December 1999 to June 2003 - Merseyside

Merseyside and Greater Manchester junior county badminton associations merged with Lancashire for the start of the 2003-2004 season

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Merseyside Annual Report - 2002/2003
12th June 2003

Secretary’s Forward:

The end of an era and the beginning of a new one and fittingly MSBA have had one of their most successful ever seasons. Thanks must go to our army of helpers, coaches team managers and most of all players for giving me a truly memorable season to report on.

My life has also been made considerably easier by our web site Guru, Dave Miller, as his compiled documentary of the season shows. This gives most of the team results and a wonderful flavour of the season’s tournaments, including the ICT which was a magnificent event and a wonderful tribute to our ICT team.

Individually we have had some amazing performances this season and the results are not only a reflection of the players efforts and dedication but also a tribute to their long suffering parents who travel the length and breadth of the country, go through emotional turmoil in either freezing cold or tropical sports halls and arrive home exhausted late at night, throw away the uneaten food, clean out the freezer box, collapse into bed and then mentally prepare for the next one.


Liverpool Open U17 Premier Girls Singles & Doubles - Winner
Yorkshire Open U17 Premier Girls Doubles - Finalist
ESBA NW Open U17 Premier Girls Singles - Winner & Doubles Finalist
ESBA Midlands Open U17 Premier Girls Singles - Winner & Doubles Finalist
J. Challenge U17 National Circuit Singles & Doubles - Finalist
Cheshire Restricted Ladies - Finalist
Cheshire Restricted U17 - Triple Champion
U18 National Circuit Ladies Singles & Doubles - Finalist
U18 National Circuit Finals, Ladies Doubles - Winner
Invited to BA of E WCP training days at Nottingham & Sheffield
Represented Cheshire Seniors at County Level


Liverpool Open U17 Premier Girls Doubles - Winner
Yorkshire Open U17 Premier Girls Doubles - Finalist
ESBA North East Open U17 Premier Girls Singles SF/Doubles - Winner
ESBA North West Open U17 Premier Girls Doubles - Finalist
Durham Open U17 Premier Girls Doubles - Winner
Durham Open U17 Premier Mixed - Winner
ESBA Midlands Open U17 Premier Girls Doubles & Mixed - Finalist
JC U17 National Circuit Girls Doubles & Mixed - Finalist
U18 National Circuit Ladies Doubles - Finalist
U18 National Circuit Finals Ladies Doubles - Winner
Invited to BA Of E WCP training days at Nottingham & Sheffield
Represented Lancashire Senior at County Level


Liverpool Open U17 Standard Doubles - Finalist
ESBA NW U17 Standard Doubles - Finalist - Singles - S/Finalist
Cheshire Restricted U17 Singles - Winner


Liverpool Open U15 Premier Singles & Doubles - Finalist
Cheshire Restricted U17 Girls Doubles - Winner
Cheshire Restricted Girls Singles - Finalist
Cheshire Open U15 Singles & Mixed - Winner
U15 Singles Standard Challenge - Winner
Represented Cheshire Seniors at County Level


ESBA Midlands U13 Standard Singles - Semi Finalists
ESBA East Midlands U13 Standard Doubles - Winner
ESBA NW U13 Standard Singles - Finalist
                            Standard Doubles - Winner
ESBA East U13 Standard Singles - Winner
                            Standard Doubles - Semi Finalist
ESBA Standard Challenge U13 Singles - Winner
                            Doubles - Semi Finalist
Yorkshire U12 Singles - Semi Finalist
                            Doubles Finalist
Rising Stars U12 A Singles - Quarter Finalist
                            Doubles - Finalist
Selected onto the World Class Start Programme


Rising Stars U12 B Singles - Winner
David Lloyd U12 NW Open Singles - Finalist
David Lloyd U12 NW Open Doubles - Finalist


David Lloyd NW Open U12 Doubles - Winner
U11 Singles Challenge National - 5th Place

RICHARD BERGH ESBA NW U11 Singles - Semi Finalist
MATTHEW BERGH  Cheshire U15 Doubles - Semi Finalist
TOM MAGUIRE Cheshire U15 Doubles - Semi Finalist
NICOLA POOLE Rising Stars U12  B Singles - Winner
EMILY MILLER Rising Stars U12 B Singles - Finalist
LUCY FOSTER Lancashire U15 Standard Girls Doubles - Winner
CHARLOTTE HALL Lancashire U15 Standard Girls Doubles - Winner
SOPHIE RICHARDS Lancashire U15 Standard Girls Doubles - Finalist
KIRSTIN MILLER Lancashire U15 Standard Girls Doubles - Finalist


Congratulations to you all !!! 

Please accept my apologies for the results I am bound to have missed. I will be pleased to include them as an amendment in the published minutes of the AGM.

It has been a great honour to act as the MSBA Secretary this season, especially following the magnificent job Nigel did. I am sure this is the springboard for the new integrated counties to bring even greater success to our young players.

John Howell
MSBA Secretery

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Warwick Winners
25th May 2003

Local players had a great day at the "Rising Stars" U12 tournament in Warwick on Saturday 24th May.

Tara Priestley won her round-robin group in the girls singles 'A' event, to go out in the quarter-finals to seed Anna Wilson of Lincs.  She teamed up with Hayley Rogers (Cheshire) in the doubles and progressed to the semi-final where they lost 15-9 to Anna Wilson and Emma Woolley (Staffs) ... well done on a bronze medal (for a semi-final place).

Daniel Wolfenden played in the 'B' grade singles and showed how much he has improved this season as he first got out of his group, conceding only 9 points in his 3 games.  He then won his quarter and semi-finals before playing Paul Scott of Yorkshire in the final - Danny went 6-1 up, slipped to 6-12 down then battled his way back to a superb 15-12 win.  Well done on collecting a hard won gold medal.

Nicola Poole took the gold medal in the girls 'B' singles, looking very convincing throughout the day, beating Sophie Sankey (daughter of Sarah) in the semi-final and another local player Emily Miller in the final.  Nicola only dropped 16 points in her 5 games - a terrific achievement.  Emily had her best display in the semi-final where she beat Vinita Bhakta of Leicestershire 15-9.  Emily and Stephanie Hall had a very good win in the doubles round-robin stage against Alex Langley and Amy Smith (15-12) but missed out on a group win.

Merseyside had 10 representative players on the day, with Richard Bergh, Tom Wolfenden, Matthew Slater, Kristian Byrne and Becky Hurst all playing.  Everyone recorded at least one win - Becky was unlucky to meet Vinita Bhakta in her round-robin group and Kristian lost to finalist Paul Scott at the same stage.

b_rs03.jpg (102403 bytes) U12 Rising Stars
Emily Miller, Tara Priestley, Nicola Poole, Daniel Wolfenden

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Merseyside Finish on Top
20th May 2003

Merseyside's last deed as a junior badminton county will perhaps fittingly be carried out by their youngest, most talented stars when 3 of the team from the regional qualifier of the 2003 National U11 Singles Challenge will take to the court in the final at Milton Keynes on 7th June.  But this only tells part of the story from the Rotherham event, as the 8 players beat all opposition to come out as overall best county.  Coming first when "premier" players are not allowed to play is good (as with the U12s and U14s this season) but with all players eligible that is a great achievement.

Superbly done by Kristian Byrne, Becky Hurst and Steph Hall on getting to the final - even more so for Kristian who, it turns out, played the event with a broken bone in his hand!  And real hard luck to Richard Bergh and Tom Wolfenden who both missed out by a whisker.  Hard luck also to Michael Johnson, who would have finished 2nd in his first group (not 5th) had an 8-11 loss gone the other way ... by such fine margins are fortunes changed.

Well done to newcomers Lizzy Balmforth and Joselyn Robinson for being brave enough to play and for not being outclassed in any way, winning a number of their games.  It took a TEAM of 8 to win the event - everyone's results were crucial and decisive.

Merseyside won the event by 7 points over Yorkshire, with points given for final player placings.  Lincolnshire came 3rd a further 34 points behind. Cheshire, Durham, Greater Manchester and Lancashire were also represented.

Thank you to Derek Wolfenden for managing the team on the day and thank you to all the other parents and spectators for your encouragement and support.  Good luck to our finalists next month.

b_c11s.jpg (110203 bytes) Merseyside U11 Team
Back: Derek Wolfenden (Team Manager), Jocelyn Robinson, Lizzy Balmforth, Michael Johnston, Richard Bergh
Front: Tom Wolfenden, Steph Hall, Becky Hurst, Kristian Byrne

The team and final placings were as follows:

Kristian Byrne 4th
Richard Bergh 7th
Tom Wolfenden 8th
Michael Johnston 19th
Becky Hurst 4th
Steph Hall 5th
Lizzy Balmforth 9th
Jocelyn Robinson 11th

The top 6 boys and 6 girls out of 25 boys and 20 girls qualified for Milton Keynes.

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U17 Inter Counties Tournament 2003
19th May 2003

Merseyside finished mid-way in the 2003 ICT, coming 18th out of 37 counties.  The U17 Inter Counties Tournament is played at Nottingham University over four days, with teams of five girls and five boys enjoying the end of their junior playing days.

Merseyside/Lancs (Nick Hodgson played no. 1) reached the top 20, beating Worcestershire and Essex, but unfortunately lost to the seeds, Hampshire, by 8 points in a thrilling 5-5 draw.  Graham Priestley and Matthew Case-Upton lost to two premier players in first boys doubles 21-19.  What could have been!  Helen Davies, Becky Howell and Gill Dabek were all outstanding, taking most of their games.

While last year Merseyside topped their group and somehow earned the right to play top seeds Yorkshire, this year the players finished second and somehow earned the right ... you guessed it!  Needing to win at least two of the following matches to get into the top twelve U17 counties in the country, all the games got away, putting the team in the 17-20 positions.  Wins over Norfolk and Northumberland but a 4-6 loss against Derbyshire (well it was after the disco!) left the team in a creditable 18th place.

Everyone gave tons of effort but the standard for the non-ESBA players was very tough, putting pressure on the experienced ESBA players.  So many close matches that went the other way this year, but, as always, the players were a credit to their county.

The Team
Boys Girls
Nick Hodgson Helen Davies
Graham Priestley Becky Howell
Andrew Watson Gillian Dabek
Matthew Case-Upton Rachelle Alty
Ben Proctor Laura Temple
Team Managers
John Howell
Liz Davies
Lynsey Ashton (otherwise known as 'Foghorn')

John Howell files this report ...

"A 7.30 a.m. start from our meeting point, I did explain to Laura that there were ‘two’ 7.30s in the same day!  Our first match was scheduled for 12 o’clock against Worcestershire, this gave us just enough time to have breakfast at our traditional venue ‘McDonalds’ on the A500, the journey also gave us time to teach Nick how to talk scouse.

On arrival we deposited our bags in Derby Hall, had a quick team talk (i.e. don’t lose your keys) and went for our photo shoot, it was worth £5.50 a copy to make sure they were all out of circulation.

It has to be understood that every match is a tactical equation of strengths and weaknesses and every point vital no matter what the overall score, your final placing is dictated by each individual group placing.  This year however I had decided to use every player in every game and my main objective was to try and finish in the top twenty, which, looking at our first group (Hampshire Essex and Worcestershire) was going to be difficult.  I need not have worried a 10-0 win in our opening game followed by a 6-4 win over Essex guaranteed a top twenty position.

Hampshire, the seeds in our group, and our final match of the day - Hooters and Lynsey at the ready, we managed to take a 5–3 lead only to be pegged back to 5-5 and unfortunately lose by 7 points. ‘If only’ ... where have I heard that before, but whatever, a tremendous performance.

A nice early night, hot chocolate and bed time story’s ( if you believe that you’ll believe anything!).

‘Where’s me shirt’ Watson had everybody up for breakfast (well apart from Laura) she doesn’t do 7.30 a.m.  This was going to be a difficult day ... Yorkshire, Surrey, Bucks and Berks.  A team talk got them fired up - apart from Andrew who wasn’t quite sure which shirt to wear - at least the three racquets he had brought with broken strings had now been repaired.  Days that don’t go quite your way still have their moments: Helen's win over Jenny Wallwork; Gill’s 20 – 21 loss in the Bucks match (don’t bad line calls stick in your throat); Graham's 21 – 20 win against Surrey; being reprimanded for making too much noise (not me personally) at Chilwell; Rachelle and Laura’s win against Bucks; Nick with Becky’s spare shirt A bit more luck and we could have won two of the four games, but that’s what the ICT is about ... tomorrow is another day.  In this case it was very early morning ‘whilst dreaming of the day’s tactics’ (ha ha) I was rudely awoken, not by Andrew (can I play singles today) but by the Fire Alarm!  We all trouped out - not a pretty sight in the hallway at 6.30 a.m., apart from Laura who slept through it all and again missed breakfast.  I had a feeling it was going to be a good day, the team had obviously had a good nights sleep in Ben’s room (!!!!) and Northumberland and Norfolk were our opponents - not easy as Norfolk had drawn 5-5 with Manchester but I did promise them a trip out in the afternoon before the Disco, they couldn’t wait.

We despatched Northumberland 8-2  with Laura being our ‘Lambsey’ against Naomi Bailey!  Norfolk were going to be much tougher and with Helen having what could be described as a blow out against Charity it was probably our best team performance that saw us through with wins for Matthew & Gill and Andrew & Ben clinching a noisy 6-4 victory.

A jubilant squad climbed back in the bus for a well earned free afternoon.  A vote was taken - Liz decided to have a well earned sleep whilst I took the rest into downtown Beeston. Following a hearty McDonalds and a bit of sunbathing, it was time to get ready for the Panda Pops and Crisps Disco, or "bonding with the rest of the teams" as I had heard it described the following morning.

Liz and I duly went to the Managers meeting and, to the sound of the disco, spent the next hour trying to hear what was being said - one of the main topics being noise!  It has to be said at this point that the committee had done a fantastic job, the only point of real contention was one of the counties (I am not sure which one) wanted to book superior separate accommodation for their team - that went down well and got one vote!

The final day - Merseyside’s last at the ICT - we had achieved our goal to remain in the top twenty. Derbyshire were our final opponents - ‘hair done in gold sparkle this year’ - photo’s taken - waves to the crowd - a great match - unfortunately we lost 6-4 ... we won easily on points!  But that’s the way it goes --- another fantastic ICT.

Mini bus packed - did we really bring all this stuff - straight to McDonalds for our debriefing and back to Liverpool to the cheering crowds.  Dream again!

The end of an era ... I do have to say the team were brilliant in all aspects and a joy to be with.  Lets hope the integrated alliance can go even part of the way to what ‘Merseyside’ has achieved as a county."

Daniel Wright posts this report ...

Although my journey to Nottingham was relatively swift it seemed to be dominated by frustration at the hands of roadworks. It even appeared that they had closed a lane on the A52 so that they could cut the grass on the central reservation! Nevertheless, I arrived in good time, as did most of the teams.

The first problem was Ulster. The bus they were supposed to catch from the airport never arrived. After many text and voicemail messages were exchanged with Josie Smith, they finally arrived at the hall. It appeared that they got taxis to the Queen’s Medical Centre before ringing to be picked up by car from somewhere on campus. Malcolm Smith and Eric Brown were entrusted with the job of going out to look for them. They must have found them as they managed to transport them to their halls.

The experience had clearly been stressful for the pair of them and the beers were duly on the Control Desk by half past two!

I’m not sure whether the drink had gone to Malcolm’s head but after thinking the Gent’s toilets had been done up since last year he suddenly realised, when he saw no urinals, that he had just used the Ladies’ toilets! We don’t think anyone saw him…at least; no one is pressing charges, which is the main thing!

And so to the first days play…

The top seeds all won their groups. However, Warwickshire, Buckinghamshire and Surrey managed to upset other fancied teams when they beat Greater Manchester, Staffordshire and Lincolnshire respectively to win their groups.

By the second day, Merseyside’s Helen Davies had already lost her trainers as I found out when I passed her walking to breakfast in just her socks! She recovered from this setback though to record an impressive win against Yorkshire’s Jenny Wallwork. This turned out to be one of only five games that Yorkshire conceded throughout the day.

After being in Chillwell on Monday evening, Avon hadn’t spotted the change to the schedule and so weren’t at the university for their nine o’clock start. Fortunately for them, it appears that their opponents, Worcestershire were in exactly the same situation. After much running round both teams were eventually rounded up and sent on to play. It didn’t prove too problematic though and by the end of the match we were almost back on schedule!

Nottinghamshire, Sussex and Gloucestershire all joined the holders, Yorkshire in the top group. Gloucestershire managed it despite losing their last match of the day to Hampshire, courtesy of winning more games than Lincolnshire. Elsewhere in the top half, Buckinghamshire and Durham were proving the surprise packages finishing second and third in their respective groups .

In the bottom half, Suffolk, Shropshire and Glamorgan, who were making their first appearance at the ICT, all secured good wins to ensure they weren’t in the bottom group for the final two days!

Several players’ sleep was interrupted, and more worryingly some were undisturbed, when the fire alarm sounded out in every room in my block, at seven o’clock on the Wednesday morning! After quickly washing off my shaving foam I made my way to the fire exit where we all congregated for ten minutes before it mysteriously turned itself off. With no sign of a fire and no university staff investigating it, the players made their way back to their beds and I went back to finish shaving!

It became apparent early in the day that Nottingham still hadn’t managed to locate the second placed shield they won last year. This unfortunate scenario resulted in them buying a temporary plate, just in time, in the hope that they would eventually find the original.

In the top group, Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire won both of their matches, setting up a repeat of the previous year’s final. The Sussex v Nottinghamshire game, although 8-2 to the local team, contained many close games, which had they gone the other way, could have resulted in a 6-4 win for Sussex! Hertfordshire were beginning to dominate the second group with the other three teams all looking of equal standard. Further down, Surrey, Staffordshire, Hampshire, Merseyside and Derbyshire all remained undefeated in their respective final groups.

Ulster were looking good to come top of the bottom half whilst the group playing for places 27-32 seemed to be very close between Devon, Wiltshire and Glamorgan. Meanwhile, Oxfordshire were busy dominating the group playing for places 33-38.

By the evening, some areas were running late. One county had managed to lose a player whilst another, although they had all their players, one of them had lost a shoe. Despite all this, everyone finished in good time to eat, shower and get ready for the disco…or the team managers meeting!

Everyone seemed to enjoy the disco and the managers enjoyed the break in the bar. Chris Wright of Bucks’ list of conquests is too long too print here which is probably for the best as I don’t think he’d be too popular with the girls in question! A late night for most but no damage was done, not to my knowledge anyway!

So to the final day…

There were several English Badminton Awards to be given out before the finals got underway. Tony Clarke of Hertfordshire, Rhona Robbins from Warwickshire and Yorkshire’s John Foster all received awards. Apologies to John Foster as the batteries in my camera ran out before I could take a photo. However, I did manage to take one of him during the final; with his now trademark trouser leg rolled up (it’s to relieve stress apparently!).

It proved to be the closest final I have seen with Nottinghamshire taking the two mixed and the second boys singles in very close games that could have gone either way. Yorkshire clawed their way back though with good wins in the first boys and girls singles. They then won both girls doubles and Ed Foster and Andrew Ellis played superbly to comfortably win their doubles.

The holders were 5-4 up but their margins of victory compared to those of Nottinghamshire meant they had won, no matter what the result of the last game was. In the end, the Nottingham pair made it 5-5 with a 21-3 victory but it was no more than a consolation. Yorkshire had won again and with victory, broke yet another victory with five consecutive wins. Who would bet against them next year?

Meanwhile, Sussex comfortably beat Gloucestershire to take third place, their best result since 1991. For Gloucester, they achieved fourth place for the first time in 11 years. The young Bucks team continued their fine form to take 6th place and equal their best ever placing at the ICT!

Special mention should also go to Lincolnshire who achieved their best placing ever of eighth, Durham with a 12th place finish for the first time since 1973, although they didn’t enter every year, and Glamorgan who finished a creditable 29th in their first ever ICT appearance. Finally, well done to all the teams who didn’t win so many games but battled hard throughout the four days to achieve their individual goals. You were all winners!  

b_ict03.jpg (117944 bytes) Merseyside's 2003 ICT Team

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Lights Go Out But Stars Don't Stop Shining
10th April 2003

Sunday 6th April saw the running of the U12 York Invitation Team Event, played between Isle of Man, Manchester/Cheshire, Leicestershire, Lothian, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire 1 & 2 and Merseyside.  The venue, the York Railway Institute, is one of the best playing venues in the country, with its 9 courts in a row marked solely for badminton, with space behind to move freely around.  This was Merseyside's last U12 match ever and the players were out to enjoy the occasion --- we could hardly fail with cheer leaders like Steph, Emily, Becky and Tom, pom-poms and all!  The noise was immense - an amazing change from my first visit 3 years ago when we thought quiet was courteous and defeat half expected!

This 6x6 match gave debuts to Michael Johnston, John-Gareth Phillips and Sarah Kenny, three players with bags of potential for the future.  It should also be noted that 8 of the 12 players are eligible at this age again next year.  What a pity, then, that the two best teams were drawn in Merseyside's group in the morning, with 2 out of 4 going on to challenge for the medals in the afternoon.  The girls won their singles and two levels first up against Lothian and, with the boys losing their 3 to strong opposition, Daniel Wolfenden and Sarah Kenny were not quite in full gear in the mixed, going down 15-5 and with it the match 4-3.  Michael Johnston and Steph Hall recorded a terrific 15-14 win against Yorkshire, but there were no other successes in that match and the team had to be satisfied with a shot at 5th place at best in the afternoon.

The next match saw Tykes (Yorkshire 2) tonked 6-1!  The team was shuffled for Lincs and the players got battered (sorry Tom and Steph) in the singles, but won 4 out of the 5 doubles to take the match.  The team came together well as a unit for the final match against Manchester/Cheshire, where Daniel Wolfenden played the game of the day, beating Philip Aspinall 15-11 with a display of controlled badminton that was a joy to watch ... this was Danny's first win over Philip.  The game set the scene for the rest of the match, as Nicola Poole ran Hayley Rogers close, going down 15-11, before the rest of the team swept through the remaining games, including the last game of the day on court - a well earned 15-13 win for John-Gareth Phillips and Tom Wolfenden in 2nd boys doubles.  Sarah Kenny won 4 out of her 6 games, gaining confidence as the day progressed.  Well played everyone ... keep up the good work!

Yorkshire won the event with Lothian runners-up, followed by Leicester and Notts.  Merseyside would have liked a shot at 3rd place on the day, but the players won the matches in the afternoon that were presented to them and displaying a quite superb team spirit, support for each other and high quality of play.  The team was Tara Priestley, Daniel Wolfenden, Nicola Poole, Kristian Byrne, Emily Miller, Richard Bergh, Becky Hurst, Michael Johnston, Stephanie Hall, Tom Wolfenden, Sarah Kenny and John-Gareth Phillips.  Many thanks also to Yorkshire, who billet the Isle of Man players for this event and are fantastic hosts.

On a final note: it's a pity two of the most successful components of badminton in the north are being lost to the beaurocrats and planners - Merseyside Schools Badminton and the York Railway Institute.  Fortunate for us, then, that the stars don't stop shining when the lights go out!

b_c12yk1.jpg (107960 bytes) Merseyside U12

Back: Kristian Byrne, Richard Bergh, Daniel Wolfenden, Tom Wolfenden, Michael Johnston, John-Gareth Phillips
Front: Sarah Kenny, Tara Priestley, Nicola Poole, Emily Miller, Becky Hurst, Stephanie Hall (centre)

b_c12yk2.jpg (123107 bytes)

Dave Miller, Team Manager 

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Tara Priestley
9th April 2003

Tara Priestley and Hayley Rogers (Cheshire) came runners up in the girls doubles in the U12 York Invitation on 5th April.  They were beaten 21-10 by Emma Woolley and Anna Wilson in the final.  Tara reached the semi-final of the girls singles losing 21-19 to Emma Woolley, the overall winner.  Tara was 19-12 up at one stage but had nothing left in the tanks and Emma's brilliant racquet skills took her through in a nailbiting contest.

Tara also won the ESBA U13 Standard Challenge Singles in Kettering on Sunday 23rd March.  There were 32 entries, with Tara beating Jessica Fletcher 15-7 in the final, turning the tables on the ESBA North final result.  Tara and Hayley reached the semi-final of the doubles but went down 15-1 in a convincing defeat by the eventual winners Jenna Walker and Jessica Fletcher from Yorkshire.

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U13s Ranked 8th in Country
16th March 2003

Merseyside's U13 team came 8th in the national Team Challenge Finals, winning two matches and drawing two in a great day of badminton.  The event, played in Luton on 15th March, brings the top 12 teams in the country together, reduced from 36 counties that started out in the qualifying events last November (see report below dated 1st December 2002).  Eight of the ten players, with families, met at the Luton Travelodge the night before and enjoyed a meal and drink, with the team travelling in convoy the last few miles to the venue on the Saturday morning.

The event sees teams split into two groups for a round-robin phase, with the top two in each group playing off for positions 1-4, the next two playing for positions 5-8 and the last two playing for positions 9-12.  Group A consisted of Dorset, Essex, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire, Sussex and Yorkshire, with Group B bringing together Devon, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Merseyside.

Merseyside played the top two sides in their group in the first two matches, winning one game in each - Nicola Poole in 2nd girls singles against Herts and Michael Mellor in 1st boys singles against Hants.  The format - two boys singles, two girls singles and one each of girls doubles and boys doubles - means that a 3-3 draw can be achieved, with the team gaining more points declared the winner.  That happened in the third match against Lincs, with Michael winning top boys singles and the two doubles going Merseyside's way courtesy of Richard Dundas / Jonathan Davies and Tara Priestley / Emily Miller - the team were unlucky to go down 81-89 on points.

The team were now looking for wins in their last two group matches to give themselves a shot at positions 5-8 (a real achievement in such illustrious company).  First came Devon and everyone performed brilliantly, taking the match 4-2.  Richard Dundas played an outstanding game at 2nd boys singles, winning 21-17.  A few team positions were shuffled for the Leicestershire match, where Jonathan Davies, playing 2nd boys singles, recorded a memorable 21-18 win, despite taking a heavy fall at 15-all.  Everyone played superbly in the match and what looked like being a really tough match turned into a near whitewash as the team won 5-1 (just losing the girls doubles 18-21).

The 5th to 8th play-off games saw matches against Sussex and Nottinghamshire.  In the first Michael Mellor played one of the games of the day against Luke Thomson, a top ranked junior, only losing out in the final couple of points 19-21.  The Sussex match got away 2-4.  So to the final match against Notts and, despite a valiant effort, this was perhaps one match too far for some of our players who had given everything.  The 3-3 draw was a fair reflection of the match, but the 88-95 points tally against us would have been reversed with fresher legs.  But the job was done superbly on the day - the players played as a team and enjoyed the moment.  The supporters, to whom sincere thanks go for their loyalty and energy, took as much, if not more, away from the day than the players.

Jack Foster was the team's most improved player, reaping rewards from his recent hard work at the game.  Daniel Wolfenden, Stephanie James and Stephanie Hall played well all day in some really tough matches.  Well done everyone!

On a final note, it can't go without mention that Michael Mellor has been selected to play for England against Belgium over Easter.  We are delighted for Michael, who works tirelessly at his game and thoroughly deserves his selection.

b_c13tc1.jpg (85077 bytes) "Come on Dave, play Steph at centre half!!"  Vee Hall, Karen Wolfenden and Jean Wedgewood discuss tactics.
b_c13tc3.jpg (125858 bytes) Merseyside U13 Team

Back: Jack Foster, Richard Dundas, Daniel Wolfenden, Michael Mellor, Jonathan Davies
Front: Nicola Poole, Stephanie James, Stephanie Hall, Emily Miller, Tara Priestley

b_c13tc2.jpg (115784 bytes)

Dave Miller, Team Manager

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U11 Boys Square Up
9th March 2003

Seven of the top U11 boys in Merseyside played a trial competition at Holly Lodge Girls School on Sunday 9th March, to determine selection for the U11 County Singles Challenge (to be played at Rotherham on Sunday 11th May).  Kristian Byrne, John-Gareth Phillips, Robert Avery, Michael Johnston, Robbie McDonald, Tom Wolfenden and Richard Bergh played each other in games to 15, with the top four invited to play in Rotherham.

This will probably be the toughest event many play all season, with all 7 players close in standard and worthy of a county place.  Kristian celebrated his birthday in style, winning all his games and taking his place at Rotherham.  The games were so close amongst the others that nobody was sure of a top four place until the penultimate round.  Richard lost his first two games, but redeemed himself with four straight wins thereafter to secure his place.  Michael had close games throughout, showing his fighting qualities with four wins and a spot at Rotherham ... he was nearly on his knees in his last game but still managed to control the shuttle well enough to win - well done.  Tom got out of the blocks like a steam train, winning his first three games, but his shuttle placement deserted him thereafter ... he had done enough, however, to get to Rotherham.  John-Gareth won one game, but shows a very good style and, as he reduces his unforced errors, will be dangerous.  Robert won one game (and also had a walk-over) showing enough commitment to suggest he will be a useful player in the coming seasons - he takes the reserve spot for Rotherham.  And Robbie, who also managed one win, has another year at this age and will undoubtedly succeed if he keeps working at his game.

There is no trial for the girls as the county is short of girls in this age group.  U11 girls interested in playing county badminton please contact

This is the only official (BAofE) U11 event on the calendar and is an opportunity for the younger players to get match experience.  The top 6 boys and 6 girls from the Rotherham event qualify for the national finals in Milton Keynes on Saturday 7th June.

The standard of play was terrific and is a great pointer for the future.  The players know they are all very capable, the hope is that they stay keen, appreciate the privilege of coaching and enjoy the game.  Well done.

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U13s & 15s on Way to Luton
8th March 2003

Merseyside's U13 and U15 teams are heading to Luton on 15th and 16th March to compete in the national Team Challenge Finals.

The U13s, playing on Saturday 15th, play in Group B along with Devon (1), Hampshire (1), Hertfordshire (1), Leicestershire (2) and Lincolnshire (2).  Group A consists of Dorset (2), Essex (2), Nottinghamshire (1), Staffordshire (1), Sussex (2) and Yorkshire (1).  Numbers in brackets show finishing positions in qualifier events.

The U15s, playing Sunday 16th, will join Nottinghamshire, Avon, Surrey, Yorkshire, Hertfordshire, Staffordshire (all winners in qualifying) along with Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Sussex, Lincolnshire and Buckinghamshire (all runners-up in qualifying).  Merseyside field the same teams that won through to the finals.

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More Success for Tara Priestley
20th February 2003

Tara Priestley, from Spital on the Wirral, came runner-up in the ESBA 'standard' singles under 13 tournament at Bradford on Saturday, losing 21-15 to Jessica Fletcher from Yorkshire.  Tara and her partner, Hayley Rogers from Cheshire, also won their third 'alternate' girls doubles this season.

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U14s Take Turn to Triumph
6th February 2003

Merseyside's U14s took their chance to show how good they are on Sunday 2nd February, running out winners on the day and runners-up overall in the North Midway League in Rotherham.

The event sees a number of counties meet in two one-day events, with counties ranked after each event and overall winners decided on the combination of the two meetings.  With Manchester pulling out at the last minute the organisers had to change the format from two groups of 4 to one group of 7, giving teams the chance to play every other county present.  Winning the day meant winning six straight matches.  Set a challenge ... rise to the occasion!

Durham were dispatched first 8-2 - Alex Bryne recording excellent wins in his doubles, with Daniel Wolfenden 15-14 and with Emily Miller 15-10.  Northumberland were a tough second opposition with strong girls, but the boys won their two singles and two doubles comfortably, together with Daniel Wolfenden and Kirstin Miller at 1st mixed, to take a 5-5 (123 points to 98) win.

A comfortable 8-2 win over Lincolnshire led to what looked like a tough match with Leicestershire.  However, after Richard Dundas had gone down 14-15 in a very good 2nd boys singles, Tom Dickinson recorded the best win of the day against Gareth Roy at 1st boys, 15-12.  This was followed by a terrific win at 2nd girls singles by Nicola Poole, 15-14, and a win by the same close margin at 1st girls doubles by Stephanie James and Kirstin Miller, giving the team an 8-2 win.  The fifth match against Warwickshire looked close early on but in the end was a good 7-3 win.

By virtue of their 3rd place finish in the first meeting in November, the team played their final match against Yorkshire knowing that a win on the day would not be enough to take the overall prize (as Yorkshire had won the first event and would at worst come 2nd in this).  But the team showed their true colours as they played, without doubt, their best badminton of the day.  Both girls doubles had good wins and Alex Byrne and Emily Miller continued to play intelligent mixed, winning 15-10.  It also showed how the team has learned to stay cool in close games, as Richard Dundas won 2nd boys singles 15-14, Nicola Poole won 2nd girls singles 15-13 and, finally, Daniel Wolfenden and Alex Byrne won 2nd boys doubles 15-14.  This contributed massively to Merseyside's 7-3 win and shows how good the team is in depth, with 5 of the 7 wins coming from 2nd singles/pairs.

Well done to the team and thank you to parents and spectators ... a runners-up trophy well earned.

b_c14a.jpg (122660 bytes) Merseyside U14 Team

Back: Alex Byrne, Tom Dickinson, Richard Dundas, Daniel Wolfenden
Front: Kirstin Miller, Stephanie James, Emily Miller, Nicola Poole

b_c14b.jpg (88770 bytes)

Dave Miller, Team Manager

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U15s Try "The Circuit"
18th January 2003

Nine players from Merseyside's U15 squad entered the Lancashire "English Schools' Badminton Association" (ESBA) tournament at Ribby Hall on Saturday 18th January.  Gill Dabek plays a number of ESBA tournaments and plays in the top tier of players - "premier".  The rest went for the experience and, as "standard" ranked players, avoided the players in the "premier" and "intermediate" grades.  This is an individual event (i.e. you play for yourself rather than the county) with the chance to play singles, level doubles and mixed (the first two of which are played in small qualifying groups to give every player several games).  Gill got a tough draw in her events, including a singles match against seeded Nikoleta Cholakova of Northumberland.

In the boys standard event, Matthew Bergh and Tom Dickinson played superbly in their singles to win their groups, but found the going tougher after that.  Jonathan Lunt and Paul Maguire missed out on qualification from their groups.  In the girls singles Lucy Foster went very close to qualifying but lost closely to a player she has beaten before.  In the girls standard level doubles both our pairs played really well to beat the other pairs in their respective groups, setting up an all Mersyside final.  Lucy Foster & Charlotte Hall, ranked above Sophie Richards & Kirstin Miller, won the first game in the "best of three" final 15-3, but were made to work very hard in the second, being locked at 7-7 and 8-7 for around 20 points before Lucy and Charlotte eventually pulled away to win it 15-8.

What started out as a venture into the unknown for some of these players (with one or two extremely tough matches early on) turned into a good day out as the players realised that they are not far away in standard from other players "on the circuit".  Thanks go to Merseyside for funding this venture for the players - it gave them good experience and may tempt them to try their hand again in further ESBA events.


At the ESBA U17 Midland Open in Kettering, which attracted a huge entry from all over the country, Helen Davies won a gold medal in the girls premier singles and a silver medal with Becky Howell in the girls premier doubles.  Becky also won a silver medal in the mixed doubles with Nick Hughes of Lancashire.

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U12s Triumph in North Midway
13th January 2003

They say cream rises to the top!  Well it did at Rotherham on Sunday 12th January as Merseyside U12s ran out victors on the day.  And they were victors overall, having secured second place in October - see report dated 8th November 2002 for details of day 1 of the two-day league.

The quality of the play showed itself in the results, with 9-1 victories over Cheshire (139 points to 73) and Greater Manchester (146-51), plus a 10-0 win over Lincolnshire (150-53).  Those results took the team to the final on the day against Yorkshire who, whilst the event prevents 'World Class Start' and all-bar-one 'Premier' players from entering, were still strong opposition.  Kristian Byrne helped the cause by taking plenty of points in his 14-15 defeat in second singles, whilst Richard Bergh & Becky Hurst won well at second mixed (15-7) leaving the girls to sweep through their 4 games with ease (Tara Priestley 15-8, Nicola Poole 15-4, Tara & Nicola 15-5, then Emily Miller & Steph Hall 15-4) to secure a 5-5 draw and win on points (112-103).  Daniel and Tom Wolfenden played well all day, with Daniel winning 5 out of 8 at no. 1 boy, and brother Tom, at 8 years old, winning 6 out of 8.

The win, combined with second place on the first visit, gave the team an unassailable lead and the first win at any age since I started crossing the Pennines three years ago (that I am aware of).  The photos say it all in terms of the fabulous spirit in the camp, amongst players and supporters alike, something that makes the journey worthwhile.

Another report in the archive of this site describes the good team spirit when Merseyside finished last in this event only two years ago ... team spirit and talent are the strengths of the county at the moment.  Thank you players and supporters alike.  Keep the cream on court, semi-skimmed in the hot chocolate guys!

Dave Miller, Team Manager

b_c12rt1.jpg (105093 bytes) Merseyside U12 Team

Back: Kristian Byrne, Daniel Wolfenden, Richard Bergh, Tom Wolfenden
Front: Nicola Poole, Emily Miller, Stephanie Hall, Tara Priestley, Becky Hurst

Parents: Karl Bergh, Paul Byrne, Derek Wolfenden, Alistair Poole, Nigel Priestley, Ann Byrne, Ken Hurst, Ann Hurst, Dave Miller

b_c12rt2.jpg (114541 bytes)
b_c12rt3.jpg (95936 bytes)

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U13s Too Strong for Shropshire
8th January 2003

In their first outing of 2003 Merseyside's U13s demolished Shropshire.  The match, played on Sunday 5th January, saw the 4x4 team win 15-1.  They did it without 3 top ranked players, giving the chance for other squad players to get a slice of the action.  Richard Dundas stepped up to the no.1 boys spot and, with regular no.1 girl Stephanie James, had one of the best games of the day first up, running out 15-4, 13-15, 15-9 winners to Tom Lees and Amanda Rawlings.  Amanda was Shropshire's most talented player, managing to edge out Stephanie in their singles 11-8, 4-11, 11-4.

Kristian Byrne, the youngest Merseyside player on the day aged 10, had a titanic struggle against the Shropshire no.4, staying on court twice as long as most matches, but showing terrific stamina and real ability, winning 15-4, 14-17, 17-14.  Daniel Wolfenden and Jack Foster both played well, not dropping a game between them.

Nicola Poole, Emily Miller and Kathleen Turner completed the line-up for the girls, all playing high quality badminton and, again, not dropping one game between them.  This age group is lucky to have a strong squad, with some very good younger players knocking at the door.  The players not currently ranked in the top 4 girls and boys have stayed keen and it is good to see them constantly pushing up the standard, challenging for places.

Everyone from Merseyside, including supporters, enjoyed the day and they were grateful to Shropshire, who, whilst not having the strongest squad at the moment, get involved, enjoy the game and are extremely good hosts.  Thanks to them.

b_c13sh1.jpg (131620 bytes) Merseyside and Shropshire U13 Teams

Back: Kristian Byrne, Shrop, Shrop, Shrop, Shrop, Richard Dundas, Jack Foster, Daniel Wolfenden
Front: Stephanie James, Emily Miller, Nicola Poole, Kathleen Turner, Shrop, Shrop, Shrop, Shrop

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Player News
2nd January 2003

Tara Priestley won the standard singles in the ESBA U13 East at Stevenage at the start of December.  She was on form all day and won the final 15-1 against a strong under 13 player from Norfolk.  Tara now has enough points from two of her best tournaments to go premier but will gather a bit more experience before taking the plunge.  At the same tournament Tara and Hayley Rogers of Cheshire lost their first doubles match in the group and this effectively put them out of the running.

And the success story continues: Becky Howell won the Durham U17 open doubles in early December with Naomi Bailey and the mixed doubles with Nick Hodgson of Lancashire.  Becky also got to the semi-finals in the singles.

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Best Display in Years
1st December 2002

Merseyside U13 and U15 put on their best display in years at the Team Challenge area event on Saturday 30th November at Macclesfield.  The event brings counties in the area together in a qualifying event for the National Finals in Luton, playing weekend of 15/16 March 2003.  The U13s met Staffordshire, Shropshire, Derbyshire and Greater Manchester, whilst the U15s played the same counties plus Cheshire.  Two counties in each age group made it to the final, with Staffs and Manchester the key opposition.

The U13s played 6 games in a match: 2 boys singles, 2 girls singles, 1 boys level doubles and 1 girls level doubles.  The first match against Staffs was close, but Mersey drifted to a 0-6 defeat - better to get it out of the way in one go mused the manager!  The following matches against Shropshire and Derbyshire were professionally dealt with, both going 6-0 in our favour ... the points tally in the Derbyshire match (126-22) showing how big the gulf was between the teams.

So the anticipated showdown against Greater Manchester.  It would either be bottled through nerves, or the team would rise to the occasion.  The spirit of the team - the camaraderie, the unity and, lets be honest, their sheer ability - brought the best out of everyone.  Michael Mellor (1st boys singles) and Richard Dundas (2nd boys singles) were inspired against rated opponents in the opening games.  Michael beat Ross Little 21-10, a score line that would not have raised eyebrows had it gone the other way.  Richard, playing Nick Shoreman, changed ends 11-3 up, carried on to 17-7, before holding on in a gruelling final few minutes to secure a 21-14 win.  This opened the way for the girls, who seemed to take inspiration from the display.  Stephanie James dispatched her opponent 21-3, then Nicola Poole ran out 21-5 to the good.  Not to be outdone, Tara Priestley and Emily Miller made short change of their doubles opponents, winning 21-7.  Finally, whilst Jonathan Davies and Daniel Wolfenden went down 12-21, they played superbly against Gary Fox and Matthew Nottingham, an extremely strong pair.

A 5-1 match win gave second place overall and qualification for Luton.  Jack Foster and Stephanie Hall played in the earlier matches, completed the team and made important contributions to the results.  Well done - the team spirit was great and the badminton ability a credit to the players' hard work at the game.  A big thank you to the parents and other spectators too - this sort of standard in the county relies as much on you as the juniors - true.

b_c13tmt1.JPG (93098 bytes) Merseyside U13 Team

Back: Daniel Wolfenden, Jonathan Davies, Jack Foster, Michael Mellor, Richard Dundas
Front: Stephanie Hall, Emily Miller, Steph
anie James, Tara Priestley, Nicola Poole

b_c13tmt2.JPG (103390 bytes)

The U15s day was as tense and full of drama as on the other side of the hall.  The different format (1 boys singles, 1 girls singles, 1 boys doubles, 1 girls doubles and 3 mixed in a team of 3 x 3) saw a close result against Staffs go the wrong way, 3-4, before victories against Cheshire and Derbyshire.  The Manchester match was again the crucial tie, and the players excelled themselves to take a 3-1 lead after the singles and level doubles.  One mixed needed ... first and second lost ... Tom Dickinson and Sophie Richards then showed a few nerves, but pulled off a terrific 15-14 win to take the match 4-3.

Mersey won their final match, but qualification remained in doubt with Staffs needing to beat Manchester in the final match to avoid a games count-back for the result.  The tie brought the other teams and spectators to watch and cheer, and after a narrow win to Staffs it is reported that players and parents were jumping for joy and exchanging hugs.  Fantastic!

The team: Paul Maguire, Jonathan Lunt, Matthew Bergh, Tom Dickinson, Gill Dabek, Lucy Foster, Charlotte Hall, Sophie Richards.

So through to the National Finals - an achievement not recorded too often by one age group, let alone two.  Can it get any better?  Stay tuned, keep playing badminton, pull on the shirt!

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ESBA Successes for Younger Players
24th November 2002

Merseyside had an extremely good representation at the recent U11/U13 North West ESBA (English Schools Badminton Association) event in Macclesfield, with a number of our players making their ESBA tournament debut in the U11s.  Richard Berg, Robert Avery, Tom Wolfenden, Michael Johnston, Robbie McDonald, Stephanie Hall and Becky Hurst all played.

Richard Berg won all of his group games in the singles, beating Cheshire's No.1 boy in that group.  He went on to win the Bronze medal, only losing to Matthew Nottingham of Greater Manchester (a "World Class Start" player).  This was only one of a number of excellent performances - well done to everyone.  It gives us great hope for the future.

In the U13s Tara Priestley and Hayley Rogers (Cheshire) won the girls "standard" girls doubles.  Tara also came runner up in the girls "standard" singles.

Graham Priestley and Andrew Brown (Cheshire) came runners-up in the North West U17 "standard" boys doubles in Kirkham.  Graham also finished semi-finalist in the "standard" boys singles.

Helen Davies won the U17 singles and was runner up with Becky Howell in the doubles.  Becky won the ESBA North East U17 doubles with Naomi Bailey (Northumberland).  Both Becky and Helen have represented their senior counties.

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Merseyside U13 Restricted
10th November 2002

The 2002 U13 Merseyside Restricted Tournament was a 'seeds' event at Holly Lodge on Sunday 10th November.  It felt like Groundhog Day as all the winners and runners-up were the same as the U12 event in April.  The top players have continued to improve their game ahead of the pack, with Richard Dundas showing the most marked improvement as he went down 15-21 to Michael Mellor in the boys singles final, making Michael work all the way for his win.  The winners and runners-up deserve real credit for their performances and, particularly, for their great attitude in playing the game.  Congratulations to all those named in the grid below.

The individual performance on the day came from Nicola Poole in the girls singles.  She beat Kathleen Turner, Emily Miller and Lucy Flavin in the round-robin stage, then lost a close final group game 7-11 to Stephanie James.  In the semi-final she ran Tara Priestley so close, going down 12-15 in the game of the day.  Nicola has improved her singles game markedly in the last 3 months, setting new challenges for the players ahead and behind her in the rankings.  The U13 "Sportsperson 2002" award, awarded for application to the game, went to Nicola: well done.

  Winner Runner Up
Boys Singles Michael Mellor Richard Dundas
Girls Singles Stephanie James Tara Priestley
Boys Doubles Michael Mellor
Richard Dundas
Jonathan Davies
Daniel Wolfenden
Girls Doubles Stephanie James
Tara Priestley
Emily Miller
Stephanie Hall
Sportsperson Award Nicola Poole  

Other notable performances on the day (many of whom have years in hand at this age and are tomorrow's stars) came from Michael Johnston, Bill Pasterfield and Kristian Byrne: keep practicing and keep enjoying the game. 

Click on the thumbnail image below to see winners and runners-up from the day.

b_13res02.JPG (119048 bytes) Back: Daniel Wolfenden, Michael Mellor, Stephanie James, Tara Priestley, Richard Dundas
Front: Nicola Poole, Jonathan Davies, Emily Miller, Stephanie Hall

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U12s & U14s Shine in Rotherham
8th November 2002

Merseyside's U12 Team (20th October) and U14 Team (3rd November) recorded fantastic results in the North Midway Badminton League in Rotherham recently.  The League brings around 10 counties together from the north to compete in a mixture of singles, level and mixed doubles competition.


The U12 team first made their mark, finishing 2nd overall, with superb wins against Yorkshire (8-2), Durham (9-1) and Notts (8-2), putting the team into the top place play-off with Leicestershire.  They just lost that 4-6, two games getting away by the narrowest 14-15 margin.  Becky Hurst went through the day undefeated - fantastic.

The individual achievement of the day must go to Nicola Poole, who beat Britanie White 15-11 in the Leicestershire match.  This is a superb improvement from June when Britanie finished 10th in the U11 singles at Milton Keynes to Nicola's 21st.  Tara Priestley (7th at MK) battered Chelsea White 15-4 (13th at MK) but these twins must talk badminton everyday over breakfast as their partnership is a tough one to beat and Nicola and Tara suffered a heavy defeat, 3-15, in the level doubles.

The team was: Daniel Wolfenden, Kristian Byrne, Richard Bergh, Robert Avery, Tara Priestley, Nicola Poole, Becky Hurst and Stephanie Hall.


The U14s took a team with no players from south of the Mersey (due to another tournament) but achieved an amazing 3rd out of 9 counties.  The team consisted of 5 players eligible for at least another year.

The day started well with a 7-3 win over Durham, followed by a 5-5 win on points (180-146) against Leicestershire.  It looked as if luck was not on their side in the Leicestershire match, as 3 games slipped away 20-21, 18-21 and 19-21, before Stephanie James and Kirstin Miller secured the points with a 21-18 win in their level doubles.  The third match against Greater Manchester was very close, though it went to GM 4-6, giving Merseyside 2nd place in their half of the draw and a shot at 3rd place overall.

The play-off match was well won against Lincolnshire, with the girls coming out on top in their two singles and two level doubles.  Daniel Wolfenden helped complete the victory with his wins at 2nd boys with Paul Lewis, and 1st mixed with Emily Miller.  Yorkshire beat Greater Manchester 8-2 to come out top on the day.

Well played to everyone, who gave 100% effort as is always the case when I watch a Merseyside team, and the usual (but important) thank you to the parents and other spectators who did the driving and supporting.

The team was: Tom Dickinson, Richard Dundas, Daniel Wolfenden, Paul Lewis, Stephanie James, Kirstin Miller, Emily Miller, Stephanie Hall.

Dave Miller

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Player News
5th November 2002

Gill Dabek won the Intermediate U15 girls singles on 26/27 October in Stoke and we believe she is now a Premier player.  Tara Priestley and her partner (Hayley Rogers from Cheshire) won the girls Standard U13 doubles in Nottingham (E. Midlands) on the same day.  Tara lost 13-15 in the Midlands U13 singles semi-final in September at Kettering.

In nationally recognised events (for individuals as opposed to teams) players progress through 3 standards of competition (Standard, Intermediate and finally Premier) gaining points in events to progress them towards the next standard.

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Merseyside U15 Tournament
29th September 2002

Competitors of all levels and ages entered the competition this year and an enjoyable day was had by all.

The boys were split into four groups for the singles competition: Michael Mellor, Paul Maguire, Tom Dickinson and Jonathan Lunt all won their groups setting up some mouth watering semi-finals.  Young Michael Mellor came up against a strong Paul Maguire, Paul had already out-gunned one of the seeds, James Bridson, in the group stages.  The game was a close affair with Michael winning 15/13.

The second semi-final saw Tom Dickinson and Jonathan Lunt drawn together.  Jonathan had also out gunned one of the seeds in the group stages, Jonny Marchbank.  Tom and Jonathan were well matched but Jonathan, who’s form is growing by the day, out fought Tom to win 15 /12.

The girls singles saw some hard fought games in the group stages but the two top seeds, Gill Dabek and Amanda Barrett, showed their true strength, winning their groups and advancing to the final with ease.

The boys doubles was also a close affair but went with the seeds.  Michael Mellor and Tom Dickinson were just too strong for Jonanthan Lunt and Daniel Newman, winning a close semi-final 15/10.  Not wanting the pressure that was growing in the hall to drop, the second semi-final went even closer. Matthew Bergh and James Bridson had a long, hard game against Tom Davies and Jonny Marchbank, managing to edge the game 15/12.  This set up a final in the hall that we all wanted to see.

The girls doubles also went to form, the top seeds winning all their games with ease.   I must mention the spirit in the games up to now was second to none, although the girls were trying hard they were having a good laugh, which shows there is fun in sport.


The girls doubles final brought four friends together.  That would not hold back the players and with the skill on show we were in for a treat.  Charlotte Hall and Lucy Foster entered an early lead but it was not long before Gill Dabek and Sophie Richards were showing true form.  The game was one game to twenty-one and the lead swapped sides on a number of occasions which made the game very tense.  The only problem with this game was there could only be one winner.  Gill and Sophie were just too strong, but I can not wait for a rematch!  The final ended 21/19.  Well done girls, a great display of doubles badminton.

The next two finals were the singles.  Amanda and Gill were to produce a final worth watching: both girls can move around the court with ease and their shots are sublime.  In a "best of three games to 15" format, the first game saw Amanda lose 15/10, by now both players showing a bit of fatigue.  This did not stop the girls giving us a true feast of badminton.  Amanda took a further 13 points off Gill in the second game, losing 15/13.

The next final up was the boys singles - a young Michael Mellor and Jonathan Lunt.  The game started well and soon had the spectators attention in the hall.  The first game was as close as they come, Jonathan just edging Michael 15/14.  During the short break the tension began to show, and by the time Michael was ready to return he had lost the will he needed and lost the next game 15/4.  Congratulations to Jonathan who kept his composure at all times.

The last final of the day was the boys doubles ... could it be as close as the girls ... it looked that way on paper.

Michael Mellor needed to bounce back after the singles final.  He and Tom Dickinson did just that winning the first game 15/12, but  Matthew Bergh and James Bridson fought back and won the second 13/15.  With just one game left - the decider - Michael and Tom took an early lead which they kept to the end, winning 15/12.  Matthew and James made them work hard for this one, with a very strong late surge that put the wind up their opponents until the final point was won.

The final award of the day went to Daniel Newman, "Sportsperson 2002".  Keep up the good work Daniel, your sportsmanship is admired by all.

Click on the images of the winners and runners-up below to see larger photos.

b_c15b.jpg (61011 bytes) Boys Singles: Winner
Jonathan Lunt
b_c15f.jpg (53479 bytes) Girls Singles: Winner
Gill Dabek
b_c15d.jpg (60011 bytes) Boys Doubles: Winners
Michael Mellor
& Tom Dickinson
b_c15h.jpg (55920 bytes) Girls Doubles: Winners
Sophie Richards
& Gill Dabek

I would like to thank all the players who played today and also the parents, some of whom stayed all day to cheer the players on.  Without the support of the players and parents theses competitions will be lost.  Special thanks and best wishes go to Mrs Barrett who made a long journey to bring Amanda to the competition - hope to see you soon.

Tom Richards & John Dabek

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Junior County Status
23rd June 2002

After much debate it has now been determined that Merseyside, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Cheshire will compete in 2002/3 as separate junior counties.

During next season an infrastructure will be put in place that sees the North West move to a two-county junior structure for 2003/4: at this time the northern parts of Merseyside and Greater Manchester will merge with Lancashire, and the southern parts merge with Cheshire.

In 2002/3, however, the four counties will continue to have their own coaching and match infrastructure, allowing players to enjoy a last season together.  If everyone gets behind their counties it could prove to be a great season from a playing and entertainment perspective.

A development group, made up of representatives from the four counties, will work together to agree how the four counties will form into two in time for the 2003/4 junior county badminton season.  The aim of the group will be to establish badminton practice and match opportunities at a county standard for similar (and growing) numbers of players in all corners of the region.  So, by 2003/4, Lancashire and Cheshire should have established a coaching and playing set-up allowing players to receive local coaching, whilst providing the right level of competitive matches for as many players as possible.

In the 2002/3 season, then, my best advice is that players compete for their home county.  Players may practice and play for another county, but should give priority to their home county.  Your county is determined by where you live and/or go to school ... you can only play official matches for this county.

As a parent of two juniors currently playing for Merseyside, the only real issue for me is that our juniors are allowed to get access to badminton at their level, whilst being able to aspire to the next level and having opportunity to try to break in to that next level.  I believe the structure proposed here gives the best chance of achieving this.

I hope this clears some of the issues that may have been circulating over the past months and that you are somewhat clearer about the future.  Remember, anyone is allowed (encouraged) to come to a county practice and see if they have the ability to join the county squad.  If you have any issues whatsoever please will you raise it with myself or any other adult involved in junior badminton in the area, so that we can react to help you ... and hopefully gain/maintain your support.  As a parent I know that parental support is just as important as the juniors doing the work on court!

Watch this space for news of next season.  See you then.

Dave Miller

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2001/2 Annual Report: Merseyside Schools Badminton Association
11th June 2002

Nigel Priestley, Secretary, gave a foreword to the report, stating: "I would like to thank the committee for all their hard work throughout the season; it has been a pleasure working with them for the benefit of the players and it certainly has been a season with ups and downs and quite a number of challenges along the way.  The BA of E continues to bully us into non-existence but thanks to Ken Linforth, our esteemed Chairman, they have not succeeded to grind us to a halt just yet.

Yet again we are one of the top ten counties in the country, which is no mean feat and reflects upon the hard work by the players, coaches and parents.  To finish 8th, 4th and 10th in the ICT in successive years is a record, of which many counties would be envious and I am proud to be part of this organisation, one that our governing body steadfastly refuses to recognise.

The tough part now is to carry on the good work and aim for yet another top ten place and in order to do this more players must enter open tournaments to gain that valuable experience needed to compete at national level.  We did not qualify for the U13 and U15 Team Challenge finals again (three times in a row for the U13’s). 

Club leaders need to spread their net wider in order to search for talented youngsters (they’re out there and it’s a numbers game).  I did not get much feedback from club leaders this season, which tells me that we must be doing OK (there is always room for improvement, of course).

Once again there is Dave Miller’s brilliant Southport web site that has given us fantastic reports and photographs which those of us with access have much enjoyed.

Helen Davies has been recognised by England (this was a long time coming) and was selected to represent her country over in Ireland.  Well done Helen!

I would like to thank John Howell, Alan Jones, Paul Jones, Ken Linforth, Sara Linforth and Rob Sowden for their help in coaching the players.  I would especially like to thank Alan for all the work that he has done for the county for many years; he is stepping down from his position as U13 coach and MSBA will miss him very much."

Team Performances


The U11's played in this year’s ESBA Singles Challenge in York in April.  What a brilliant performance by the entire team!  Not only did they finish 2nd out of 7 northern counties, but four players made it into the northern team to play against area teams from Leicester, Stroud and Slough in Milton Keynes on 8th June (see National Performances).  In February there was also a practice match in Poynton at which the team came 1st out of four.


The U12's again had two trips to Rotherham in the North Midway League and was superbly managed by Carole James.  In the first match the team finished joint 5th out of 10 and the second match we were unlucky to finish 5th; as usual if 14-15 score lines had gone our way then we could have finished 3rd out of 8.  Our third match was the Yorkshire U12 Team Invitation, which saw one of the best team spirits from a young county side for a long time, coming a superb 3rd out of 9 and each player being presented with a well deserved bronze medal.  This team stands a good chance to qualify for next season’s Team Challenge.  Thank you to Carole, Team Manager.


Greater Manchester (H) 23-12 win

Cheshire (A) 13-4 win

Yorkshire B (H) 22-13 win

Team Challenge Qualifier 3rd/5 (did not qualify)

Shropshire (A) 9-7 win

Yorkshire (A) 9-44 loss

Staffordshire (H) 28-14 win


The squad had 7 practices, one was run by Sara Sankey.  The U13's just failed to qualify for the Team Challenge finals, but in friendly matches lost only once, to Yorkshire away.  The U13's has been a strong age group this year, supported by increased player participation creating competition for places (and also cover if players were unavailable).  It has been really refreshing to see that players (with the support of parents it has to be said) have been responding to selection invites for home and away games with no issues about distance to travel or whether someone might "get to play singles rather than doubles" etc.  Further, the team spirit at matches has been nothing short of brilliant this year, which is a tribute to the players, the managers, the parents and other spectators, and the total organisation of Merseyside as a county.  We are starting to feel like squads of players rather than groups of individuals.  Long may it continue.  Thanks to Dave Miller, Team Manager and Alan Jones, Squad Coach.




The U14's came 9th out of 10 in the October meeting in Rotherham.  The matches were closer than the scores suggest and all the players played their very best.


Merseyside 8 Derbyshire 2 (95/63)

Merseyside 5 Northumberland 5 (111/115)

Merseyside 4 Nottinghamshire 6 (98/120)

Merseyside 3 Lincolnshire 7 (97/127)

Merseyside 0 Warwickshire 10 (73/150)


Injuries and flu prevented any success in the second meeting and the team unfortunately finished bottom.  Thanks to Barry Foster, Team Manager for organising these matches.




Team Challenge Qualifier 4th/5 (did not qualify)

Cheshire (A) 4-12 loss
Greater Manchester (H) 10-9 win

Cheshire (H)9-7 win

Thank you to John Dabek and Tom Richards, Team Managers.


The team finished in second place in Rotherham, which is an outstanding achievement.  Thank you to Ian Proctor for managing the team into our highest ever U16 finish in the North Midway League.


The team was placed 10th in the ICT - see report below.  Special thanks go to John and Andrea Howell for giving up four days to manage the team into yet another top ten place.  Thanks also to John Howell for managing and coaching the squad.

Lancashire (H) 18-6 win
Shropshire (A) 16-5 win

Shropshire (H) 19-1 win

N.E.W.B.A. (H) 20-4 win
Cheshire (H) win


Roll of Honour

Harry Wright: North West Open (Blackpool) U17 Premier Singles & Doubles Winner
Harry Wright: ESBA Junior Challenge U17 Singles & Doubles Winner
Harry Wright: Nottinghamshire (Mansfield) U17 Premier Doubles Winner & Singles Finalist

Lynsey Aston: East U17 Premier Singles & Doubles Semi-finalist
Lynsey Aston: North West Open (Blackpool) U17 Premier Doubles Winner
Lynsey Aston: Midlands (Staffordshire) U17 Premier Singles Semi-finalist
Lynsey Aston: Midland Counties U17 Premier Singles Winner

Andrew Cooper: Liverpool Open U17 Standard Doubles Semi-finalist
Andrew Cooper: Durham Open U19 Singles Plate Winner & Doubles Semi-finalist

Andrew Hart: North East (Gateshead) U17 Standard Singles & Mixed Doubles Semi-finalist

Keith MacDonald: Liverpool Open U17 Standard Doubles Semi-finalist

Matthew Case-Upton: Liverpool Open U17 Standard Doubles Semi-finalist

Helen Davies: Liverpool Open U17 Premier Singles Winner
Helen Davies: Cheshire SENIOR Restricted Singles Finalist (not National but a fantastic performance)
Helen Davies: Midland Counties U17 Premier Singles Finalist
Helen Davies: North East (Gateshead) U17 Premier Singles Semi-finalist
Helen Davies: North West Open (Blackpool) U17 Premier Singles Winner
Helen Davies: Represented Cheshire Senior Team
Helen Davies: Newtownabbey U17 INTERNATIONAL Doubles Quarter-finalist

Becky Howell: Liverpool Open U17 Intermediate Doubles Champion
Becky Howell: North East (Gateshead) U17 Standard Singles Winner & Mixed Doubles Semi-finalist
Becky Howell: Midlands (Staffordshire) U17 Intermediate Singles Winner (thus attaining Premier)

Graham Priestley: Liverpool Open U15 Premier Mixed Doubles Finalist
Graham Priestley: ESBA Lancashire (Blackpool) U15 Premier Singles 3rd Place
Graham Priestley: Cheshire Open U15 Doubles Winners, Mixed Finalists & Singles Semi-finalist

Gill Dabek: Liverpool Open U15 Premier Mixed Doubles Finalist
Gill Dabek: ESBA Lancashire (Blackpool) U15 Mixed Doubles Finalists
Gill Dabek: Cheshire Open U15 Mixed Doubles Finalists

Stephanie James: Notts (Mansfield) U13 Mixed Doubles Plate Winners & Main Doubles Semi-finalist
Stephanie James: Yorkshire U12 Doubles Finalists

Tara Priestley: 7th - ESBA U11 Singles Challenge Final (Milton Keynes)

Nicola Poole: 21st - ESBA U11 Singles Challenge Final (Milton Keynes)

Emily Miller: 15th - ESBA U11 Singles Challenge Final (Milton Keynes)

Daniel Wolfenden: 17th - ESBA U11 Singles Challenge Final (Milton Keynes)

Michael Mellor: accepted for the World Class Start Programme

Merseyside "restricted" tournament results (U12, U13, U15) are shown below in separate articles.  And finally, thank you to Jean Dean, Tom Richards, Daniel Wright and Sophie Richards for organising and managing a hugely successful tournament with around 50 entries.  This is well up on last year and has raised some funds for Merseyside.  Well done!

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Merseyside Shine in National U11 Singles
8th June 2002

Following the U11 Singles Qualifier in York on 20th April (see article below) four Merseyside players travelled to the National Badminton Centre in Milton Keynes for the National Singles Challenge Final.  Daniel Wolfenden, Tara Priestley, Emily Miller and Nicola Poole made up four of the 12 player team representing the North of England, joined by three from Yorkshire, two from Greater Manchester, one from Northumberland, one from Cheshire and one from Lancashire.  Mark Middleton (Yorkshire) won the singles title (holding the trophy in photo below), whilst Alyssa Lim (Buckinghamshire) won the girls.

The players present represented the top players in the country at their age, and just qualifying was an achievement in itself.  There were no poor players and certainly no easy games, so the results achieved by the Merseyside players were outstanding:

Tara Priestley - 7th
Emily Miller - 15th
Daniel Wolfenden - 17th
Nicola Poole - 21st

The team event saw the North (named the "New York Yankees" for the day) come 3rd out of the 4 regions, but the margin was so close that only 14 points separated the first three teams (where the winner gained 24 team points, down to the 24th player who claimed one point).

Merseyside should feature well again next year, with five players looking good enough to make the grade (given no bad luck in the qualifying draw).

Well done to all the players: it was enjoyable to watch and to see such competence, huge effort and good temper combined in the play.

b_cmk.jpg (144950 bytes) North of England U11 Team
3rd left: Emily Miller
4th left: Tara Priestley
5th left: Nicola Poole
2nd right: Daniel Wolfenden

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Team U12 - York
28th April 2002

b_c12y1.jpg (119490 bytes) Back: Tom Wolfenden, Jack Foster, Jonathan Davies, Michael Mellor, Daniel Wolfenden, Matthew Aughton
Front: Steph James, Emily Miller, Steph Hall, Tara Priestley, Nicola Poole, Kathleen Turner
b_c12y2.jpg (126049 bytes)
b_c12y7.jpg (197287 bytes) After receipt of their bronze medals
b_c12y8.jpg (127801 bytes)

Yorkshire's annual U12 Invitation Team Event took place at the York Railway Institute on Sunday 28th April, with Merseyside recording their best finish in recent years.  The 6x6 team produced a terrific performance, beating Nottinghamshire (consistently one of the strongest northern junior counties) on their way to 3rd place - and receipt of bronze medals.

The 9 teams were pooled into two groups in the morning, Merseyside first lost to the eventual winners, Yorkshire, 2-5, before recording 4-3 wins against Leicestershire and then Lincolnshire.  The format (1 boys singles, 1 girls singles, 1 mixed doubles, 2 boys doubles and 2 girls doubles) suited Merseyside's team, with established doubles pairs and two exciting number 1 players, Michael Mellor and Stephanie James, playing some singles.  The morning's success placed the team second in their group and thus matched them against the top teams from the other group in the afternoon.

We (sorry ... the parents) thought the team was about to get a lesson in quality badminton, but we must be underestimating how far the players have come as they set about Notts with no thought of capitulation.  Team manager Carole James (to whom thanks go for her organisation) read the match perfectly, countering the Notts move to play their strength in the levels, instead using Jonathan Davies and Tara Priestley in the singles and Michael and Steph James in the mixed ... 3-0 to Merseyside.  Kathleen Turner and Nicola Poole nearly produced the result of the day, narrowly losing 1st girls 11-15, but then Daniel and Tom Wolfenden took 2nd boys 15-14 (having been 6-13 down and saving several game points) and Emily Miller and Stephanie Hall won 2nd girls 15-10 (from 6-10 down).  Match result 5-2.

As has been discussed on other occasions, every point and every game counts in a match.  In this case it was the final match against Staffordshire, when the team went 1-4 down after the Wolfenden brothers lost a terrific game 14-15.  Having thought the chance of a medal had gone, Emily and Steph Hall then took the final game of the day leaving the match result 2-5.  The finishing positions were not clear until the presentations, when results were given in reverse order and Merseyside were not in 9th through to 4th spots!  With Notts, Staffs and Mersey all recording 1 win in the top group, a games count back gave 2nd spot to Staffs (8 games), 3rd to Mersey (7 games) and 4th to Notts (6 games).  One more game in the Mersey/Staffs match would have produced 2nd place ... one less game and the team might have dropped to 4th (and out of the medals).

Jack Foster had some tough matches during the day, but showed that his game is improving all the time.  Matthew Aughton made his debut for the county and was neither overawed nor outclassed on the day, playing well throughout.  The result and the day was a high spot for Merseyside's younger players.

Thanks as always to all parents and other spectators for supporting the players and the county.  Sue Foster, Yorkshire organiser, team manager and tireless worker for Yorkshire junior badminton, spoke to all players and spectators during the medal presentations (see photos above) supporting Merseyside's call to be allowed by the Badminton Association of England to continue to run their junior county.  She noted the county's background work and performance on court, suggesting junior badminton should be left to be run by those that know and understand this sector of the game.  Coming from a Yorkshire junior representative, where more has been done for junior badminton than anywhere else in the north of England, the words are well received.  Perhaps someone in a position of authority will let common sense prevail and make a bold decision before it is too late!

Finally, Merseyside's cheer squad worked tirelessly all day, beating more empty shuttle tubes on the ground and creating more noise than the other counties put together.  Team spirit result - a clear win.  Mouth of the day - Steph Hall!!

The team (refer to photo top centre):
Back: Tom Wolfenden, Jack Foster, Jonathan Davies, Michael Mellor, Daniel Wolfenden, Matthew Aughton
Front: Stephanie James, Emily Miller, Stephanie Hall, Tara Priestley, Nicola Poole, Kathleen Turner

Dave Miller

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U11 County Singles Challenge
20th April 2002

The English Schools' Badminton Association U11 County Singles Challenge took place at the York Railway Institute on Saturday 20th April.  The event sees northern counties compete for best team, with players also ranked individually with reward for top 6 finishers of a trip to the National Badminton Centre in June to represent the north competing against other regions.  And what a day it proved to be.  You watch a lot of games (in any sport) knowing that the one that makes your dinner time story telling list will one day jump up and bite you ... we got bitten!

Merseyside had a team of youth and experience (if that is possible at U11) with 4 of the team returning after last year's inaugural event: Daniel Wolfenden, Tara Priestley, Emily Miller and Becky Hurst (see separate report in the Merseyside Juniors Archive).  Of the others, Richard Bergh, Robert Avery and Tom Wolfenden are eligible again next year (as is Becky - Tom for two more after that).  Nicola Poole very ably made up the 8.

The morning saw players compete in groups of 4, with placings determining afternoon groups.  You need a slice of luck in the make-up of your morning group - as lower ranked Yorkshire players (for example) can easily upset the order of things - Robert, Richard and Becky all drew that 'challenge'.  Each got into groups for 3rd/4th placed finishers in the afternoon, showing their true level coming 1st, 2nd (to Robert) and 1st respectively.  Well played.

Tom Wolfenden played well to finish second in his morning group, which put him in with the 'big guns' after lunch.  He couldn't quite manage a win then, though did take 5 points (all games to 11) off the eventual 4th placed player.  No worries ... he will worry players enough over the next 3 years in this event!

The rest of the team also finished first or second in their morning groups, giving them a shot at the 1st/2nd placed players in the afternoon.  Six players in each group - top 3 qualify for Milton Keynes.  Daniel Wolfenden beat his brother and two others to claim 3rd place in his group and gain selection for the MK challenge ... brilliant.  Nicola Poole lost twice, then beat Yorkshire 3rd and 4th girls to gain 3rd place and selection ... doubly brilliant.  Emily Miller did it the hard way, losing to 2nd ranked players from Northumberland and Yorkshire before beating the same counties' 1st ranked girls 11-10 and 11-8 and securing selection to MK on a points count back (having thought the chance had gone) ... trebbly brilliant.

Tara Priestley gave only 3 points away in the morning, then set about each of her opponents in the afternoon with staying power and great touch to win her 5 afternoon group games against some very tough opposition (including Sarah Milne, Yorkshire no. 1, who only lost to Tara and Emily all day).  This put Tara top, along with the player winning the parallel 1st/2nd placed group, her ESBA partner Hayley Rogers, Cheshire no. 1.  Everyone plays a final game against their parallel group equivalent, and in the girls final Tara could not counter Hayley's terrific energy levels and accurate shot making.  But 2nd place overall is no mean achievement - something to be very proud of and a fourth Merseyside player at Milton Keynes ... quite simply outstanding.

The ICT is the pinnacle of junior badminton (see report below) and Merseyside produced their third successive top ten finish this month.  The foundation for more of the same comes from players 5, 6, 7 and sometimes 8 years their junior setting out on the county competition trail.  The U11 event in York saw the start of some good things to come from these players.  And it was so refreshing to see them clearly playing for the love of the game ... positive comments came from other counties about the attitude of our players to the game.

On a final note, it shows that listening and learning is always a part of improving.  The girls tried using the court more fully during a knock up over lunch.  They put their 'new' drop shot to such good effect in the afternoon that it can safely be said that it gained Merseyside two extra places at Milton Keynes.  We named the shot the "Merseysider"!

Oh, and another note.  Never assume your own son/daughter cannot win a game, no matter how unlikely it seems.  I made that fatal error when Emily went on to play the Yorkshire no. 1, went to fill in the score sheets at the other end of the hall, forgot about the encounter, and missed every shot of the win.  You can wait years for a moment like that!

b_c11b.jpg (128278 bytes) b_c11c.jpg (112631 bytes) U11 Team
Back: Daniel Wolfenden, Tom Wolfenden, Richard Bergh, Robert Avery
Front: Nicola Poole, Becky Hurst, Emily Miller, Tara Priestley

The event was won by Yorkshire, with Merseyside second.  Individual Merseyside finishes were:

Boys /26
Daniel Wolfenden 6
Tom Wolfenden 12
Robert Avery 14
Richard Bergh 16
Girls /24
Tara Priestley 2
Nicola Poole 5
Emily Miller 6
Becky Hurst 13

Dave Miller

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Inter Counties Tournament
4th - 7th April 2002

Merseyside competed in the 2002 ICT, the 'Jewel in the Crown' of junior badminton events.  Principally for players in the U17 age group, the Inter Counties Tournament is played at Nottingham University over a four day residential period and, on average, 35 teams of five girls, five boys assemble for a period of tough competition and enjoyment.

John Howell (Team Manager) reports ...

Day 1

It has to be understood that every match is a tactical equation of strengths and weaknesses and every point vital no matter what the overall score, as highlighted by our match against Hertfordshire. Your final placing is dictated by each individual group placing, and this year we certainly didn’t get the kindest of draws, which when I studied it, meant that a top 20 place would be an achievement. Our team, however, responded magnificently. The first and vital opening game (lose this one and we would be looking at a 17-37 position) against Lincolnshire (certainly no pushovers, four premier girls and two premier boys) was going to be a stiff test, but I needn’t have worried. The whole team performed magnificently and we came out winners, 9-1. Special note to Graham and Alex who beat David Mumby & Kevin Herring 21 –18 and Grahams’ singles 21-13 against Kevin Herring.

Northamptonshire were next and on paper we were favourites. Gill made her I.C.T. debut with Becky in the girls doubles and Andrew Hart in the mixed, winning both matches. The match turned out to be a comfortable victory 10-0.

Our final match that day, a 7.45 p.m. start at the University, was against the No. 8 seeds Hertfordshire. The girl’s line up was frightening, four premier players of which two were England players, this is were tactics start to matter.  Harry & Graham took both singles, Becky and Katie played the girls singles allowing me to put Lynsey and Helen in the mixed and Helen and Becky in the 2nd girls doubles. Even though I say it myself, this was a masterstroke, we duly won the mixed which meant we were 5-4 down with one to play. All other matches had finished, we had been an court for two hours and Helen and Becky had to play Sam Alexander (England) and Fiona Perry. With the whole hall watching the decibel level at an all time high, Helen and Becky took the match 21-16 giving us a 5-5 draw. I visibly aged, a points count back. 162-161 to Merseyside, this is what it’s about!

Day 2

Our prize for the previous days efforts was a group consisting of Yorkshire, Essex and Gtr. Manchester. The Essex game was a bit of an anticlimax after the night before, losing 6-4, but we got back to our winning ways with a great win against a strong Manchester side 6-4.

Yorkshire was the final game that day and Gill stepped in for the experience. A special mention to Andrew Hart for a great win against Michael Wilson 21-13. Harry won his singles 21-10 against Anthony Ellis with the overall result 8-2 to Yorkshire.

The results meant that we now had a chance of finishing in the top ten, two matches on the Saturday and one on the Sunday, we now had our musical supporters to accompany Lynsey.

Day 3

Saturday, and first up were the 3rd Seeds Surrey, two England girls two England boys. Harry and Becky gave us a great start, winning first mixed against Christ Langridge and Jenny Norsworth 21-17. But the game that really had us going, Lynsey against the girl with the equity card Jenny Bilton, Lynsey winning 21-12 although Lynsey did spend more time waiting and entertaining the audience than playing.

The two Andy’s, Hart and Cooper, will also not forget the first boys doubles - they didn’t stop talking about it for the remainder of the I.C.T. - a convincing 21-8 win against Matthew Honey and Ben Gardner.  What a win 7-3, we really did have a chance of finishing in the top 10.

Our final game on Saturday was against Sussex and for me the best team in depth we played apart from Yorkshire. The match could have gone either way, but we just missed out, losing 6-4 with Andrew Hart and Katie having a great win at 2nd mixed and Harry having a Titanic battle against Dean George winning 21-18.

Day 4

The final match, at 12.30 p.m. Sunday, was against Norfolk - they had beaten Surrey 7-3 and were a strong side. They were playing us for the vital final top ten position. Saturday night was Disco night, would we be ready for this vital game?

I had decided that all the players would take part in the final match so we had to get it right tactically. Our supporters were up for it, horns, hooters, anything we could make a noise with. The first two games on court, the mixed - Harry and Becky, Graham and Gill. I had planned on one all after the mixed, having looked at Norfolk’s previous results. Harry and Becky won as I anticipated 21-4, but what a performance by Graham and Gill, they comfortably out-played their opponents winning 21-8.

Helen looked a bit weary after the previous night and at 15-5 down against Katherine Cooper I was contemplating two all after the girls singles, as Lynsey was up against another England International, Charity Barnes. I’m not sure what happened, maybe the noise woke Helen up, but suddenly she became the player we know, grinding out every point and finally winning 21-19 to give us a 3-1 lead. The boys singles were next and Harry was up against Tim Davies who had beaten Dean George of Sussex easily.

‘Cometh The Hour’ Harry Wright (England) proved his rightful position with a faultless display of superb badminton, winning 21-7 ... now 4-1. Andrew Hart suffered in his singles and he and Alex suffered the same fate in the boy’s doubles now 4-3. Tactics again came to the forefront, Andrew Cooper and Graham were paired for the first time and what a display, winning 21-9 against Sam Butcher and David Miles.

This left our strength in depth, the girls doubles, and with Lynsey and Helen beating Charity and Katherine 21-9, and Becky and Katie winning 21-1, giving us a victory margin of 7-3 and a well deserved 10th place. Ninth position was almost in our grasp as Surrey drew 5-5 with Sussex but unfortunately lost on points.

The Squad

Harry Wright, Andrew Cooper, Graham Priestly, Andrew Hart, Alex Bergh
Lynsey Aston, Helen Davies, Becky Howell, Katie Marchbank, Gill Dabek

The Results

Merseyside V Lincolnshire 9 - 1
Merseyside V Northamptonshire 10 - 0
Merseyside V Hertfordshire 5 - 5
Merseyside V Essex 4 - 6
Merseyside V Gtr. Manchester 6 - 4
Merseyside V Yorkshire 2 - 8
Merseyside V Surrey 7 - 3
Merseyside V Sussex 4 - 6
Merseyside V Norfolk 7 - 3

Finally, I must pay tribute to our senior players, Harry, Lynsey, Becky, and Helen, all of whom had been before and I may have taken some of their anticipated results for granted.  The rest of the squad will testify that any victory at the ICT has to be earned.

Andrew Hart, I’m sure, would not mind me praising him for the way he conducted himself on court. Sometimes Andrews passion gets the better of him, but, after a mini wobble on the first day, he was an example to us all.

The rest of the team, Andrew, Alex, Graham, Katie (happy birthday to you) and Gill all played their part in a magnificent four days badminton and, without doubt, the name of Merseyside will ring in all of our opponents' ears.

Of 39 teams invited this year, the top 10 places went to:

1st Yorkshire
2nd Nottinghamshire
3rd Middlesex
4th Leicestershire
5th Leinster
6th Essex
7th Gloucestershire
8th Staffordshire
9th Sussex
10th Merseyside

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Merseyside U12 Tournament
7th April 2002

Merseyside U12s played their end of season 'restricted' tournament (open to Merseyside based players only) at Holly Lodge Girls School, Liverpool, on Sunday 7th April 2002.  And it was a 'seeds' day, with the finals being contested by the top ranked players.

The singles' winners showed that they are a cut above the rest, with Stephanie James and Michael Mellor playing outstanding badminton.  Stephanie's footwork and shot making were as good as ever.  Michael's display was one of the best by a Merseyside player at U13 or younger seen in the last three years ... Richard Dundas is a talented player but had no answer on the day for his opponent's pace and finesse.

Some of the best rallies of the day came when Stephanie Hall was playing, as the shuttle is simply never 'dead' when she plays!  Notable performances in the round-robin stages came from Kristian Byrne (finishing second in his group), Daniel Wolfenden (winning his), Becky Hurst and Stephanie Hall (both second in their groups).  There were encouraging performances from many of the other players, some of whom were making their first appearance at this level ... don't be put off by the high standard of some the opposition - use it as a target at which to aim your own game.

The results were:

  Winner Runner Up
Boys Singles Michael Mellor Richard Dundas
Girls Singles Stephanie James Tara Priestley
Boys Doubles Michael Mellor
Richard Dundas
Jonathan Davies
Daniel Wolfenden
Girls Doubles Stephanie James
Tara Priestley
Emily Miller
Stephanie Hall

Click on the thumbnail image below to see the winners and runners-up.

b_c12f.jpg (116913 bytes) Event winners and runners-up:
Back: Richard Dundas, Stephanie James, Michael Mellor, Tara Priestley
Front: Stephanie Hall, Emily Miller, Jonathan Davies, Daniel Wolfenden

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U12s Mid Way in North Midway
24th March 2002

Merseyside put in a good days work to finish 5th out of 8 in the North Midway League at Rotherham on Sunday 24th March.  The team started with a heavy 2-8 defeat to one of the strongest junior counties in the country, Notts.  They used their "warm up" well, as they then beat Warwicks by the same margin ... Daniel Wolfenden managed to beat younger brother Tom 15-14 in 2nd boys doubles, as Tom made the numbers up for Warwicks who were missing a player.  Similarly Stephanie Hall played for Notts and came away with a runners-up medal - Mersey having taken two extra players.

The team needed to beat Lincs in the final match of the morning to qualify for the top half of the draw in the afternoon, but were unlucky to miss out 4-6 with two games being lost by the odd point.  That put Mersey into the lower half in the afternoon, where they managed to dispatch both Yorks 2 (8-2) and Greater Manchester (7-3), giving them 5th overall.  Yorkshire 1 won the event.  Well done to a team with half its players available again next year, with one player, Tom Wolfenden, available for the next four years!

The team: Michael Mellor, Jonathan Davies, Daniel Wolfenden, Jack Foster, Tom Wolfenden, Stephanie James, Tara Priestley, Kathleen Turner, Emily Miller and Stephanie Hall.

Click on the thumbnail images for enlargements of the team photos.

b_c12rtha.JPG (123359 bytes) b_c12rthb.JPG (104864 bytes) U12 Team
Back: Jonathan Davies,Jack Foster, Michael Mellor, Daniel Wolfenden, Tom Wolfenden
Front: Kathleen Turner, Tara Priestley, Emily Miller, Stephanie James (Stephanie Hall not shown)

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Merseyside U17 20 v NEWBA U17 4
3rd March 2002

This was an excellent result with some good performances.  Merseyside again had strength in depth winning all six girls singles and three girls double.  NEWBA put up much more of a fight in the boys singles with Martin Tullett giving Harry Wright a tough game, Harry winning 21-13 and David Robinson beating a late night Andrew Hart (early to bed at the ICT) 21-1.  Alex Cooper and Ben Proctor who played two singles had convincing wins against good opposition and Alex Bergh proved he’s still a better doubles player, although his singles is improving.

The girls, Lynsey, Helen, Becky, Gill and Laura all had convincing wins in their singles and even without Lynsey for the doubles Helen & Becky proved much too strong for a good NEWBA pair of Rachael Madeley and Lorna Barton in the top girls doubles.  Becky teamed up with Katie and won comfortably against the NEWBA 2nd pair winning 21-2 Laura and Gill playing together for the first time played a hard match winning 21-10.

John Howell

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U13s Beat Stafford
3rd March 2002

The U13s recorded a comfortable win against Staffordshire on Sunday 24th February at Holly Lodge School.  Merseyside were matched for ability in the girls, with the 12 singles ending 6-6, but the under strength Staffs boys were no match for some of Merseyside's best players, Mersey winning 9-1.  The U13 team has played well all season, showing strength both in doubles and singles, with this match no exception ... the eventual result 28-14.  Well done.

The team: Michael Mellor, Michael Stanley, Tom Dickinson, Tom Davies, Peter Hanmer, Jonathan Davies, Stephanie James, Laura Gillett, Kirstin Miller, Kathleen Turner, Emily Miller, Nicola Poole.

On Sunday 3rd March Sara Sankey ran a coaching session for 16 players in the U13 squad at Chesterfield High School.  The opportunity was much appreciated by the players, and it gave the opportunity for our future stars to take some tips from a present England player.

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Debuts for Youngest Players
16th February 2002

Merseyside's U11 team played in Poynton, Cheshire, on Saturday 16th February, against Cheshire, Greater Manchester and an invitation team (replacing Yorkshire who withdrew at the last minute).  With this being the first outing this season for the youngest competitive age group, no fewer than half the team were making their county debut.  And what a debut it was, as the team managed a win by the narrowest of margins - a single point!

With narrow wins against the invitation team (11-9) and Cheshire (12-8) the result was decided on the match with Greater Manchester, which, at 10-10, went to a points count back - going 228-227 in favour of Merseyside.  Who says every point doesn't count!

But the strength of this match was in the potential of the players themselves, who played very well and very fair throughout.  And it was the strength in depth of the team that won the day, as 8 out of the top 8 singles (including cross-overs) were lost in the Manchester match, but 7/8 of the 3rd and 4th player singles went to Merseyside.  The team held out for a draw by virtue of winning 3/4 of the doubles.

Well done to Daniel Wolfenden, Richard Bergh, Robert Avery, Tom Wolfenden, Nicola Poole, Emily Miller, Becky Hurst and Stephanie Hall.

Click on the photos to see larger team shots.

b_c11ch1.jpg (69417 bytes) U11 Team
Back: Emily Miller, Stephanie Hall, Becky Hurst, Nicola Poole
Front: Daniel Wolfenden, Richard Bergh, Tom Wolfenden, Robert Avery
b_c11ch2.jpg (64599 bytes) Call this a team?!!!
b_c11ch3.jpg (61824 bytes) Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and invitation teams

Dave Miller

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Merseyside Update
12th February 2002 

The under 15s struggled against a surprisingly powerful Shropshire side on Sunday 27th January.

Barry Foster took the under 14s to Rotherham in the North Midway League on 3rd Feb but Lucy Foster went down with flu and Gill Dabek was unavailable. The team finished last but the games were a lot closer than the scores suggested.  Thank you Barry for organising the side.

The under 16s finished 2nd in the North Midway League at Rotherham on 10th February: many thanks to Ian Proctor for managing the side. The team only lost to Leicestershire but beat Durham, Lincolnshire and Greater Manchester.  A fine day out for the following players: Graham Priestley, Ben Proctor, Keith MacDonald, Matthew Case-Upton, Robert Marchbank, Helen Davies, Rachelle Alty, Laura Temple, Alison Miller and Janine Brunton.  Everyone played exceedingly well according to Ian.

It is really great that there are many opportunities for our youngsters to represent the county at an incredibly high level.  We couldn't do this without the aid of our team managers and I would like to thank them all again for their time, which they give up in abundance.

Nigel Priestley

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U15 v Cheshire
20th January 2002


On the 20th January the above under 15 team played Cheshire at Holly Lodge.  The match was played in good spirit by both teams.  The first games played were the mixed doubles.  Graham and Gill showed how strong they are by giving Merseyside a good start with a 21/7 win; the improving Alex and Alison also came out on top with a hard fought game ending 21/17.  By the time the mixed doubles were over we were leading the match 3-1, with David and Kayleigh providing the third win 21/10.  Andrew and Sophie fought well but were overpowered by their opponents 11/21.

The doubles games saw the team extend the lead by a further 2 games.  Graham and Alex were comfortable winners, never really moving into second gear, 21/6.  Andrew and David found their opponents too strong losing their game 11/21, both players showing true commitment, fighting to the end.  The girls won both their games with ease, Gill and Alison showing why they are number one and two, winning 21/8.  Sophie and Kayleigh also played well together only allowing their opponents to score 10 points.

Merseyside had moved into a 6-2 lead and were looking forward to the singles.   Cheshire could still turn this game around with good performances.  The first singles games were played by Graham and Gill.  Graham again showing the way with a comfortable 21/12 win.  Gill’s game on the other hand was a close fought game watched by most in the hall; the game had it all - skill, speed, tactics - and by the end two exhausted players ready for home and a hot bath.  Although Gill eventually lost the game 21/20 it could have gone either way.

Spectators soon found themselves enthralled in another game; Alex had started slowly and was losing his game ... were Cheshire on the way back?  After another long, hard fought game Alex came out on top winning 21/19.  The tension was building, Merseyside were now only one of game away from an outright win.  Alison was to provide this with a comfortable 21/12 victory.  Sophie was on court next and only allowed her opponent to gain 10 points.  Next up for the girls was Kayleigh providing Merseyside with another win 21/13.  The last two boys games finished the day with Andrew being outgunned by a strong singles player and David supplying us with another nail biter, edging to a 21/19 victory.

On behalf of John Dabek and myself I would like to thank all the players for the hard work put into winning this match.  This was a true team effort.

Tom Richards

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Yorkshire Too Good in U13 Reverse
20th January 2002

Nobody was taking anything for granted in the rematch against Yorkshire U13s - they are too strong a county for that.  Merseyside's team was different to last time (top boy and girl missing) and Yorkshire had a stronger team than before.  The gulf in standard was evident from the start as the boys and girls doubles went to Yorkshire 3-1, followed by the first round of singles which the Yorkshire boys took 4-1 and girls took 6-1.  Michael Mellor recorded an excellent 15-6 win and Tara Priestley came out on top 15-8.

The match was played on 4 courts and the format treated flexibly enough to give everyone as many games as possible.  The attitude of the Yorkshire players (even in games where they were clearly stronger) was excellent, making our players work for every point yet being fair and friendly too.  Thanks to Sue Foster (Yorkshire coach) for her efforts there.

Some of Merseyside's best play came in the mixed, which, though only one game was won, saw 8 of the 11 Merseyside pairs get to double figures.  Tom Dickinson and Kirstin Miller had a terrific 17-16 win; Michael Stanley and Kirstin lost setting, as did Jonathan Davies and Kathleen TurnerCharlotte Hall was picked out by Sue Foster for her excellent mixed doubles play - well done.

For those that were counting, the match was won 44-9 by Yorkshire, though this meeting was more about practice and experience gained by the players, allowing them to learn what they can and can't get away with at this level.  Thanks go, as always, to the adults and younger spectators for travelling and supporting the players.

The Merseyside team was Michael Stanley, Michael Mellor, Tom Dickinson, Jonathan Davies, Jay Browne, Charlotte Hall, Laura Gillett, Kirstin Miller, Tara Priestley and Kathleen Turner.

Dave Miller, Team Manager

b_c13yo.jpg (100102 bytes) U13 Team
Back: Charlotte Hall, Kirstin Miller, Kathleen Turner, Laura Gillett, Tara Priestley
Front: Michael Stanley, Michael Mellor, Jonathan Davies
(Tom Dickinson and Jay Browne not shown)

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U15 v Greater Manchester
6th January 2002

Greater Manchester arrived with 6 boys and 4 girls promptly in their colour co-ordinated kit (including managers), shaming us who only arrived 10 minutes early. They could only find 4 girls.

Our boys were Rob Marchbank, Jonny Marchbank, Matt Bergh, Andrew Davies, Daniel Newman and David Farrell.  The girls were represented by Gill Dabek, Alison Miller, Lucy Foster and Charlotte Hall.

We decided to play all games to 21, starting with level doubles. Robert and Matthew met Joe Chan and Graham Wade and were taken out game love rather quickly. (We were told their boys would be strong). Jonny and Andrew scored 11 against Rishi and Alex. Daniel and David were, however, successful against Marcus and Sam beating them game 16.

The girls were more successful. Gill and Alison beat Steph and Megan game 2, and Lucy and Charlotte repeated the treatment taking their opponents out for 5.

Four mixed doubles games were played. Gill and Rob were beaten 21-8 by Graham Wade and Stephanie Taylor. Charlotte and Andrew had a similar defeat by Fiona and Joseph Chan, 21-9. Matt and Alison won their game convincingly 21-4 against Marcus and Joanna whilst Jonny and Lucy beat Rebecca and Alex 21-13.

In the boys singles we lost all but one - surprise of the day was David beating Sam 21-3. Daniel lost his game 21-18 so that was pretty close too.

We won all girls singles. Stephanie from Manchester got 10 against Gill. Stephanie is a good player to watch out for. Megan got 13 against Alison, young Fiona got 5 against Charlotte and Lucy won convincingly against Joanna 21-2.

We won 10 games to 9.

Having found some spare time following the match we treated it as an opportunity to practice with Manchester which went down well. Many thanks for the good gamesmanship. No iffy calls, no gamesmanship – just pure badminton. Many thanks to GM for coming over to the 'Pool.

John Dabek, Team Manager

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U17s & U13s Successful in Shropshire
6th January 2002


Team: Andrew Cooper, Graham Priestley, Matthew Case-Upton, Alex Berg, Ben Proctor, Lindsey Aston, Helen Davies, Becky Howell, Katie Marchbank, Rachel Alty.

This was an excellent win for Merseyside, 16-5, against a stronger Shropshire side than in our last encounter.  The result was never in any doubt and the whole team performed extremely well, especially as I was trying out different pairings.  Special mention to Graham Priestley and Ben Proctor for some great singles performances.  It was also great to see some of our future stars playing in the U13 match (see below).  On a personal note I must remember to wear ear plugs when Lynsey & Becky are in the same car.


Merseyside U13s recorded a terrific 9-7 win against Shropshire on Sunday, 6th January 2002, in what was a very friendly and competitive match.  With a few top players not selected for this match, hard work had to be put in by every player, with the result undecided until the last moments of the match.

The team of 4 boys and 4 girls played all games in a "best of 3" format, with no hint of deciding third games required in the opening mixed as Shropshire took 1st and 3rd, with Merseyside replying with 2nd and 4th by 2-0 margins.  Having got the cob-webs out of the system the singles started with good wins for Merseyside's Michael Stanley (1st) and Tom Dickinson (2nd) in the boys, whilst Kirstin Miller (1st) and Tara Priestley (2nd) were worn down by larger and stronger opponents after encouraging early encounters by both.

It was the 3rd and 4th singles in both boys and girls that really saw the match take off, as Peter Hanmer (3rd) had a titanic struggle, going down 14-17, 17-15, 11-15, and Jonathan Davies (4th) just missing out 6-15, 15-9, 7-15.  It was the girls' turn this time to end up with the wins, as Emily Miller (3rd) worked hard to gain a 13-12, 11-4 win, followed by Becky Hurst (4th) who, after winning the first game 13-10 and thinking the game was over (!) ... looked out of the contest in the second, going down 4-11 ... then played an intelligent and battling game in the decider, coming from 2-10 down to take it 11-10.  The match sat poised at 6-6.

The level doubles saw no let up in 3 game encounters, with first Kirstin and Tara just missing out 15-5, 4-15, 12-15, and Michael and Tom winning 6-15, 15-11, 15-8.  It was left to the last two games to decide the match and, despite the best efforts of Shropshire and with time called on the courts, Peter and Jonathan came off after one game winning 15-5, followed moments later by Emily and Becky who had just enough left in the tank to win 13-15, 15-12, 15-10.

It was a great match to watch and, with such level teams, was good experience and rewarding for the players.  Well done.  And, of course, thank you as always to the families for driving and supporting the team.

Click on the thumbnail image below to see an enlarged photo of the U13 team.

b_c13shr.jpg (71047 bytes) U13 Team
Back: Tom Dickinson, Peter Hanmer, Jonathan Davies, Michael Stanley
Front: Kirstin Miller, Becky Hurst, Emily Miller, Tara Priestley

Dave Miller, Team Manager

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Stephanie James Wins in Notts
3rd January 2002

Stephanie James played in the Nottinghamshire Under 13 in Mansfield over the Christmas holiday and won the plate mixed doubles with her partner, Ryan Koslicki.  Stephanie also got to the semi finals in the main girls doubles.  Stephanie plays in the Southport Junior League.  Very well done!

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U15s & U13s Near Miss in Team Challenge
1st December 2001

Merseyside Under 13's and under 15's just missed out on qualifying for the Team Challenge finals in Luton.  The event took place in a converted aircraft hanger near Market Drayton in Shropshire on Saturday 1st December.  The available courts were restricted by the damp atmosphere and the struggle to get the courts dry.  Both teams came 3rd and only two qualify - those being Greater Manchester and Staffordshire in both age groups.


In the U13 event the team started off by beating Shropshire 5-1, enabling some of our notorious slow starters to emerge unscathed!  This set the players up for the Staffordshire match, but despite the efforts of Michael Mellor (winning 2nd boys singles 21-7) and Michael Stanley & Tom Dickinson (winning the boys doubles 21-19), the match slipped away 2-4.  This put the emphasis onto the Greater Manchester match, but again, a terrific performance in the 1st girls singles by Stephanie James (winning 21-11) and in the girls doubles (21-5) by Tara Priestley & Emily Miller, were not quite enough and the match got away 2-4.  Kirstin Miller played well at 2nd girls singles, just missing out 18-21 ... so close!  The final match was a dead rubber, with both teams out of the running, but the Merseyside players put in some hard work to earn a 6-0 win against Cheshire.  Tara Priestley had her usual titanic struggle against the younger of the Rogers sisters, coming out 21-16 to the good.

The team just missed out with 2-4 defeats against the two qualifiers, something which suggests we were just one premier standard boy off the pace.  But this is a very good Merseyside team and, if players stay keen, enjoy the game and keep playing regularly, it will continue to do well.  The other players not mentioned above that played were James Bridson and Tom Davies.

Everyone tried their best and there were some cracking performances, so all the players should be proud of themselves.

Dave Miller, Team Manager


Boys: Graham Priestley, Andrew Davies, Alex Dickinson, Colin Dickinson
Girls: Gill Dabek, Lucy Foster, Alison Miller, Janine Brunton

We arrived on a cold and bleak Saturday morning to a converted aircraft hangar in Stoke Heath, near the prison. Passed the burger caravan to find a very cold building and cordoned-off courts. Out of the 10 courts only 7 were available for play with the organisers frantically attempting to dry off the remaining courts. Condensation and cold were a big problem and there were a few slips.

The opposition were Greater Manchester, Staffs, Worcester, Cheshire and Shropshire.

In the games against Shropshire Graham won the boys singles 15-5 and Gill won the girls singles 15-7. Andrew and Alex doubled to win by a narrow 15-13: good close game. Gill and Graham also took the mixed 15-6. Although the remaining games were lost, they were fairly close – Andrew Davies and Lucy Foster ended up 14-15 in the end.  We won that round.

Cheshire were next. Graham won the singles convincingly 15-4 whilst Gill lost 7-15. Janine and Lucy took the girls out 15-10, whilst Gill and Graham had another win in the mixed 15-7. This was Colin’s debut for county in the doubles with Andrew, losing 11-15. Good play 'though. Cheshire won this match 4 games to 3.

Turning to our next victims – Worcestershire. Colin was taken out 2-15 in the singles but kept smiling. Alison and Janine also lost the doubles 4-15.  We won the rest – Gill with the girls singles at 15-0, boys doubles (Graham and Alex) 15-6 and all mixed - some very close games, but the bottom line going to Merseyside who all played well.

On a high we then met Greater Manchester – our neighbours. We were beaten 6 games to 1. I'll only harp on about two games. The first is that between Tom Dunlop and Andrew Davies. Andrew had no misconceptions as to his function and I will remember him for keeping going and not allowing the sacrificial beating to destroy his game. For the record he did get the service back several times but never managed to clock up any points. Andrew never bottled out!!!!!!!! The other game was when Alison was playing Danielle Skelly in the distance. Danielle took her out game 7 - well done, as she was played as their number 1 girl.

And finally Staffordshire. Boy they have some good players. They won 5 games to 2. Well done Graham for beating Ben Atkinson 15-8, also Graham and Gill for taking their mixed game against Brett and Woolley 15-7. Although all the other games were lost none of them were a walkover for Staffs.

In the final analysis we came third, beaten by Greater Manchester and Staffs. When one hears that points are important, despite losing, it becomes relevant in games such as this where only a few points put us ahead of fourth placed Worcestershire.

Many thanks for all the players and their parents for bringing the players to the venue instead of Christmas shopping.

John Dabek, Team Manager


On another note, Andrew Cooper travelled to the North East to play in the Northumberland U19's on Saturday 5th December and, partnering Colin Edwards (an ex Merseyside player), got to the semi-finals of the mens doubles. Colin won the singles and Andrew won the singles plate, (worth the trip!).  Great results which enhance Merseyside's reputation.

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U13s Success Against Yorkshire
18th November 2001

Merseyside U13s played a 5x5 match against Yorkshire in Liverpool on Sunday 18th November and enjoyed a well earned 22-13 win.  Yorkshire's best players were not present, but the strength of Yorkshire in junior badminton is such that this team still made tough opponents.  The strength of all 5 Merseyside boys (James Bridson, Michael Stanley, Tom Davies, Michael Mellor and Tom Dickinson) proved a deciding factor on the day, taking all 10 of their singles.  The girls had to battle all the way for their reward, managing to take 3 decisive games from their 10 singles (Stephanie James 15-1, Tara Priestley 15-11 and Emily Miller 15-14).  In the level doubles the Merseyside boys continued to dominate, whilst Yorkshire took the lions share of the girls.

The players showed that they are not "all singles and levels" with some of the most exciting games coming in the mixed.  James Bridson and Stephanie James were too strong for their opponents, easing to a 15-10 win; Tom Davies and Tara Priestley were on court for ever in their 13-15 defeat; Michael Stanley chatted his way to a 15-13 win with Kirstin Miller; Tom Dickinson showed just how good his mixed doubles game is, winning 15-2 supported by Emily Miller; and Emily Proctor, who battled hard all day without securing a game, just lost out 12-15 with Michael Mellor.

Well done to all the team, thanks to Yorkshire for their friendliness and terrific attitude to the game, and thanks to the parents for supporting and for providing food for lunch (which by the sparse remains went down very well).  This was an enjoyable match and we can look forward to more success for this team in the coming months.

Dave Miller, Team Manager

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U14s at North Midway
4th November 2001

The Merseyside U14s came 9th out of 10 counties in the North Midway League at Rotherham on Sunday 4th November.  The matches where closer than the scores suggest and all the players played above themselves.  The team was James Bridson, Johnny Marchbank, Daniel Newman, Matthew Bergh, Gill Dabek, Lucy Foster, Kayleigh James and Charlotte Hall.

M'side 8 Derby 2 (95/63)
M'side 5 N'land 5 (111/115)
M'side 4 Notts 6 (98/120)
M'side 3 Lincs 7 (97/127)
M'side 0 Warw' 10 (73/150)

Warwick where the event winners.  All the players enjoyed the day and learnt from the experience.

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U12s Earn Fifth in North Midway
28th October 2001

Click on either thumbnail  image to see a larger version.

b_c13roth01a.jpg (95490 bytes) b_c13roth01b.jpg (104892 bytes) U12 Team
Back: Carl Davies, Michael Mellor, Patrick Jones, Daniel Wolfenden
Front: Emily Proctor, Stephanie James, Emily Miller, Tara Priestley

Michael Mellor, Stephanie James, Carl Davies, Tara Priestley, Daniel Wolfenden, Emily Miller, Patrick Jones and Emily Proctor played their way to a creditable fifth place in the ten team North Midway League in Rotherham on Sunday 28th October.  Wins against Warwickshire and Northumberland, and defeats by Leicestershire and the favourites Yorkshire, gave Merseyside third place out of five in their half of the split draw.  With time called in their final match at 4-4 in the 5th/6th place play-off against Lincolnshire, the result of 5th equal was recorded.

In the first match against Leicestershire some Merseyside players were caught cold, with only Stephanie recording a win (15-1 at 1st singles).  Tara was unlucky to go down 14-15 in both 2nd singles and 1st girls doubles.  The girls came good in the second match against Warwickshire, taking both singles and both girls doubles on the way to a 7-3 win.  Daniel and Emily (Miller) had a battling 15-14 win at 1st mixed.

Yorkshire meted out its usual battering, though it was good to see Stephanie rise above the chanting from the other Yorkshire players, as she eased to a comfortable 15-4 win.  That was the only game Merseyside took, but Michael and Carl played well in a narrow 11-15 defeat.  The Northumberland match was the moment to get back to winning ways, and for Patrick to notch up his first county win on his debut, winning 2nd boys doubles 15-14 with Daniel.  Carl helped himself to a creditable 15-13 win at 2nd singles, as the win was secured 8-2.  In the 4-4 draw with Lincolnshire, Emily and Emily played their best game of the day, looking clinical in their 15-7 win at 2nd girls doubles.

Michael and Stephanie are Merseyside's top two U12 players by some margin, and showed this with some fine singles on the day.  The focus on singles in junior matches, and the simple logistics of not being old enough to have had time to get to grips with doubles play, showed at times in some uncoordinated doubles games, but this is something to build on for next time.  Well played everyone, and thanks to all the sociable parents who missed their roast beef for this ... but it was worth it to see everyone play well, learn and enjoy the game.  And a final big thank you to Carol James for doing the team manager's role so ably ... it was good to be able to watch this one!

Dave Miller

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Mersey U13 Restricted Tournament
21st October 2001

Click on any thumbnail  image to see a larger version.  See results grid below for winners and runners up.

b_c1301a.jpg (100186 bytes) Singles
Tara Priestley, Stephanie James, Michael Stanley, James Bridson
b_c1301b.jpg (123424 bytes) Level Doubles
Back: Kirstin Miller, Laura Gillett, Paul Lewis, Tom Davies
Front: Tara Priestley, Stephanie James, Michael Stanley, Richard Dundas
b_c1301c.jpg (131099 bytes) Mixed Doubles & Best Sportsperson
Tara Priestley, Stephanie James, Richard Dundas, Jack Foster, Tom Dickinson

The Merseyside U13 Restricted Tournament was played at Holly Lodge Girls' School on Sunday 21st October 2001.  The event was played by nearly all the top players from the area, well supported by a number of others that were playing for the experience and pleasure.

There were some very exciting matches and some high quality games.  The boys singles was of the highest standard, with play that would grace many a senior match.  Stephanie James was a triple winner on the day, beating a tenacious Tara Priestley in the singles final.  Stephanie is playing at a level that will see her challenge the top ten players in the country in her age.  Laura Gillett and Kirstin Miller player a superb 'round robin' match that ended 15-14 to Laura, both then losing out in the semi-finals.

Richard Dundas and Paul Lewis produced some terrific play in the boys doubles to get to the final, but found Michael Stanley and Tom Davies too strong.  In the girls Laura and Stephanie were just too strong for Kirstin and Tara, though the second game was a terrific tussle in the early stages.  And don't underestimate the skill needed to be a mixed doubles player, as Tom Dickinson showed in helping himself and Tara get to the final, with superb thinking and shuttle placement.  In the end Richard, also a good thinker, and Stephanie were too good, winning 15-8.

Well done to all the players, and especially those who battled hard but didn't make it to the later stages.  Treat it as good experience, keep playing, and who knows next time.

  Winner Runner Up
Boys Singles James Bridson Michael Stanley
Girls Singles Stephanie James * Tara Priestley
Boys Doubles Michael Stanley
Tom Davies
Richard Dundas *
Paul Lewis *
Girls Doubles Laura Gillett
Stephanie James *
Kirstin Miller *
Tara Priestley
Mixed Doubles Richard Dundas *
Stephanie James *
Tom Dickinson
Tara Priestley

The Best Sportsperson Award went to Jack Foster, for the level of effort shown throughout the day, and for his potential.

* Denotes Southport League player

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Mixed Fortunes in Cheshire
14th October 2001

Click on any thumbnail  image to see a larger version.

b_c15chesh01.jpg (71357 bytes) U15 Team
Back: Graham Priestley, David Sclater, Alex Dickinson
Front: Kayleigh James, Bridget Mason-Robinson, Suzanne Bridson, Tim Richardson (Alison Miller not in photo)
b_c13chesh01.jpg (88667 bytes) U13 Team
Back: Jay Browne, Tom Dickinson. Michael Mellor, James Bridson, Tom Davies
Front: Kathleen Turner, Laura Gillett, Kirstin Miller, Tara Priestley
b_c13allch01.jpg (133596 bytes) U13 Team
With the Cheshire U13 team

On a dampish, gloomy day at noon, Merseyside U15s and U13s arrived at Middlewich to do battle with one of our neighbours, Cheshire.



Graham Priestley Alison Miller
Alex Dickinson Suzanne Bridson
David Sclater Bridget Mason-Robinson
Tim Richardson Kayleigh James

Of the U15s, the team manager, Nigel Priestley, writes: "I thought that we had a good chance of taking the match but fancied indeed that it would be a close one – how wrong I was!  No matter how hard we played, the Cheshire team played harder.  No matter how gritty and determined we were, they too won that award.

It started well enough as Graham & Suzanne took a massive 10-0 lead in their mixed.  I concentrated on our other pairs but our second and thirds looked to be outclassed.  Tim and Kayleigh began their campaign with us 2-0 down, and our firsts still playing.  Whaaat?

We needed the 4th mixed badly.  Our firsts wandered off court with a 21-16 win: this was definitely scary.  But Tim & Kayleigh played superbly to take 4th mixed 21-18 and level the match.

On to the singles and Graham’s was our banker and he surely came up with the goods, winning 21-9.  We needed some more, but despite some fighting performances from Alex (17-21), Tim (15-21), Suzanne (15-21) and Kayleigh (19-21) the match was over as we lost seven out of the eight singles.

At 3-9 down with four to play, pride was to be played for.  Graham & Alex took their doubles 21-14 with a little difficulty, but this was a new partnership and they gelled well.  Unfortunately they proved too strong for us in the other three doubles and Cheshire took the match with a convincing 12-4 victory.  Well-played Cheshire!

My Jerry Springer final thought.  Did we take them too lightly?  I fear that we did and, yet again, I re-iterate that the work we must put in is speed, movement & fitness.  This was definitely the factor between the two teams, Cheshire are not the strongest county around and this result puts things into an ominous perspective.  We must get our skates on as time is ticking by and the team challenge qualifiers are almost upon us.

On a really positive note, I was impressed with ALL of the team on giving 100% against an improved Cheshire side.  It was easy to relax in the hall’s “mood lighting” but none of the team fell asleep and I saw a lot of happy faces that enjoyed the afternoon.  Thank you Cheshire for your hospitality (they fed us well) and we are looking forward to the return fixture."



James Bridson Kirstin Miller
Michael Mellor Laura Gillett
Tom Dickinson Tara Priestley
Tom Davies Kathleen Turner
Jay Browne

In the U13s the Merseyside team had better fortunes, as Dave Miller, team manager, reports.  "Merseyside took the play to their opposition right from the start, rushing to a 4-0 lead in the mixed.  Tom Dickinson and Kathleen Turner (making her county debut) recorded the best score line, 21-5.

The singles saw similar success, with the boys team winning well.  Jay Browne, who only turned up to watch his friend, found himself making an unexpected debut against a fifth Cheshire boy, coming out the only loser, 14-21, but showing good promise.

The girls didn't have quite such an easy ride, encountering the Rogers sisters who, aged 9 and 11, are great prospects for Cheshire's future.  Kirstin played Pippa, the older and stronger player, going down 9-21, whilst Laura played Hayley, the younger, beating her 21-17 with her greater power.

The match was over by this stage, but the success continued as the levels returned 3 wins from 4.  Kirstin and Laura had a satisfying and well deserved win, as their power and touch in the doubles paid dividends against the Rogers girls, winning 21-17.

A 13-4 match win was very pleasing for Merseyside, a success which continued in the cross-over games which were also won 8-6.  Merseyside have the nucleus of a very good team here, if everyone keeps working at their game.  Michael Mellor showed some real ability, particularly in his singles, served by outstanding footwork.  The two Tom's also showed potential, as did Tara, who worked extremely hard all day recording some good results.

Well played everyone.  And thanks to the adults who took the trouble to get the players there.  There will be more good times ahead I think."

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Mersey U15 Restricted Tournament
30th September 2001

The Merseyside U15 Restricted Tournament was played at Holly Lodge Girls' School on Sunday 30th September 2001.  The event went down to the wire regarding time, but the quality of badminton was extremely high throughout the day.  The winners are shown below.  Thanks to John Dabek and Tom Richards for organising a superb event.  A more detailed report will follow as soon as available.

  Winner Runner Up
Boys Singles Graham Priestley Alex Dickinson
Girls Singles Gillian Dabek Alison Miller
Boys Doubles Graham Priestley
Robert Marchbank
Andy Hurst
Joseph Daley
Girls Doubles Lucy Foster
Charlotte Hall
Alison Miller
Janine Brunton
Mixed Doubles Graham Priestley
Gillian Dabek
Alex Dickinson
Alison Miller

The Best Sportsperson Award went to Suzanne Bridson.  Well done to Graham Priestley for achieving triple winner two years in succession.

You will also be pleased to know that Helen Davies achieved runner-up in the SENIOR Cheshire Restricted Tournament singles at the weekend, dispatching an ex-Irish international junior in the process.  Helen is only FOURTEEN years of age!  This is a tremendous feat, well done Helen.  She has also been asked to represent Cheshire senior county this season.

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U13s Start 2001/2 Season off with Encouraging Win
16th September 2001

b_c13m.jpg (64727 bytes) U13 Team
Back: Laura Gillett, Tom Dickinson, Michael Mellor, James Bridson, Tom Davies
Front: Becky Hurst, Stephanie James, Tara Priestley, Michael Stanley, Kirstin Miller

Merseyside U13 played Manchester U13 at their home venue, Holly Lodge Girls School, on Sunday 16th September. The team of 5 boys and 5 girls met their match at the top of the order, but Merseyside's strength in depth proved the deciding factor as the team recorded an excellent 23-12 win.

The team had representation from all corners of the Merseyside area, including Sefton, Wirral, St. Helens and Liverpool..

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National U11 Singles Challenge
9th June 2001

The first national U11 Singles Challenge took place at the National Badminton Centre, Milton Keynes, on Saturday 9th June.  After the regional qualifying tournament (see article further down this page) Merseyside gained two places in the 6 boy, 6 girl team - Stephanie James (Southport) and Michael Mellor (St. Helens).  They made up the northern team - the Macclesfield Maniacs - who played 3 other regional teams - the Slough Smashers, Stroud Stingers and Want 2 Win Warwick.

Stephanie finished 14th in the girls, with Michael reaching 11th out of 24 in the boys - a superb achievement by both young players.  They helped the Maniacs to overall victory, winning both the girls and boys team events.

Names to watch out for in future are: Gabbie White (girls winner), Fontaine Chapman (runner-up), Mark Middleton (boys winner), Gary Fox (runner-up).

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Why Do We Do It?

The shirt is washed and ironed just the night before
Because Mum has found it crumpled on the bedroom floor.
Mum makes the butties, Dad checks the car.
They’re on the Play Station helping from afar.
We wake up in the morning (or in the middle of the night),
Some travel down the night before when the traffic is NOT light.
Why do we do it? Why?

On the way there you think of the draw,
They pick up the sheet and their face hits the floor.
They’ve got Ouseph, Adcock, Middleton or Cox
Keeping them company at the top of their box.
(Forgive me if I’ve missed a promising young star,
As an ESBA News fan, I know who you are).
Why do we do it? Why?

Never mind dear, play your best
Score more than last time - make that the test.
What about the doubles? There’s no need to be surly
Oh yeah, the no. 1 seeds - we’re going home early!
You’ve travelled two hundred miles in the pouring rain
For your child to get downhearted, is it all in vain?
Why do we do it? Why?

You watch them try with all their might
They play their heart out, its a wonderful sight.
Some days they perform, others they do not,
That’s when your stomach gets tied up in knots.
They slope off court very close to tears
Its a long way home and the time draws near
Why do we do it? Why?

You get back home, having driven through a storm.
Two weeks later, yet another entry form.
The backhand needs work and the serves are bad,
More clearing and smashing practice needs to be had.
Its no good travelling the country far and wide
If the legs don’t practice moving side to side.

Why do we do it? Why?

If its not for Eric Brown and his merry band,
And the Tournament Committees up and down the land,
We wouldn’t do it and that would be a shame,
Depriving our children from playing this great game.
Improving their standard every time they play,
Hoping they’ll win next time and blow a seed away.

So this is why we do it and a star we hope they’ll be,
Each time they play they’ll improve but I’m sure you’ll all agree.....
Some players win, most players lose, some will go quite far,
But every player that enters is, indeed, a superstar.

Nigel Priestley
MSBA Secretary

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Young Stars Shine in Singles Challenge
12th May 2001

This was the turn of Merseyside's youngest players to enjoy some competitive singles and test themselves out against some of the brightest talent in the north of England.  The English Schools' Badminton Association U11 County Singles Challenge was contested by 4 counties each entering 4 boys and 4 girls at the Macclesfield Leisure Centre on Saturday 12th May.

Yorkshire, Notts, Greater Manchester and Merseyside entered this area round, with players placed in order of strength and played in round-robin groups of 4, one from each county.  The top two from each group then contested two round-robin groups of 1st/2nd placed players, and the others contested two round-robin groups of 3rd/4th placed players.  The parallel placed players then played a final game to determine overall ranking on the day.  If you follow!  Team points were awarded according to players' placings and a top county thus determined.

Merseyside took a young team to this event and showed some creditable performances.  Stephanie James, after losing her first game through nerves, subsequently lost only to the Notts 1st girl, beating the Yorks 2nd girl into 3rd place overall with an 11-4 win.  A similarly superb performance came from Michael Mellor, who played probably his best ever badminton to go through 2nd in the first group, and then beat the Manchester 2nd boy 11-8 to clinch 3rd spot in his second round-robin group, thus guaranteeing a place in the national final area team.  An area team is made up of the best 6 boys and best 6 girls on the day, who go to Milton Keynes as a northern team to take on the 3 other area teams.  Well done to Stephanie and Michael on this brilliant achievement.  The only problem is, we want a report please from the event as I can't be there to watch!

Merseyside's other players had some great individual performances.  Jonathan Davies missed out on the top groups in the second stage by only a single point, losing a very tight game to the Notts 4th boy 8-11.  Daniel Wolfenden, making his county debut, improved as the day went on, winning two of his later games to secure 13th place overall ... Daniel will be back and will surely be up higher next year.  Carl Davies, only just back from injury, had a quiet day by his standards but still managed to win two of his games.

The remaining 3 girls, Tara Priestley, Emily Miller and Becky Hurst, all found the going tough in the morning, but came much more into their own in the afternoon, with Tara and Emily coming second in their groups and Becky coming third.  Tara was playing a day after a sickness bug so lacked that vital edge that would certainly have carried her further on the day.  All 3 are young players and will be back next year to help Merseyside and themselves to greater things.

The individual winner of the boys event was Gary Fox (Gtr. M'cr), with Gabbi White (Yorkshire) winning the girls.  Yorkshire were the winning county.  The 12 top players now face the top players from the 3 other area rounds, the final being played at the National Badminton Centre, Milton Keynes, on 9th June.

Well played to all the players.  It was a great experience for everyone, the team spirit was good (despite a final position of 4th) and the adults in attendance were as sociable and supportive as ever.  Thank you and see you all again next season for more of the same.

b_c11a.jpg (67489 bytes) U11 Team
Carl Davies, Stephanie James, Michael Mellor, Daniel Wolfenden, Jonathan Davies, Becky Hurst, Emily Miller, Tara Priestley

Dave Miller, Team Manager

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Merseyside Secure ICT 4th Place
19-22 April 2001

Merseyside finished a tremendous 4th in the ICT.  This event is the 'Jewel in the Crown' of junior badminton events, principally for players in the U17 age group, though there are often younger players. The Inter Counties Tournament is played at Nottingham University over a four day residential period and, on average, 35 teams of five girls, five boys, and two Team Managers, assemble for a period of great competition and enjoyment.

The report here is written by one of the Team Managers, Liz MacPherson ...

I was seriously concerned when, a few weeks before the event, I found myself looking forward to going. Just brief flashes, you understand, but enough for me to question my sanity.

Anyway, there we were again, outside the Deaf School at 8.30 on the Thursday morning. This year Judy was lucky enough to get prime position, in the front seat between Our Leader and me. She survived the journey, but it was touch and go on occasion. There was a slight disappointment when it emerged that one of the Merseyside tracksuits had gone missing – mine, naturally. Consequently it took a while for me to bond with the rest of the team.

On the subject of sanity, we were a little worried when Lynsey produced a bowl of fruit salad and handed it round. FRUIT?? It’s just not normal. I wonder whether there’s any correlation between the consumption of fruit and a voice which would make the Mersey foghorn feel inadequate? We have a quaint tradition in Merseyside of giving all the team nicknames – Lynsey ended up with a few, but Foghorn seemed like an entirely appropriate starting point. Becky was unfortunate enough to be christened Wallace, on account of her turning up in The Wrong Trousers. (Nothing escapes the Assistant Manager) Judy’s nickname? Well, Kevin of course.

Arriving in Nottingham, we set off for Derby Hall in fear and trepidation, but were delighted to find that the place had been completely refurbished – it’s amazing how grateful you can be for a coat of paint and a washbasin - the plastic mattress didn’t even seem to matter. After the usual team photograph (and a bit of a sulk from the Assistant Manager, whose outfit didn’t match), off we went to Chilwell for our first match against Wiltshire, which we won. Phew, one down, nine to go. Derbyshire next and another win – Robert was everywhere, leaping, smashing, lunging, performing a double lutz.… made me feel tired watching.

Back to campus for our first meal and the heartwarming spectacle of Harry doubling his profiterole consumption of last year – two profiteroles in at the same time. When he gets his brace off, nobody will be safe.

Our third match of the day, against Bedfordshire, was another success, so we retired well pleased with our performance. The first night’s always a worry, but we were fortunate enough to be sharing our floor with Lincolnshire – Sue Mumby was a woman after our own hearts. "Everyone in their rooms now please" – wonderful – Ken and I scuttled into our rooms as instructed and – oh joy – I actually slept.

Friday morning began badly, with two players injuring themselves. Unfortunately for us, Jenna’s injury proved serious enough for her to retire from the tournament; fortunately Alex recovered from his, but I think serious psychological damage may have been inflicted on him by the Hampshire coach, who asked whether I was Alex’s mum – he felt that Alex had my nose….. (I wondered where it had gone). Thankfully after he’d stopped crying his game hadn’t suffered and we chalked up another win, with Kevin forgetting to be awkward just long enough to win her singles game.

Our reward (we’ve been down this road before) was a trip to Beeston. I really felt that the place had gone up market since last year and not before time. There was even a bistro, although it seemed to be short of customers – were the residents of Beeston making an inaccurate gravy powder connection? So, another Big Mac meal and the purchase of hair spray for Sunday… (see later).

Gloucestershire were next and another victory, Harry having a tremendous singles game. We were in bad books in the evening when schedules were changed – we turned up 30 minutes late for our match against Suffolk. A slow start, but we emerged triumphant, with David and Minh having a great game of doubles. On the strength of another win we sent out for pizzas (damnit, we know how to enjoy ourselves on Merseyside) and then retired for an early night.

Now things started to get tricky. Surrey was our next match and in anticipation the squad forewent their large breakfast. This one was going to be difficult. Quite how difficult we didn’t know, but after nine games we were level pegging at 127 points each! Helen had a fantastic win, but now it was all down to the girls doubles. The tension was awful, but in the end Helen and Becky just clinched it for us – we were through to the last four!

Now we were in with the big players and Essex were next… Lynsey earned her second nickname, being put in at No. 1 singles as the sacrificial lamb. When Lambsy walked on court, it was to the sound of "Baaaa" from the rest of the team (we’re also easily amused on Merseyside.) She may have looked sheepish, but nevertheless she did extremely well, as did all the team, but sadly we experienced our first defeat, with the score at 2-8. Alex had a great game against tremendous opposition and which resulted in his only loss of the tournament.

This time McDonald’s was the consolation (the words "contradiction" and "terms" spring to mind), whilst Our Leader and I did the bistro. Coffee beans flown in ‘specially from Milan – I’ll believe anything, but it was very civilised.

Yorkshire next. Despite my threat to put their minibus up on bricks if we lost, we did, but not before we’d taken three games. Working on the assumption that if the fleece fits, wear it, Lambsy was put in again in the singles. Maybe we were all just distracted by the prospect of strutting our funky stuff at the disco, or maybe the rolling up of one’s trouser legs à la Foster is some kind of lucky omen, but anyway we were pleased with taking three games.

DISCO TIME! The team was dragged, kicking and screaming, to the Disco. Our Leader was dragged in similar fashion to the Managers’ meeting. After a pint in the very nicely refurbished bar, it was round-up time. Thankfully we had no problems and I believe they may have just enjoyed it. But only a bit, obviously.

Oh, the joy of waking up on Sunday and waving a metaphorical goodbye to the plastic mattress. We had the whole morning to concentrate on getting the hair colour JUST right, although in my case something seemed to go badly wrong. She’s very artistic, is my daughter, and the various team members sported green/gold stripes, zig zags, spots…. Sadly, spraying her mother’s hair brought out a desperate need for revenge and the result was somewhat garish and indiscriminate (and VERY green), but at least we all matched.

Our final game against Hertfordshire was really exciting for us and we were delighted to take three games, with the final result of fourth place for Merseyside. We were absolutely thrilled, but the best was yet to come. It was bronze medals all round – EVEN ONE FOR KEN AND ME (well, it’s not easy writing down the scores, adding up the points and being nice to 10 teenagers for four whole days).

Well done Merseyside squad 2001 - a great ICT. And guess what? I’m not going next year!

The Squad
Back row: Ken Linforth (Manager), Robert Woosey, Minh Ho, David Diep, Harry Wright, Liz MacPherson (Asst. Manager)
Front row: Alex Hird, Lynsey Aston, Judy MacPherson, Jenna Hargreaves, Becky Howell, Helen Davies

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Merseyside U12 Restricted Suggests Bright Future
22nd April 2001

Merseyside U12s played out their end of season 'restricted' tournament (open to Merseyside players only) at Holly Lodge Girls School, Liverpool, on Sunday 22nd April 2001.  It was a very competitive and friendly tournament attended by 17 boys and 12 girls.  There was some outstanding play throughout, with the best matches saved for the finals.

Laura Gillett and Stephanie James both played superbly in the girls singles final, with Stephanie eventually going down 15-10 to a very consistent and tenacious Laura.  Richard Dundas & Paul Lewis faught valiantly, losing out to Tom Davies & Michael Stanley 17-14, 15-9 in the boys doubles final.  And Becky Hurst & Stephanie James, though winners over Kirstin Miller & Tara Priestley 15-14 in the round-robin stage, could not quite hold the advantage in the final, going down 15-2, 15-11 (by 2 games to 1 with the round-robin game counting in the final).  Well done everyone, including those that didn't climb to the top of the groups but played their best and learnt a lot from the day.

The results are shown here - Southport/Formby players are shown in bold:

  Winner Runner Up
Boys Singles Michael Stanley Tom Dickinson
Girls Singles Laura Gillett Stephanie James
Boys Doubles Tom Davies
Michael Stanley
Richard Dundas
Paul Lewis
Girls Doubles Kirstin Miller
Tara Priestley
Becky Hurst
Stephanie James

Click on the thumbnail images below to see photos from the day.

b_c12j.jpg (104712 bytes) Event winners and runners-up: Michael Stanley, Becky Hurst, Kirstin Miller, Tara Priestley, Tom Davies, Stephanie James, Paul Lewis, Laura Gillett, Richard Dundas
b_c12i.jpg (73589 bytes) Michael Stanley and Tom Dickinson

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Mersey U12s Shine in York
8th April 2001

Merseyside took a 6x6 U12 team to York on Sunday 6th April to play in an annual invitation team event at the Railway Institute, a superb, dedicated badminton facility with 9 courts.  The location tends to inspire players to raise their game, and this was clearly the case for Merseyside players.  Nine county teams entered the event, which was hotly contested by the two northern power-houses of the junior game, Yorkshire and Lothian, with Lothian coming out victors with a fine 5-4 win against Yorkshire 1 right at the death.

The draw was split into two in the morning, with Merseyside drawing Leicestershire, Greater Manchester and Yorkshire 1.  Each match saw the 12 players get one game to 15 each, made up of a boys singles, girls singles, mixed doubles, two boys doubles and two girls doubles.

The Leicestershire match was lost 2-5, but with 3 games getting away 13-15 the match could easily have gone to Merseyside.  Well done to Becky Hurst on recording her first win with Kirstin Miller at 1st girls doubles.  Peter Hanmer & Jonathan Davies took the other point with a fine 15-14 win at 1st boys doubles.

A gritty 4-3 win against Greater Manchester was highlighted by a terrific 15-7 win by Tara Priestley in the girls singles, placing the shuttle around the court with more deception than many a senior county player.  All 6 girls had wins in this match to secure the win, with Tara being followed by Emily Miller & Michael Stanley in the mixed (15-10), Stephanie James & Kirstin Miller at 1st girls (15-5), and Becky Hurst & Stephanie Hall at 2nd girls (15-3).

The highlight of the Yorkshire 1 match was the win in the mixed by Paul Lewis and Stephanie Hall (15-10), this being the only game the Yorkshire team dropped all morning.  Well done!  The lowlight (for the team captain anyway) was the money lost in rewarding the 7 players that rose far too well to the challenge of taking 5 points or more in a game during this match!!

This left Merseyside in the bottom half of the afternoon draw, but with the bonus of having the win against Greater Manchester carried over.  This left matches against the Isle of Man, Yorkshire 2 and Yorkshire 3, and with great play and a superb attitude the team rose to the challenge to take 4-3, 4-3 and 7-0 wins respectively, leaving Merseyside at the top of their afternoon group and in 5th place overall, a creditable achievement.

Highlights of the afternoon included:

Isle of Man
- Craig Hughes & Tara Priestley in a well crafted win (15-8) in the mixed;
- Michael Stanley & Peter Hanmer in a powerhouse win (15-11) at 1st boys;

Yorkshire 2
- Michael Stanley in his marathon and brilliantly played 14-15 loss in the singles (highlight of the day);
- Jonathan Davies & Emily Miller (15-9) in the mixed ;
- Peter Hanmer & Michael Mellor (15-12) in their 1st boys;
- Stephanie James & Tara Priestley (15-3) at 1st girls.

Yorkshire 3
- Paul Lewis dominated the boys singles (15-8);
- Kirstin Miller pulling out all the stops (15-5) in her girls singles.

The attitude of the players was great and they created a real team spirit.  The support and atmosphere amongst the parents was also great to see, all of which contributed to what must be one of the best Merseyside junior trips of the season.  Well done and thanks to everyone.

b_c12a.jpg (92254 bytes) Merseyside U12s
Back: Jonathon Davies, Paul Lewis, Michael Stanley, Peter Hanmer, Craig Hughes, Michael Mellor
Front: Becky Hurst, Kirstin Miller, Stephanie James, Tara Priestley, Stephanie Hall, Emily Miller
b_c12b.jpg (77059 bytes) They managed to come 5th out of 9?!
b_c12d.jpg (82454 bytes) Emily Miller, Becky Hurst, Stephanie Hall, Tara Priestley

Dave Miller, U12 Team Manager

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Merseyside U13 vs Staffordshire
11th February 2001

A team of 6 boys and 7 girls travelled up from Stafford for a 10.00 am start at Holly Lodge.

The match was a U13 friendly and that’s just how it turned out to be. Not wishing to deprive anybody of a chance to practice we ran the practice concurrently and Alan Jones took a group into the adjoining sports hall for this. Young Emily Miller volunteered to stand in as an extra so that their seventh girl could get a game.

The match started with both boys and girls singles and it would be fair to say that we were fairly evenly matched – our boys being stronger winning 4 games to 2 with the highlights probably being Matthew Bergh’s game which went to three and Sam Hughes who experienced some gamesmanship from his opponent. Michael Stanley battered his opponent 15-7 and 15-1 making his comeback from his foot injury. James Bridson truly scalped his at 15-4 and 15-0.

The girls were not so fortunate in their singles. Laura Gillett managed 5 against their second girl and was ahead when her counterpart retired with a knee injury, only to return to play later on. Charlotte Hall managed 10 and 5 against their top girl. Despite losing all girls put in a commendable performance and a special mention goes to Sophie Richards who played exceptionally well, taking her singles to three games.

In the level doubles we had quite a comeback. The third girls won 11-7, 4-11 and 11-6 – well done. All the boys won their games, James Bridson and Michael Stanley going to three. Matthew Bergh and Sam Hughes also went to three although I would remember their game more for the careful observation their opponents required to ensure accurate line calls.

Time was a little constrained towards the end so we played the mixed as one game to 21. We won 4, lost 6, although this does not give us a true picture of the play. We scored 102 points over the 6 games and Staffs scored 115 so it was a lot closer than it would appear at first.

Apart from the few doubtful calls I would remember this game for being fairly evenly matched and for all players putting in a great performance! Staffs won 14 games to 10.

Many thanks

John Dabek, U13 Team Manager

The team: Matthew Bergh, James Bridson, Sam Hughes *, Jonny Marchbank, Daniel Newman *, Michael Stanley, Laura Gillett, Charlotte Hall *, Kayleigh James *, Emily Miller *, Kirstin Miller *, Sophie Richards *, Bridget Robinson (* denotes Southport Junior League player)

Merseyside U12 Revisit Rotherham
4th February 2001

North Midway League

The team: James Bridson, Richard Dundas, Peter Hanmer, Michael Mellor, Laura Gillett, Stephanie James, Kirstin Miller, Tara Priestley.
The result: 1 Notts; 2 Yorks; 3 Lincs; 4 Durham; 5 Mersey; 6 Yorks II; 7 Gtr M'cr; 8 Tyne & Wear; 9 Derbys; 10 Leics.
The result in context: Merseyside's 5th place finish was a huge improvement on last time out (see below) and reflects the sheer hard work and ability of the team.
The wordy bit: What a delight to be part of a team that managed to show that the tide is turning for our younger county players.  From the moment James destroyed Yorkshire's 1st singles boy 15-0, to the fifth and decisive win by Kirstin and Tara (15-2) to gain victory in the 5th/6th place play-off against Yorkshire II, it was exciting play, great results and the best of attitudes all the way.  Individual performances of merit were too numerous to mention, everyone played at their best.  Perhaps I should just mention James' smash, Stephanie's never say die attitude, Michael's coolness under pressure, Tara's net shots, Peter's energy, Richard's team spirit, Kirstin's level doubles and Laura's tenacity.  What more can be said.  Well done.
Performance of the day: The team as a whole, both for the results earned and for the team spirit.  Special mention to Tara, who made her debut and who showed such poise ... and net shots to die for!
The stats: Merseyside lost 3-7 to Yorkshire (only the tournament winners, Notts, took more games); won 6-4 to Derbyshire; lost 4-6 to Durham; won 7-3 to Greater Manchester; drew 5-5 (won on points) to Yorkshire II.
The thanks: To all the players for being so enthusiastic ... and to the adults for being so dedicated to the youngsters and bringing them along (and allowing them to play and enjoy the game).
The photo (click on the thumbnail
image here):
b_cu12r2.jpg (60112 bytes) Merseyside U12 Team
Back: Stephanie James, Kirstin Miller, Laura Gillett, Richard Dundas
Front: Michael Mellor, James Bridson, Peter Hanmer, Tara Priestley

Dave Miller (Team Manager)

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Merseyside U12 Battle it Out at Rotherham
3rd December 2000

North Midway League

Having survived an early scare from the organiser for not having the first game on court at 10am, Merseyside's U12s gathered themselves for their North Midway League encounter on Sunday 3rd December in Rotherham. Everyone turned up looking professional in their team shirts and deserved a prize for attitude and application.

b_cu12r1.jpg (49740 bytes) Merseyside U12 Team Members
Back: Kirstin Miller, Carl Davies, David Grice, Laura Gillett
Front: Richard Dundas, Stephanie James, Emily Proctor, Craig Hughes

The event sees 10 counties battle it our for honours, with the best of the North on display, including Yorkshire and Notts. Our players battled well in match one, against Tyne & Wear, with Richard Dundas taking the first game of the day. When Stephanie James levelled things at one-all things looked bright. But well though we played, with further wins by Richard & Craig Hughes, and Kirstin Miller & Emily Proctor, the match slipped away 4-6.

This set the scene for the score in our next match, against Leicestershire, with wins by Stephanie and Kirstin in singles, Kirstin & Laura Gillett in levels, and Richard & Emily in the mixed.

Hot favourites Yorkshire 1 showed our players what we have to do to get to the top of the age bracket nationally, depositing us 10-0. Mention goes to Richard & Craig, and Carl Davis & David Grice, who fought brilliantly for their 9 and 8 points respectively.

Against Lincolnshire after lunch our 4-6 jinx stayed with us, though Carl played one of the games of the day, taking his singles 15-8. Kirstin & Emily won their levels, and Richard & Stephanie played some great points in a 15-7 win at first mixed. Special note also goes to David & Emily here, who battled all the way in their mixed to give David his first Merseyside triumph, 15-13.

The 4-6 result was almost written in the stars for our final match against Yorkshire 2, but once again our players battled all the way, with wins for Kirstin (singles), Carl & Craig, Laura & Emily (both levels), and Richard & Laura (mixed).

We finished last in the event, but praise goes to every player in the team, who never let their heads go down at any stage, and who played with the utmost of sportsmanship. I would rather we be noted for the "way we play" than for a win poorly achieved. And thanks to mums & dads who brought and supported the kids - our presence could not happen without you. A few of the players made their debut for the County in this event and it was great to see the enthusiasm and team spirit so strong … something I look forward to Merseyside building on in the coming seasons. And finally, some families agreed to come to Rotherham at very short notice due to late withdrawals from the team - many thanks.

It was a good day for building our character and we did this aplenty. We scored 16 games on the day, enough to win 3 matches on another day, and enough to give everyone heart for next time.

Richard, Stephanie, Kirstin and David play in the Southport Junior League.

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Merseyside U13 Visit Velodrome
16th November 2000

The Merseyside Under 13 team, pictured below, played Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Lancashire at the Manchester Velodrome on Sunday 12th November.  Daniel Newman, Richard Dundas, Lucy Foster, Stephanie James, Kirstin Miller and Charlotte Hall all come from Southport/Formby area and compete in our Junior League.  The team was beaten by some very strong opposition, many of whom had played the day before in an ESBA event at the venue.

b_cu13m2.jpg (62888 bytes)

Left to right: Daniel Newman, Richard Dundas, Gillian Dabek, Jonny Marchbank, Lucy Foster, Stephanie James, Kirstin Miller, Bridget Robinson, Charlotte Hall, Jonathan Davies and Peter Hanmer

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Merseyside Restricted Tournaments
30th October 2000

Merseyside held its U15 Tournament on 22nd October and U13 Tournament on 29th October, when children at school or living in Merseyside played for both singles and doubles titles.  Southport/Formby players are shown in bold.

U15 results were:

  Winner Runner Up
Boys Singles Graham Priestley Ben Proctor
Girls Singles Helen Davies Rebecca Howell
Boys Doubles Graham Priestley
Keith MacDonald
Ben Proctor
Robert Marchbank
Girls Doubles Helen Davies
Rebecca Howell
Laura Temple
Kathryn Eyes
Mixed Doubles Graham Priestley
Rebecca Howell
Ben Proctor
Helen Davies

The U13 event attracted 36 competitors (20 boys and 16 girls) from right across the county, with feathers flying practically non-stop from 10am until the presentation at 4.30pm.

Michael Stanley, who stepped in to cover another player at the last minute, returned to West Kirby with two gold salvers.  Another Wirral success was Gillian Dabek from Greasby who won the girls singles and partnered Alison Kent from Formby to take the girls doubles.  Laura Gillett, also from Greasby, was presented with the "Best Sports Person" award.

Players from Southport/Formby not mentioned below were Rupert Marcom, Richard Dundas, Sam Hughes, Michael Balmforth, Daniel Newman, Lucy Foster, Kate Daley, Kayleigh James, Sophie Richards, Stephanie James, Sophie Dowd and Elin Nixon

U13 results were:

  Winner Runner Up
Boys Singles Michael Stanley David Critchley
Girls Singles Gillian Dabek Alison Kent
Boys Doubles Jonny Marchbank
Michael Stanley
David Critchley
Paul Maguire
Girls Doubles Gillian Dabek
Alison Kent
Charlotte Hall
Kirstin Miller

Winners and runners up in the U13 are shown in the photo below

b_cu13.jpg (57025 bytes)

Left to right: Kirstin Miller, Charlotte Hall, Michael Stanley, Laura Gillett, Jonny Marchbank, Gillian Dabek, David Critchley, Alison Kent and Paul Maguire

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Future Looks Bright
12th December 1999

A number of players in the Southport junior league represent Merseyside at county junior level.  In the Under 13 match against Yorkshire on 12th December 1999 no fewer than 10 of the players in the team (of 8 boys and 8 girls) play in the Southport league, a good omen for the future of the sport in the town.  Click on the thumbnail images to see full size pictures from the match, played at the superb York Railway Institute.

b_u13_4.jpg (65514 bytes) On court
At the superb York Railway Institute, situated in the heart of the city with 9 courts dedicated to the sport
b_u13_1.jpg (65974 bytes) Merseyside U13 Team Members
Back: Tim Richardson, Ben Henderson, Graham Priestley, James Bridson
Front: Andrew Dundas, Richard Dundas, Michael Stanley (Andrew Davies also played but is not shown)
b_u13_2.jpg (54837 bytes) Merseyside U13 Team Members
Katherine Davies, Gillian Dabek, Kathryn Eyes, Olivia Lightfoot
b_u13_3.jpg (40125 bytes) Merseyside U13 Team Members
Kirstin Miller, Sophie Richards
(Sophie Dowd and Elin Nixon also played but are not shown)

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