The men’s over 35 club team came back from Nottingham last weekend crowned as UK champions beating the best in the country to win a very tight match against last year’s winners Moreton Hall (Suffolk). This was victory at their first attempt as the club have never entered the national Club Championships before.
Christopher’s have been located on the Stadium Dog Stadium for over 40 years but this is by far their most outstanding squash achievement. The team of Steffan Morgan, Tim Burrell, Joss Hargrave, Mike Bowie and Richard Hill narrowly won 3-2 with victory achieved in the very last match. In the five matches played, four of them went to 3-2 in the tightest final seen for many years.
Local boy, Richard Hill (Rutlish School), is only just 35 and captained the team into the final. He went on first but was beaten 3-1 in four very tight games. He was followed on court by Joss Hargrave – a 39-year old corporate lawyer who also captains the Lords squash team and is the ‘old boy’ of the team. He had to fight hard and went on to win his fifth and final game by just three points, 11-8, to take the match score to one all.
Mike Bowie was already playing when he heard of the win by Joss and knew he also had to win to give the team a chance of victory. Mike has been at the club for 6 years, lives in Battersea and owns a wealth management company in the City. His opponent, however, was taking no prisoners and, whilst close, his opponent went ahead 2-1 in the match and Mike was facing defeat in the fourth game at 10-8 down with his opponent serving. Mike says he had no idea he was just one point away from losing his match and bravely fought back to win that game and then scrape home in the fifth and final game also 12-10 – two of the tightest games of the whole tournament.
At number 1 in the team, Steffan went on court knowing he was facing an uphill struggle against one of the best over 35’s in the country who had a bag full of international tournament victories under his belt and who is a long-standing representative for England on the squash court. Steffan moved from teaching at Kings in Wimbledon to Blenheim School in Epsom and is more used to dealing with boisterous students than one of the country’s best players. It was a long, hard fought match that went to five games that Stefan narrowly lost.
The final of the UK over 35’s Squash Championships was down to the fifth final match and Tim Burrell went on court knowing that it was all down to him. The gap between victory and recognition – a losing team always forgotten or a winning team with the chance to play in the club championship finals in Europe. Living in Tooting and with his two children at the Links Primary School in Merton, Tim, at 37, works for the Finance Conduct Authority in the city whose role is to oversee the banks and other financial institutions. But Tim is no novice at squash. He is a county player for Berkshire and has played for England’s over 35’s for the past two years but he still had a formidable opponent to beat.
The game didn’t quite go to plan as Tim left his 4 other team members anxious after going 2-1 down only to turn up the heat and convincingly win both the final two games 11-4. It was a hard day for all 5 players and it was in the early hours in the morning that they returned to London and all of them to work the next day with no time whatsoever to celebrate their amazing and unexpected victory.
If you are interested in taking up squash or returning to the sport or wanting to use a relaxed gym to get fit, you can ring Christopher’s Squash and Fitness on 020 8946 4681.