14/15 November - O45 Inter County Championship
14/15 November saw Bedfordshire host Worcestershire and Somerset at the first stage of the Men’s Over 45 Inter County Championships and the hosts didn’t let the crowds (consisting of the Worcestershire and Somerset Men’s Over 45 County teams) down, gaining maximum points for the weekend. Only 6 games were dropped by the Beds vets, details as follows:
Match 1 – Bedfordshire v Worcestershire
Opening proceedings, Richard Carr faced a tricky Worcestershire number 3 but despite losing the first game, Richard came out on top in 4 wining 6-9, 9-6, 9-1, 9-4 in usual dogged and competitive style. Accompanying Richard’s win were the usual upper class shouts to himself of ‘come on Richard!’ and ‘that is less than adequate on every level’, much to the amusement of his Beds team mates.
Meanwhile, on court 3, finding the early afternoon timing and conditions difficult to adapt to, Steve Barlow at 5 soon recovered from his early stumble to seal victory in customary professional style 9-6, 10-8, 10-8. Although having barely broken sweat, Steve unwisely felt the need to freshen up for his next opponent, only to realise on exiting the shower he had forgotten his towel. With only one kit on which to dry himself, Steve’s weekend was over, necessitating reinforcements.
Next up, the 1s and 4s, with Nick Lavery at 1 on his return to County duties following serious injury, reminded us of what we’ve been missing. Back to his vocal best, Nick vied for court space with his Worcestershire opponent, conceding very little room to out manoeuvre his man in 4 with some exceptional positional play, dazzling racket skills and interesting chat with the marker.
At 4, inaugural captain Ian Thomas sprinted to a 9-2 first game victory and a 7-0 second game lead against his Worcestershire opponent before disappearing from the building, allowing his opponent to seize the initiative and return fire with an uncontested 9 consecutive points, Thomas going down 7-9 in the second. However, despite his master class in lack of concentration, Bedfordshire’s captain recovered his composure in the third and maintained his focus throughout the fourth to seal a 3-1 victory for Beds.
Finally, Beds number 2 Bruce St Leger (the concentration master!) dispatched his Worcestershire opponent with uncharacteristic efficiency, conceding just 8 points to win 3-0 (9-5, 9-1, 9-1). With gasps from the crowd of oooh and aaah and amidst whispers of ‘surely the order’s been rigged’, Bruce’s ability to target the nick from any given angle and any possible position left his opponent looking less than amused. Obviously the crowd have never seen Bruce play before.
Match 2 – Bedfordshire v Somerset
Richard Carr opened the afternoon proceedings against a very awkward Somerset opponent and despite his attempts to generate pace on the ball, Richard was never quite able to break the ice, either on the ball or with his opponent. Apparently fighting his own shadow and at times flailing wildly at imaginary balls, Richard went down in the first 8-10. Nevertheless, Richard’s determination started shining through as his opponent started to lose his senses – hearing, humour... - Richard coming good with a 3-1 victory for Beds, 7-9, 9-4, 9-4, 9-3.
Stepping in for out of action laundry victim Steve Barlow, substitute number 5 Matt Towers despatched the Somerset captain with ruthless efficiency, dropping just 8 points on the way to a 3-0 victory 9-6, 9-0, 9-2. Great performance from the man with the giraffe-like reach.
Next up, the 2s and 4s with Beds Captain Ian Thomas at 4 making the worst of all possible starts to a lively opponent who appeared to have overdosed on Pepsi Max at lunchtime, losing the first 2 games 2-9, 4-9. However, with the pressure of being the only Beds player to lose bearing down on him and with the assistance of his frame at 6-8 down in the 5th (racket, not Zimmer – the philosophy being he paid for it so he may as well use it), the Captain’s qualities came to the fore as he stole a 3- 2 victory from the jaws of defeat.
Meanwhile, Bedfordshire’s finest Nick Lavery lined up against a far more compliant opponent than in the first match, correctly respecting the home player’s right to the entire court without requiring any recourse to the referee, Nick tucking his opponent away in 3 relatively quick games 9-7, 9-3, 9-7.
Finally, the good Bruce St Leger continued his clinical display form the first match, dispatching his second victim in 3 slightly tougher games, 9-7, 9-4, 9-5. The crowd (now reduced to only half of the opposing teams, the other half fighting over the few sandwiches left following a theft of the rest by locals) were left to marvel at Bruce’s ability to break the sound barrier and the tin at the same time.
So, final result, Bedfordshire 40 points, Somerset 20, Worcestershire 11, rounding off a very successful weekend for the home county. Beds move onto the second stage in Spring 2016 in good shape for promotion.