Tony becomes Club Legend


Tuesday past seen the Final of the Club Championship 2022 at Galashiels Squash Club.  The Championship Final Featured Tony Elliot of Hawick and Kelso’s Jordan Reid; the Shield Final featured Pat Spence hailing from Cardrona and Matt Gibbs from Duns.

The Alex Doherty Memorial Shield is a tournament for the early round losers of the Club Championship; the Shield was first played for in 2016 after the passing of the Late Alex Doherty; Alex single handedly kept the club going through the quiet years and ther wouldn’t be a squash Club today if it hadn’t been for th heard work of Alex Doherty; this is a very prestigious and highly sought after prize at the club.

Two Veterans of the game in Pat Spence and Matt Gibbs were competing in the Final.  Spence had defeated Raymond Snow, Del Sharratt and Nick Ord 3-0 to get to this final.  After Matt Gibbs ahd lost to Jordan Reid in the Championship Gibbs had to navigatge past Ruaridh Kohler and Jonathan Fletcher also both 3-0 victories.  The Final was a much closer affair, and both players proved Experience can trump youth with the deft play and accurate shots.  Pat Spence got off to a flier taking the first game fairly straight forward 15-7 and Gibbs didn’t look his usual flowing self.  But before the second game, Gibbs gave himself a talking to and controlled the game, several points were won by Gibbs off thes serve as Spence couldn’t return the tight serves.  The third game was a good tit for tat battle and could have gone either way.  Spence seemed to play the shots with just the right pace and height and wasn’t missing much ot take a 2-1 lead.  The fourth went one way the the other, Gibbs took a 3-0 lead with awesome serves and when the hand changed the server would reel of 5-6 points in a row, this went on till Gibbs manged to pull away with some immaculate drop shots and took it 15-12 to take the match to a decider.

The decider seen both players tire s the game slowed and the adrenalin kicked in; Spence had the edge mentally and seemed to be able to go that extra yard when needed, Spence took it 15-10 for his first evert Title at the Squash Club.

In the Main Event, Tony Elliot was gunning for an unprecedented 5 in a row at Gala squash Club – no other player in the Championship history (since 1979) had managed 5 in a row.  Club Legend Ian Hogg won 8 titles between 1997 and 2006 but it didn’t include 5 in a row; and opponent Jordan Reid was seeking his first victory again st Elliot.  These two square off regularly in friendlies and a few 3-2 matches have been known to happen.

The Match started high paced and Jordan Reid pulled out a miraculous reverse “trough the legs” shot that worked and took a 2-0 lead fairly quickly and at this point the crowd though Elliot was in for a hammering this time.  But Elliot showed why he is the 4- time champion (and unbeaten within the club) by playing ‘proper squash’ and taking the first game 15-4.  The Second game Started with Elliot pulling away wit the lead.  Reid wouldn’t stop running and seemed to be able to get to everything, both players play a fast tempo game and referee Del Sharratt had to keep focussed to keep track of this one.  Elliot discovered a weaknessin Reid’s backhand and exploited this on several occasions.  Jordan Reid had the fitness and speed dvantage, but Reid’s shots could be loose and Elliot wasn’t having to stretch too much for some shots.  Elliot took a 13-4 lead, but Reiod managed to get back into the game before losing it 15-9.  The third game followed the pattern of the first two with Reid using his lightening fast speed to cover the court and get to some seemingly impossible shots but lacking the accuracy and killer shot.  Elliot continued exploiting Reid’s backhand and took the match 3-0 with a 15-6.

Club Captain Del Sharratt said after the finals “Wow, that was two awesomw matches, that WAS 4 of the Top the players at the club playing tonight – as it should be for Finals Night.  The Squash really was awesome and the crowd were kept intrigued  right through.  Tony Elliot now has a Club Record of 5 titles in a row – that muts him above Any other man in the history of the Club and now merits “Legend Status” within the club.  Tony is Chasing down Iain Hogg’s total of 8 titles but in Tony Elliot’s own words “This gets harder every year”.

Also on the night a Special Trophy was presented – the Stuart Finnie Memorial Trophy.  Stuart Finnie only joined the club a couple of years back and tragically lost his life in a Car Accident on Melrose Bypass earlier this year; Stuart was Very keen and Enthusiastic about his squash and the Club Wanted to honour Stuart appropriately.  Del Sharratt said “We decided to Honour Stuarts memory with a dedicated Trophy.  Stuart’s time at the club proved enjoyable, not only for him but his opponents enjoyed playing him.  Stuart would always encourage others and only strived to improve his own game and his opponents, Stuart wasn’t about winning – he was about enjoying playing and helping his opponents enjoy playing too.  WE therefore thought it would be a fitting tribute to award the Stuart Finnie Trophy to the Club’s Most Improved Player.   The Inaugural winner was Richard Taylor.  Richard, like Stuart had only joined the Club a Couple of years ago and got the squash bug big time.  Richard would regularly get coached from within the Club and Always signed up for Coaching Sessions with Scotland international Rory Stewart; this helped Taylor’s game no end and he rose through The Box Leagues from Box 5 to Box 2.  Even getting involved in some matches for the Team in the East of Scotland League.  After a Match, Richard he would always analyze his own game and he is his own worst critic – this all helped Richard improve his game and the only way is up going forward!  It was Great to see so may of Stuart Finnie’s family in attendance tonight and a Special Thankyou to Stuart’s Widow Alison Finnie for Presenting the Trophy.”