The Final Countdown 12th May
The Final Countdown……The First shall be Last…the joy of ….language……SPARKS Winter season ends with a bang …and a whimper.
‘Just the man…phil will know this, being a man of erudition and learning. So what do you reckon then phil? The First shall be Last and the Last will be First…what’s it all mean, phil, what’s it all about then?’
‘Well’, I pondered, considering the question as I took up my customary position by the bar in SPARKS clubhouse supping my pint of foaming - yet still surprisingly disappointing - Old Spinksy bitter, ‘I s’pose it depends on who you talk to. Usually believed to be a reference to an afterlife where those who were most wealthy or natural leaders would be "last" after their natural life and the more humble people would be "first" in the afterlife.
So, to bring it into modern parlance, take the squash team results as an example,
PrimaDonnas (SPARKS 1st team) finish a somewhat disappointing and relegated last in Div 2 and the Also Rans (SPARKS 2nd team) finish a convincing and heroic first in Div 5, leaving Justin ‘JJ’- a natural leader if ever there was one - as a disappointing last whereas the boy Dave ‘HandsOff’ Hanson, humble, unassuming and well meant but frequently misunderstood, finished a resounding first’.
‘Well that clears that one up then’, the assembled horde of hardy drinkers agreed, their numbers swelling by the second as news travelled of phil’s erudite discourse … ‘Knew phil would have the answer..But then phil, Prima is First isn’t it? And Primas finished Last – Ultimo - so maybe phil, …just maybe……the PrimaDonnas should be called the UltimoDonnas ?’……
How we laughed !Tears rolling……nay streaming down our cheeks vying valiantly with each other not to be relegated to Ultimo position….
‘But that’s the Joy of Language’, I says, ‘cos PrimaDonnas or strictly speaking PrimaDonne also means grand opera singers whose demands on fellow troupe members, musicians, producers and other staff were deferentially tolerated because of their immense box office appeal.
Today the term is used to often describe a vain, undisciplined, egotistical, obnoxious or temperamental person who finds it difficult to work under direction or as part of a team, and although irritating, cannot be done without.’
‘That’s why you called the First team ‘The PrimaDonnas’ isn’t it phil? Geddit now…! And they all thought it was a compliment…’
Oh dear! Oh dear! As realisation dawned, How we laughed……Tears rolling…nay streaming down our cheeks in a somewhat undisciplined and egotistically obnoxious manner!
The Final Countdown – AlsoRans v David Lloyd 17th April 2012
‘Premier position, phil….... Number 1, The Overseer’s playing at Number 1! Top o the shop..at last they’ve realised my worth...after all these weeks of carrying the team on my shoulders..at last..Numero Uno..Top Dog..The Leader…..the one they all look up to. Oh yes ....at last.....’
Looking down into the beaming face of Shoulders, aka The Overseer of the City’s financial institutions and partly (but to be fair, not wholly) responsible for the mess we’re all in, aka Rich H, I was reluctant to spoil his moment, so remarked gently, ‘ It’s a really good achievement even if it is a dead rubber’. (Dave ‘HandsOff’ Hanson aka Watershed and currently away seeking sunnier climes on the Costa del Hull having already masterminded The Alsos into first place in Div 5 and promotion assured.)‘ Matters not’, was the reply, ‘It’s points that matter and what do points mean?’..Well , I thought, not a lot in this instance....but not being one to rain on anyone’s party , I responded ‘Tis indeed a rare honour and accolade, Overseer and well deserved......’
Leaving Rich, somewhat undecided as to whether I was taking the mick or not, I went into the changing rooms to prepare for my must win league clash.
Spying James ‘5 Bellies’ (‘3 Bellies now, phil’, he indignantly corrected me, before I could even open my mouth, ‘Surely 3’), I mentioned en passant that The Overseer was pretty chuffed at playing at No.1..’He deserves it phil, carried the team all season, fine fellah and fine player...and..it’s a dead rubber anyway..’
‘S’pose if he loses’, I remarked, he’ll quickly erase it from his memory......’
How we laughed! Tears rolling, nay streaming, nay battling down our cheeks in a vain attempt to seemingly rub each other out .....!
Playing first in squash is not always, to be fair, all about winning. As many No 1s will testify it’s all about taking the pressure off the team and playing a tactical team game so nos 3,4,and 5 carry the team to a 3-2 win.....If no.1 wins then all the better ! I always thought it was a no lose position to play in anyway and in my team playing days, always preferred to be a must win 3 or 4 which seemed to me to be a much more credible position to play......
Could Rich H carry the day or was he to be a sacrificial Overseer?
An interesting team selection giving precocious yoof its chance as well as luring out a few oldies to balance up the years:
Yooful Aidan in a five game thriller -remarkable how he has progressed this season and unlucky to lose after coming back so well.
Graham ‘EasyJet’ Stelios, lean, determined with no excess baggage, proving that age has no boundaries winning comfortably 3-0.
Gazz, always a joy to watch -I missed it –winning 3-0- also a real chance in the Open Tournie with a fair draw.
Nick, winning 2-1 and then making a game of it to take it all the way to attain victory in the 5th!
So, 3-1 and The Overseer to make it a comfortable 4-1 win. Pressure off anyway and time for Rich to lead by example at Number One. Playing consistently with shots hitting halfway down the side wall with unerring regularity, for my fave player this was always going to be difficult ...too difficult in fact ….as he lost 2-3 in a somewhat disappointing display. ‘Can’t play with you watching phil..just keep thinking what you’re going to put in the report’. Tricky that one, Shoulders, I thought, but if you just concentrate on line n length then there wouldn’t be any need to worry about the report comment, would there?
Well with a 3-2 win (albeit a dead rubber) spirits were high, Pints of Old Spinksy foaming yet still somewhat disappointing bitter and the newly introduced SpinksSamurai lager were ordered with abandon and quaffed with gusto as a perfect accompaniment to Nan’s wondrous nosh. The end of season celebration was being looked forward to, albeit with Boothy seemingly the only one able to make the date he had proposed....The Open Tournie was underway and hopes were high of a surprise champion, seeing as the Tournie had not been seeded, (‘Too complicated mate’, said Chairman Spinks) and all looking forward to Finals Day on the weekend of 12th/13th May with semis and finals played on the same day and the Juniors Tournie taking place in between. Thoughts of promotion to Div 4 were uppermost in most minds, apprehension yes, but dreams of continued success as SPARKS continues to attract new blood and loads of promising new members. A great season and onwards and upwards for the AlsoRans!
As for the PrimaDonnas .....a season that petered out into disappointing relegation but...you have to experience the lows to appreciate the highs, so again onwards and upwards for the Primas to succeed in Div 3 and an instant return to Div 2.
What we can be assured of is loads of fun, skill, endeavour and commitment so come along and support your teams on Squash Tuesdays in the summer season starting very soon…May 22nd in fact !