One of my objectives in attending the Jesters’ Cambridge weekend in September 2017 was to recruit some more team members for this fixture – and didn’t I do well! Nick Pellew, Nick Chrimes, and Andrew Falk were all in Cambridge too, and fell victim to my siren call to come to Jesmond in April 2018. Indeed for Nick Chrimes this meant a return to real tennis having virtually given it up, and the game as a whole must be better off for the return of a player of his ability and style. That seems to me to be a good Jesterish result for this fixture – even if the match result turned out to be not so good for us.
As team captain, I had the nice idea to take the honour of partnering two of my new recruits, the Nicks Chrimes and Pellew in the first and third matches. Unfortunately for them both, Chrimes and I lost 5-10 in the first, to two of our Jesmond Jesters Fiona Harrison and Nick Thompson, and Pellew and I went down 1-8 to Fiona again, in partnership with the ever-solid Richard MacAlister. And as the two Nicks together in the second match went down 8-10 to Richard and Nick (Thompson), the Jesters were 0-3 down in no time. The 8-10 match was very close though, notable for Nick Thompson’s accuracy, and for Nick Pellew’s shot to the winning gallery which earned all four players the obligatory stop to enjoy a glass of the Jesters’ champagne. And the less said about your scribe’s play in his ‘honour’ partnerships with the two Nicks who had travelled far to play, the better!
Cometh the (lunch) hour, cometh the man – and in this case two well known members of the Jesters aristocracy: Robert Dolman and Andrew Falk who stepped up to the plate for the pre-lunch contest with commendably steady and sensible play to bring a point back to the Jesters against two of Jesmond’s party animals, Richard Sanderson and Gordon Reed. Lunch was taken, seated and very much enjoyed, with the score 1-3.
The killer punch came after lunch. Dean Juric and Richard Sanderson, both playing as if they had never had lunch in their lives, played fast and loose with Robert D and Johnnie Cook, to take the score to 1-4. A voice in the dedans was heard to observe that the Jesters could still salvage a draw …. and sure enough Scott and Johnnie then proved to be an effective and very entertaining pairing in overcoming the dynamic and equally entertaining Gordon Reed and John Taylor 8-5. John’s exasperated and typically mischievous aside to the gallery that “you should never perform with children, animals … and pensioners” was a memorable moment.
The consistent accuracy of Simon Johnston, in particular on the return of serve in his pairing with John Taylor, proved too strong for Alex Todrick (now living near Newcastle and a new Jesmond member) and Andrew Falk who went down 6-8. So with the match score now 5-2 in favour of Jesmond Dene, it was left to Alan Douglas and Simon J, not only to beat Alex and Scott 10-4, but to target the winning gallery very effectively in a determined effort to finish the champagne – which they did – and then had the nerve to complain that your scribe hadn’t provided another bottle!
So after another convincing 6-2 victory by Jesmond Dene, those still in attendance reflected on a very good day, with gratitude to the JDRTC for having us Jesters again, and in particular to professional Scott Blaber for marking the whole day for us, and to his wife Kerry and their delightful daughters for making the dedans such a pleasant place to be.