Bolly’s play-off bid hits buffers
THE North West Counties Squash League’s winter season came to a close last Saturday with the divisional play-off finals at Grove Park.
The Macclesfield area was represented at these by Bollington’s Third Team, who, as Division Five South winners, were pitted against corresponding North regional table-toppers St Annes 2 - to determine which side should be crowned overall ‘champion of champions’.
With both teams having enjoyed long, unbeaten runs that extended back to the Autumn, a tough contest was in prospect. And so it was to be - although, sadly for the ‘Bolly Thirds’, their opponents ultimately proved the stronger with a 4-1 victory.
Bollington had been forced to make one change from the line-up that saw off City of Manchester 4 in the semifinals.
Tom Binder was unavailable due to work commitments – meaning a late call-up for 12-year-old junior George Lomas.
In the event, the young fifth-stringer did himself and his club proud on the big stage - pushing his senior opposite number particularly closely in their second and third games, before succumbing 3-0.
But, by that time alas, the outcome of the final was already decided. The previously- unbeaten Andy Phillips and a second junior, James Walton (15) – both of whom faced top-order players who had not lost a Fifth Division match all season - were defeated in straight games, before Gareth Ainsworth followed suit to put St Annes in an unassailable position.
Martin Ogden prevailed over three tight games to secure a consolation win for Bollington in the last contest of the tie, but conceded that his team’s opponents were worthy champions.
“It was just one of those matches for us,” the captain reflected afterwards.
“We won some good points, but St Annes saw out the games and deserved their victory on the day.
“The travelling support for both sides made for a great atmosphere, and it was a fantastic experience. Now we can’t wait to play in Division Four next season.
“I have to thank all of the players who turned for us last term. Without them, nothing would have been possible. And with more and more junior players breaking into our teams, the club’s future couldn’t be brighter.”
The play-off-finals turned out to be a fruitful event for clubs from the Fylde Coast. Following the triumph of St Annes, YMCA Thornton 1 - who, by coincidence, had edged out Bollington’s Second Team in the quarter-finals - emulated their near-neighbours with a 4-1 win over The Northern’s ‘Fourths’ to take the honours for Division Four. Play-off final: Bollington 3 v St Annes 2 1. Andy Phillips lost 0-3 (5-15, 8-15, 3-15) v Keith Parmley. 2. James Walton lost 0-3 (13-15, 12-15, 13-15) v Joe Ridings. 3. Gareth Ainsworth lost 0-3 (11-15, 5-15, 4-15) v Bob Vogel. 4. Martin Ogden won 3-0 (19-17, 16-14, 15-12) v Robert Bentwood. 5. George Lomas lost 0-3 (6-15, 14-16, 12-15) v Alex Goldie.
Bollington’s third team, Andy Phillips, George Lomas, Martin Ogden (captain), James Walton, Gareth Ainsworth