Picture the scene. It is a humid, thunderous day at the Stoke Park Country Club Hotel in early September. In a private dining room Kevin Mears sits at the head of a large mahogany table, casually stroking a luxurious white cat. Assembled in front of him are the captains of all the Division 2 squash teams, except Ben Boulter. Even Tim Paul has accepted on the basis of a free lunch being on offer. Kevin asks one question “How do we stop the Mavericks winning the 2nd Division for a third year in a row?”. Everyone shuffles nervously in their seats, desperate to avoid the drop into the piranha tank on the way out. “It’s simple really” continues Kevin, “Every time we play the Mavericks we bring in as many ringers as possible. I don’t care where they come from, which airbase they fly in from or how much you pay them. The Mavericks must be defeated!”. Everyone around the table agrees, Roger Hill pledges to completely reinvent his team and even Tim Paul mutters something about bringing in Young Poth, while stuffing his face with cake. The last we hear from this dining room is Kevin cackling, sick with power and dreams of a Mavericks collapse.
Fast forward 5 months and this dark alliance seems to be working. The Mavericks are on a mid table slide. The next fixture is the Beaconsfield Bulls, source of our demise. We are taking this match seriously as always. I have circulated the trailer to “Gladiator” to the team during the day just to get us in the mood. Ben has dropped out at the last minute, but no doubt Kevin was to blame for this as well – his evil knows no bounds.
As luck would have it I am first on against Kevin, who dusts some white cat fur off his midnight black squash kitbefore the match. I am quicker out of the blocks, ignore the banter coming my way and take the first game. Kevin wakes up then, and his dead eye stare starts to chill me as he takes the second comfortably. The third game is pivotal, going to 14-14 all, but Kevin takes it to wild applause from his sycophantic followers. In the fourth I make too many errors and Kevin wins it, swishing off court in a long black cape, with a 3-1 victory in his vice-like grip.
Andy Mayhew has been called in at short notice in place of Ben and is up against Anoop. No surprise – Anoop has never played for the Bulls before, but plays number 1 for the Trojans in Div 3, typical Beaconsfield. As with my match Andy starts strongly to take the first, once again showing full Mavericks credentials in his unorthodox, but effective style. However Anoop settles down and slowly begins to take control with his measured approach. This was always a close match but Anoop wins through 3-1.
Pete was again facing Natalie Machin (on loan from Div 1 Lions, typical Beaconsfield) and determined to make amends for losing to her at the start of the season. The early signs were promising as Natalie sleep walks her way through the first game allowing Pete to take it comfortably. He gets to 5-0 up in the second when there is a sudden awakening from Natalie, and everything changes. She starts to move better, play all the right shots and gets Pete on the back foot. Decent effort from Mavs No 1, but another 3-1 win for the Bulls.
Tom is on next against Bulls regular Ollie. Not entirely sure of the sequence of this match as the Bulls didn’t write up a score sheet (typical Beaconsfield). However I think Ollie started better and won the first. Somewhere along the line Tom got right back into this match, pushing Ollie all over the court and starting to create some Ormiston magic. Tom got himself into a great position to take the match to 2 all. He was 12-8 up and looked settled. Ollie is a great competitor though and fought back to win the game, and the match 3-1.
Simon was last on against young gun Nick, who would be very good at number 1 and is awesome playing at 2. The first game went as expected – lots of hard hitting, some great rallies, but with Simon always on the defensive. The second game continued in a similar vein and Simon starting to get frustrated. But something changed in Simon’s mind during this game and he started to give as good as he got. Nick won the second, but the third was a gruelling war of attrition with both players on maximum effort. In the end Nick had a bit too much and won it 3-0, but a really stirring performance from Clarkey.
So in the end it was Mavs 0 (4 pts) Bulls 5 (19 pts). Those halcyon days of last season seem a long time ago! As we left Beaconsfield squash club I did hear the manic gleeful laughter of a man who’s plan has come to fruition…