Thursday, 21 October 2010

Grange 5 Barbarians away to Watsonians 4 (Wed, Oct 20,'10)

PosPlayerRubbersGamesPoints PlayerRubbersGamesPoints
1Richard Nisbet0012

Andrew Constable1327
2David Grieve1328

David Hutton0016
3Brian Sloan1342

Peter Thomson0236
4Mike Douglas0124

Sandy Henderson1336
5Rocco Pannozzo1335

Barrie Turnbull0224

Competition Points13


And the Babas roll on ... this time to a dark and windswept Myreside to play the mighty Watsonians 4. The day started with the matchday call that all captains dread “ Hi Mike, Rocco here. I’ve got a problem ...”. My heart sank, who did I have as sub? where are they today? and what did they think they were doing tonight? Turns out my panic was misplaced – Rocco just needed a lift. Determined not to be late, I picked Rocco up at the restaurant and we were nearing Myreside as my second call of the day came in. My phone showed “Dave Grieve”; I thought “omg” it was ten minutes before the start – he better have something terminal. Turns out he was at Myreside, but couldn’t see anyone. A few minutes later Rocco and I turned up to darkness. The main door was locked, most of the lights were out and there was no-one around. A tour of the outside of the building found a separate ‘squash courts’ entrance with a few lights on – hurray. But it was locked and no-one answered the buzzer – boo. It was now 7pm, and we were late. Soon a car arrived in the car park – the first Watsonian had arrived, and seemed a bit surprised to be the first. At least he got us into the warm.

Tonight we had a strong team with Richard Nisbet (1), Dave Grieve (2), Brian Sloan (3), me (4) and Rocco (5). With Rocco’s opponent running late, we agreed to play 3 and 4 first, so up stepped myself and Brian Sloan. My opponent was clearly too tall for the match and my protests that anyone who had to duck to get onto court shouldn’t be allowed, fell on deaf ears. However, I had been playing well and was confident of a strong contribution to the team. The first was a tight affair with my opponent being not only tall, but capable of teleporting to any part of the court at will. This proved to be a little disconcerting as he repeatedly hit boasted winners from my own winners. The first game edge out 9-5 and the second went instantly to 6-1. A steady recovery to 6-6 put me well in place for the second until some poor play saw Watsons win 9-6 to go 2-0 up. At this point, my opponent was standing awfully near the defibrillator, but I was sure it was just gamesmanship. The third was tight with no-one getting more than a single point ahead. And at 8-7 up, I served for the game – unsuccessfully. At 8-8 I called for set 2 and promptly went 9-8 down. At match point down, a hugely long rally ended in a well deserved frame shot for me! At 9-9 I served to stay in the match but again lost out and had to save another match point before finally winning the game 10-9. It was to be the turning point of the match – or so I thought. The fourth was tight at 3-3 before a series of herculean shots proved too strong for me and I had lost 3-1. But more of my excellent contribution later.

On the other court, Brian was involved in a tremendous scrap. He started well going 4-0 up before some dogged returning saw his opponent get back to 6-4 up. With the game poised at 6-6, Brian saw a few points just slip away and lost the first 9-6. The second was also tight and at 5-5 mental strength was the name of the game. At 8-7 down, his opponent served for the second, but an excellent forehand from Brian was too tight and he followed this up by levelling at 8-8. A brave call of set 1 saw Brian serve for the second game. He lost, but then so did his opponent and Brian was serving again for the second game – hurray a great drop shot and it was 1-1. The third game saw Brian’s joy short lived as he went 8-2 down, but a great recovery brought him straight back to 8-8 and another tiebreak. This time his opponent called set 2, got serve and proceeded to close out the third game. By now, Brian was getting a bit animated with himself as we went into the fourth. Head down, focus and before we knew it, the fourth game was over – a 9-3 win for Brian and another 5-setter for the Barbarians. Into the fifth, and I was sure Brian’s superior fitness was going to tell. And so it proved as Brian moved off from a 5-5 tie, to win a Titan (sponsorship please Christy!) match 9-6 in the fifth. One-all.

With the game finely balanced, Rocco was next up. And didn’t he do it with style and composure. Yes, you heard me right – composure. This is where the captain’s skills of knowing his players and adjusting his management style to suit proves its worth. Not that I was able to give any guidance or coaching to Rocco, but rather I had arranged for Dave Ferguson to come to the match and put me through my refereeing paces. So with me in the chair (and Dave watching closely at the side) Rocco had to be on best behaviour to ensure we got the two refereeing points this week. This was a game which swung back and forward. In the first, Rocco was in cool control and at 5-3 up, he served out beautifully for a 9-3 victory. But his opponent was deceptively fast around the court and from 3-1 up, Rocco just couldn’t get points on the board and lost 8 serves in succession as his opponent went 6-3 up. This game was getting a bit physical as both players vied for the T and temperament was tested as I had a significant number of calls to make. Luckily Dave agreed with the calls and the testosterone didn’t boil over, but Rocco lost the second 9-6. Watsonians were hotting up now and seemed to get into their stride running out 9-2 winners of the third, and again we were 2-1 down. But Rocco’s new composure saw him play with statesmanlike poise as he denied his opponent position on the court. He was quickly 7-1 up and after a mini-rally by his opponent, won the fourth 9-3. It was now 2-2 and we headed into the near traditional Barbarians fifth set. The first few serves were shared as the two players tested each other’s fitness. But Rocco, at 1-0 up displayed Federer-like poise as he rattled off 8 unchallenged rallies to win the last 9-0. 2-1 to the Babas.

Next up was Dave Grieve who missed last week’s defeat with a typically lame excuse like a free dinner or something. But today, Victor the Meldrew appeared to be on the happy side as he imposed his game on his opponent from the off. An early 5-1 up, quickly saw the game won 9-4 and the second was dispatched equally efficiently 9-3. But his opponent was beginning to warm up and the third was much more of a challenge. At 3-1, 4-2 and 5-3 down, Dave was getting more of a run around than in the first two games. It was clearly time to question the referee’s educational standard! This seemed to be having the desired effect as Dave got to 8-6 up and served for the match. But in the Barbarians, simple things are cast aside as dull and trivial. A couple of tight rallies rescued with lots of running around, brought the game to 8-8. Dave called set 2 and proceeded to win both the serve and the next point to lead 9-8 and serve for the match. But alas it was not to be and a lost serve was followed by another point and his opponent served for the third game at 9-9. And he should have won it, had not a weak winner been rescued by Dave who then served for the match. Surely now, but no! His opponent saved the chance to rescue his match with another winner, and Dave faced his second game point. By this time Mr Meldrew’s temperament was in overdrive and a rally of at least 20 shots went Dave’s way. Match point number 3. The crowd were silent, the players tense and the referee panicking that Dave might give him another ‘I don’t believe it stare’. But Dave won the match to bring in an excellent 3-0 victory. The match was now 3-1. Time for Richard.

Richard took to the court with the confidence of a man who knew his team had already won. A bit like Inter Milan at half time. However his opponent was quick, deadly accurate and tight and soon had Richard huffing for points. The first saw a quick exchange of points before Richard fell behind and the first was lost 9-6. By now, the Watsonian was getting into the groove and Richard’s dedly accuracy of last week again saw him hit the red line at the tin several times. In a blink of an eye it was 9-1 and we went into the third. Again Richard got off to a steady start, but the pace of the game took over and a 9-5 victory brought the last tie to Watsonians 3-0.

So in the end Grange 5 Barbarians won 3-2 with the games at 10-10. But our winning bonus of 3 and 2 ref points gave us a 15-10 victory. So all-in, a successful outing on court, if not in the kitchen. After a great match it seems that someone forgot to open the kitchen and bar and we had to retire to the Ettrick for a beer and packet of Walkers crisps. Not the best hospitality, but at least there was time to stop off at the chip shop on the way home!

Now, as you would expect, I have been taking the position of captain seriously and have been studying the early season form. And although it is only three matches in, I’ve already spotted the trend that will ensure our success this season. You see, we only win matches, when I get beaten. If I win, it seems to spook the others to such an extent that they lose. So, next week I’ll be taking my captains responsibilities even more seriously – I reckon that excuse could last me all season! (Report: Mike Douglas)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

By my calculation, you personally took 6 points for the team tonight then. The Barbarians are flying!