Framboise covers the
National Club Championship Finals 2004
Nottingham, 15/16 May
follows the Finals ...

I have been working on my ubiquitous talents, but with so many matches it's hard to follow everything. I thought about cloning, but my budget for this event wouldn’t allow it.
So, I settled for delegates.

For the Ladies' final, Mr Malcolm Willstrop was there to support his “girls from Pontefract” against New Eltham, along with son James and club owner Mick. The match was short - Pontefract won 5-0, total 85 minutes, no games lost.
Mandy Akin on New Eltham Ladies

For the Ladies 3rd/4th play-off between Redland Bristol and Nottingham, I asked 2nd string Sue Pynegar from Nottingham to make a report on her club's brilliant 5/0 victory.

And for the Ladies’ plate final between Village Cheadle and Wimbledon, I had the pleasure to have a word with Wimbledon's 3rd string club assistant manager Claire Baker.

In the morning, I followed the Men's 3rd/4th play-off meeting between Limpsfield (who play in the Surrey League, along with my club Wimbledon) and Nottingham. Unfortunately for them, Nottingham only came with 4 players, so they started with a handicap.

Then came the time for the men's final. For a moment, I wondered what was happening, when I saw Marcus Berrett, Ashley Flathers and Lee Jemmett wandering around the place. But I was told that they were playing in the racketball final. Sorry, don’t have time for that, guys…. [they won, Ed.]

Colets (again in the Surrey League, my, I chose the right county to play in, didn’t I?), a beautiful club down the A3, had the firm intention of retaining the title they won last year. By the way, I was told that next season, they will bring in a new player to play number one. Rumour is that Alex Gough could be that player, but it could only be a rumour….

But as Heaton knocked out the 2002 champions Pontefract in a 3-2 quarter final, everything was possible for the Bradford club and they had the express intention to go home with the trophy.

Danny Meddings (Colets) opened hostilities against Alex Stait, just back from the Atlanta Open in the States. And even if the match was “only” three games, it lasted 55 minutes.

Alex started leading 5/0. Danny was making mistakes, tins, out of court, soon concentrated and came back to 5/5, but Alex dominated the rest of the rallies, and took the first game 9/5.

In the second, Meddings again made a lot of mistakes, put under pressure by Stait's length and precise cross-courts and tiring drop shots. Stait wins easily 9/2.

But Meddings hadn’t given up yet. In the third game, the hand-in hand out were frequent, and the score wasn’t moving quickly, let me tell you. We stayed at 0/0, then at 0/1, at 1/1 - 2/1 saw 10 changes of serve. Danny was playing very well, Alex started doubting (or was it the jet lag starting to show?). Danny went straight up 6/1, attacking very well, covering a lot of ground and fighting for every shot.

But it was his turn to feel the strain of the match, and Alex Stait clawed back 5/6, then 7/7. The end of the match was tense, the crowd loud and the lets numerous, although not challenged (again very good refereeing from John Massarella), and Danny Meddings couldn’t pick up Alex’s last glued to the wall drop shot, and conceded the last game 9/7.

A beautiful match that was.
One-love for Heaton.

On court 9, Phil Rushworth (Heaton), Wimbledon's new head coach, battled long and hard to honour his soon to be former club, but couldn’t overcome Adrian Jaski. A 5 setter that put the clock back on 12!

Scott Handley (Colets) didn’t give Nick Taylor a chance, I’m afraid, although the 1st game was very close. I believe that had Taylor taken the first one, the result might have been different. The 2 players were close indeed in that 1st game : 3/3, 5/5 (for a while…), 6/6. But Scott soared, and never looked back. He won 9/6, 9/0, 9/4 in 40 minutes.

In the third, a tired Nick Taylor thanked a spectator who was kind enough to shout “Come on, Nick, PUSH”. “Thanks, mate” retorted a very tired Taylor…
Two-one for Colets.

On court 9 again, Heaton was fighting hard, and re-balanced the meeting all over again, thanks to Neil Guirey's quick victory over Alan Thomson 9/5, 9/0, 9/0.

MARK CAIRNS: Stares at Referees ...
A bit of “people” news for you now. Sam, Mark’s girlfriend, has decided to make an honest man of him, after making him wait for seven years. They are finally tying the knot in September. God, she must be a saint, that girl…

Only joking Mark, only joking…

But what is not a joke, is Cairns' fitness. Blimey, whatever Sam puts in his breakfast, I want some! I’m not sure of Mark’s age, but I know he is over 35, and he doesn’t look one day over 25! And he had well recovered from yesterday’s twisted ankle.

Two things always strike me when I see Mark play. One, he doesn’t look at the ball, he WATCHES the ball! And two, his stares are wonderful. He raises one eyebrow, puts his hands on his hips, freezes, and stares at the referee for a good few seconds.

He could do my profession (no, not the journalist part, dear, the actor part…) beautifully well.

It was Mr Sabre himself, Paul Lord who had the heavy duty to play Cairns in this decisive match. Heaton’s second string was never a threat for the “old timer” Cairns, although the match lasted 58 minutes.

Paul played very well indeed, but whatever shot he would play, Cairns would pick up and send back with a vengeance. Length, drop shots, lobs… nothing was too far away for Cairns.

In the first game, Paul Lord started well, and fought hard at 3/3 to stay in the game. The rallies were long to extremely long, but it was always Cairns that had the final word, the final touch, the final hit. 9/4 for Colets.

The second game followed the same pattern. Fought hard until 3/3, and Cairns soared again 9/3. The third was a formality, as Cairns went up 5/0 and finished quickly 9/2.
3-2 to Colets. Title retained!

A funny thing happened during the presentations. When Mark was about to pose for the photographs with his team mates, and just after he thanked Chris Nutley and his England Squash staff, and also Nottingham Squash Club for their organisation and hospitality for the event, a voice was heard in the crowd.

It just so happened that the over 45 men winners had been forgotten in the presentation! So Mark took over the role of compere, and invited them to join the Colets team on court, and gave them their trophies. Good thinking!

I told you, Mark could be a wonderful actor/presenter, if one day he decides to hang up his racquet ….

Sorry again to the players I haven’t spoken about, but my only defence is that I did try….

So that's the end of the season really. There's the BSPA Grand Prix Finals in June, but no other really major events until August.

Have a good rest everybody…



Mark Cairns collects the title for Colets ...
Champions GALLERY

Men: Colets
 Women: Pontefract
O35 M: Colets
O35 W: New Eltham
O45: Nottingham
Junior: Leamington
Racketball: Queens
N/County: Chapel Allerton

Champions GALLERY


PHOTOS from Nottingham


Colets cool off
before the final

Women's 3/4 play-off:
First on court were Alison Goy (Nott) and Ruth Drysdale (Redland). This began as a tense error prone game , maybe something to do with Saturday night out in Nottingham City Centre ...


Ladies Plate Final:
Wimbledon 4 – West Family 1

Only joking…. Wimbledon was actually playing Village Cheadle, but Liz West, mum, Kristy and Evie, daughters, were playing 3rd, 4th, 5th string ...


Mark Cairns with Sam - they
tie the knot in September



Men's 3rd/4th:
In the morning, I followed the meeting between Limpsfield (who play in the Surrey League, along with my club Wimbledon) and Nottingham.



OI! What about us !!!

Mark rounds it all up


Day ONE:

“Didn’t I see you yesterday at another event?” Gawain Briars, in his squash gear, asked me on my arrival. “Didn’t I see YOU last night at another event?”  I replied …

Yes, a few of us are here today, well, when I say here, physically yes, not sure about the rest…

Linda Davie is here as a simple referee this time, it’s Joss Garvey who is organising the refs.

Also John Massarella, who refereed the Super Series Final last night between Thierry Lincou and Joe Kneipp (and did a mighty good job, if I may add), and even Wendy Danzey, although she just came here for the view, as she is baby sitting…

As I got in late (2 accidents on the M1, thank you, 20 miles an hour….), I have to admit I wasn't that clear about what was happening in the event….

I could only catch up with the second game of Mark Cairns (Colets) vs Ben Ford (Limpsfield).

That match was the decider of the first semi-final - I missed Scott Handley 3/2 against Chris Tomlinson and Danny Meddings 3/0 against Toby Mortimer (for Colets), and Kristen Johnson 3/0 against Adrian Jaski and Colin Payne 3/0 against Greg Pearman (for Limpsfield).

Well, I don’t know what Mark Cairns ate last night, but Lion and Gazelle must have been on the menu, as he was flying on that court, side to side, up and down, attacking extremely well, hitting good length and dropping beautifully. As usual, Ben Ford retrieved pretty well, and played lovely deception shots, changing pace and direction constantly.

But today, Mark was just a step ahead. He won the 2 first games 9/6, 9/6, and exhausted Ford who fought very well until 4/4 in the 3rd, then just stopped running, and Cairns won the last one 9/4.

So Colets was in the final, not a big surprise really, is it?

In came Heaton and Nottingham.

On court number 9, Neil Reddington (Nottingham) defeated Chris Bentley quite rapidly 3/0 in 40 minutes.

On court number 10, Nick Taylor (Heaton) was facing a very fit Nick Douglas. And as usual, some people were shouting “come on Nick”…

Oh well, that’s clever and very helpful, cheers!

Nick Taylor was just in another league altogether, and the precision of his drop shots in particular was too much for a very determined Douglas.

“Nick’s width and length were just too good, he is quick on the court, and I just couldn’t keep up the pace. He prevented me from playing my own game. But I did learn a lot from this match, and I hope that next time I play him, I play better.”

Taylor takes Heaton's first point. One all.

Matthew Oxley can't stop Guirey ...The 3rd string was a bit one sided I’m afraid, and Nottingham’s Matthew Oxley didn’t have the weapons to defeat a too precise and too quick Neil Guirey who wins easily 3/0.

2/1 for Heaton.

As Paul Lord (string 2) was starting his match against Shaun Pearson, match ball  was being played on court number 9 between Phil Rushworth (Heaton) and Tim Richards.

Phil lost the first game 6/9, and his opponent was cruising 7/3, when suddenly the young Rushworth lit the rockets and started to play divinely. His opponent could not believe the transformation, and was unable to douse Phil’s fire. And in a four setter, Rushworth gives Heaton the decisive point, 3/1.

Paul Lord gave himself a bit of a scare by going into a 5 setter in the “dead rubber” that lasted only 47 minutes, losing the first two 9/2 9/0, and winning the rest (well obviously) 9/6, 9/3, 9/1.

I’m not sure who will play 2nd string for Colets tomorrow, as Mark Cairns had to retire for injury. Will he be fit to play, we’ll see.

But the men's final will be between Colets and Heaton, and for the Ladies, Pontefract (they only lost one game, shame on Nikki Dudley, only joking) vs New Eltham (not one game lost).

Shame that, once again, everything is happening together, Men’s and Women’s 3/4 play offs at 11 am, and the finals at 2pm.

I need a clone !!!!!!!!!!!    

O35 Finals:
Colets 3-2 Limpsfield
New Eltham 2-1 Chapel Allerton



As Mark Cairns was running in the left corner to retrieve a deep drive from Ben Ford in Colets' semi-final against Limpsfield, Cairns twisted his ankle, but went on playing as if nothing had happened.

Unfortunately, his ankle must have got worse, as he was seen putting some ice on it just before his second match of the day,  the Over 35 final where he was playing number 1 against Wigan's Gary Thwaite (the National Over 35 champion, who I interviewed in February)

The order of play was changed to accommodate the busy player, to allow him to rest between his 2 events (as he had just played the decider in the main event), but unfortunately, Mark could only play one game, and had to retire, as his ankle could not take another run.

But by then his team had already won.

Sorry Mark, hope you’ll feel better for tomorrow…

Phil Rushworth, 21, playing 4th string for Heaton, is about to become the new head coach for Wimbledon Racquets and Fitness Club, I was told by Claire Baker, assistant manager for Wimbledon, here to play the Ladies Plate Final.

“It’s a good opportunity for me”, the young man told me. “It’s a big name club, and working there will give me the opportunity to get known in the south of England. I just finished my Health and Sports studies in University, and I had to slow down my squash as I got injured many times for back spasms, as the injuries just got the better of me.”

As I told him that his performance in the semi-final was awesome, he smiled “I want to leave Heaton with a bang, to thank them for all the help they gave me over the years, free membership, etc. I want to try and win the title for them.”

Well, here is a lovely and dedicated young man.

Good choice, Ms Baker…

Some of the refs had a rest today, like Wendy Danzey, but some very definitely didn't. Peter Blackmore, for example, refereed three matches in the semi-finals, and did it excellently.

Peter Blackmore


PHOTOS from Nottingham ...

Wigan's Ian (O45 British Champion) Bradburn

Wendy Danzey

Peter Blackmore


Come on, NICK !!!


Matthew OXLEY

Jordan and Paul LORD

(Mortimer & Ford)