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

Grange 4 home vs Waverley 3 - Tuesday 9th November 2010

Grange 4 was beaten 18-9 by a strong Waverley 4 side in a close match at the Academy last night. The 18 points for the visitors was well deserved but just a handful of rallies going Grange's way in the 5 setters at key points in the night could have reversed it to a 12-11 in the home sides favour. T'wasn't to be though….

First up was Brian Sloan at no5 against the very experienced Donald Shearer. Brian started slowly and was soon 1-6 down. He clawed his way back into the game but the damage was already done and Donald took it 6-9. The second game was a much closer tussle with both players getting their noses in front but once again it was Donald who had it in front at the critical moment…ie the end….7-9. The third and final game was an exact repeat of the first with Donald again racing away only to be clawed back ...but not quite enough and 5-9 was the result. A 0-3 loss for Brian.

At No5 Neil Love had a long and close battle with Waverley debutante Neil Porter. The first game went Neil Love's way 10-8 after both players had edged in front at points during the game. The second game began in the same close fashion with the scoresheet showing 12 rallies being needed to break out of the 3-4 mid-game scoreline. Once Neil Porter had taken that point he grabbed the rest in very short order to take that game. The players' very similar boasting/volleying styles led to another long tussle in the third game which Neil Love took 10-8. History repeated itself as the fourth game was identical to the second with Neil Porter racing away from a tense 2-4 to a comfortable 2-9 win. The final game could have gone either way as it went point for point to 6-6, but once again Neil Porter held it together at the tail end of the game to close out 6-9. A 2-3 loss for Neil Love.

At no3 Will Henderson began well against a very sharp Stephen Gullan. Honours were even to 5-6 but as had been the pattern during the night it was the Waverley player taking a quick sequence of points at the end. Stephen began to dominate in the second and despite Will's best efforts the 3-3 scoreline soon turned into 3-9. By the third game Will was well under the hammer with Stephen playing some excellent squash and Will visibly running out of steam. Just four hand outs to show for Will during that game. A 0-3 loss for Will.

With the match already having been lost, Jonathan Frame was playing to restore team honour at no2 against the very useful Richard Nettleton, and restore it he did. Unfortunately, this author didn’t see much of that game due to umpiring another at the same time but the few snippets glimpsed showed that there was some tight and fast squash being played by both players. Jonathan took the first 9-3 and repeated the exact scoreline in the second with Richard replying in exact kind in the third. Jonathan came out of the blocks very well in the fourth to race to a 6-1 lead which Richard managed to partially peg back only to see Jonathan add the necessary few points to take the match 1-3.

At no1 the final match between your's truly (Mark Dutton) and Damien Noade was a see-saw affair throughout. Damien was easily the stonger in the first game and didn’t really give me a chance to get a start and he took it 3-9. I knuckled down in the second and began to force some errors out of Damien and a comfortable 9-2 was the result. In the third Damien was once again on top with some very effective backhand volleys winning points as I failed to go wide enough or deep enough on a regular basis and Damien took it 3-9. The fourth was very tight with both players playing periods of very decent squash bit also making a number of unforced errors each. At 5-5 it was finely balanced but a surge of tight drives and drops gave me a 9-5 win. Damien shot to a 1-6 lead in the fifth and all looked lost but a battle of attrition followed that saw me claw it back one at a time to 5-6. I thought the gods were smiling on me and I could go on with it, especially after the first aerobatic dive of the season saw a rally successfully saved. But…the gods frowned again and Damien found the necessary couple of winners to take it 5-9. A 2-3 loss for me to end the night.

All in all, a very enjoyable and social evening with all 10 players heading back to the Grange and tucking into some of Franco's finest produce and the very well kept IPA.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Results of 2nd Winter Minileague 2010

This was another record breaking league, with an incredible 217 games played, and record participation of 114 players.

The results of the league are here ..... 2010 Winter League 2

Well done to leagues 8 and 11 for playing maximum games. League 8 was a league of 7, so everyone played 6 games! Rob Henry and Chris Braun got promotion, losing only one game each. Chris Ba-loch and David Gillespie just came out on top in a tightly fought league 11. Some other leagues came very close to playing all games, so well done.

I'm not going to mention any more stats at this point, to avoid the risk of revealing the Minileaguer of the Year prizes - all will be revealed at Finals Night on the 26th!

For the 5th league, we are down to 105 players and a total of 17 leagues, a few hardy souls electing to switch to tennis among the drop-outs. Wrap up well!

For those interested, here is the full set of new leagues ..... 2010 Winter League 3

The league is extended to 7 weeks to avoid clashing with the tournament.

Enjoy your games,

Dougie Brown

Monday, 8 November 2010

Mini Squash - Next Session Sunday 14th November 10am

Our youngest players came back for a second high energy session of Mini Squash this Sunday. Next week is the last of our 3 come-and- try sessions. If you want to come along, contact Alasdair Gordon or 0131 667 6326.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Grange 1 @ Mamma's Pizzeria(5/11/2010)

PosPlayerRubbersGamesPoints PlayerRubbersGamesPoints
1Allan Hamer1327Roger Moore0015
2Will Kerr0231Neil McAllister1332
3Richard Van Lienden1329Stuart Williamson0018
4Robin Steel1327Brian Clough0011
5Mark Dutton1327no player000Forfeit
Competition Points173

Friday, 5 November 2010

Grange 3 v Abercorn 1, Thursday 4th November

Abercorn came with a strong team. #1 Bruce Russell's decisive style won 3-0 against Gary Walker. #4 Allan Wallace won a hard earned 3-2 from 2-0 down against Brian Montgomery. #5 Stokesy went to the wire with David Ross, a big effort, but lost 8-10 in the fifth. #2 Ali G had arms just long enough to reach Ali MacKenzie's front court action 3-0. ~3 Christy was last on for decider of the night, and met a player even more unusual than himself in Ian Ross. Christy took longer to get used to Ian's game than Ian to Christy's, but he levelled in the 2nd and 4th, pacing up the game whilst Ian was slowing it down. Ian's ability to play the slowest longest drops in the East and from any point on the court was taking its toll, and when these started coming cross court, the fifth game went Ian's way. Final score with ref points was 12-16. Not irreparable, but we're due a win.
PosPlayerRubbersGamesPoints PlayerRubbersGamesPoints
1Gary Walker0012Bruce Russell1327
2Alasdair Gordon1327Alister MacKenzie0016
3Christy Looby0229Ian Ross1337
4Allan Wallace1331Brian Montgomery0227
5Alan Stokes0236David Ross1336
Competition Points1014

Grange 5 @ Abercorn 2 (Thurs, Nov 4,'10)

Continuing our travels, this week saw Grange 5 Barbarians head to Jocks Lodge to play Abercorn. This time, it was my turn to sit out, so thanks to Richard Nisbet for taking on captain duties for the evening and to Dave ‘Meldrew’ Grieve for the match report. Read on ...

Bill Marshall began the evening at number 5 as a replacement for Captain Mike Douglas who claimed to be too busy at work. Bill's opponent Bernard however showed himself as a master of his own court by producing more drop shots and boasts than Rocco has done in a season. Bill struggled to adjust to his opponent's game and despite several service changes promptly lost the first two games 0-9. Just as the remainder of the team in team in the balcony were beginning to compose suitable rhymes Bill, Nil, etc, he rallied and for a while threatened to recover the third before eventually losing out 4-9. It should be pointed out to the reserves that just because you are stepping in for Captain Mike doesn't mean you have to contribute the same score. At least Mike gets a couple of refereeing points each week. (Editor note: quite unnecessary!)

Next up was Rocco. After taking the first comfortably (Forza Rocco Forza) Rocco managed to implode (Cattivo Rocco Cattivo) against his opponent Martin and managed to lose the following 3 games. Hopefully less wine and pizza will see the Italian stallion fit better into his National team jersey and resume his winning ways next week.

Steven took the court at number 3 and as I headed to my game was in the process of losing the first 2 games. Things were looking bleak.

I took the court at number 2 against Steve and strolled easily into a 1 game lead. At this point however the stomach upset I had been suffering from all week began to take its toll and I was instantly regretting the decision to wear white shorts. Thankfully I managed to hold things in however I also managed to lose the following 2 games, partially due to some interesting umpiring decisions. Somehow I managed to win the 4th from 5-8 down. During the break in games I passed Steven in the corridor hoping that he had lost 0-3 so I could happily lose the 5th without feeling guilty. However to my dismay he told me he had fought back to win 2-3 so I was obliged to try and win my match and square up the tie. I went on to win the 5th 9-8 after being 6-8 down and exchanging a few service points at 8-8.

Everything was now hanging on the last rubber with Richard playing at number 1. It was a brief affair with Richard playing some great squash to trounce his opponent 0-3, largely due to Rocco's prompting about needing to get a lift home quickly from the balcony.

Thanks are due to Abercorn for their excellent hospitality after the match and their interesting team selection which contributed to a close score on the night. (Report: David Grieve)

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Grange 4ths versus Waverley 4ths ... 2nd November 2010.

A tough, close match saw Grange 4ths victorous by 16 points to 11 at the Waverley courts.

First up was Brian Sloan at no5 in his first match this year for the 4ths. It didn't start too well with Neil Kempsell putting him convincingly to the sword in the first game. The second game was a much closer affair with Brian just managing to nudge Neil out in a long game. After that, Brian must've managed to nick the sword between games as he comfortably closed the match out with only two further points going Neil's way. A 3-1 win for Brian.

At the unaccustomed height of No1 was your's truly (Mark Dutton) against Colin Cruikshank. A pretty poor start from me saw Colin take the first game easily and while the second was a little closer Colin managed to quickly peg back my 4-0 start to take the game again going away. Colin's command of the front of the court being the key factor. The third game was also going very badly for me at 2-7 down and a pretty big thrashing was on the cards. Somehow I managed to get a grip and clawed back to a 10-9 win in that game with a few very nervous match point saves along the way. The fourth game was a very different story though and a 9-0 win was the result achieved primarily through the medium of a ridiculous barrage of corkscrew serves, straight-at-the-body serves, straight down the middle serves…all the usual nonsense. The fifth game proved to be the talking point of the night. I'd started that the way of the previous game and had established a 5-1 lead. I'd certainly been somewhat vocal during the match (especially with some "self-encouragement" in the first two games) and in the later games had discussed a few points with the referees (…in a reasonable fashion, I felt). Colin had expressed some displeasure at the distractions from the actual matter of playing squash and two queried decisions in a row at 5-1 proved to be the final straw for Colin and he announced to the umpire that he was conceding the match and walked off. As Colin's unable to put his side of the case in this blog I won’t take advantage by putting mine and will just leave it at that. 3-2 win for Mark.

Next up was Will Henderson against Peter Cochrane at No2. Will started well and managed to nick the first game when it looked to be going away. A similarly close second game went against him. At that point it was clear that both players were struggling with the on-court heat and the heaters were switched off. Two further relatively mixed games followed with plenty of good rallies being interspersed with some unforced errors that disappointed both players. Peter managed to retain the better control and an out the winner. 1-3 loss for Will.

At No5 Neil Love managed a good start to share the first two games with Chris Jeffrey. The next two games were very hard fought with the only visible difference perhaps being the slightly better shot placement by Chris that on a number of occasions saw Neil fall just agonisingly short of reaching them for a return. The final game was a very close affair with Chris almost throwing it away by tinning an easy match point and Neil then very nearly stealing it, but Chris grabbed the serve back and a woop of delight as he picked up the final point showed how hard he felt the match had been. A 1-3 loss for Neil.

Last up was Andy Whitelaw at No 4 against John Allan. (Note to Andy….remember next time that Waverley starts at 6pm …not 7pm. Another note to Andy…check that your racket has all of its strings before you leave home). This turned out to be the best match Andy's played for the the team this year and he was in good control throughout. Some crisp hitting and good running saw him take the first two games using Neil Love's borrowed racket. Neil was up on the balcony fretting that he hadn't put it onto "record" mode before he handed it over as Andy was doing some good stuff with it. A period of resistance from John in the third game gave us all a momentary scare that we might see the match result go west, but Andy quickly regained control and closed it out for a 3-0 win. Mark Dutton

Grange II Vs Watsonians III – 03 November 2010

First home game of the season for the 2s was down in Stockbridge. A welcome change for some of the players who had fought their way up from the lower teams. Myself included.

Ian Forbes kicked things off at number 5 against Mike Callaghan. The game stared with some long rallies and very few points being exchanged. Ian managed to nose out in front and take the first and then sped off to an 8-2 lead in the second only to be slowly pegged back by Mike who had started to stretch out the rallies as the mistakes started to creep into Ian’s game. Ian held off and claimed the second 9-6. The third was and edgy affair as Mike kept Ian at the back with some nice lobbing. Ian was showing signs of frustration as it looked like the 3rd could be going Mike’s way. A few errors from Mike let Ian back in though and the Grange man closed out for a good 3-0 win.

Mike Hall was playing at number 3 against Watsonian’s Hector Milne. Some tight squash was played by both players. Mike showed plenty aggression and played some excellent nicks. Hector soaked up plenty but it was Mike who came through on top 3-0.

Patrick Langley took on Jim Dougal at number 2 in what probably turned out to be the performance of the night by the Grange man. Patrick was up against a very experienced player in Jim and had his work cut in retrieving Jim’s variety of shots. Patrick took the first 9-0 in a game I didn’t actually see however Jim kept back for the second fully warmed up and took it 9-7. The game was now red hot with Jim throwing all sorts at Pat only for it to be soaked up and thrown right back!! Some spectacular rallies followed in the 3rd with Pat chasing everything down. The game was truly in the balance now as this one went to the wire! Some grit from Pat meant it went his way, 10-9. The pressure was kept on with Jim trying to find a way back in but Pat kept running and played some tight squash that didn’t let Jim in to play his game. Pat took the forth for an excellent 3-1 win.

Captain Rob Pfab was on at one against Ali Carruth. Some great looking squash from both player meant it went all the way in the first with Rob saving 3 game balls!! Rob took it 10-9 to claim the first and then put his foot down to take the next to for a well deserved 3-0 win

Pete Cockburn finally got on to play the 4th string match at the end of the night against Gordon Fruish. Gordon played some tight boasts and drops in the first that had Pete running all sorts of ways, mostly the wrong way! 5-8 down Pete fought back to take the first 10-9. The second followed quickly 9-2 where Pete looked to be cruising only to be 0-5 down in the third when Gordon started to throw in those tricky boasts again!!!. Pete came back for the second time to finally close things out- 3-0 to the Grange.

A good win for the 2s, their first of the season. A tough defeat for the Watsonians guys who only faired marginally better on their last visit to Stockbridge.

First Marco’s of the season was consumed with Beer and some of Mike Hall’s questionable Tommy Cooper Impressions!

18-1 Grange (Report: Cockburnator of the East)