Late Thoroughbreds Charge Wins The 2017 Superleague
03/08/17: The Aston House Thoroughbreds finished off a magnificent Superleague campaign with a heart-stopping come from behind victory in the final last night against the Coach & Horses.
With the tournament already delayed by the Westway closure earlier in the summer due to the Grenfell Tower disaster, the final was further postponed by two weeks as C&H were unable to raise a side for the scheduled date and AHT manager Spencer Chapman generously agreed to wait and play the final in August rather than claim a walkover.
The AHT team looked resplendent in their green Felix Project kit but started slowly, with some early nerves leading to mistakes and significant leads for the C&H pairs in both courts. Gradually, though, the Thoroughbreds began to find their feet and despite neither pair being ahead at any stage, both managed to claw their way back to 14-14 only for the last point to go the way of the Westway team in both courts.
Not many teams win Superleague matches from 2-0 down, but the improved form in the second half of the first round of matches gave AHT some hope; there was a clear shift in momentum at the start of the second round of games, as the C&H players' level dipped dramatically. Darshan Patel and Guy Chapman quickly found themselves 6-0 down against Laurie Brock and Karen Hird, while Nick Shaw and Chris Austin found the normally immaculate Ryan Perrie throwing in an absolute shocker of a game. Nick & Chris were able to force home the advantage, demolishing Ryan and Tim Thurnham 15-3, but Laurie & Karen couldn't do the same in their court as Guy & Darshan steadied the ship and forged ahead, aided by a nasty-looking thumb injury to Laurie. In a game of remarkable twists and turns, the C&H pair found themselves 14-9 up before Laurie hit a purple patch of returning and with Karen supporting well they levelled at 14-14 before once again agonisingly losing the final point to find themselves 3-1 down, with all 3 defeats by the same 15-14 margin.
The plus side of the narrow defeats for the Thoroughbreds, along with the 15-3 win, was that the equation was simple going into the final round - two wins for AHT and the trophy would be theirs on overall points won, with Coach & Horses just needing one victory to claim the title. The last two matches were tense from start to finish and both followed similar patterns - the AHT pairs got into an early lead in both and managed to stay ahead, withstanding immense C&H pressure. Both AHT pairs found points increasingly difficult to come by as the finishing line approached, but with the C&H pairs closing in fast, the Thoroughbreds converted game ball in both courts almost simultaneously, sparking scenes of wild celebration from the victors and allowing non-playing captain Spencer Chapman to go the full John Terry, donning his team kit to collect the trophy along with the four triumphant players.
After several near misses, this was the first Aston House win in the Superleague since the inaugural season back in 2010 and a great achievement from the squad of six who took them to victory - Laurie Brock, Nick Shaw, Chris Austin, Spencer Chapman, Karen Hird and Robert Wilson. Karen became the first woman to play in a Superleague final-winning team and Laurie overtook Ant Theodossi during the course of the evening to claim the Golden Gloves prize for most shots in the hole. There was some consolation for the Coach & Horses team as Tim Thurnham collected the tournament MVP award.
Organiser Paul Bowden did a fantastic job throughout this year's competition in difficult circumstances and said afterwards: "Superleague 2017 had started briskly when it was interrupted by the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Some voices were for abandoning it but it was decided to continue after a considerable delay when Westway Sports Centre was used as a refuge and information centre for victims of the disaster.
The delay caused difficulties for some teams but nevertheless the semi finals produced two nailbiting matches one of which was decided by a single point. Could the final be anything but an anti climax? Indeed it could. The match was distinguished by long and well constructed rallies, incredible shifts of momentum, great tension, wonderful sportsmanship with the outcome in doubt until the very last point. What a great advert for the game and for the first time it has been recorded on film. I am sure that other clubs would enjoy the unique format of the Superleague and it would be great to have some new faces next year."
Aston House Thoroughbreds beat Coach & Horses 3-3 (87-71)
L.Brock & C.Austin lost to R.Perrie & D.Patel 14-15
N.Shaw & K.Hird lost to G.Chapman & T.Thurnham 14-15
L.Brock & K.Hird lost to G.Chapman & D.Patel 14-15
N.Shaw & C.Austin beat R.Perrie & T.Thurnham 15-3
L.Brock & N.Shaw beat R.Perrie & G.Chapman 15-12
C.Austin & K.Hird beat D.Patel & T.Thurnham 15-11
Tournament MVP Top 10Tournament MVP Top 10
Tim Thurnham P10 374 points
Nick Shaw P6 246 points
Laurie Brock P6 243 points
Darshan Patel P6 242 points
Anthony Theodossi P6 214 points
Karen Hird P5 188 points
Julian Black P5 186 points
Guy Chapman P4 165 points
Chris Austin P4 164 points
Ryan Perrie P4 160 points
Golden Gloves Top 10
Laurie Brock 16
Anthony Theodossi 13
Karen Hird 9
Nick Shaw 9
Jonny Ho 8
Tim Thurnham 7
Guy Chapman 6
Ed Hewens 6
Ryan Perrie 6
Will Gibbons 5
Matt Lewin 5
Charlie Nicholls 5