Derby Moor, 29th June 2014
Ten pairs contested the 11th Derby Moor Invitation Doubles. Sadly, this year no Bob Sandie (due to injury) or Dickie Warner (a communications cock-up) to enliven proceedings but an ever stronger group of youngsters from the home club.
Previous winners Ashley Hill and Matt Orr were back from the Army and university respectively, and they joined Jay Gravatt in graduation mode from Durham, as well as regulars Grem McIntyre, John Hawke, Tim Widdop (Halifax), Brian Nithsdale, Wayne Harrison (Manchester), Trevor White (Rugby, sadly injured in his first game) and newcomer Mark Kiteley (Bedford) to add experience to the mix.
Brian Kirk had paired people up à la President’s Cup with, where possible, a guest paired with a Derby player, to ensure close matches in the early stages and some spice in the Plate. The four seeded pairs went through to the semi-finals as expected. There, last year’s winner Anthony Goodwin & Brian Nithsdale beat Wayne Harrison & Jai Singh, while in the other semi Ashley Hill & Tim Widdop were too strong for Jay Gravatt & Craig Baxter.
The final proved to be probably the longest yet and perhaps the best we have seen: it took a good one and a half hours, went to three games and saw hard-hitting Ashley and rather subtler Tim win 15-3, 14-16, securing victory in the third, 15-12. It is often said modern young players “hit the skin off the ball” and this was certainly the case in the final during which the ball had to be repaired or replaced four times due to splitting seams.
As if they hadn’t had enough Fives, Jay & Craig and Jai & Wayne decided to have a third place play-off, with Jay & Craig winning through – Jay got the beer, Craig got the Mars Bar!
As ever, the Plate proved exciting, with two pools of 3 leading to a final between Stuart Kirby & Mark Kiteley, now playing regularly with the new Cambridge City Club, against Matt Orr & Bally Singh. Experience overcame youth, with Kirby and Kiteley winning 11-7, 12-11 and taking the one boule that had been returned from last year! A brilliant day’s Fives, with the usual warm weather (bar a ten-minute downpour!) and food to feed an army.