We awoke to a small comedy of errors but luckily was not too serious. Dan and Kyle thought they were getting up early at 10am for a breakfast only to be informed that breakfast had ended at 09h30. After going back to bed we all got a call from reception politely informing us that checkout was at 11h00, it was now 11h25. Again we'd strewn our partially dry washing from Durham on all surfaces and had to make tracks quickly before the hotel got too tired with us. We were on the road in little time with a short hour's trip north to Carlisle, which is just 6 miles south of the Scottish border. Driving on the narrow country roads requires full attention and really gets fun compared to the endless straights at the same speed on the motorways which makes it less of a task.
We popped into the courts so we knew where to come before heading to the local Premier Inn for lunch, a game of turd and some free time. We always treasure even just an hour or two's free time to sort through matters outside of the tour, which of course see little attention otherwise!
The guys at Windscale had told us the team at Carlisle would be a lot stronger than they were and that lots of people would turn out as the viewing gallery above the two match courts is absolutely massive. You would not like to do any stair challenges as the stands went up about 3 floors! We checked the knights record book which has full details of all previous knights tours dating back to 2000 and found that the club had indeed put out strong sides in the past. Their number one, Paul Bell, who coaches throughout Cumbria, had not lost to the Knights for the past 4 tours!
The crowd was truly massive, easily 150 people strong and our biggest yet on the tour. Once again, skipper Mike introduced us all and by now knew what to say to a crowd to get the point of what we are doing across and to get a couple laughs when introducing each one of us. Starting at number 5, Dan is always described as absolutely loving a 5 setter and getting as much court time as possible. We announce Charl as being 13 years old as his innocent baby-face often gets asked for ID at the clubs. Stef has gained a reputation for smashing the ball with his 'Hammer of Thor' squash racquet, as the team call it and the crowds love to see him winding up for a big 'klap.' Mike tells the crowd that Kyle is from the city of Johannesburg in South Africa and consequently that they must 'watch their stuff' when Kyle's around. Last but not least, Mike has to introduce himself. This almost deserves a story of its own, but when we were in Jersey we also had a huge crowd and an MC on the microphone who announced achievements of each of us before we went on court. This MC introduced the Jersey player and covered him with achievements, telling the crowd how Scott had been a finalist in the Jersey Open, had represented Jersey in the Commonwealth Games and everything else. He then moved onto Michael, who's list of achievements would take an age just to touch on, and said, ' MICHAEL SHEAN, HE'S FROM EAST LONDON, AND HE HAS 3 BROTHERS, GIVE IT UP FOR MICHAEL SHEAN!!! The team packed out laughing at the sound of this and its stuck as a good story for him.
Another fantastic team performance saw us whitewash our opponents, Dan lived up to his 5 setter reputation and Michael ended Paul's winning streak against the Knights.
We enjoyed a curry and some hard earned beers in the clubhouse before returning to our hotel for the now usual games of turd. What a feeling to all be performing as a unit!
Thanks to Ronnie Bell, our opponents, and the massive crowd that came to watch us!
Knights Won 5-0
11-9 11-9 8-11 11-4
11-9 12-10 11-8
11-6 11-4 11-5
11-5 10-12 11-9 11-7
11-7 11-5 10-12 9-11 11-7