Hertfordshire win
The Inter-County Championship 2004

On Sunday 7th March the Herts Veterans County Team won the National Inter-County Championship, played at the prestigious Nottingham Squash Club. It's also in the Herts Advertiser - click HERE

Competing Counties
Yorkshire, Lancashire, Surrey and Hertfordshire.

THE FULL STORY
Herts O45’s Squash Team – County Champions

O45 County Champs 2004 - Derek last on court & knackered after beating Yorkshire County with Dave, Peter, Phil and Julian.

There are occasions in sport when the unexpected happens. Ireland’s win at Twickenham last weekend and longer ago, the crazy gang of Wimbledon winning the FA Cup. Well history has repeated itself (to some extent) with Hertfordshire’s own crazy gang of over 45 squash players (although one of them has been spreading a rumour that he’s only 37) being crowned County Champions at the recent finals event at Nottingham Squash Club.

The captain’s instructions and advice going into the weekend was "enjoy the hammering you are going to get on Saturday in the semi-finals, enjoy getting hammered on the Saturday night and make sure you get at least one point in the third and fourth play-offs on the Sunday morning." How wrong can you be?

Travelling with not the strongest of sides but boosted by a coach-load of supporters (well 4 actually but it was a small coach) and the promise of a ‘county shirt’ to replace the one we received to commemorate the signing of the Doomsday Book, we made our way to Nottingham. Four of the side comprising Peter Leary (St. Albans), Derek Thorpe (Radlett), Dave Cooper (Broxbourne), Phil Collins (Radlett), and Julian Craxton (Radlett) could have qualified for the over 50’s tournament (if there was one) but what was lacking in youth was more than made up by experience.

Lancashire were the opponents on Saturday morning in the semi-finals and obviously both Julian Craxton and Dave Cooper had forgotten the script – even though Dave had written it! Both proceeded to play as though they thought they could win – and both did! Playing some great squash that defied our underdog status and put Hertfordshire 2-0 up. However normal service was quickly resumed when both Peter and Phil were overturned by their classy opponents. Two all and it was up to Derek to ensure we could enjoy a good curry, a few beers and any other delights Nottingham had to offer. Not a chance! Typically Derek’s only thought was victory and against a former over 45’s national champion (who had flown in from Nice especially for the occasion) Derek proceeded to do what Derek always does. He won and Hertfordshire were in the county finals.

A team bonding session then took place which paradoxically excluded the two losers for some reason but the majority view was that the strong Yorkshire side who had defeated Surrey in the other semi-final was going to a bridge too far for little Hertfordshire in the final. Consequently Plan A was re-instated with a promise of a good night in Nottingham being back on the cards. Derek went mad and was seen to consume at least a pint and a half of shandy and the other team members, whilst circumspect in their consumption by normal standards, did ensure the brewery trade in Nottingham will be safe for another year.

Sunday arrived and noting Surrey’s ‘hollow’ victory in the 3rd/4th play off (only three Lancashire players remained to contest the match – shame on you, Lancashire), the Herts lads stretched out to rid themselves of the previous day’s exploits on the court and in the bar and would you believe it – déjà vu! Julian and Dave proceeded to give Herts a 2-0 lead by playing like men possessed and like men far below their respective ages. However, Collins did his best to maintain good inter-county cordial relationships by allowing his opponent a 3-0 win but, arguably, the performance of the weekend came next on the show court. Peter Leary, not only playing some of his best squash in an age and rolling back the years in terms of mobility around the court, dug-in to come back from 7-5 down in the fifth to snatch victory and the tie for Hertfordshire. Derek’s usual meticulous and professional approach ensured yet another county victory for him and a 4-1 aggregate victory for Herts.

A couple of celebratory ‘halves’ and it was back on the road for the trip back to the homeland. A gold medal around the necks of the victorious team members, a gleaming cup in the back of the skipper’s car and a smug grin on both the players and spectators’ faces. A weekend to remember, when ‘David’ (and I don’t just mean Cooper) beat not only one but two ‘Goliaths’. Thanks must go to players, partners and other spectators, the SRA and Nottingham Squash Club. But most of all,

Well done the old squash men of Hertfordshire!

 

Confident emails from our intrepid Captain (before & after the event)

Derek,
Rec'd confirmation yesterday finals to be held at Nottingham 6th and 7th March 2004, we are playing Lancashire Saturday at noon  and finals Sunday, 3rd and 4th play off 11.00am.( Is that negative or realistic??).
Regards David.
Derek,
 
Even this morning cannot believe it, we only went to make the numbers up I thought we would get thrashed, in fact was so convinced only told you all about the 3rd and 4th place play offs which really messed poor old Julian up, arranging his coaching Sunday pm. Oh to have a captain of such little faith!!
Well done, your victory against Dulip in the first half and on Saturday against Lancs were special. If there was one man that at two one up on Sunday, I had to choose to rely upon you would have been my first choice. But, then when Peter pulled it off from 2.1 down, a fitting end, the guy that did so much to get us into that position wins the final without hitting a ball!!
Well done and thanks for a great weekend.
Regards David. 

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