OSRC Club Championship – Finals Night

Friday 17th May saw the completion of the 2024 Club Championship, with the finals taking place in front of a packed balcony. The courts were warm and lively, a phrase not often associated by those who play at the club regularly or who visit for Essex League, with action kicking off on Court One.

The first match of the night was the Squash Club Championship final. With 16 entrants to the competition, we were now down to the final 2. Number one seed and two-time club champion Tony Bickley was up against a seasoned and wily Mark Gilfrin. It was a repeat of last year’s final, which Tony won in a tight 3-1 affair.

History was to repeat itself as once again, Tony ran out a 3-1 winner in another fairly tight contest. After taking a nervy opening game 15-11, Tony raced into a 8-0 lead in the second only to be pegged back to 13-13. Holding his nerve, he took the second game 15-13 and with that a 2/0 lead. The third was almost the opposite of the second with Mark flying off and was leading 10-2 before Tony tried to force his way back into it. The lead was too much, and with the on court temperatures only seeming to rise, Mark was able to take the third 15-6. The fourth was nip-and-tuck before, with the game tied at 8-8, Tony found another gear and took the game and match with a 15-9 fourth game win.

The plate competition matches began on Court Two, with the Racketball Plate final between Jim Browning and late reserve Jacob Parnell. Unfortunately Phil Parr, who had beaten Dave Honeywell in the semi-final to reach the final was unable to play that evening. As Jacob had lost his first round match, he was invited to play. They opted for the blue ball, typically bouncier than the traditional black one, and it was to Jacob’s benefit as he ran out a comfortable 3/0 winner to win the Racketball Plate.

What followed was the Squash Plate, which saw Dave Honeywell take on Essex League club captain Shaun Lamont. A really tight first game went down to the wire before Dave nicked it 15-13. Shaun, known for his tricky lobs and cross-court drops, was struggling a little controlling the ball on a hot court. Adapting to the conditions, Shaun was able to press home his years of experience and won the Squash Plate 3/1.

The last issue of the night to solve was the Racketball Club Championship, which saw no2 seed Andy Bridges face an unlikely finalist in Tony Bickley. It was Tony’s second final of the night, and after Andy took the first game 15/11 it looked like a second trophy of the night was a bridge too far. Tony battled back to take the second and third game before slipping behind in the fourth. With both players struggling to control the ball in the heat and find a decent length, Andy stormed to a 14-11 lead with the match destined to reach a fifth. A dogged Tony hung in and brought the scores level at 14-14. As silence fell across the court, two long rallies saw Tony hold his nerve and take the game and the match 16-14.

An unlikely turn of events saw Tony win both the Squash & Racketball Club Championship this year. Thank you to everyone who entered, officiated and spectated. The handicap tournament is scheduled for 2024, we hope to see as many members as possible enter again.