Thursday, 27 June 2013

The rise & fall of ladies squash Part III

Continuing the series of articles on the history of East Squash... here is the number of ladies teams in the East Leagues 1973-2012/13, by division (click picture to enlarge):
There seems to have been a weird spell 1993-1996 when they decided to only have 5 teams in Div 1, while Divs 2 & 3 kept a healthy 8 or 9 teams each.
    This seems to be a similar situation to recent years, where the 2 divisions of 2000-2006 reverted to 3 smaller divisions in an attempt to keep the levels of skill in each division as close as possible.
   Of course we are no worse off now than we were in 1980, apart from the fact that the game was on the rise back then, whereas now it is on a plateau at best. I believe this plateau is false in the women's game as the current playing population mostly took the game in the late 80's and 90's. This generation will be leaving the game over the next decade unless we bring more young females into the game. We either have to do this through a) junior programmes or b) encouraging young professionals to take up the game.
     Grange has an active programme in both camps. 
a)We have a weekly morning with Flora Stephenson's school's golden time, some females in John Bain's junior sessions and active in East junior leagues and Claire Gray's East junior squad sessions.
b) We are lucky in our catchment and females and especially encourage females to try out Club Night and then guide them into friendly mini-leagues. From there, there is coaching and a path into the East leagues teams. After a lapse of 10 years, we brought back the 2nd ladies team and it has given those keen ladies a chance to hone their skills and make the progression that inter-club play brings.
   This is all well and good but we really need to other clubs to be doing similar proactive work to ensure they maintain and augment their current crop of female players. It is good to see ESC, Waverley, Abercorn and Watsonians retain two or more teams but you have to worry about the clubs who no longer have women's teams - once the thread is broken, it is difficult to weave it back together again.
    In the next instalment, I will analyse the ladies teams on a club-by-club basis to see if we can learn anything from history to avoid making the mistakes of the past.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Racketball team home v Linlithgow (Tue, Jun 25)

David Grieve & Matt B after play.
First on at #1 was David Grieve taking on Matt B B, the score looks like David was in contention but unable hs opponent always seemed to get 4 points clear in each game and then protect his lead 11-15, 11-15, 11-15. David told me just to write the he was crap, but I think that is a bit unfair to the word crap. Anyway it gave David plenty of time to get away to make the lasagne.
Mark P and Stokey's tongue
  Over on the other court, Stokesy was trading games with Mark P, the running machine. This was  marathon of high quality boasts and length, it went to the fifth which Mark just shaded 15-12.
John Matthew at #5 took on John Ralph. I must say John Matthew's game has come on a lot since I last saw him.
Mark McCormack & Ali "118" Ross
Pete Young took on #4 Keith Barrett and said he was enjoying the variety that racketball gave him in the off-season. He brough this to the court where he came from two games down to take the fifth 15-9.
 At #6, Ali Ross came in as a last minute sub against Mark McCormack who is just back from a back operation and a bit hampered in his movement. Ali took  the first 15-12 and had the taking of two more matches but lost out 13-15 in both. Mark finished him off 15-4.
Pete Young after beating Keith Barrett
Garlic bread and Kit Kats
   The highlight of the night was also the lowlight, as everyone hd to put up with Christy sledging his gob off for the whole match... and still losing. Matt McElroy played the straight man and just played more steadily to take it 3-1.
   Up to the lounge for a feast of lasagne with Christy providing the Colinton desert - see pic - straight from robbing his kids treat box.

Monday, 24 June 2013

The Rise and Fall of Squash Teams in East of Scotland - Part II

I roughly graphed this in Part 1

Below is the accurate plot for Ladies Squash in East from the beginning in 1973, through the boom years mid-1980's, a mini-boom in 2000 and the gradual decline since then:
From a peak of 27 ladies teams in 3 divisions, we now stand at 14 teams in 3 sparse divisions.
East and West of Scotland are the only two regions to keep their ladies leagues going. Grampian no longer has ladies leagues. Back in my old stomping ground in Cork, ladies play individual leagues.
   Below is a chart which shows Grange Ladies(the thick blue line) closing in on the #1 spot in Div 1 over the last few years. The list of clubs show that 10 no longer exist as ladies teams, out of the 23 that once played. Over and above the 2 Marco's clubs that have been demolished, we no longer have Colinton Castle, Dean, Deer Park, Dunfermline, Hatton, Heriot Watt, Kirkcaldy, Next Generation, Tyne and Stirling Uni fielding ladies teams.

Click on the pictures to enlarge!
The next instalment will chart the rise and fall of men's squash in East.

Monday, 17 June 2013

National League finals - Sun, Jun 16

Last minute call-up Angus MacPherson joined us at the Fountain Park rendezvous along with Aoife Kerrin and Gordon Sloan, Kevin Moran being the nominated driver. Without our usual #2 who was probably nursing a sore head on the flight back from Mulhouse after his heroics in the Worlds.
   We arrived at Bridge of Allan at 9:30am with our opponents a full-strength ESC showing up soon after. First on was Aoife versus Senga Macfie and Aoife proved she was not a morning person as she took  2 games to get going on the glass-back. Angus MacPherson made his league debut at 14 years old against Jacques Laas and acquitted himself well once he got over his nerves in the first game. Gordon Sloan faced Ross McHoul and got some good scores. At this point we were 0-3 down so the #1 was a dead rubber. Simon gave it a go in the first game of the match getting a good lead but Kevin upped his game, got everything (and I mean everything) back and won it. Simon admitted after that game he knew he'd "have to blow a gasket" to get anything out of it and he would probably still lose so he tried to slow it down but Kevin was having none of it: 3-0 and we were on the scoreboard.
   In the other semi next door, some very close matches as an under-strength Dalgety Bay took on an under-strength Giffnock. Morgan McGuire won 3-1 for Giffnock but then Richard Northin & Neil Bennett struck back for the Bay against Matthew Stout and Owen Hadden respectively. It went down to the wire but Allan Tasker beat Stuart George at #1 & Dalgety got through 3-1.
   After lunch we took to court again for the bronze playoff. Aoife was up to speed now and played very strongly on the volley drops to beat Morgan McGuire 3-0. Angus improved again with a strong match versus Matthew Stout and Gordon Sloan was feeling the effect of a wedding the day before as Owen Hadden cleaned him out. So Kevin Moran took to court to see if he could win 3-0 and salvage 3rd palce for Grange. A highly entertaining shootout with Stuart George was Kevin do just that, now it was 2-2 on matches, 6-6 on games countback and we never found out what it was on rallies-countback as we had to leave early.
   ESC subsequently beat Dalgety in the final with wins for Senga 3-0 over Elspeth, Jacques 3-0 over Neil and Ross taking a games off Allan to make it academic what the result was between Simon and Iain Tennant who turned up from his medical finals.
    Overall an enjoyable set of finals, good blooding of Angus and Kevin Moran emerging as the only person undefeated in the league having played all matches. Next year the stags plan to go one better under Director of Squash Cockburn!
Thanks to all players who represented, to Francos Pizza and Titan Rackets for sponsoring and to those who supported or took an interest over the season.