reports winter 17

Away v Westway – won 15-7

Sobell’s first match of 2018 was away at Westway. Up first was Rohan at no.3 against a player with a lot of winners (like Rohan) and not a lot of running (like Rohan). The result was two players who appeared evenly matched (until you realised Rohan was taking it easy). Happily Rohan managed to just about run out a 3-0 winner 19-17, 15-13, 16-14. Richard was on the other court against a guy he was much better than. Unusually for Richard this did not result in lots of errors and a close defeat, Richard winning 3-1: 16-14, 10-15, 15-10, 15-9. I was on next at number one against a guy who had some running but not many shots – resulting in an easy 3-0: 15-9, 15-6, 15-9. Tim followed Richard, playing at no.5 playing against a player with good shots and fair movement (probably the best 5 we saw all season). Despite putting up a good effort, Tim’s opponent had too much for him and Tim lost 3-0: 13-15, 9-15, 10-15.


Meanwhile, somewhere in Crouch End, a confident Adam (our erstwhile no.4) was laughing to himself. He had seen Richard’s message to the team that he was running late and thought “what an idiot, the game is tomorrow!” Time passed and it slowly began to dawn on Adam that the reason we had all turned up to Westway on a Tuesday (and the reason the email had said the game is on Tuesday) was that Tuesday was the day of the match. A panicked cycle ride later and Adam was on court (not really) ready to play. Unfortunately, his opponent was very much ready to play and while Adam got a game, he couldn’t do much more, losing 3-1: 16-18, 15-9, 15-9, 15-6. However, despite dropping two matches, the result was a handy 3-2 victory for Sobell.


Home v Finsbury Outplay – won 18-4

Our next game was at home against Finsbury Outplay on 24 January. Phil was back at no.1 and played a player who could run, but didn’t have the best shots. Despite this, Phil still managed to let him win a game,winning 3-1: 15-5, 15-12, 13-15, 15-4. I was at no.2 against Murray, a former Sobell player with good shots but limited movement. The result was a fairly routine 3-0: 15-10, 15-12, 15-11. Up at no.3 was Richard “lose to a squash shoe” Bangay. Unfortunately, Richard’s opponent was even better than a squash shoe – with the result that Richard had no chance, going down in four 3-1: 12-15, 17-15, 13-15, 4-15. At four was Rohan “tiebreak” Plunkett, playing a guy that he was miles better than. The difference in ability didn’t prevent Rohan from taking the first game to a tiebreak, but after that it was plain sailing, 3-0: 16-14, 15-6, 15-6. Finally, Adam was at five. Adam had adopted a rigorous preparation regime of actually remembering what day that match was (I hear it's what some of the pros do) and so was in peak condition. While the away player somehow managed to stay with Adam on the scoreboard, there was only going to be one winner and Adam won out 3-0: 15-13, 15-10, 15-13. An excellent 4-1 victory for Sobell.


Home v Wembley and Sudbury – won 20-0

By the time that the home visit of Wembley and Sudbury came around, Sobell’s reputation was fearsome. So much so that Wembley and Sudbury decided not to turn up and we got a 20-0 walkover. Poor showing by Wembley and Sudbury who only forfeited in the afternoon that the game was supposed to be played.


Home v Stormont – won 15-8

After some time off, Sobell’s next game was against Stormont, one of the league’s better teams. Up first was Richard at no.2 against a plyer who hits the ball very very hard. Richard countered by trying to hit it harder rather than playing tight squash, which was not very effective. After Richard took the first, it was one-way traffic with the Stormont player winning 3-1: 15-11, 11-15, 7-15, 7-15. Up on the other court was Adam against a youngster. Adam won the warm up so easily that he then managed somehow to lose the first game. Thankfully, Adam then started trying and after that it was plain sailing, with Adam winning 3-1: 10-15, 15-6, 15-4, 15-9. I was up next at no.1 against a handy player who had beaten Phil in the home leg. Happily, their no.1 wasn’t able to cope with a high-paced game and I won out 3-1: 15-9, 15-13, 8-15, 17-15. Up at no.5 was a wily veteran by the name of Brendon whose opponent looked shell-shocked during the warm up! The gulf in class showed and Brendon won 3-0: 15-5, 15-8, 15-7. Finally, Rohan was up at no.3 against a guy that Richard had beaten in the home leg. Rohan got off to a fast start winning the first game 15-4. However, taking his foot off the gas proved fatal as Rohan’s opponent pushed hard and managed somehow to eke out a 3-2 victory: 15-4, 12-15, 15-8, 10-15, 13-15. No matter, another 4-1 victory for Sobell.


Away v Finchley Manor – Won 17-6

The first week of March saw Sobell head across North London to Finchley Manor. This match followed hot on the heels of a successful (for some) Sobell tournament that had seen Rohan reach the final. Some other members of the team (mentioning no names, but who may or may not have been the captain) needed to buck their ideas up. I was up first at no.1 against a player who hit the ball very hard on a warm and lively court. After a round of “who can hit the ball the hardest” he took the first game 16-14. After a talking to from Tim “Malcolm Willstrop” Denis, I started playing better and won 3-1: 16-14, 2-15, 13-15, 7-15. At the same time Paul was up at no.5 against a handy player. Paul clearly was more used to the frozen tundra of the Sobell Centre and wasn’t able to get going, losing 3-0: 15-5, 15-8, 15-8. Following me on court 1 was Tim playing a man who proved that, despite the nursery rhyme, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men actually had some decent DIY skills – unfortunately, despite having good shots, Tim’s heavyweight opponent didn’t have the movement. Tim played excellent simple squash to win 3-0: 9-15, 10-15, 14-16. Adam followed Paul on Court 2 against a player who steadfastly refused to play anything we would recognise as proper squash and whose bread and butter shot appeared to be the reverse boast! Adam was put off a bit in the first, losing 15-10, but after a talking to and a tactical adjustment roared back to win 3-1: 15-10, 9-15, 8-15, 9-15. Finally, Rohan was up at no.2 playing a player who, despite looking the part, rivalled Rohan for fitness (but without the shots). An easy-going start saw Rohan lose the first, but he soon found his rhythm and won 3-1: 15-11, 11-15, 12-15, 7-15 giving us an overall 4-1 win.



Home v Finsbury Leisure – won 20-2

Next up was a home game against Finsbury Leisure. With our talismanic no.1 out having surgery, this looked like it could be a difficult encounter. However, looks can be deceiving. Richard played their coach at no.2 and won 3-0: 15-4, 15-6, 15-11 (which makes the game, if anything, look closer than it was). I played at no.1 and won 3-0: 15-9, 15-5, 15-5 (it was exactly as close as it looks). Despite a wobble in the middle, Rohan won easily at no.3, 3-0: 15-7, 15-13, 15-9. Up at no.4 was new recruit Lawrence. Despite only just coming into the team, Lawrence is playing a kind of squash that will have a few team players looking over their shoulders and had far too much for his opponent, winning 3-0: 15-4, 15-5, 15-5. Finally, at no.5 Paul made it worth their while turning up as he had an epic battle with their no.5. After some excellent rallies (and one or two controversies) Paul won out 3-2: 15-10, 17-15, 6-15, 9-15, 15-13. The outcome was an excellent 5-0 win.


Home v Oakleigh Park – won 18-6

Oakleigh Park were the next visitors to Sobell, like so many they arrived with high hopes of victory, like so many their hopes were dashed by the imperious Sobell team. At no.5, Lawrence played like he had somewhere else to be in a hurry, rattling through his games en route to a 3-0 victory: 15-6, 15-7, 15-11. In contrast, Richard playing a young player with coached squash, played like his mind was already somewhere else. Despite managing to take the second by upping the pace, Richard was uncharacteristically passive in his play, allowing his opponent to attack and win out 3-1: 9-15, 15-13, 8-15, 13-15. I was up at no.1 against an opponent who did very little and so was able to knock it around and rally a bit on my way to a 3-0 victory: 15-4, 15-5, 15-13. Adam was at no.4 playing a player he was much better than. Despite somehow letting his opponent get a game, Adam was always going to win and did so 3-1: 15-8, 10-15, 15-11, 17-15. Finally, at no.3 was Rohan “Tiebreak” Plunkett, playing the Oakleigh Park Captain (who is deceptively tricky). Clearly expecting an easy win, Rohan lost the first playing loose squash. He won the second easily but then eased off again and surrendered the third pretty meekly. With his back to the wall, Rohan held his nerve in a fourth set tiebreak, winning 18-16. Unfortunately, by this stage Rohan’s fitness was catching up with him and he saw himself match ball down. However, his opponent choked and Rohan was able to live up to his name and force a tiebreak. Despite facing a total of five match balls, Rohan came through 20-18 in the decider, winning 3-2: 12-15, 15-7, 7-15, 18-16, 20-18 and giving us another 4-1 overall win.


Away v Britannia – won 15-8

An away game at Britannia saw Sobell in a top of the table clash which was the title decider. Sobell needed 2 points to be crowned champions with two games to spare but was up against a strong team, who had a number of players in the Sobell league (and had been inspired by a less than complementary match report for the previous game!). Britannia also seemed to have replaced the floors of the courts with an ice rink with the result that both players and the ball were sliding and skidding all over the place. Sobell, however, was bolstered by the return of Phil (who, despite his layoff, had loss none of his charm and diplomacy). Playing at no.2, Phil had clearly lost some fitness, but still had too much for his opponent, winning 3-1: 10-15, 15-12, 11-15, 14-16. Up at no.3 was Richard who won fairly comfortably 3-1: 8-15, 9-15, 15-9, 7-15. Paul was at 5 playing a player from the Sobell internal leagues who, despite a valiant effort from Paul had too much running and won 3-1: 15-10, 15-13, 13-15, 15-9. Adam was at no.4 playing another player from the Sobell leagues. From the outset this looked like a routine win and it was, Adam winning out 3-0: 9-15, 9-15, 14-16. Finally, I was up at no.1 against Ed, a player from the Sobell leagues who I had been told was “a steady player with few winners”. Reflecting on the game later, we all came to realise that perhaps Ed doesn’t put all his effort into league matches. After a game that was less enjoyable than dental treatment without anaesthetic (and just as enjoyable as most Man United games), I lost 3-0: 15-6, 15-8, 15-11. However, despite my best efforts, we won 4-1 which saw us win the division.


Home v Westway – won 20-3

Despite having already won the Division, there was still something to play for as Sobell sought to be the “invincibles” of Middlesex League Division 5. Westway were our next opponents. I was at no.1 and keen to make amends for my performance last time, my opponent was nice guy who didn’t run (or play many winners) with the outcome that it was an easy 3-0 win: 15-8, 15-3, 15-12. Phil was at no.2 against the guy who Rohan played in the away leg. Phil was far too strong for his opponent and spent most of the time keeping the rallies going. Despite the games being close, there was only one winner and Phil took it 3-0: 15-12, 16-14, 15-13. Richard was at no.3 against a guy who could run forever, but had very few shots. Richard managed to lose one, but was always going to win, taking it 3-1: 15-1, 12-15, 15-11, 15-9. Lawrence at five had no trouble with his opponent, winning 3-0 in double quick time: 15-4, 15-9, 15-12. Finally, Adam was at no.4 playing Tim’s opponent from the away leg. Adam struggled to get going in the first and struggled even more in the second. After a few words of advice, he then turned it round in the third and powered through to a 3-2 victory: 12-15, 8-15, 15-9, 15-9, 15-6. Another 5-0 win for Sobell and one game from a perfect season.


Away v Finsbury Outplay – won 20-7

This was it. The chance to go undefeated. In our way was a strong and motivated Finsbury Outplay team who pushed all the way to the end. Rohan was on first against Stuart, a player who has played in the Sobell leagues and whose movement caused Rohan real problems. Good squash is all about great shots, balletic movement, intelligent selection...and all of these would probably have helped both players in what was a grinding gritty end of season encounter. Rohan took the first 24-22 in an epic back and forth, before surrendering the second. “The tiebreaker” then won the third, only for his opponent to come back and take it to a decider. However, Rohan’s shots prevailed and he won 3-2: 22-24, 15-12, 15-17, 15-11, 11-15. On at no.5 was David playing his first game of the season. Despite starting brightly, the game soon became an arm wrestle in very hot conditions. At 2-1 down David looked as he may be down and out, but his experience shone through and he came back to win 3-2: 12-15, 15-11, 15-10, 6-15, 11-15. I was at no.1 at the same time as Phil was on at no.2. Neither of us played well but had enough to beat our opponents winning 3-1: 11-15, 15-12, 9-15, 6-15 (me) and 13-15, 15-13, 7-15, 8-15 (Phil). Finally, as the match drew to a close, Adam saw out the win against a player who retrieved (nearly) everything Adam played. This just caused Adam to play tighter shots and he won 3-1: 13-15, 16-14, 11-15, 10-15.



So that’s it – Sobell win the division with 16 out of 16 wins and 218 points, forty ahead of their nearest rivals. Of course, no successful season would be complete without some end of season awards:

The “Mariah Carey Award” for Biggest Diva goes to…Kevin “I’m not paying ten pounds for a game of squash” Jackson.


The “Mike Campbell Award” for Excellence as a Referee goes to…no one at Sobell…obviously…


The “Barry Hill Award” for Effort, Persistence and Determination goes to…whoever has managed to get to the end of this email.

On a serious note: thanks very much to everyone who has played or supported the team during the season (particular Richard and Adam for ordering the food, everyone who responds to the emails and our erstwhile cheerleader/coach Barry for his words of wisdom) - it has made captaining the team much easier and is very much appreciated.

Sobell vs Beitannia Leisure. Home
6th Dec. Won 5-0

Having hammered Oakleigh Park 20-3, our next game was against our new nearest rivals Britannia on 6 December. If we had been hoping that this team (many of whom play in the Sobell leagues) would provide more of a challenge, we were disappointed. 

Up first on court 4 was Adam playing at no.5 against a player who managed to lure Adam into false sense of security by looking warming up like he had never played before. Somehow Adam lost the first game before realising that he needed to make a small effort in order to win. That small effort was more than enough though and Adam won out 3-1: 12-15 15-6 15-8 15-3.

Richard was on Court 5 at no.3 - I didn't see an awful lot of the game but it seemed like when Richard played properly, he won the point, when he stopped doing that, he lost it. Thankfully, Richard played properly for most of the game and won 3-1: 15-7 14-16 15-9 15-9.

I was on at no.2 playing a guy who made up for his lack of ability with a complete lack of effort. Despite me trying to keep the rallies going, my opponent was having none of it and I won the first two very comfortably. I then proved that, while Richard may be able to lose to a squash shoe, I could probably have an argument with one (apologies to marker Adam!) - thankfully it didn't matter and my opponent didn't get any better in the third, I won 3-0: 15-6 15-8 15-8.

At the same time, Phil was on at number 1 against a guy who could run, but not a lot else. Phil struggled to get any rhythm in the first game but he still had too much for his opponent winning 15-13. The next two followed a similar patten, Phil not playing well but still having too much for his tiring opponent. The upshot was a 3-0 victory for the Sobell no.1: 15-13, 15-8, 15-9.

Finally Rohan was up at no.4. With everyone else done, usually the last game goes to five. Happily Rohan did not get the message and won 3-0 very easily: 15-9, 15-10, 15-6. 

Another 20 points in the bag sees Sobell continue to be the Man City of the Middlesex Squash League Division 5. Nineteen points clear at the top with a game in hand, this is starting to get embarrassing. Our next game is against Westway on 16 January 2018.

Sobell vs Oakleigh Park. Away
30th Nov. Won 5-0

On 30 November, Sobell played their top of the table rivals Oakleigh Park in the hope that finally someone would present something of a challenge. Oakleigh Park had decided to try and put Sobell off their stride by playing in what felt like an Igloo. It didn't work.  

Rohan was up first at number 4 against a player who clearly had no chance - Rohan's boasts (and his drops and his drives) were too much for the poor guy and Rohan won 3-0: 15-10, 15-10, 15-7. 

At the same time Richard was up against a guy with a long reach but not a great deal else. Richard was far too good and, despite the third game being a bit closer than was comfortable, Richard held it together to win 3-0, 15-7 15-11 15-13.

Following on from Rohan was Adam at no.5 who went on court looking like he was wrapped up for an arctic expedition. Despite not trying very hard, Adam took the first 15-13. Having warmed up, he won the next 15-10. Given that Adam had taken to removing a layer between each game, we were all hoping that this was not going to go to five! Adam duly obliged (despite a few shaky moments), winning a tie-break to win 3-0: 15-13, 15-10, 17-15.

Phil, playing at no.1, followed Richard on the other court against a guy who had a few shots but was not in Phil's league. After a few decent rallies, Phil's opponent was finding it difficult and Phil found himself 2-0 up. Somehow his opponent managed to claw a game back, but Phil found his composure and won 3-1: 15-7, 15-13, 7-15, 15-10.

With the game secured, I was up at no.2 and decided to give my teammates a squash exhibition. Unfortunately the exhibition was entitled "how to play embarrassingly badly". Having lost the first two games, I got a stern talking to from Phil and won the third. At this point my opponent was too tired to do anything and I won the next two for the loss of 7 points winning 3-2: 12-15 12-15 15-8 15-1 15-6.

Sobell vs Finsbury Leisure. Away
15th Nov. Won 5-0

The history of sport is littered with obscene mismatches. Whether it be Floyd Mayweather against Connor McGregor, Byan Habana racing a cheetah or Man City playing (seemingly) anyone, there are some contests which are only going to produce one winner. However, these mismatches will be dwarfed in the annals of history by what happened when Sobell rolled into Finsbury Leisure last week (read: we were good, they were...erm...not). 

Up first was Rohan at no.4 on playing a guy who didn't appear totally confident that he was holding the right end of the racket. Unsurprisingly (and despite trying his hardest to make the second game close) Rohan had too much class and won very comfortably 15-5 15-11 15-6.

At the same time Richard was up playing a guy who would have made a serviceable number 5, but had no chance at no.3. While Richard (as he put it on Saturday) "has the ability to lose to a squash shoe", this guy was no squash shoe and so Richard won easily 15-12, 15-9, 15-6.

I was up after Rohan at no.2 playing a guy who made up for his lack of mobility with a lack of winning shots either. Despite trying to keep the rallies going, as well as going for some (embarrassingly) unsuccessful trick shots, it still wasn't close and I won: 15-7, 15-9, 15-8.

The main event of the evening was Tim at no.5. Tim played well, hitting a good length and chasing down enough shots that some wondered whether this was the same Tim. It was a sign of the quality of the Finsbury team that even Tim "3-2" Denis was able to get the job done in three, winning 15-13, 15-9, 15-11.

Finally Phil was up at no.1 playing a guy who looked shell-shocked after the first long rally. Phil kept the ball going and ran his opponent into the ground, forcing a lot of errors with the result that, despite not playing very well, it was an easy night for the Sobell number 1, winning 15-10, 15-9, 15-11.

A 20-0 victory meant that (a) Finsbury would have been better off forfeiting and saving the cost of the courts (b) Sobell is top of the table with a game in hand and a 100% record (having only dropped 2 points all season. 

However, one of the biggest rivals to Sobell's chances of topping the table is Oakleigh Park who we play next on 30 November. Phil is out so we need to put out a really strong team to make up for it. Who can play?
Sobell vs Finchley Manor. Home
8th Nov. Won 5-0

Sobell had its third match of the season and its first home game last night against Finchley Manor. On arrival the courts resembled a building site and so Brendon, Phil and I had the unconventional warm up of sweeping and mopping the courts.

I was up first at no.2 against a veteran who was clearly pretty rusty. After a couple of extended rallies he was struggling with his fitness and I was able to win very comfortably (and maybe even keep the rallies going a little bit):15-7, 15-3, 15-11.

Up next was Tim "3-2" Denis, playing at number 5. Everyone on the balcony waited with a strong sense of anticipation to see whether the inevitable five set match would go his way or the way of his opponent. Tim lost the the first game 12-15 and the second 16-18. However, they don't call him "3-2" for nothing and, after some on court coaching from Kevin, Tim was able to pull the next two back 15-2 15-8. Any worries that Tim might revert to the error strewn play of the first two games quickly disappeared as Tim took the fifth to run out a 3-2 winner 12-15, 16-18, 15-2, 15-8, 15-6.

At the same time, Rohan was playing at 4 against a guy whose shots made Rohan's squash (which tonight included several reverse boasts and a corkscrew shot) look orthodox! It said something about the Finchley player that when he first started serving, people on the balcony were questioning if he had played before. A combination of hard drives and trickle boasts saw Rohan take the first before a scare in the second (and quite a lot of easing off!) saw Rohan only manage to take it on a tiebreak. The third was more comfortable and Rohan ran out the winner 15-11 17-15 15-7.

Phil followed Rohan in a game which you could tell from the warm up was only going one way. Phil's pace and movement was too much for his opponent who was struggling to get the ball back even though Phil appeared simply to be moving him around the court rather than going all out. Three games went by in a flash and Phil won 15-12 15-8 15-11.

Finally Richard was up against a player who proved that squash players really do come in all shapes and sizes. While, for a big guy, Richard's opponent was able to move around reasonably well, there was only ever going to be one winner. Even with Richard's traditional mini-meltdown in the second game, he was clearly far too good and won out 15-6, 16-14, 15-8.

Another big win for Sobell 20-2 means we have 58 points out of a possible 60 from our first three games. However, with Oakleigh Park in hot pursuit we need to keep up the momentum.
Sobell vs Wembley. Away
31st Oct Won 4-1

Sobell's second match of the season suffered two false starts. One with the centre failing to book the courts. This was then followed by British Airways dropping out of the league altogether! 

The upshot was that, after a week off, Sobell headed to Stormont on Halloween. Up first was Rohan at four who was playing a guy who could hit hard but didn't have a great deal of movement. Rohan put him under pressure with a combination of cross courts and trickle boasts - proving to be a model of consistency winning 15-10, 15-10, 15-10.

Adam was up on the other court against a junior who had some nice shots but wanted to hit the ball far too hard, which, more often than not, resulted in the ball coming into the middle. Adam was always in control, knocking it around and keeping the rallies going (notwithstanding a comeback by his opponent in the third), winning 3-0, 15-11, 15-12, 15-11.

Phil followed Rohan on court 1. Phil was nice and fresh for the game having cycled 250 miles the week before! At 1-1 Phil powered ahead winning the third 15-5. Unfortunately fatigue set in an he lost the next two going down 15-12 12-15 5-15 15-12 15-10.

I was on at the same time as Phil playing the number 1's brother. Adam summed it up best when he described me as "playing badly, but not in the way you normally play badly". He took the first game with some good shots. After winning the second game, I lost the third then survived a match ball in the fourth to take it 18-16. After that my opponent's legs finally went and I won out 13-15 15-12 9-15 18-16 15-3.

Finally starting at around 9:30 was Richard at number 3. Everyone by this stage was ready for Richard to wrap it up quickly so we could get some food. Richard had other ideas losing the first game 16-14. After realising he was allowed to hit the ball past the service line, Richard took the second and third game conceding a total of nine points. At that point he clearly decided that we needed to wait for food, losing the fourth game before winning out in the fifth - 14-16, 15-4, 15-5, 8-15, 15-10.

Another good win means Sobell are riding high.
Sobell vs Stormont. Away
10th Oct Won 4-1

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