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Belfast Tour Match Report

It was the official West over 35’s touring side taking on the Northern Ireland league champs, the Civil Service (CS) team. Well I say official, but of course it wasn’t official coz Peter O’Harrow would be missing from the official team* of Owen, Logers and me.

So like a crack o’35 side we were in the bar at the airport and discussed beasting another before departure, but being the professional Owen is (lightweight) he talked us out of it. So we were met by the CS No.1 Dave (Ayerst) who picked us up from George Best Airport and was first on court against Owen (Hadden). Great game this one. Dave gave Owen the run around in the 1st (11-5) and it was difficult to see how Owen was going to make any headway here at all. Dave had a great drive that pinned Owen to the back of the court and not only that, but all of Owen’s half-volley-topspun-crosscourt shots (HVTSCC for short!) were going in the tin……….. (press read more to see the full report)

But with the booze wearing off fast a different Hadders appeared in the 2nd. The pace was ramped up and the HVTSCC’s were now going up. And these two things made a massive difference. Dave continued to play a fantastically good, hard length followed up with a deft boast, but Owen was now beasting around the court and throwing in his own quick volleys, great drops and of course the HVTSCC and this was enough to win the next two games 11-6 11-9

So with Owen wrapping things up, myself and Alan (Harpo) Taylor went to get changed. Well when I came back the 5th was in full swing as Dave had won the 4th 11-4 and was up 8-5 in the last. But although both men were breathing hard there was a lot of pride to be played for and Owen’s match head was well and truly on as he forced his style back on the match to come back and win the game 11-9 and the tie 3-2 (Dave’s wife signed him up for the gym the next day!).

So I was on next against Alan and I noticed that the floor was uneven on the backhand and was wondering how I could use that to my advantage! I unleashed the Fury in the 1st (not a ninja move just the name of the racket) and was breaking to a light jog. Al was a bit too quick for my liking and he volleyed everything (taking the uneven floor out of the equation). He was also full of the craic and was keen to break my concentration at every possible moment, but the laugh was on him as I haven’t got any concentration! It wasn’t long before Al brought out the corkscrew serve! Well I have a theory about corkscrew serves (yeah I know, I should get out a bit more) and if you take them on early they tend to disappear! So up came the corkscrew and I swung hard cross court and what do you know I hit a rolling nic. Classic! The crowd was suitably amused and the corkscrew was put back in it’s packet and not seen again until the bar (where it should be seen). I managed to win the 1st 11-8

In the 2nd I changed rackets to the Dread Vapor. Logie, who was marking, decided not to play the ‘out’ rule and Al offered to buy him a drink as a thanks! It was another good laugh on court and at 12-12 Alan asked if I was nervous! Fortunately I held my nerve and won the game 14-12.

3rd game and 3rd racket as I moved onto the Vapor (Alan was checking the rules). There was a couple of good jumps into cross court volleys nics to report, but other than that and a bit more banter I won the game 11-8 and the tie 3-0 (and the whole match was secured as well 2-0, as there were just 3 players).

So we disappeared for a quick shower as Logie went on at No.2 against Steven (Ed Byrne) McMurry. It was a quick shower as well, but none-the-less Logie was 2 games and 7-3 down when I got back and Stevie had transformed himself (‘Stars In Their Eyes’ style) into Jarvis Cocker off of Pulp with some thick rimmed prescription squash goggles! Logie seemed determined not to put the ball anywhere near the back, so at 9-5 when I shouted out “Good length Logie” he replied “Nice of you to mention it Broaders” and I retorted “Well I thought I’d mention it as it’s the first time you’ve put it there!”

He must have got the message as from that point on there was no stopping him! He won the 3rd 11-9 and stormed the 4th 11-9 (having been 9-3 up) and so to the 5th! Both lads had put a few km in at this point, but the same match facts were obvious. If Logie could get the ball straight and deep he’d win and if Jarvis could volley him short and tight he’d take the honours; and at 8-5 both men were doing their thing. Unfortunately it was a result for the ‘Common People’ as Stevie/Jarvis took the game 11-8 and the match 3-2.

So a mountain of Chinese later and we hit Horatio Todds or the rest of the night. I invented a new drink mixing Guinness and a dash of Erdinger together and am calling it a Guinn-ding-er!

Then back to the Stormont Hotel and in bed early, in preparation for a mini-tournament at Ballyearl on the Saturday (when I say early I mean the early hours!)

*and Mark Ford, Martin Heath, Barry Sutherland, David Heath, Martin Woods, Alan Tompson, Malky Watt, Chris Patrick, Euan Mackay, Peter Buchan and Neil Morris – but apart from that it was the elite West line up (did I miss anyone? Neil Franklin?? Is he over 35 yet??)

PS – Top Tip (Viz stylie): Always look through a backpack/bag you last used for outdoor pursuits and haven’t used for a while incase there is a 10 cm penknife in it and it’s confiscated while going through airport security! They generally frown on that sort of thing!

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