Luke and his father feel the force!
It was Friday 13th and eight Elstree fathers bore something of the ghost in their complexions; however, paraskevidekatriaphobia was not to blame on this occasion. It was Elstree Fathers and Sons’ 2016, and pre-match nerves were starting to make a tennising racket in pulsating minds.
Bates was ready. Lara’s delicious match tea was ready. It was time for Bentley, Brown, Compton-Burnett, Hine, Horton, Inglis, Jardine-Brown & McKendrick to fight for the Fathers’ crown in this mother of all contests.
As the new balls glowed in the twilight fair chill, the lads and dads got down to business. The patter of plimsolls under the fading Aldermaston Sun sounded louder as the prematch raucous conversation dissipated and dissolved. The conflict had begun and within half an hour the first battles had been won and lost. Horseman of the Apocalypse Hine cantered past nimble Horton, Jardine-Brown out-radleyed the Headmaster on Court Two, while Compton-Burnett, the Eton racketeer, looked lean, mean and hungry in seeing off Capability Brown. McKendrick used all his gaelic charms to overcome the purring Bentley to round off the opening group-stage encounters. As the light faded and the northerly breeze added discomfort, the dads warmed to their tasks. There were lots and lots of very long rallies– exhibition stuff with the boys playing their part in this carnival of skill and grit. The early nervous evaporation of chat had liquidised and reformed through the blowing away of cobwebs, rediscovery of technique, and the odd beer.
But who would come away with the spoils, so stylishly and suavely plundered last year by Johnny & Tommy V? The herculean Hines hit too hot a shot for the Pink Group. The Blue Group was conquered by the Compton-Burnetts. The Wootton St Lawrence/Englefield latest contest would be decided here and now on Bates in the hills of Woolhampton. This was our final. After a blistering start by the Englefield Gallopers, the Wootton wizards waved their magic wands and came back. With both pairs only two point away from victory, it was the CBs who got buzzing at just the right time to take the brace of points to victory.
It was lovely to see such good tennis amidst the fun. This is always one of my favourite evenings in the Elstree calendar. Thank you to Lara for a fab match tea, and thank you to the boys and their sporting dads for providing such entertainment for all! Well done to Luke and Richard – our 2016 champions.