Tartan Tyro Leaves Richie on Fallow Ground
NOBODY could stop tartan tyro Alan Clyne completing a daring raid from North of the Border in the 2021 Lowes Gosforth Classic. Clyne was a fast-moving study in focus and determination as he lived up to his top seed and world top 50 billing, walking off with the £750 top prize on Dec 19th at Northern RFC. The 35-year-old veteran’s athletic performances belied his years as he bounced effortlessly across the court and showed exceptional patience and precision. Aided and abetted by an unfortunate injury to current holder Richie Fallows – only 15 places below Clyne at World No 63 – Clyne won an epic first game and was an emphatic winner of the second against his faltering opponent before two-time Classic winner Fallows, of London, had to withdraw injured at 2-0 down. It was a sad end for the adopted Geordie, who seemed to have picked up an abductor strain late on in the first, and the bumper crowd were certainly left wanting more from what had promised to be a closely-fought marathon match – the climax to a superb 3-day tournament of squash.
With around 60 competitors from around the country across all ages and ability levels – including NINE players with a PSA world-ranking – the competition returned to Gosforth after a Covid-inspired absence in 2020 – and it was like welcoming back a long-lost friend. The pre-Christmas squash extravaganza – a $3000 Professional Squash Association licensed event – is now firmly established on the North of England squash calendar, and once again produced thrills and spills aplenty.
With A, B and C events all chock-full, the frenetic action kicked on Friday evening and, apart from a few hours off for sleep for breathless players and spectators alike, did not let up until more than 48 hours later.
Credit due to Tynemouth’s Jamie Todd for leading the Geordie charge with a superb run to the semi-finals and a welcome £200 pay day, before being halted by second seed Fallows – while tournament organiser Cai Younger also reached the quarters, going down 3-1.
Clyne took out Younger’s conqueror Charlie Cowie, a 3/4 seed, in the semis in predictably steely-eyed fashion.
Supported once again by long-term partner Lowes Financial Management, and put together by tournament directors Younger and Michael Mattimore, the Gosforth Classic provided a welcome shot in the arm for North East squash – in a sport which has suffered more than most from past Covid restrictions.
The virus also robbed New Zealand internationals and brothers Lwamba and Temwa Chileshe from the entry line-up at the last minute. Clyne, meanwhile, Scottish No 1 and 10 times national Champion – stepped into the breach late on in dramatic fashion.
In the A Plate, honours went to local hero Dan Wareing of Jesmond – now playing out of Glasgow – who styled it out against Durham’s Tom Mitchell-Williams in the final.
The B Event final produced an absolute humdinger between two young Northern clubmates, John Thompson and Tom Cornell. Thompson’s patient approach and accurate hitting saw him carve out a 2-0 lead. But Cornell, who plays for Newcastle University, upped the tempo; his hard-hitting and eagerness to volley soon brought him level. The fifth was a see-saw affair in which Thompson’s length and consistency eventually brought him home ahead.
It was an all-Cumbrian affair in the B Plate final with Adam Reid of Carlisle seeing off clubmate Joey Byrne 3-1 in a rumbustious encounter – both players showing verve and passion in their efforts to be crowned winner.
C winner and Northern junior Joe Elliott had an all-round game which was just too strong for Shiv Pabary of Primrose – he ran out a 3-2 winner in a well-contested affair which went right to the wire.
And hard-hitting John Armstrong of Newbiggin also had too much for the fast-improving Matthew Mahoney, as he took the C Plate final 3-1.
Thanks go out once more to tournament directors Cai Younger and Michael Mattimore – whose burgeoning contacts books always ensure a draw full of professional talent. Many thanks also to Northern RFC for hosting, tournament sponsors Lowes Financial, Quality Solicitors Lawson & Thompson, CM Stringers, CWS Double Glazing Repairs and Northumbria Squash – who all provided invaluable help to get this show on the road.
Tournament winner Clyne (now based in the US in Philadelphia) has now trotted off back over Hadrians Wall for Christmas with the trophy and is looking forward to January’s Tournament of Champions at New York’s Grand Central Station. Fallows is targetting the National Championships in the New Year, while all the club players present will be focussing on copying all those new shots which they saw the pros play throughout a fantastic weekend of squash.
|A||Alan Clyne||Richie Fallows||3-0|
|B||John Thompson||Tom Cornell||3-2|
|C||Joe Elliot||Shiv Pabary||3-2|
|A||Dan Wareing||Tom Mitchell-Williams||3-0|
|B||Adam Reid||Joey Byrne||3-1|
|C||John Armstrong||Matthew Mahoney||3-1|