Our first fixture of the tour was the highly anticipated match against The Jesters at the historic Royal Automobile Club at 89 Pall Mall Street, London.
After a slow start to the day, we cooked up a hearty English breakfast of scrambled egg and pork sausage to give us some energy for the day ahead. We went out and explored the area, walking down Regent Street and wandering into the shops before returning home to get ourselves prepared for the evening's matches.
We caught a bus to Piccadilly Circus and then walked down to Pall Mall Street and into the very impressive Royal Automobile Club. It's very traditional and has a strict dress code for both playing and socialising. We were to wear all whites while playing and had our jackets, chinos and smart shoes for supper and drinks in the Long Bar.
The courts are below ground, beside a swanky underground swimming pool which looks like it belongs on a movie set! The pool heating system makes the air around the courts very warm as we were about to experience.
We met the legendary Peter Chalk upon arriving at the club, who organised the fixture and the night's activities to follow. We've heard many stories about Chalky's exploits on this night and were very excited to see what he had in store for us after the game!
First to arrive from The Jesters team was their captain, Tim Garner, who also regularly plays the Jarvis Cup in South Africa for Border as an overseas pro. Our captain, Michael, who also plays for Border, went on against Tim for the first match of the evening. We played by the traditional English scoring method to 9 points, best of 5 games as opposed to the point-a-rally 'American' method that we use in our leagues back home.
Michael settled in well and took the first game comfortably. He then went up 8-2 in the second before Tim used his experience and grinded the game to 8-8 with some very physically testing rallies. Tim took the game 9-8 and levelled the match. He went on to win 3-1 in an impressive showing of the game. Stef went on next door and prevailed in a long 5 setter. Kyle won his match in 4 games and Charl went down in 4, with the matches drawn before Daniel went on as number 5. After being 2-1 down in games and 8-4 down in the 4th, he fought to take the game and the match to 5 sets, keeping the fixture alive. He lost the 5th and the Knights failed to win this elusive match against the Jesters.
The matches were all very close and although we lost, we were glad to get the tour underway.
We had a traditional English dinner; sliced lamb, meat, vegetables and Yorkshire pudding, along with wine and one or two beers. The boys then headed to the bar where the night began to unfold into a series of events that would live up to all expectations and stories heard from previous tours.
We knew we were in for a big evening when one of the opponents said to us, "Have you heard about this night before?", to which Stefano replied, "Yes we have indeed". Everyone cracked up in laughter and the first round of beers was ordered. This then followed 2 minutes later with another round, as Chalky ordered us to down our beers, "Come on lads, this is real beer, enjoy it!!".
In usual RAC (Chalky) fashion, we had many more beverages and then headed into the taxis and on route to the infamous Stringfellows. It was an unforgettable evening filled with very many hazy memories and stories that we will have for the rest of our lives!! Well played Peter Chalk;)
Knights Lost 2-3
9-7 8-9 1-9 6-9
| Tim Garner
9-6 6-9 9-6 9-2
| Jim Bristow
4-9 9-2 4-9 9-5 9-2
| Aqib Kadar
5-9 5-9 9-4 5-9
| Nick Sutcliffe
9-5 2-9 9-6 8-9 5-9
| Joss Hargrave