Report for Lancashire o50’s 31st/1stOctober/November
Lancashire over 50’s travelled with confidence to Crosby with a large squad keen and prepared to pit their skills against Merseyside, Warwickshire and Lincolnshire.
The first match against Warwickshire saw debutants Gino Pani and Gary Caldeira win comfortably at 4th and 2nd string respectively and 5th string John Valentine dig in heroically to win 3-2. The perpetual motion of veteran England player Alan Barwise was too much for his gallant opponent until disaster struck and his calf muscle ripped and he lost the 3rd set. Somehow ignoring the pain Barwise fought on and emerged victorious against an astonished opponent.
Captain and first string Stuart Wardle effortlessly filleted his opponent for the first two sets until again old legs sought to undermine the seemingly inevitable victory, as his calf muscle twanged like an old Stradivarius and lacking the grit of his teammate Wardle tried to end the contest without further movement. Fortune favoured the pain averse however and two nicks later the game was won. 20 points to the red rose county
The second match then seemed to be an uphill struggle with the wounded Barwise decamping northwards up the M6 and Wardle ostentatiously dragging the ruptured leg behind him, two matches were surely over before they started. Again lady luck smiled, Lincolnshire were a man short so already Lancs are 3 sets to the good, the elastic wrist of Gino Pani was bewildering his opponent, and the merciless Caldeira was eliminating the Lincolnshire no2 with brutal efficiency. Once again injury struck, Pani’s hamstring fell victim to the Lancashire curse and rendered immobile went down 3-1.
Wardle, hopping with unlikely effectiveness won the first set, but it proved to be a false dawn as his opponent still blessed with two working lower limbs made this numerical advantage count and won the next 3. John Valentine then had to win, so that Caldeira’s inevitable victory would win the match and this he did another 3-2 marathon, again proving superior in fitness and composure in the final set. Caldeira however had seen his 2-0 lead dragged back, now it was 2 all and anyone’s game. Again the superior conditioning of the Lancashire man saw Caldeira assert his supremacy once again and dominated the final set to win 3-2.
3 men down the Lancashire needed reinforcements and they duly arrived the Wigan warrior Ian Bradburn and the Tameside twosome Jamie Maddox and Barry Stringer. These three plus the undefeated Caldeira, quickly despatched their opponents against the hosts Merseyside whilst an exhausted Valentine was defeated more by his exertions of the day before than his opponent losing 3-2.
The weekend belonged to Lancashire however 55 points to the good and looking forward optimistically to the promotion playoffs on the 23rd/24th of January.