The Royal Automobile Club (RAC) is based on Pal Mall in Mayfair, London. The Club and the venue are both steeped in history and it is always an honour to play on the beautifully kept courts which are hot and humid and make for a lively game. One of the many great things about playing at the RAC is the wonder, “what’s in the lobby this time?” Since first playing at the Club I have been everything from a 1938 Lagonda to Sir Sterling Moss’s track car. On this occasion it was a Ferrari Formula 1 car – shiny and angular; the pinnacle of modern technology, set against the backdrop of historical architecture and thick pile carpet.
First on was Lt Col Phil Ashman who loves the high temperature courts and long rallies. Despite losing the first, Phil came back to win 3-1 in a display of precision and skill – Phil even claimed to have hit a rolling nick during the match (although this story has not been independently verified). Next was WO2 Gaz Hall who, having been training hard of late, wowed his personal supporter’s Club with swooping dives and slides. His opposition and RAC Squash Leader, Angus Baillie, would not go down without a fight and pulled back 2 games before Gaz won the 5th in a close match. At number 1, skipper, Maj Rich Green would face ex-US Marine Tucker George for the second year in a row. Tucker claimed to have been playing hard and having recently won the RAC Championships he was on top form. Despite this, Rich dug in and retrieved well to make the match 1-1 after 40 minutes on court! Tucker, the younger man by several years, had too much gas for Green and showed excellent speed and fitness in the 3rd and 4th, winning 3-1 in a good match.
Bdr James Burke, fresh from the Army San Francisco tour, was in fine form. He struck the ball hard and whipped his cross-court shots late. However, the canny and clever Jeremy K used his guile and cunning to outwit Burke and after 1 hour the match stood at 2-2. Burke was frustrated and unable to get to the tricky boasts and drops that JK used to excellent effect, but after digging deep and staying patient he managed to take the match 3-2. At number 5, Maj Luke Dodington played against a renowned triathlete, known widely as ‘the bonecrusher’ due to his stamina and endurance. Luke, himself has been working hard on the track and the bike and he looked in good shape – a shadow of his former self. Dodington traded blows with the bonecrusher and several rallies were well over a minute long, leaving both players breathless. In the end the RAC player triumphed 3-2 in the match of the evening.
The final score was a source of some debate over an incredible post-match supper – beef that fell away from the bone and a smooth 2010 Claret to wash it down. Some say the match was a tie, others claim that the RAC won 13-12 on count-back. The truth is that we may never know… history will judge the match as one of the classics. Club Manager Brigadier Miles Wade made a touching speech during supper and Maj Green presented an ASRA Plaque to the Club. All in all the match was a cracking night of squash and friendship – and furthermore, a privilege to uphold the tradition that exists before us and hopefully long after us.