We were delighted to welcome the Hong Kong football club to the Royal Automobile Club in Pall Mall for the inaugural Jesters “candidate” match on Saturday 2nd July, 2022. David Cross and Malcolm Kerr had been planning the match for a while. The Hong Kong squad originally consisted of eight players and several spectators however on the night they were struck down by the Covid curse and it ended up a 5 string match. Sadly David Cross was unable to join us having tested positive a few days earlier so Malcolm Kerr took up the reins of captaincy. With courts one and two and the doubles court all booked from 5 pm the players began assembling in the sports area at the RAC club.
First up was RAC fifth string Miranda, versus Paul Simons. Miranda is a relatively new and very enthusiastic Jester and RAC Squash committee member. It looked very evenly matched in the knock up and indeed played out that way. Miranda winning the first comfortably however Paul found his line and length and pulled back to win the second. Some excellent rallies with full court sprints and Paul chasing Miranda’s tight drop shots. Paul clawed back the 4th 13/11 to set up a cracking 5th game. Very entertaining Squash, and at 6/6 in the 5th game, it really could’ve gone either way. Miranda however had the fitness and sealed the fifth 11/6.
Meanwhile on court 2, Claudio, our Italian, took on Malcolm. Malcolm was in the unique position of being a member of the HKFC as well as the Jesters club and just this month also has joined the RAC. So tonight’s match vs Claudio was a great way for me to see how Malcolm would fair in the RAC Bath cup second team. As it turns out, he would fair extremely well and I’ve upgraded him to play in the RAC Veterans team next year. The Veterans team are the competition champions 2022 and we are defending our title next year and I’m sure with Malcolm in the squad, we have every chance of succeeding.
Next match on court 1 club champion, and veteran supremo Stephen Jones was up against Julian. Someone mentioned Julian took his squash very seriously and didn’t like to come second, so I felt this was going to be a good match as Stephen won the first game. Indeed, Julian clawed back the second and they were having a superb battle, but Stephen, who has retired from work and taken up padel tennis and squash as a full time pastime, was too tricky for Julian and snuck in a 3/1 victory.
So then it was on to James and Raj on court one. Raj is also a recent RAC member and clearly knew his way around our courts. James came out of the blocks fast. He has an irritating knack of hiding the ball and playing a winning back hand top spin drop shot which is impossible to read. He won a tight first game 12/10. Raj however was fit and chasing everything down. Knowing our courts and using the hot bouncy ball to full effect by retrieving and punishing some fine lengths sending James into all four corners. An even match but fair to say James had been focusing on his golf more than his squash over the last couple of months and he struggled to compete. Raj took the match 3/1 – 12/10 6/11 7/11 6/11.
So with the match level at 2/2 the first stings made their way onto court 2. We had heard HKFC have a strong and rich squash history and they have some fine players in their itinerary. Rudi was no exception. With eye watering squash level achievements and a professional squash background, we knew we would have to find one of our finest players for the match. Fortune had it our current club champion Richard Johnson was available. Richard has recently taken over as squash representative for the Jesters club and so will be a superb link for the Hong Kong Jester’s future relationship. The match was excellent to watch. Rudi and Richard were both whipping the ball around with deadly accuracy and providing the gallery with some very entertaining rallies. Both players were finding their length and throwing in wonderful boasts and drop shots. Home advantage fell to RJ as he knew the court well and was able to slow the ball down with some lovely lobs and punishing drops sending Rudi on more court sprints than he would have liked. RJ went two games up 11/9 11/4 and looked strong but Rudi wasn’t giving up and clawed back the third 8/11. At 2/1 it looked like it could have gone either way but Rick is fit and closed the match down. 3/1 and winning the match with a 3/2 victory to the home team.
A quick and very fun game of doubles to finish off a fantastic evening of squash.
Talk of the legendary ice baths in the Turkish but sadly not much action, and then up for dinner in the Brooklands room. A wonderful dinner with our guests and supporters Dallas and Elsa followed. The Brooklands team looked after us brilliantly.
Malcolm produced some wonderful gifts from the HKFC adorning our team with HKFC shirts and sweat bands and a splendid trophy shield to commemorate the match. A great fun evening and discussion turned to a possible return fixture and a trip to the touring “Dragons” home club sometime soon.