Well, the big day has finally arrived and Sutton’s Mighty 5ths took on Dulwich 3 in the grand showdown of Division 14 East. In the year in which the great 80s pop band Bananarama have announced their intention to re-form, perhaps their back catalogue can help tell the tale of what happened.
The match itself was eventful but the drama started well before the first ball was even struck – it began on a banana boat just off the Playa de Capellans in Salou, Spain on Thursday 3rd August. On a hot morning, the illustrious captain of the Mighty 5ths turned to his beautiful wife and said “my love, it’s been a good holiday and tomorrow we return home – let’s do something fun that we’ve never done together before. Let’s take a banana boat ride together!”
Now if either of you (I never assume I have more than two readers) is sniggering and thinking thoughts worthy only of a teenager with a dirty mind – that’s not what a banana boat ride is!! Go and wash your mind at once. A banana boat is a sort of inflatable banana shaped craft pulled along by a motor boat on which a group of passengers hangs on for dear life trying desperately not to fall off (usually unsuccessfully). It’s something our great captain had never done before and he thought it’d be a laugh.
What has this to do with tennis? I hear you cry. Everything, dear reader, everything. On that particular ride, our hero and his wife fell off at exactly the same moment (at speed and at different angles). This resulted in David’s foot going through Alla’s face (forcefully). Alla’s nose was broken (she’s fine now though) and David was left with a rather large hole in his foot – he had never seen so much blood and immediately checked for sharks because, you know, he’s seen movies and he knows that they always show up when there’s blood in the water and boy was there blood in the water. The boat driver, who appeared to speak very little English up to this point suddenly demonstrated a fluency and ferocity of English expletives which David frankly admits he thought was beyond this gentleman’s tenuous grasp of our mother tongue.
As David lay in a Spanish hospital having stitches put in his foot, he explained (in Spanish) to the doctor that the Mighty 5ths (los Quintos Poderosos, since you ask) would be playing Dulwich (Bruja Aburrida) on Sunday and he needed to be fit by then. Sadly, it was not to be. Cruel Summer!
Fast forward to Sunday 8th August and Sutton’s Mighty 5ths put out a very strong four in the form of Jason Smythe, Jake Fellows, Mike Eaton and Callum Furmidge. We also turned out with an enormous support cast to cheer on our heroes. Mike’s wife, Rachel, is the founder member of our fan club – she was there. When she discovered that Mike had set off without her, she didn’t let that come between her and her beloved Mighty 5ths – oh no. She ran (she actually ran!!!) from Sutton to Dulwich (about 10 miles in 90 minutes), didn’t even look tired on arrival and just sat down and watched the game. Surely that’s More Than Physical. David may have been too injured to play but he was there to watch. Jake’s mother, as ever, was there and we also had a new fan. Jake’s grandmother flew in from Puerto Rico to seize her chance to say ‘I was there – I saw them play live.’ If anyone is reading this who lives nearer than Puerto Rico and who has not watched the Mighty 5ths then what are you waiting for? There are some things that should be on everyone’s bucket list I Heard A Rumour that Robert De Niro’s Waiting for an invitation to watch us play (but, of course, that may not be true).
First up, Jason and Jake took on Dulwich’s first pair. They took the opening set 7-5 and things looked good for us. This was, however, a very strong first pair and they were always likely to mount a fight back. They did so, taking the second 6-2 meaning that this one would go to a Champions’ Tie-Break. Dulwich continued with the momentum they had built up in the second set taking a 6-2 lead but Sutton struck back to win 4 straight points to level at 6-6. Sadly, that would be the last point that Sutton would win in that match and Dulwich won the breaker 10-6.
Next up, Mike and Callum faced the opposition second pair. They gave it a good go but in the spirit of Love, Truth and Honesty, they were a bit tentative against a very accomplished second pair. I think that performance would have been enough against most second pairs in our division but against these guys, more aggressive finishing was needed once the point had been set up and the opening crafted. 6-4 6-2 was the score.
This May have felt like Rough Justice but it was justice – so far Dulwich were the better side. Could we salvage the draw that would still leave us top of the table going into the final round of fixtures or would we be beaten for the first time since winter 2016?
Jason and Jake kept things interesting for us with a 6-3 6-3 win against Dulwich’s second pair – this brought the crowd to their feet screaming More, More, More!
So the final rubber was contested between Mike and Callum and Dulwich’s first pair. The winners of this rubber would go into the final round of matches next month with a one point advantage in the chase for the title.
As a pair, Mike and Callum really changed things up from their opening match. When they created an opening, they went for the winner (and usually made it). Callum used his disguised double handed backhand to good effect on the returns, occasionally flashing a winner straight down the line when the server’s partner was clearly looking for the cross court shot. They gave it everything and can be proud of the effort but the result of this rubber was not to be Love in the First Degree for Sutton. 6-4 6-2 was the final score. The opponents were just too good.
It is still in our hands to secure promotion as runners up – if we can manage a draw or a win at home against DLRP in our final match then we will go up. If Chipstead can do us a favour against Dulwich then we might even be promoted as champions once again. If Dulwich do finish ahead of us though, they deserve it – they outplayed us today.
I finished my previous article with a slightly cheeky dig at Dulwich ahead of this tie and now their captain has replied. From his side’s performance, it looks as though
He Was Really Sayin’ Something’