Match Report/Results (Portsmouth 6th & 7th January 2012)


The annual Civil Service Men’s Squash Team fixture against the Royal Navy was held at HMS Temeraire, Portsmouth on the 6/7th January 2012.

Disaster struck early before anyone could step onto a court, with an injury to illustrious Civil Service Captain Merv Davies. The Naval Rules of Engagement state that if the Captain is lost or injured at sea, control of the vessel passes to the Executive Officer. Unfortunately for the Civil Service Team, a person matching the required character traits couldn’t be found, so First Seaman Tim Burrell stepped up to sail the team through the treacherous waters ahead. First Seaman Burrell’s first duty, to deliver the sad news on the health of the missing Captain raised a few eyebrows amongst the team; we were informed that the injury involved eight tendons in the foot! Captain Mervs injured tendon eight weeks previous had failed to heal fully resulting in him missing his first fixture against the Navy for over 20 years. It did however give an opportunity to bring in alternative players which meant, encouragingly, the “Mens Team” (more on this later), had the lowest average age in the past 20 years!

Unfortunately due to the injury to Captain Merv the first fixture against Royal Navy 1 was played with only 4 Civil Service players and the team had to borrow a local player. The team comprised usual faces First Seamen Tim Burrell and Petty Officer Tony Webb, and were joined by new faces James Hodson and Jonathan Simpson. First on were Jonathan and Tony who strolled to victory with the minimum of fuss - both seemingly having spent Christmas training rather than having fun. Next on were Tim and ‘borrowed player’ Eamon Masson, both trying to emulate the previous performances. It was not to be. Eamon started strongly winning the first 11-8 but, despite battling hard came unstuck in the next 2 games to go 2-1 down. Eamon fought back to 2-2, winning the 4th 11-8 to set up a decider. With the final game swinging one way then the other with neither player managing to take a decisive lead Eamon was unlucky to go down 11-9 in the 5th. Tim began his match looking like he’d had a very relaxed Christmas losing the first game 11-6. He began to find a bit of rhythm in the second – leading 10-8 only to lose 12-10. Despite being 2-0 down he was not out and fought hard to reverse the 3rd 11-8. With his opponent looking to save a bit of energy for the 5th he eased off to let Tim have the 4th 11-3. The tactic worked with the Royal Navy player taking a 6-1 lead in the 5th and Tim looking like being on the end of a loss. It was not to be as his opponent ‘hit the wall’ and Tim won 10 of the next 11 points to win 11-7. Last on was James Hodson in a potentially tasty affair with an added bit of rivalry against Phil Clark (brother of ladies Civil Service Champion Louise Clark). This looked like it was going to be a tough match with Phil bragging about how he beats his sister with ease on a regular basis. But he was no match for the consistent James who ran out 3-0 victor. This meant the Civil Service won the first fixture 4-1. In the other fixture Royal Navy 2 narrowly defeated Bradley Stoke 3-2.

In the evening the Royal Navy provided their usual outstanding quality in providing a meal at the Royal Maritime Club followed by a tour of the local Portsmouth delights. The team thanked the hosts for their hospitality and for arranging the fixture for another year. All present noted that Captain Merv’s absence had left something missing from the evening dinner, it transpired that in fact his absence had left rather more leftovers from the carvery than originally catered for.


On day 2 the Civil Service “Mens Team” were able to field a full side as they welcomed Ladies Champion Louise Clark for her first competitive Civil Service fixture. The whole team were nursing their bodies after the previous evening’s matches and hospitality, which promised to be a great leveller in the matches to come. First up were Royal Navy 2. Louise Clark took to the court in a match up which would prove whether the team were right to welcome her into the fold or stick with the ringer as her first game was against Eamon who had represented the Civil Service the previous day. It turned out that her selection was completely justified as she romped to an inspiring 3-0 victory with the minimum of fuss (11-6, 11-5, 11-5). Jonathan Simpson followed in Louise’s footsteps with an equally dominating 3-0 victory as the Civil Service took a stranglehold on the match. Next up were Tony Webb and Tim Burrell. The latter struggling from his tough match the day before started slowly losing the first game. Having pulled it back to 1-1 he then proceeded to lose the 3rd and had to come back to win the 4th and 5th, which he duly did. Tony was experiencing no such problems with a very controlled performance. Although all the games were close Tony won through 3-0. Last up was James. Looking in control in the 1st and 10-7 up he served out and followed it up with some poor squash to lose 12-10 and find himself 1-0 down. In the second, with both players looking slightly worse-for-wear, James pulled it back to 1-1 with an 11-9 victory. This was the turning point in the match as James took control to win the next 2 games. A 5-0 victory for the team and they were warmed up for the final match against Bradley Stoke – who once again had lost narrowly – this time to Royal Navy 1.

Before the final match against Bradley Stoke an emergency team discussion was held, it seemed that the Civil Service No 2 James was struggling for fitness after being struck down by a mystery “illness”.  This resulted in a change of order for the last match, with Tony and Jonathan stepping up positions, leaving James to battle on at No 4.

1st up once again were Louise and Jonathan now at No 5 and No 3 respectively. There was never any doubt here with both players showing their class and taking the game to their opponents, winning 3-0. Louise was on top form winning the first two games 11-1, 11-3 however she started to struggle in the third; nevertheless she managed to close it out 11-8. Suggestions were made that maybe she had stood too close to James and may have contracted his illness, however these could not be confirmed. Jonathan was a picture of consistency once again, dominating the pace of the game, winning 11-6, 11-2, 11-6. Tim and Tony then took the court knowing that they were in for tough matches. Tony was incredibly slow out of the blocks, with suggestion that his shirt had got caught in the court door and, in combination with some stunning play from his opponent, lost the first game 11-4. Tony needed to tighten his game and he duly did with an 11-5 win to tie the match. The 3rd game was going to be pivotal as the lead swayed and neither player was ever more than a couple of points ahead. However with a few dazzling played for nicks (lucky bounces) Tony took the game 12-10. This gave Tony the psychological edge for the 4th and, although close throughout, he was always ahead and took the game 11-9, and with it the match 3-1. Tim started with what had become a worrying trend for the weekend, losing the first game. He pulled himself together for the 2nd to level the match. An 11-3 score line suggested he was in control but it all went wrong as he lost the 3rd 11-7. Needing to dig into his reserves once again he duly won the 4th and 5th winning his 3rd 3-2 match of the weekend. Last on was an under the weather James to wrap things up for Civil Service. James battled on through and did not disappoint with a gruelling 3-0 victory. Another victory and with it the Civil Service Unisex Team were champions for another year!

We would very much like to thank all the players who took part in the weekend, both those from Civil Service and the other teams. We extend those thanks to the organisers (including Captain Merv), the Royal Maritime club for their hospitality, and to the Royal Navy for looking after the team. We very much look forward to the fixture in 2013. A summery of the results are as follows:

TEAM Royal Navy 1 Civil Service Bradley Stoke Royal Navy 2 Points Position
Royal Navy 1   1 3 3 7 2
Civil Service 4   5 5 14 1
Bradley Stoke 2 0   4 4 4
Royal Navy 2 2 0 3   5 3