A report from a ‘non-squashplayer’ supporter who travelled with the Northumberland Club when they played Pontefract in the quarter-final of the National Clubs Championships
The Pontefract Squash Team is widely known of being one of England’s most successful teams, boasting a consistent and impressive history of achievement. When The Northumberland Club was to face these rivals, tension was surely high but so were their team spirits. Therefore it was slightly disappointing to see that it was the remarkable form of team Yorkshire that were boosted up the semi finals in the National clubs championships.
Nevertheless, The Northumberland Club team performed outstandingly well as they faced their Yorkshire rivals. Not being a squash specialist, I thought I would struggle to grasp the concepts of the game. However, after a fantastic start I was left in intense excitement. The game began with a dominant and skilful performance by the team captain Nicholas, soaking up the early pressure to win a tight first game in which James Fender made three or four unforced errors. However, these errors proved to be the 26-year-old’s last and he won the second game easily. The final games were tighter as Nick continued to play at a fast pace hitting powerful, straight lengths and accurate boasts but was unfortunately defeated by Fender who without a doubt had played equally as hard. I was personally impressed with the determination of both players of this game and each was a pleasure to watch.
Matthew Sampson was playing alongside his team mate Nick on court 3, who persisted to play clever squash and keep the ball in touch but couldn’t deny a determined opponent, Neil Cordell, who, to his credit, remained focused and strong throughout the second and third games to record a satisfying 3-0 win to Pontefract. The end result of the game however, did not demonstrate the skill and effort that Matt performed.
The simultaneous games of Craig Forsyth and Richard Shellam also were resultant in defeat. Pressure had mounted and the doubt was sinking in. Craig remained calm however, even his well known boisterousness did not break his focus and he played with outstanding endurance. In a see-saw match that saw each player have spells of dominance hitting hard, it was the physical superiority of his opponent, Harrinder, ranked at a high level, which had most effect as Craig seemed to tire at important stages in the match.
Richard Shellam’s game was also impressive. The 17year old demonstrated a high level of perseverance by belting points that brought him up to equal score in certain games. The final score went in favor to opponent Sam Wileman 3 games to nil. Although Rich showed a high level of capability and I for one was shocked as to how good a talented player he is for his age.
The final game was taken by 1st ranking players Dave Barnett and his opponent Saurav Ghosal. Though Pontefract had initially won, Dave did not let that effect his game and he played with true admiration. All team mates and gallery watched as the two final players battled out on the court with Saurav taking victory 3-1. Though there is no doubt the better player won, Dave’s defeat did not reflect the talent he brought to the court.
The match closed with an impressive 5-0 to Pontefract. However, all five members of the Northumberland Club deserve a well earned celebration drink. =)