Amazing what a difference a year makes. This time last year the Juniors went into the last game of the season needing to win to avoid relegation. This year the Mavericks (with virtually the same squad) went into the last game of the season knowing that a good win (17 points) would secure the league title. I hate to draw parallels, but it all strikes me as a bit similar to the Leicester City FC story…
Our opponents for the night were the very same team that we played a week ago – Booker 2. That was a very close affair so we needed to have our wits about us.
The first match was the only one I considered a sure-fire banker. Will has hardly put a foot wrong all season and this week was no different. His opponent, Matt, is no mug though and had played really well against Pete last week. However Will was assured from the start, keeping Matt under pressure and carved out a good 2-0 lead. In the 3rd Will’s concentration dipped a little, but before long he was back on track and took the game 9-7. A terrific 3-0 start for the Mavericks.
Meanwhile Simon was on against Duncan. Last week Simon had won 3-1 so I assumed this would be “same-again” territory. How wrong I was. Duncan was really up for it and every shot was coming off. Simon didn’t help the cause by serving out a handful of times and soon found himself 2-0 down. And this is why I love squash. You can never, ever take anything for granted. Slowly, but surely, Simon started to raise his levels and fought back to 2-2. In a thrilling final game Simon held his cool to take it 10-8. A brilliant come back for a 3-2 win and the match of the night.
On court 4 I took on Ollie, a late sign up for Booker. This wasn’t a player we knew, but he did know how to play squash. Fortunately I’d retained my reasonable form from the week before and took the first game comfortably. There was a slight glitch in the 2nd following an outrageous winner and a spot of showboating from me (idiot!). I totally lost my concentration and nearly lost the game. However I calmed down after that and was able to secure both the 2nd and 3rd games. So another 3-0 win, which meant we had 13 points. We were getting closer…
Pete was up against Mark, a stylish player who stormed through the first game. Before long though Pete started to wake up and impose himself on the match. The second was a pivotal game with Pete sneaking it 10-9. By now Pete was really moving well around the court – one shot was described as a “rhino charging to the back of the court for a miraculous winner”. Pete won the 3rd in a flash and romped through the 4th until match point, which he had a few bites at before finally crossing the line. A 3-1 victory, and 16 points on the board. Now could we secure the icing on the cake?
Andy (foot injury) was on court against Mark (hamstring injury). Neither player showed much sign of their respective injuries, playing similar games and trying not to get their long limbs tangled up too much. Mark is always a good competitor but Andy looked to be in the driving seat. The first game was probably the most fiercely contested with lots of hand in/outs. Mindful of the team’s soaring expectations Andy raised his game, his shots got tighter and he powered his way through the next 2 games to win 3-0. The Mavericks had a full house – 19 points – and the cake was fully iced!
To celebrate our victory Sieff produced a bottle of champagne, messages were sent to the ecstatic, and possibly drunk, Captain Ben (on R’n’R in Rome) and much back slapping went on. Have to say thankyou to everyone who came along to support. It’s a testament to the spirit of the club that so many turned up to watch – it was very much appreciated. Also thanks to Booker 2 who have been great competition over the last couple of weeks, and put up with our celebrations with good humour!
So the Mavericks’ season ended on a real high. The success of the team has come down to a few factors. A strong upper order has been led by Andy and Tom, and we have a whole roster of players who do well down at 4 and 5 (Ben H, Pete, Simon, Phil and, ahem, myself). But the star players have been in the middle order – Will and Capt Ben (the Iceman). Will has improved beyond all recognition over the year, and become a real quality player, who looks ready for the challenge of Division 1. Ben took over the Captaincy with high hopes for the team, and laid down a marker by winning his first match 27-0. Since then his game has gone from strength to strength, hardly losing a match and capping it all off with an awesome Captain’s performance last week at Booker.
This year is my 20th at Chesham Bois Squash Club and in that time I have never won a league. That has now changed. So well done to everyone and looking forward to more of the same next year!
All the very best