressure. But I worried in vain. Just like last week, the composed Mr Pollok commanded the court from start to finish. His serve dominated his opponent, winning 27 of his 39 serves. And his returning left his opponent wondering how to get a point as he lost only 8 points from the 27 serves he faced. A great start for the team in a 9-1, 9-4, 9-3 win.

In the absence of Mr Meldrew, our very own Mr Grumpy (Dean) took to the court at 4. As usual, the first match had enough lets and strokes to qualify the entire team as referees. In a nip and tuck game, Dean went 4-1 down and was wondering what he had to do to get a point. He’d served 10 times, and scored just once. But then a run of points brought back 4-4 and so the game edged forward to 7-7. The lets and strokes were still flowing and the requests from the players were getting more and more outrageous. As I turned down a let call from his opponent (who was at least three paces from the ball) Dean decided to get in on the refereeing act by asking his opponent “did you really ask for a let there?”. A number of serves were exchanged before Dean found himself facing game point. An excellent rally followed with both players having the opportunity for a winner and both retrieving well. In the end Dean held on before finding himself game point down again. Again the point was saved and Dean brought the game to 8-8. Set 2 was called and Dean took the game to 9-8 for a game point of his own. But his opponent wouldn’t lie down and had his own chance to go to 9-9. But Dean just persevered and took the first 10-8. At this point, I was exhausted from having to concentrate on both players and their antics. I now know what the umpire felt like in that McEnroe vs Connors game. But I needn’t have worried, as Dean took control of the game and his opponent lost a bit of concentration. The game was closed out 9-1, 9-1 – 2-0 to the Grange.

Next up Richard, who is the Barbarians highest ranked player. He began well, racing to a 5-1 lead and edged on to 8-2 before closing the game out 9-4. The second game followed a similar pattern, although his opponent was putting up more resistance and Richard could be seen to be getting a bit hotter. But he again prevailed 9-4. But by now his opponent was truly warmed up and as Richard looked for some respite, the game began to turn. The third started as a game of cat and mouse (not commenting on who was who) as Richard moved into a narrow 5-4 lead. But a run of points brought his opponent to 8-5 and despite an almighty “What the **** are you doing Richard?” from the man himself, the third was lost 9-5. In the fourth, Richard raced to a 6-3 lead before being pulled back to 8-8 and a ‘set 2’ call. The game was now fast and furious with both players fit to burst. Richard lost the first point to face game point at 8-9, but rallied magnificently to take the game 10-9 and the match 3-1. An epic.

With the match won, Brian took to court against a strong and fast opponent who I worked out was the son of Dean’s opponent. Not because they looked alike, or because I had spotted they had the same surname, but rather because he too tried more ‘lets’ than the ESPC. In the first game Brian raced out to an 8-3 lead as his opponent got used to the court and up to match warmth. But as he moved into top gear, he clawed back to 8-7 before Brian just held on for a 9-7 win. But his opponent was looking good and making some retrievals that looked genuinely impossible. As he moved into top gear, Brian struggled to stay in touch and the game edged away 5-9, 2-9 and 3-9. From a Captain’s perspective, I would like to thank Brian for playing this week, cos if I had played it would have been me against the same guy and I’m not sure I’d have got a game at all.

Last up was our Baba virgin Jonathan who played a sublime game against a strong number 1. After closing out the first 9-4, a run of points saw him 3-6 down in the second before a commanding run of six consecutive points took the second. The third was another lesson in control, especially on the lob, as Jonathan rounded off an excellent night 9-6.

So back to the Grange where a party in the main club saw us dine on Franco’s finest in the Committee Room (with coasters!). A good sociable evening ensued with lots of banter on both sides. There are two options for the best comment of the night:-

1: Robin; who after being asked to pass the veggie pizza to Dean commented that he hadn’t known Dean was a veggie. And given that he cycles everywhere, how come he’s so big ! Or

2: Richard; who, reflecting on a night where four players won, and Brian lost 3-1, commented that he’d never lost to someone on the balcony before ! (I reference to my 2 ref points I believe).

Voting will finish before the next match, and the winner will win another Babas beer. (Report: Mike D)

ED: Here are the stats for those who are short on arithmetic and have made it this far...;-):

PosPlayerRubbersGamesPoints PlayerRubbersGamesPoints
1Jonathan Frame1327Chris Green0016
2Brian Sloan0119Mark Williamson1334
3Richard Nisbet1333Kevin Vincenti0126
4Dean Wood1328Sandy Williamson0010
5Robin Pollok1327Fraser Steven008
Competition Points164

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Two's @ Watsons 2's (Wed, Dec 15,'10)

Ian Forbes got out of playing at #2 by arranging for his wife to drive off with his gear in the car. Up stepped Patrick Langley to play Chris Weare who needed to get away early! Ironic, cause this one started first, and was still stuck at 2-2 when #5 match finished. Anyway, Patrick would compete in every other game but was almost grannied in the odd numbered games. 2-3, good points for the cause.
Christy played Derek Davidson at #5, boy has that man got a nice touch but he was a bit gingerly in risking himself to get the last ball in every rally. Christy bludgeoned his way through the first 2, got out-squashed to be 0-7 down in the 3rd game, out came the bludgeon again and he raced through to a 9-7, 3-0 win.
Didn't see much of Ian Forbes except his opponent Mike Robson was immune to Ian's attacks. Steve Eyles against PKN Wilson was a toughie, Steve hadn't come across trickle-boasts like Peter's before and once Steve started reading them, PKN started changing up to the dying boast and clinging drives. Steve made a stand at 8-8 in the third with his own clinging drives and drops but PKN saw it out: 0-3. Didn't see Mike Hall lose out to Graeme Murray 0-3.
Up at the bar, Banger's 'n Mash, only 8 of us, seconds all round, smashin'! Peter Wilson was bemoaning the fact that the Over-55 is the most supported group in the masters and the Over-35 is poorly supported. (Report: Loob)

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Grange III @ Dean 1 – 15 Dec2010

Grange III were away to table topping Dean on Wednesday. With 3 Grange teams out on the night a quick re-jig was required but 5 bodies turned up ready to roll!

First up Gordon Sloan, at 3, took to the court down in the dungeon to face Matthew Hunter. The first saw both players trading shots in which appeared to be a training session at first!! Gordon soon started to play his shots and got his opponent moving and edged the first 9-6. A similar game for the second with Gordon and Matthew trading blows until Gordon stared producing a few winners to nab the second. With confidence high Gordon closed out the third in style with some great volleying and dropping using the conditions fully to his advantage. 3-0 to Grange. Excellent start!

Meanwhile up on the warmer court Alan Wallace was taking on Dave Thomson. Didn’t see any of this one however Al came second in which was probably and tight and edgy match. 1-1.

Back down in the pit Duncan Walker was up against Drew Mackenzie in the second string match. The court had either got colder or neither player was willing to give it a whack. A tight match with both players volleying and dropping the ball far out of reach. Unfortunately, being unable to apply his trademark speed and stamina to the match meant Duncan came of second best. 3-1 to Drew.

Mike Gore at 5 took on James Birkhead. A back and fourth match with Mike taking the lead on 2 occasions. Giving away a few years (by his own admission) Mike unfortunately came of second best as the Dean man fought back from 2-1 down. Great five setter although were Grange done!

With the match done it was up to the numero uno to try and grab some points!! Who brought Cockburn?? Up against the skilful Nick Wood, Pete had his work cut out. Nick didn’t bring out the drop shots as much as I was expecting however he did bring plenty in the way of serves, boasts, drives, volleys, cross courts and roundhouse kicks (well maybe not the last one!) Nick brought the game, Cockburn little else other than minor comedy, 3-0 and 4-1 to the Dean.

17-8 in the end. MOTM to the Sloan . His stint at accies last week put him in the zone! Beers and Franco’s (5 pizzas!) upstairs afters. Outplayed and out eaten! Tough times for last years champs! (Report: Cockburnator)

Grange 4ths home v Inveresk 1 - Tuesday 14th December 2010

The 4ths returned to winning ways after a long sequence of nearly-theres but it was a close run thing, only being decided on the last rally of the night.

First up was Will Henderson at No 5 against Robin Carse. Will was in top form and really gave Robin little chance to get a start in any of the games and ran out a 9-1 9-2 9-2 winner.

Gavin Fultons's match at no 4 against Willie Wood went the same way. Gavin was simply too strong and controlled throughout and took the games 9-0 9-5 9-1.

Christy Looby was up next at No2 against Harold Nesse. Christy started very well, having Harold well foxed with his customary sharp and steeply angled boasts to take the first 9-3. The second game started the same way, but a different Harold suddenly emerged to reverse a 0-4 deficit to a 6-9 win. A battle of attrition then ensued with the next two shared at 9-7 6-9. Harold held it together better in the last to take it 3-9 to consign Christy to a 2-3 loss.

Gary Walker at No1 had the thankless task of taking on the division's top ranked player Adam Lord. Despite his best endevours Gary wasn't able to make much of a dent in Adam's control of the match. The first two games went 1-9, 3-9. The final game was more evenly matched but Adam took that 5-9 to leave Gary with a 0-3 loss

At 2 rubbers each it fell to Mark Dutton and John Brown to slug it out to decide the match. It didn't start well for Mark, being unable to find the width or depth to stop John volleying everything powerfully and accurately and it was quickly 0-7. A good recovery by Mark ensued but the game went west 8-10. Similar story in the second game with Mark staring at defeat at 2-8 before a too-late recovery saw that game go 7-9 to John as well. A bit of wise advice from Christy (…"for god's sake just hit the bloody thing, will you"…) saw a reversal of fortune with the next two going Mark's way 9-5 9-5. The final and deciding game of the night started very badly with John racing to a 0-7 lead but Mark finally managed to drop the anchor in and then got moving himself to square it 7-7. Near disaster as John snuck the next point and a few match points were saved to finally see the match and the night balanced at 8-8. John called set-one and was immediately made to regret it as the serve drilled into the nick to see the Grange team snatch victory from the jaws of defeat (as opposed to the usual other way round). 3-2 to Mark.

A good 16-10 win to see Grange 4 now not too far off the leading pack in terms of points despite the relatively lowly table position we occupy at the half-way point of the season. Report by MotM Mark Dutton. 5 pizzas between the 6 players that stayed, kept everyone's gums going as anecdotes from the snowy experiences of the last 2 weeks were entertainingly recounted.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Five's home to Heriot Watt 3(Wed, Dec 8,'10)

Barbarians in Aussie Ashes-Style Collapse

This week the Babas were up against the students. A bunch of 40-somethings against a pile of kids, what could go wrong? This week saw the team badly affected by the snow, so a hurriedly put together team of Dave Grieve, Me, Neil Love and Brian Sloan took to court along with a virgin appearance by Robin Pollok.

Neil, playing 3, needed to get away so was first on court. I hadn’t realised he was in that much of a hurry. How best to describe that game? Neil Love love.

So, one game down we reverted to the order and Robin Pollok took to court – eventually. A lengthy warm up off court, was followed by a quick skipping lesson and his opponent looked on bemused as Robin brought out a second ball and proceeded to warm up on his own side of the court. Eventually the referee had to call time and the game began. Robin got off to a great start going 5-0 up before driving the ball into his own head. Nobody laughed (too loudly). A quick couple of points for his opponent were followed by a controlled performance as Robin served out the game 9-2. This assured, calm and controlled performance (yes, I can assure you it was Robin Pollok) continued into the second as his opponent got only two serves on his way to a 9-0. In the third, Robin got off to a 3-1 lead, but you could see some life start to spark in his opponent. Robin clearly sensed the rising pressure as he served from the forehand court, only to hit the ball straight back into his own hand. This time, we definitely laughed. Points were exchanged up to 6-6 and we wondered if Robin’s nerve would hold. But Robin made good use of his long reach to close out 9-6 and record a 3-0 victory in his first game for the Babas. Great performance.

Brian was up next and had a very tight game against the speedy Scott. Both players retrieved like their lives depended on it in the first. Eventually Brian got into a 5-1 lead, only to concede four successive points to bring up 5-5. Some further excellent retrieving saw serves exchanged before Brian began to edge ahead, one point at a time. Brian was the victor 9-5. The second game was nothing like the first. Brian raced out to a 7-0 lead on a single serve before being pulled back to 7-7. But again, some excellent retrieving saw Brian edge the second 9-7. The third reverted to the style of the first with both players having 18 serves just to reach 6-6 before Brian again proved the stronger mentally to win 9-6. 2-1 to the Grange.

I was next up. The first was a gut bursting tale of an opponent without the respect to understand when a shot is so good, that getting it back is simply rude. Time after time I had the ball deep and low in the backhand court only to lose the point to an attacking boast and a nick. But patience (and tight serving) won the day 9-5 after an amazing 32 serves (and that’s just mine). At this point we were 1-0 up, but I felt like I’d played 5 already. The second was a recovery game as my opponent simply refused to miss and it was lost 9-4. At this point, I was surprised to see Dave on the balcony – surely he couldn’t have finished already? But it turns out that his knee was simply not up to it this week and had lost 9-4, 9-0, 9-3. So the match was now 2-2, 1-1 and I felt as fit as a pensioner (sorry Harvey).

The third was very tight as I began to anticipate the inevitable boasts, but it turns out that it doesn’t help knowing where the ball is going if it is stuck in the corner. Points were traded to 5-5 and the balcony was giving constructive feedback (to be honest, I’ve never lost from the balcony either). But just as I began to believe I could take the game, some tremendous (not what I thought at the time) boasting from difficult positions saw my opponent take the game 9-5. In the fourth, the game was again tight and at 2-2 we had each had 10 serves. But his superior fitness and accuracy saw the game edge away for a 3-1 loss.

So all in all, a 12-9 loss from a leading position with a collapse at the top of the order. We’ll never win the Ashes this way.

Afterwards, back at base much pizza was shared as Heriot Watt 1, 2 and 3 were all on site having played their relevant Grange team. A good social evening, despite the result. Onwards to next week, when another new player joins the babas.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Grange III Vs Dalgety Bay III – 09 December 2010

The 3s were at home to the Fifers on Thursday with the Dalgety boys unfortunately 2 men short!! With only one match needed Cockburn, Walker and Sloan went to work.

Pete Cockburn was at number one against Scott Boswell. Scott took the first fairly convincingly 9-2 as Pete got used to the courts (note Dalgety Bay were doing routines when I showed up, they thought it was a 7pm start!!). From 5-2 down Pete decided he could no longer out hit his opponent and started to haul out his legendary dropping and volleying. This worked for a while as a tight game ensued with things getting to 8-8. Scott edged it 10-8 though and by this time the Grange man was buckled! Christy (who came to mark) tried to motivate Pete before the third saying Scott was looking like he was waning but it wasn’t to be. Scott stuck in and made some excellent pick ups in the third to take it 3-0 as Pete ran out of steam.

Retiring to the balcony I caught up with Duncan Walker’s match against Neil Shepard. A match that actually started before mine!! Duncan was 2-1 down and trailing in a match that had been tight all the way! Could the Fifers be about to level the match!!! Some excellent squash was being played with both players chasing and picking up everything! On cold courts!!! Duncan came from behind to level it in the fourth and then powered across the finish line in the last. A superb effort to clinch the match. Man of the Match!

With the pressure off Gordon Sloan was up against Colin Boswell at 3. Colin took the first as Gordon struggled to deal with the courts and Christy’s spare shoes as he had only brought one of his own! Gordon got back into the match in the second and shaded it 9-7 He then took the third with some nice touches at the front and excellent retrieving. Colin was still playing excellent squash himself and managed to match Gordon’s skills with some nice shots of his own to level the tie in the fourth. The fifth was close with Colin keeping his nose in front. Sloan looking a bit broken at this stage! Gordon dug deep though and brought some big shots out at the end to power past his opponent to take the last game 9-7. Another great effort for the Grange.

17-9 Grange in the end. Highly likely to be a different story if they brought more guys. By the sounds of it plenty of fire power over the other side of the bridge!

Beers and pizza down the club. All good!

Cheers to Looby for turning up and supporting/marking and bantering! (Report: Pete Cockburn)

Three's home v Dalgety Bay 3(Thurs, Dec 9,'10)

Dalgety sportingly let us know days in advance that they had only 3 players and would fulfill the tie anyway. And they turned up at 7 for a 7:30 booking, well warmed up.
I reffed #1 Cockburnator v Scott Boswell, a guy who makes our "young" guys look old. Pete had a few unforced errors to lose the first quickly. In the second, Scott just soaked up Peter's best shots and threw them back in his face to go 7-2 up. Then Peter really started slotting winners that had to roll on the floor to stop the guy getting them back. He fought back to 8-8 but Scott got a handout and finished it better. Pete didn't have much left in the tank and Scott took the next game and the match 3-0. Bloody good match though.
So we still needed a win at #2 or #3 to get the bonus points. Duncan Walker at #2 was his usual steady self against Neil Shepherd but still found himself 2-1 down and it wasn't looking good. He got even steadier, if that were possible, to level it and ran away with the fifth: 3-2. Man of the Match.
At #3, Gordon Sloan turned up with one shoe. He looked like he was playing on one foot in the first as Colin Boswell started with intensity 9-2. Gordon put on his game face to level it and playing some sublime volley-drops and counter-drops, went 2-1 up. He went back to playing on one shoe for the fourth, then woke up at 3-8 down and looked to have the momentum only for Colin to level it. Stung, Gordon re-focused and left Colin for dust in the fifth: 3-2. A gripping match with some great sportmanship and skill from both.

Overall 17-9 and we're heading back into mid-table safety with 3 or 4 consecutive wins. Topics discussed during the pizza fest were: who has the coldest courts in the league and whose shoes will the Sloan Ranger fill next week.

HWU2 "home" v GRG4 Wed 8th December 2010.

This fixture had been rearranged to Arboretum as HWU's courts had been booked for a function, but the home advantage didn’t quite prove enough for the 4ths to overcome a good Heriot Watt 2 side.

First up was Mark Dutton at No 1 against the good young player Nick Spath. Mark didn't make a very convincing start with Nick adjusting to the cold courts much more effectively to comfortably take the first 1-9. The second was a different story with Mark dominating to an 8-4 lead but being unable to convert three game points to let Nick sneak it at the death. The third game saw Nick well on top to run to a 1-8 lead before Mark dug in well to bring it back to 4-8. Then commenced a very entertaining struggle to the death that saw Mark save nine match points (didn't believe it myself …but I have the scoresheet in front of me as I type this) and lose quite a bit of knee and elbow skin in aerobatics before Nick finally got the break he needed to close it out 4-9. A 0-3 loss for Mark.

Next up was Alan Wallace at No3 against the very speedy Alistair Ross. It was a high quality match with the first two games close at 5-9 and 9-10 to Alistair. The key being Alistair's constant ability to retrieve nearly everything Alan did through his speed round the court. Alan picked up the next 9-7 but was unable to repeat the perfomance in the last 6-9 game to run out a 1-3 loss.

Will Henderson played very well at No2 to give Bendan Forrester little chance to get a look in on the night. Brendan began to mount something a recovery from Will's initial 9-1 9-3 victories to go blow for blow to 4-4 in the third game but Will put his foot down again to take it 9-4 for a good 3-0 win.

An entertaining match at no5 saw Andy Whitelaw take on the hard hitting Umair Saeed. Umair's pace and accuracy saw him take the first 4-9 but Andy found his touch in the second and began weighting his drops and boasts beautifully in the cold conditions to more often than not leave Umair at a stretch to retrieve anything and he took the game 9-4. The third game could have gone either way after Andy raced to a 7-0 lead that Umair pegged back but it was eventually Andy's at 10-8. The final game saw Andy completely dominate through the well-weighted slow game that frustrated Umair's preference for pace. He took it 9-3 for a very good 1-3 victory.

With things evenly balanced, John Loftus went on for the no4 decider against Colin Gray. Both players afterwards described the match as being somewhat scrappy and a a few too many mistakes on both sides. Some good sessions of play from time to time but overall the player's own description was a good summary. Colin took the first 4-9 and John returned the favour playing his best squash of the night for 9-7 in the second. John couldn't repeat that though and Colin was the one to get his game under better control to run out the last two fairly comfortably 3-9 and 2-9. A 1-3 loss for John.

Overall a 10-15 loss (incl ref points) for the Grange 4ths to continue our too long streak of gaining decent points but not being able to get the match.

A final point to note is the very good performance of Franco's who managed to get 15 pizzas to the Grange in time for the 1sts, 4ths and 5ths all to be fed. Good work.

Mark Dutton

Two's home v Heriot Watt 1(Wed, Dec 8,'10)

Following Heriot Watt's defeat of Grange 1 at the same venue the week before, Grange 2 knew this was going to be a tough match. Due to the snow, the guys initially only turned up with four. Luckily Stokesy honourably offered to sit out of this one if needs be, but in the end that wasn't necessary since Michael was able to play so thankfully no-one went without a game.

Steve v Jim: Grange Open Finalist (C Grade) Jim's fitness and general level of play got the better of Steve in this one.

Mike v Phil; Unfortunately I did not see any of this match, but it was judged that Mike was between 2 and 2.5 feet behind the ball a lot of the time, with Phil's speed getting the better of him.

Patrick v Scott: The captain lead by example with the lowest points haul in the match.

Stokesy v Michael: Man of the match Stokesy was able to salvage some much needed points from this fixture coming back from 2 games down.

Pete v Jon: Another hard-hitting youngster with good fitness won through against our Grange man Pete.

In the end a whupping for HWU (17-5) who look likely to gain promotion to Div 1 by the season end. Francos pizza and drinks were enjoyed with two other sets of Grange and HWU teams. (Report P Langley)
Grange 2 vs Heriot Watt University 1

PosPlayerRubbersGamesPoints PlayerRubbersGamesPoints
1Mike Hall0012Philip McWilliams1327
2Patrick Langley007Scott Mosley1327
3Pete Cockburn0012Jonathan Taubert1327
4Steve Eyles008Jim Watson1327
5Alan Stokes1332Michael Ross0226
Competition Points317

Friday, 3 December 2010

Seconds at David Lloyd, Newhaven(Wed,De 1,'10)

After several days of snow, there was every chance that the teams would not be able to play their matches tonight, but with some car sharing, public transport and skiing everyone managed to arrive for the away fixture at David Lloyd Newhaven.

The glass-backed courts were in good condition, the only issues being lighting. One court had a pair of fluorescent tubes not working, and the other court had a mysterious "lights off" incident in the middle of a rally. With the outside temperature at around -2ºC the court temperature was not surprisingly fairly cold at 15ºC, which was going to cause some sluggish starts.

And indeed, Patrick (#4) began his match against Charles slowly, taking until halfway through the first game to get into his usual speed around the court and rhythm of play. Charles dominated the T well and choose shots which forced Patrick to do a lot of work. But in many cases he would let Patrick off the hook by tinning a drop shot that would otherwise have been a winner. Patrick's retrieval skills and shot selection improved into the match which put more pressure on Charles (as did a couple of well timed frame miss-hits!). Once he was able to move Charles off the T and force him to do more retrieving, the match turned slightly in Patrick's favor and he came off court with a close 3-1 victory.

Ian's (#3) match against Dave began at a fair pace with many great lengths and drops from both players. Dave was ahead for most of the first game and got to game ball. But Ian fought hard to get the score back to an 8-8 tie-break, only to serve the ball out and lose the game! The rest of the match was great to watch with Ian winning many rallies from great slice drop shots and tight sharp angle boasts. It was a very clean match with very few let calls needed. But there were several occasions where Ian was in position for a definite stroke but opted to play the ball and continue the rally. On a couple of occasions, the referee had already marked the stroke on the score sheet because it was expected a let would be called! So it's great to see Ian playing the ball where at all possible and keeping the squash flowing. After many great rallies, Ian came off court with 1 game to Dave's 3.

My match (Steve, #5) also started slowly (as is my tradition), taking time to warm up and to get to grips with Taryne's game, who took the first two games fairly comfortably. I found a way to stay in the rallies longer in the 3rd and managed to take the game. In the 4th game, I had more time on the ball to play tighter shots, which was paying dividends and held back Taryne's advantage at 6-3 for many rallies, before he surged past on the scoreboard and winning the match 3-1.

Before Rob (#1) could play, an announcement came over the PA system that the club would be closing at 9pm due to the weather, so it was decided to return the Grange Club to play out the match there. But even the home court advantage didn't seem to assist Rob. Ken's playing was solid and consistent, and this forced many errors from Rob, who played an uncharacteristally large number of shots into the top, middle and even bottom of the tin. Rob was moving well and his retrieval skills were on form making for some impressive and great to watch rallies, but Ken had the initiative throughout the match, and the scoreboard rewarded Ken's vintage performance with a comfortable 3-0 win.

Unfortunately, I did not observe enough of Mike (#2) and Ali's match to comment, but can report a comfortable 3-0 win to Ali. Food and beer was had back in the comfort of the Grange club bar. Man of the Match would have to be awarded to Patrick for braving the elements to walk down to the local pizza shop to pick up the pizzas! (Report: Steve Eyles)

Teams:Grange 2 vs David Lloyd Newhaven


1Robert Pfab009

Ken Maxwell1327
2Mike Hall0014

Ali Fleming1327
3Ian Forbes0127

Dave Jubb1332
4Patrick Langley1334

Charles Robertson0130
5Steve Eyles0125

Taryne Lowe1336

Competition Points5


Sunday, 28 November 2010

Fifths homne v ESC(Thurs, Nov 25,'10)

Captains Curse Slain (and Edinburgh Sports Club)

This week’s game was against top of the table Edinburgh Sports Club 5, but the Barbarians were able to field a strong squad of Dave Grieve, myself, Richard Nisbet, Dean Wood and playing his first competitive squash match – Jordan Fleming.

First up was Jordan who took to court with all the swagger you’d expect from our Northern American cousins. He quickly backed up his confidence with action taking the first 9-4 before sweeping his opponent off court for a 9-0 second. A great start to his debut was then followed by the wobbles. A run of eight consecutive lost points in the third saw him 8-2 down and despite a brief flurry of resistance, the third was lost 9-3. The fourth started the same and as the match ebbed away, so did Jordan’s ability to remember the Queen’s English. But from 7-3 down, a run of 5 points took Jordan to 8-7 up and he served for the match. But yet again the Queen’s English took a pounding and three match points were lost before he called ‘set 2’ and then lost the next two points to take us into the fifth. In the changeover, thelook on Jordan’s face suggested he had at least remembered a bit of Queen Victoria’s English because he was clearly ‘not amused’ and this galvanised him into the last with gusto. Gone were the flamboyant gestures to be replaced by a steely demeanour and a Paddington Bear stare. This concentration clearly worked as he raced to a 4-1 lead before closing out in style 9-2. A great debut from Jordan, and a winning start.

Over on court 2 I had the pleasure of refereeing Mr Wood and Mr Mackenzie. I have used their formal titles to suggest that they may be gentlemen, as a mark of irony. It is meant to conjure images of pistols at dawn and earl grey tea. This was more like two coyotes fighting over a rotting carcass.

The first game was a bit of a non-event as Dean led 7-0 after the first serve and game was quickly over 9-1. It began to hot up in the second when Dean kept hitting the ball into the backhand corner, didn’t move out of the way much and his opponent ran into him for a let. After the third consecutive call several differences of opinion ensued whereby Dean ask “How much of the f***ing court do you want?” to which his opponent replied “If I don’t run into you, he won’t give me the let” (I think I was the ‘he’). The second game was nip and tuck, (or punch and counterpunch) to 3-3, before rage overcame Dean and the game slipped away 9-3. The camaraderie continued into the third where a polite request from the referee to keep the game continuous and not take 30 seconds breaks between points was met by some of Mr Mackenzie’s own version of the Queens English. This then built up into a refusal to return a serve, followed by a thrashing of the ball into the floor during a point. From the corner of my eye I am sure I saw Mr ‘Meldrew’ Grieve watch with admiration. As I considered whether to give a warning, Dean strung a few points together and took the third 9-5. The fourth was still 0-0 when I had to ask Mr Mackenzie to repeat a comment as I thought he had threatened to punch Dean. I was persuaded that I was mistaken and a bizarre game developed in which Dean seemed to forget where he was, and promptly lost 9-0. Into the traditional Barbarians Fifth and Dean’s superior stokes took him to a 7-4 lead. With victory imminent, Dean suddenly became Mr Charming and at one point held out his hand to help his opponent to his feet. This was refused and Dean continued to finally win the game 9-4 for a 3-2 victory. Glad that one wasn’t my exam match on the refereeing course!

Next up was Richard who arrived in a puff just after 7.30 full of apologies for being late. I thought he was over-doing it a little as it was only 7.35 and he was playing number 3. He went on to explain how he had needed to tell his boss that this week’s match had been brought forward a hour to 6.30 and that he was going to be a full hour late. How we laughed when we told him that it is the game on the 16th December that was brought forward and that he still had a half hour before he was due on court. This must have left him in a terrible emotional state as he went on court and lost the first game 9-3. Things continued into the second as he was quickly 4-1 down before recovering his composure to take control of the game. It started with a run of eight clear points to take the second and level the game at 1-1. The third was very tight right up to 7-7 before some excellent retrieving brought errors from his opponent and Richard prevailed 9-7. The fourth was a mechanical affair as Richard’s composure on court took him to a 9-3 lead and gave us a match-winning 3-0 lead.

On the other court I had a real gentleman’s game full of etiquette, gracious lets and calls of ‘well played’. From 3-3, a run of six points gave me the first. The second was a tight game fully of running. This was because neither of us could hit a clean winner and paired with good retrieving, led to a long and tight game. But I just managed to keep my nose in front to win 9-6. At this point I learned from the balcony that Richard had won and that we were winning 3-0. My thoughts turned to the Curse of the Barbarian’s Captain (see last report). It had proved it’s existence in Brian Sloan’s game last week and I began to wonder how it would affect me here. I was also thinking how I would explain losing from 2-0 up. My angst was heightened at the start of the third when I went 6-0 up. Mr Grieve was going to love telling everyone how I managed to lose this one. But after dropping just a single point, I served the match out for a 3-0 win to slay the Curse and set the team up for our best win of the season.

Last up was Dave who played the lovely Moira. On the balcony, we wondered how Meldrew would deal with the fairer sex on court. Surely he’d be able to ‘believe it’ this week and keep the game civil? The first was tight before Dave took a run of 6 points for a 9-5 lead. But in the second, his trademark limp was starting to show and it was quickly lost 9-2 to bring us to 1-1. It was clear that Dave’s knee was giving him some serious issues as he sought to play a controlled game from the T. This started to work well, and the third game was won in a controlled manner 9-2. But old age doesn’t come itself, and a check with the balcony that the game had been won told us everything we needed to know. The last two games were lost 9-0 9-2 and Moira rescued some point for the Sports Club.

So, an excellent result with a 19-8 victory against the top of the table team. The match was followed by Franco’s usual fayre, but it was disappointing that only my gentlemanly opponent managed to join us afterwards. Still finished the pizza though.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Thirds @ ESC(Fri, Nov 26,'10)

With snow flurries in the Sports Club car park, we were glad to get on court and out of the cold.
This was a bottom of the table clash so it would be worth double points if one side had a comprehensive win. And we had a strong line-up.
Gavin Fulton at #5 took on Glyn and looked like he hadn't played for months in the first game. He got into it in the second but was still about 4-8 down. There followed some last-gasp-retrieval-turns-into-winner rallies for Gavin and somehow he levelled it. At this point Glyn started looking like the rusty one and Gaving finished out comfortably 3-1.
Duncan Walker at #2 got Ross Carver to sprain his weak ankle in the second and there was no way back for the Stew Mel's springbok as Duncan romped home in 3.... and Ross limped off to get some ice. Christy at #4 played Des Creasey who seemed to have left his squash game in the locker so that was another 3-0 romp for Grange. Gordon Sloan glided against the Jesters at the weekend and I wouldn't have thought old warhorse Eric Hogg would have presented many problems at #3. Going by the scoresheet, he didn't, 3-0.
Stokesy was on at #1 against JJ Tait, the balcony cleared of anyone looking like a referee... but Duncan Walker stepped into the breach. JJ romped this one so no trouble for Duncan. Man of the Match: Gavin for not panicking, playing himself in and getting us off to a good start.
Pasta bake for tea, second servings, yumm. 17-3 overall, good points for us and severe damage on ESC4, the same next week and we might crawl out of the relegation zone.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Grange 4ths @ BOS - Thursday 25th November 2010

Grange 4ths went down 0-5 for the second week in a row, but as you'll see below, that headline really doesn't tell the whole story. Just a handful of points going Grange's way instead of BOS's in the four close five set matches would have made the difference between a team win and a loss on the night.

First up on the infeasibly hot Colinton courts (boy…those gas heaters must have the own personal hole in the ozone layer…) was Brian Sloan at no 5 against Phil Brown. Rarely can there have been a match of two so evenly matched players in skill and style. The ball was whizzing around like a golf ball rather than a squash ball and the players' favoured styles of hard-hit boasts and cross-courts and keen-ness to occupy the T gave quite a lot of work for the umpire. The match see-sawed 4-9, 9-5, 5-9, 9-3 and when balanced at 7-7 in the 5th it was anybody's for the taking….so Phil took it. Could have easily gone the other way but Phil's slightly better concentration at key points in the match swung it. A 2-3 loss for Brian.

In his second match for the 4ths, John Loftus at No3 was up against the tough Bob Porch. John was in the match for long periods but was unable to convert numerous hand-outs to points and Bob steadily crept away with each game, his very fine backhand drop giving John particular trouble. John competed well in most of the rallies but a little too often the loose shot would let Bob in to undo the good work. The games ended 3-9, 0-9, 2-9 for or 0-3 loss for John.

A titanic battle was had at no2 between Jonathan Frame and Robin Nisbet. Looking at the scoresheet as I type this I'd have to say that I've not often seen so much ink used on a single page. Every game was very hard fought with points only being scored rarely between high numbers of hand-outs. Jon took the first two 9-5 and 9-6 and was looking reasonably comfortable but then Robin returned the favour 5-9 and 6-9 with Jon perhaps taking his foot off the pedal a little. The final game went right down to the wire with feet to the pedal all round. At 8-8 it was as close as a squash match gets…but once again the BOS player was the one to hold firm to take it 8-10. A close 2-3 loss for Jonathan.

Meanwhile, an entirely parallel story was playing out on the court next door in the no4 match between Andy Whitelaw and Alan Cochrane. Nothing much to pick between the players as they battled out a long match with the first four games going 2-9, 9-6, 9-6 and 6-9. Eventually though, Alan's fitness edge started to tell and Andy's resistance was finally breached as his 4-3 advantage was reversed to a 4-9 loss. A 2-3 loss for Andy.

After the three titanic battles witnessed so far it was no doubt hoped by all concerned that no1s Mark Dutton and Rob Norris would get things over and done with quickly to allow the serious business of beer and pizzas to start. But the Titanic sailed off on a fourth voyage ….and another monster five setter was the result. Both players worked very hard in the heat of the court and every point had to be earnt with a bucket or two of sweat. The first game could gave gone either way with Rob just edging it 7-9. Mark was much more comfortable in the second once he switched to focusing on backhand depth to minimise the effectiveness of Rob's forehand drop and good volley coverage from the T. A 9-4 win was the result through some good touch and drops. Rob managed to dominate the third for a 9-4 win but Mark came out in the fourth like he meant business and raced to an 8-0 lead. Rob stopped the rot but it was too late and 9-3 was the result. The final game was marked on the back of the scoresheet since all room had been used up on the front. Rob was on top for most of the early exchanges and was looking a cert once he reached match point at 3-8. The talking point of the night was to follow, though. The crowd was already on its way to the bar once Rob smashed an unretrievable drive hard and low to the back forehand corner to leave Mark completely stranded at the front of the court. Somehow Mark's newly three-stone lighter frame managed to cover the infeasible distance, ending up a crumpled heap in the back corner but managing to contrive a desperate backwall boast that somehow avoided passing satellites and dropped gently towards Rob who was waiting poised in the front forehand corner to complete the formality of the match winning bunt. But …the ball took no more than a molecule of paint on its vertical descent down the front wall before landing stone dead in the side-wall nick and rolling across Bob's toes to complete what was generally agreed in the bar afterwards to be one of the most audacious and underserved match point saves ever seen. Mark saved two more match points on his way to 7-8 and a glimmer of hope of an infeasible win…..but it was an iceberg too far and Rob held his nerve to take it 7-9. A 2-3 loss for Mark and a nice little lie down afterwards...

A clean sweep for BOS, but a lot less difference between the sides than that indicates.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Jesters touring side at The Grange(Sat, Nov20,'10)

Jesters are an invitational touring side with a long tradition of taking their brand of squash as far afield as Singapore and Norway. This crew rocked up from the north of England with reputations of players from Div. 1 teams in Cleveland & Durham league, York and District league and Harrogate & District league. Bring 'em on, our 2nd Div team in East of Scotland leagues said!

First off was #7 Brian Sloan against a youthful Ollie Phillips and in a hard hitting and well contested match, Brian took the honours. Simon Phillips took on #6 David Grieve and David also cleaned up. At #5, Christy tried every trick shot in the book and a few out of Mark Dutton's book, they all came off against Chris Williams. Stokesy at #4 was to first to give away games but still got up against the Jester's captain, John Skinner.

At #3 Gordon Sloan floated around court against the sublime skills of Dave Smiley, but he stung like a bee. #2 Patrick Langley was well matched against Giles Bilton but got through 3-1. Match of the day was Grange's northern jester himself Ian Green who succumbed to the real Jester and #1 string John Gedye.
Click to view in fullFair play to Jordan Fleming who had been training with Pearson, Addison et al all morning and still stepped into the breach at #8 for us. He looked out on his feet at 2-2 but still came up with the goods in the fifth.

Pizza and beer was consumed in the bar and a very nice tour plaque was presented by John Skinner to the club. Afterwards everyone cheered on Scotland on the big telly in their win over the Springboks.

Who is up for a trip to Darlington, Dunnington and Bedale at the end of the season? (Report: Loob)

Saturday, 20 November 2010

O'Brien Bucket 2010 Final (Sat, Nov 19,'10)

History was made at the Grange last night when Mike Douglas became the first player to win the O'Brien Bucket for the second time. In what was great five setter, both Mike and Alan Wallace played their parts to the full. Both players played with skill, guile, patience and at times desperation!

The match started with Mike pulling ahead in games one and two. His stated match plan was play safe and tactical squash. Alan retrieved a huge number of shots in the rallies but tended to play the more defensive squash. Mike took games one and two to 7 and 10.

Alan came out with all guns blazing in game three and with Mike beginning to look a little tired, Alan was able to pick up some quick cheap points. He triumphed 15-7 and looked good going into game four.

The fourth game of the match had everything. Each point was closely fought and despite increasing fatigue, both players matched each other blow for blow. Mike moved into a match winning position at 14-11 but let three quick points slip. He took the gamble to call one and promptly lost to see the game go into a decider.
By now we had a good number of Friday nighters up in the gallery supporting the players and despite being almost out on their feet, they both managed to play good quality, tactical squash. Mike managed to stay ahead a crucial two or three points throughout the game and at the fourth time of asking closed the match out 15-12.

Well played to both Mike and Alan in what was a really great final. Mike takes away the Bucket for a second year and first prize of a Titan Tiger racquet. Alan can drown his sorrows with a bottle of the finest Rioja."

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Grange 4's at Dunbar (Thurs, Nov 18,'10)

Richard Nisbet and Nail Love were the first to arrive in Halhill and fair dues, insisted on not starting until a few more arrived, which the Dunbar guys were ok with.
John Loftus made his club debut at #5 and the first few points looked promising. However his opponent Norman sussed him out at this point and started teasing loose shots off the Irishman's racket and slotting away winners. John lost the first two for 3 or 4 points each. To be fair, he changed things up, started returning serve to a length, dictating a faster rhythm to the rallies and reeled off 6 points in the third. Norman was alive to this and re-imposed the slower pace and sure enough, normal service resumed and he finished for the loss of 6 points. 0-3.
Neil Love was boasting himself to death against Alastair at #4. Luckily Alastair wasn't looking in his rear-view mirrors to see Neil still dawdling in the back corner and would send the boast back to him. However Alastair would eventually finish the point. That was the first game down, I believe the other 2 went in similar fashion.
Andy Whitelaw played his usual tight shots against Alan Ramsay (ex-Waverley) at #2. Alan still has dead-reckoning drops from anywhere in the court and Andy was toiling to cover them.
A well-contested 0-3 loss.
Richard Nisbet at #3, I didn't see any of it, apart from finding out he too drew a blank.
Which left me at #1 against Titan East C Champion, David Legge, to avoid us getting completely whitewashed. I was soon down a game due to moving like a dreadnought and hitting like a pansy.
The second went point for point until the business end of the game, when that old Loob favourite, the unforced error, came into play. I was soon 0-8 down in the third and thought, "No", not a third week of being grannied in the last game... so either I dug in or Legge went walkabout, but I got back to 8-8. Set 1! Both of us had a few game points, then that old Loob fave came back to haunt... 0-3.
Overall, wait for it, ... 2-20. (Report: Looby)

Titan Sports East of Scotland Closed at The Grange Club(Nov 14,15,'10)

Ladies Plate: Yvonne Ferguson(Waverley) by Karen Kennedy(Grange) 15/12 15/8 12/15 15/13
Ladies Final: Senga Macfie(Edinburgh Sports Club) bt
Donna Cruickshank(Grange) 15/7 15/6 16/7

C plate: Euan Robinson(Colinton Castle) bt Ross Anderson(Dean) 15/10 15/11 15/6
C Final: David Legge(Dunbar) bt Jim Watson(Heriot Watt) 15/13 15/12 10/15 15/11
B Plate: Henry Pearce(Edinburgh University) bt
Richard van Lienden(Grange) 7/15 15/13 12/15 15/12 15/13
B Final: Mahmoud Moaz el Saoud(Edinburgh University) bt
Chris Mair(Grange) 17/ 15 15/10 15/13
A plate:
Alan Hamer(Grange) bt Roderick Robinson(Colinton Castle) 15/7 13/15 1 5/1 15/9
A Final: Chris Ferguson(Waverley) bt Neil Bennett(Dalgety Bay) 15/9 15/6 15/8

Firsts home to Seconds, who came second(Wed, Nov 17,'10)

The Biannual Grange Derby (Ed: I hope that is in the sense of both teams being in Div. 1 next year)

The cream of Grange squash was out in force for the long awaited showdown between Grange 2 and Grange 1. Grange 1 were the clear favourites for the evening, coming into the match with an unbeaten team record, and sitting pretty at second place in the division. The Grange 2 underdogs have had a mixed start to the season, winning only one out of their five matches, yet have managed to cling onto a mid-table position. The Grange 2 players, clearly a little peeved at having missed out on those cherished first team slots had everything to play for, and came out with all guns blazing.

First on court were the number 4 seeds, Langley (GRG2) and Steel (GRG1). With the ball practically melting after being battered into the front wall by the two of the clubs hardest hitters, it was always going to be an endurance event. Lacking Robin's long legs to stride from corner to corner, Patrick was always going to have to run his heart out to stay in the match. Trading points back and forth in the first, Robin narrowly seized the game. The second game was keenly contested, and evenly matched between the two, with Patrick just edging out. As the match progressed, Patrick grew increasingly dominant, forcing some excellent retrieving from Robin from the back of the court. Constant pressure from Patrick saw him seize the third, and then romp home in style to take the fourth set to secure the upset. The result, Patrick "Giant Killer" Langley (GRG2) beat Robin Steel (GRG1): 8-10, 9-7, 9-5, 9-2.

The two Ians (Green - GRG1 and Forbes - GRG2) were up next at number 3.Green was modelling the latest in his extensive range of 1970s XXXL T-shirts on court, providing plenty of amusement for the assembled crowd. Unperturbed by the fashion faux-pas, Forbes got down to business. Green kept Forbes pinned down in the back of the court for most of the first game, but Forbes fought hard to stay in the game, dropping in some nice short boasts & drives to catch Green out, but eventually losing out. Persistent running & retrieving from Forbes saw him seize the second. A closely fought third could have gone either way, but Green eventually won through. Changing tactics in the fourth, Green drove the ball low and hard to the back, frustrating Forbes and finishing the match. Ian Green (GRG1) beat Ian Forbes (GRG2): 9-6, 7-9, 10-9, 9-0.

The battle of the baldies was next up with Will Kerr (GRG1) against Mike Hall (GRG2) at second seed. The similarity of the two players, when viewed from above in the balcony was striking, and the ref struggled todifferentiate between them, calling strokes, lets and points seemingly at random. The players somehow managed to ignore these distractions, and put on a great display of squash. Will used his reach from the T & clinical finishing to keep Mike under pressure, while Mike's tenacity and good length kept him competing in a closely fought first game, won in the end by Will. Will stepped up the pressure to seize the second, conceding only four points. This obviously got Mike's attention, as he came back to win the third in a close game. In the end though, Will's pressure and finishing got the better of Mike, and he took the finalgame. Will Kerr (GRG1) beat Mike Hall (GRG2): 10-8, 9-4, 7-9, 9-7.

Next up were the number 5 seeds, Al Gordon (GRG1) and our new Kiwi import, Steve Eyles (GRG2). Making full use of the home advantage, Al seized the first two games, losing only a couple of points. Steve woke up in the third, to narrowly steal it, before Al sealed his fate by
winning the third. Some beautiful squash with tight drops and good recovering from Al, and a promising start to the Scottish season fromSteve. Al Gordon (GRG1) beat Steve Eyles (GRG2) 9-2, 9-1, 8-10, 9-6.

Last on court were the number 1 seeds, Rob Pfab (GRG2) and Allan Hamer(GRG1). Allan has had a strong start to the season, having won all hismatches without losing a single game. Robert, on the other hand, had yet to win a match! The first game got off to a cracking start with somelong and hard fought rallies, seeing both players attacking and
recovering well. Sustained pressure from Allan, and too many errors from Rob, let Allan run away with the first game. A more focused Rob emerged for the second game, where they traded points back & forth. Rob failed to convert his game ball at 8-6, and Allan quickly caught up to take the game. The third, too, could have gone either way. At one point, Rob had a 6-0 lead, only to see Allan grit his teeth, run harder, and fight his way back to take the game. The end result: 9-3, 10-8, 9-7 to Allan and GRG1.

Overall, a competitive performance from GRG2, but a strong result for the GRG1 side (4-1 in ties). Food was Franco's finest, and the beer flowed freely. (Ed: Overall, GRG1 18-8 GRG2, I make it) (Pfabuluous report)

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Grange 2's @ Colinton Castle 2's(Fri, Nov 12,'10)

Fourth game of the season for the Grange 2's away to Colinton Castle 3 on a Friday evening and perhaps because of the day, Grange 2 fielded one of their weaker teams. In contrast to the cold outside the courts were warm, so there were long rallies abound.

5th string match - James Burnet v Alan Stokesy
This first match was a hard fought victory for Stokesy pepperred with occasional "discussions". As Marvin Gaye would say, What's Going On? Some good rallies including one that looked like a drill, with Stokesy driving to the back lefthand corner of the court only for James to play off the back wall three times in succession. The end score accurately reflected a close match and Grange were up 1-0.
Result: Alan won 3-1 (3/9, 9/7, 10/9, 9/5)

4th string match - Hamish Reid v Gordon Sloan
This was another even match throughout, with the Grange man being in command and winning the first two games only to succumb to Hamish's endeavours in five. Given how close the last three games were, on another day this match could easily have gone Grange's way.
Result: Hamish won 3-2 (7/9, 8/10, 9/6, 9/6, 9/7)

3rd string match - Gary Speirs v Gavin Fulton
Gavin was up against a good performance from Gary, who managed to get further forward and dominant the T more than his opponent. His volleying put Gavin on the back foot, not allowing him to get into the match. 2-1 to CC3 with two to play.
Result: Gary won 3-0 (9/2, 9/2, 9/4)

2nd string match - Mark Lord v Pete Cockburn
Unfortunately I did not see much of this match since I was playing on the other court at the time, but Mark was always going to be a tough opponent for Pete. By all accounts, Mark's consistency won out with Pete ruing a performance that by his own admission, could have been better.
Result: Mark won 3-0 (9/0, 9/4, 9/2)

1st string match - Jonathan Nimmo v Patrick Langley
Not accustomed to playing against this level of opponent, I struggled mightily against Jonathan in the first two games. This was evidenced by me having to play back through my legs to the front wall at one point, due to some excellence movement around the court. Somehow there was temporary reprieve in the third game when I managed to stem the tide by getting forward to pick up Jonathan tight boasts and cut off more shots with volleys. This was short-lived however, when the fourth game went the same as the first two.
Result: Jonathan won 3-1 (9/2, 9/0, 0/9, 9/1)

Match result: Colinton Castle 3 win 18-8. Report: Patrick Langley

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Grange 5 home vs Colinton Castle 5(Thurs, Nov 11,'10)

Grange 5 Barbarians and the Captains Curse

This week saw the Barbarians take on top-of-the-table Colinton Castle 5 in only our second home match of the season. With the latest mini-league tables bringing some surprise results, it was time to change the playing order to reflect recent successes and failures.

Those who have read earlier reports will know of the Barbarians Captains Curse. This is the proven scientific fact that if I win my match, the team loses. So, the best way for me to contribute to the team is to lose – at least I’ll get a couple of ref points. However, this brave contribution seems to have been overlooked by the rest of the team. I agreed to try this week, but they were warned ...

First up were Bill Marshall and myself. Bill was still smarting from his newly created nickname from last week of Bill-Nil and took to court with a purposeful demeanour. After a few exchanges of serve a run of five points saw Bill trail in the first, and despite a tight and even game he couldn’t recover and lost 9-6. The second was also tight and Bill got his nose in front to lead 4-2 before another run of five points saw him trail 7-4. From here it was nip and tuck until his opponent came from 6-7 to lead 8-7 and serve for the second. Bill held his nerve, but couldn’t draw level and he faced a second game point. But again he saved it and managed to level t

he game at 8-8. This was more like it. Serving first in a ‘set 2’ game, Bill was unlucky (also known as ‘rubbish’) to hit the tin with a dropshot and his opponent closed the game out 10-8. Bill was clearly frustrated and we looked forward to him taking this energy into the third. But after a few exchanges of serve, his opponent followed a run of three points with a run of 4 and the game was over 3-0.

Meanwhile, on the other court I was knocking up with a player who was hitting the ball like he was Robin Steel’s coach and things weren’t looking too good. However, remembering the Barbarians Captains Curse, I reflected that while things looked bleak on the personal front, my confidence for the overall match was growing. I decided my only hope was to see if he could hit the ball that hard while running and started to play a patient game of chess. At 4-0 down, this strategy didn’t seem to be working but gradually the game began to turn and I was pleased to take the first game 9-6. I was especially pleased to get this game as Dave Grieve (who’d rather go on the piss than play for the team) had told me the night before that now I’d completed the ref course I’d be able to contribute 2 points this week! Now it was 3! The secon

d game started with us exchanging 8 serves without a score and the tight game continued to 4-4 from where I managed to pull away for a 9-4 victory. My opponent brought focus to his game at this point and I was soon 4-0 down in the third. He was starting to hit it harder and harder and I was getting fed up with desperate lurches to the corners. Time for a new strategy – lob everything, and take the pace off the ball. This resulted in 7 points from one serve run and the game was soon won 9-5 and overall 3-0.

The game now had an unusual feel. Every other match so far had lots of 3-2 victories or losses that left us desperately trying to finish before 10 pm and fit a drink in before the bar closes. But tonight we had two 3-0 rubbers and it was only ten past eight.

Next up was Neil Love. This was a tremendous match to referee and I’d personally like to thank Neil for making it such a simple game with not one single let in the whole match. But there was a reason for this... The first game saw Neil lose a run of seven straight points to be 8-0 down before he rescued a couple of points on his way to a 9-2 loss. The second started more even and was poised at 2-2 before another run of seven points brought an equally disappointing 9-2 loss. The third saw Neil get his nose in front before losing a run of 4 to be

4-1 down. He recovered a point before another run saw him 8-2 down and heading for the exit. Probably the best that could be said at this point was if he lost the next point he’d have shown remarkable consistency and symmetry in losing 9-2 9-2 9-2. But it wasn’t to be and he took a couple of points to break the pattern and lost the last 9-4. Another 3-0 game.

Meanwhile on the other court, Richard Nisbet had played just one game. The first was an energetic affair with both players ‘covering the court well’. The almighty scramble brought them to 8-8 in the first and Richard called it ‘set 2’. In a frenetic end, four serves were consecutively lost before Richard edged ahead 9-8 only to see his opponent deliver a highly skilful frame shot that hit the wall an inch above the tin. He followed that up with a point and served for the first game at 9-9. An epic rally followed that saw several clean winners brilliantly recovered by both players. It ended with a backhand winner from Richard that was called ‘not up’ by the referee to the dismay of both players and the balcony. At this point Richard began to do a worthy

impression of our own Mr Meldrew (who by now was presumably onto Tequila slammers).

But both players agreed the ball had been up and Richard now served for the second game. Great serve, no return and Richard was 1-0 up.

Over on the other court, Brian Sloan had started and quickly dispatched his ‘experienced’ opponent 9-1 to take the opening game with a range of positional shots around the court. Things were looking good and I began to wonder if I had imagined the Barbarians Captains Curse. I mean, what could go wrong from here?

Meanwhile Richard immediately went 7-0 up in the third and despite a mini revival from his opponent, took the third 9-4 for a 3-0 victory. The match was all square 2-2 and 6-6. All eyes were now on Brian who was 1 up and 4-4 in the second. But his opponent’s tight serving was beginning to cause problems and he was losing too many easy points as the second game was lost 9-5. The third game was very tight with lots of serves to both players, but Brian couldn’t keep his opponent moving as he had in the first game and the third was also lost 9-5. While things were looking a little bleak, I did have faith in Brian’s fitness and was sure he would start to tire his ‘more experienced’ opponent.

The next game deserves its own paragraph.

After two rounds of serves, Brian had discovered that age and fitness aren’t all they are cracked up to be as he stared down the barrel of the gun; 2-1 down and 8-0 down in the fourth. As they say, a good one to win! But pride was starting kick in (and he probably wasn’t keen on inheriting the Bill-Nil mantra from Mr Marshall). Having rescued the match point, Brian then took control and reeled off six points before he had to face another match point. Full of running and guile, he rescued that point and rattled off another two to bring to game to 8-8 and a ‘set 2’ call came from his slightly bemused opponent. But at this point the magic expired and the Barbarians Captains Curse proved its power as he lost the next two points to lose 3-1.

So, a 12-9 loss (with the 2 ref points) and finished by 9.15pm. Not our usual tight match but still a decent performance against the top-of-the-table team. Team selection for the next few games will take place soon, so any interested player should email me at and I’ll be happy to help you get involved.

Star of the night was Jordan who came to cheer the team on despite not playing this week. (Mike Douglas reporting)

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Div 1! Ladies home to David Lloyd (Nov 8,'10)

The Ladies welcomed a very familiar bunch of players from David Lloyd to the Grange. The good news for us was that they were missing two of their top guns - we were sympathetic to their plight, really.

We had a perfect evening and David Lloyd had a best forgotten evening. The match score of 20:3 says it all. We all had a grand chat in the lounge afterwards and while we did the washing up, DL stayed and chatted some more. They eventually remembered that they had homes to go to and we are definitely looking forward to round 2 with them.

Summary of league so far: There are six teams in our league and four matches have been played so far. We are in fourth place!! We are 20 points ahead of Kirkcaldy and only one point behind the third team, CLASS 88. This is one very happy captain:)
Teams Ladder
TeamRound 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Bonus
Edinburgh Sports Club 1 Comp Points18181718



Watsonians 1 Comp Points1641715



C.L.A.S.S. 88 Comp Points181546



Grange Comp Points471318



Kirkcaldy Comp Points7571



David Lloyd Comp Points11631




Competition points system used: 1 points per game, 3 points for win