A story of what could have been as the defending champions bounce back.
After the disappointment of not making the final to defend last years Inter County Champions trophy (with an unavoidably understrength squad at Stage one) a stronger Yorkshire side travelled to Yarm in Teeside and walked away as convincing winners of Stage two, defeating the hosts, Durham and Cleveland, as well as Kent and Dorset, and amassing 46 points (out of 60) in the process. Kent squeaked in second with 32 points, D&C third with 31 and Dorset fourth with 30. So very tight for the two relegation spots with the final positions not being settled until the very last rubber in the last match to finish. So commiserations to D&C and Dorset and well done to Kent. As Yawr Abbas turns 50 next year, D&C won’t be relegated for long!
Yarm squash club made us very welcome in a typically friendly Teeside way and we kicked off against Dorset at 1300 on the Saturday. The very skilful and former age group national champion Martin Greenslade was tested by Yorkshires Steve Martin at first string but made fewer unforced errors and came through 3-1. Dave Coffey played the most elastic 50 year old you are likely to see at second string and with his opponent making various wincing lunges and at one point doing the splits in retrieving a shot he had no right to even reach, an increasingly incredulous and dispirited “Cough” as Dave was known to the locals (he grew up and went to school in Yarm) went down 3-1. Steve Smith played Charlie “speed at squash” a coach from Dorset and lost the first two games in a flash. He then upped the pace and staged a remarkable comeback to win 3-2 – the key encounter. Andy Hall was too strong for his opponent at 4th string and Dorset were without a fifth so the Captain did a lot of marking. Yorkshire won 3-2
The 1700 match was against Kent. Steve Martin played Dave (who looked like Liam Neeson) but luckily for Steve, wasn’t as lethal, and Steve came through reasonably comfortably. Steve Smith (too many Steves in this team) stepped up to second string and played a hard hitting and accurate Nick Peel and with his first 3-2 match beginning to tell against him, Steve lost 3-0. Andy moved up to third string and again won comfortably 3-0. The Captain then played the awkward Pat Burt who either hit an outright winner or tinned. The Captain won the first two games narrowly before fading and losing 3-2. But another Yorkshire win 3-2 as Kent, like Dorset, had only brought 4 players.
After an evening in the delightful Black Bull pub in Yarm, the team reconvened (after too many Black Sheep ales) on the Sunday to play the hosts. Ray Burke travelled down from Leyburn to play the in form Peter Lonsdale whose length, variation of pace and all round accuracy saw him prevail 3-0 at first string. Steve Martin played Neil Harrison in the key second string encounter and won a match featuring outrageous shot making from both men, 3-1. Andy once again prevailed 3-0 (becoming the only undefeated Yorkshireman) and Dave struggled with the very tricky Colin Shields (and his hangover) and lost 3-0. The Captain played at 5 and held off the spirited Leon 3-0. So a final 3-2 win.
Thanks to all the team players, thanks to all the squad players who made themselves available, thanks to Peter Lonsdale and Yarm squash club for being such excellent hosts (with superb catering throughout the weekend) and thanks to Allam Marine for sponsoring Yorkshire Squash and keeping Yorkshire on the road so to speak.