This was a critical weekend as Herts were in the lower group with Middlesex, Lancashire and Cheshire playing to avoid relegation. The weekend was thrown into turmoil however at the outset of the weekend when Middlesex announced they would only have TWO players for the final match against Lancashire. Lancashire were obviously not concerned but Cheshire and Herts were of the opinion that Middlesex’s matches should be excluded and they should be automatically relegated. Middlesex insisted on playing and so the matches went ahead with the acknowledgement that guidance would be sought from England Squash on whether to include the Middlesex results or not.
Herts played Lancashire first. Gary Raw and Pete Newman were on first and while Peter Newman won in straight games, Gary was pulling back from 2-0 down in an exciting 3rd string tie. The final game could have gone either way but unfortunately Gary lost out 9-11 in the fifth. Martin White then battled hard but lost 3-1 to a strong Lancashire No. 4. Straight 3-0 wins by Eamonn Price and Las Fernando however quickly followed…so that although Herts were 2-1 behind, we ended up with a 3-2 win and a very healthy 17-6 points win.
HERTS. v LANCASHIRE Score Games
Eamonn Price Steve Hollinrake 3-0 11-3 11-4 11-8
Las Fernando Steve Cummings 3-0 11-4 11-6 11-8
Gary Raw Julian Wilson 2-3 8-11 5-11 11-9 11-8 9-11
Martin White Stuart Wardle 1-3 9-11 6-11 13-11 6-11
Peter Newman Alan Day 3-0 11-9 11-7 11-6
RESULT: HERTS BEAT LANCASHIRE BY 17-6
Next we played Middlesex who only had 4 players for this match and there was the thought in the back of the mind whether this would count or not. Again it was a 3-2 win for Herts with wins for Martin White, Pete Newman and the walkover at String 5 which resulted in a 15-9 win.
HERTS. v MIDDLESEX Score Games
Eamonn Price Peter Gunter 0-3 6-11 9-11 8-11
Las Fernando Clive Johnston 1-3 11-6 3-11 7-11 5-11
Martin White Tom Woods 3-1 10-12 11-6 12-10 11-4
Peter Newman Paul Stewart 3-0 11-8 11-3 12-10
Walkover Walkover 3-0 Walkover
RESULT: HERTS BEAT MIDDLESEX BY 15-7
Finally on Sunday was the game against Cheshire and the only way to make sure not to be in the bottom 2 was to win this. Unfortunately, Herts went 2 strings down with Tony Stewart losing the 5th string 1-3 and Martin White going down in straight games against a very awkward Cheshire No.3. Pete Newman then had an excellent but tight straight games win to claw one back for Herts, whilst Eamonn Price was battling hard with the Cheshire’s No1. This went all the way and Eamonn, still not firing on all cylinders because of his wrist injury, eventually went down 9-11 in the fifth game (just as Gary raw had done the previous day. This sealed the win for Cheshire but still every point would count and a 3-0 win by Las Fernando would still guarantee safety. Las Fernando played very well but the pressure of having to win 3-0 was considerable and he came out a worthy 3-1 winner.
HERTS. v CHESHIRE Score Games
Eamonn Price Karl Hardy 2-3 11-8 8-11 10-12 11-3 9-11
Las Fernando Gary Walker 3-1 6-11 12-10 11-6 11-7
Martin White Pete Astbury 0-3 7-11 6-11 3-11
Peter Newman Jason Morris 3-0 11-9 11-9 11-8
Tony Stewart Dave Whitehead 1-3 11-9 7-11 10-12 10-12
RESULT: CHESHIRE BEAT HERTS. BY 15-9
So the outcome is still unclear. If Middlesex are disqualified and their results excluded, Herts will end up coming top in this Group. If however, Middlesex are not disqualified, Herts will end up below Lancashire (44 points) who had the benefit of a 20 point win against 2 player Middlesex and equal with Cheshire on 41 points but would go down to relegated third on the head to head result with Cheshire. Watch this space as we await the decision from England Squash!