The team consisted of Terry Belshaw of Kendal at 1, Trevor Musson of Carlisle at 2, and Chris Lilley of Penrith at 3. Cumbrian stalwart Ronnie Bell was too young by 6 months.
Stage 1 was held in October when Cumbria hosted Lancashire 2nd team, beating them 3 games to 0.
Stage 2 was held in Manchester in February, with Cumbria facing Lancashire 1st team and Yorkshire. Cumbria beat both Lancashire and Yorkshire, dropping only 1 point out of a maximum of 24 points.
Despite Lancashire losing to Yorkshire, they accrued more points over the weekend, and took second position which promoted them to the finals along with Cumbria.
The national finals were held at Pontefract, the capital of Yorkshire squash, having produced world-ranked players such as Nick Matthew and James Willstrop.
England Squash hosted the national finals for the O50’s, O60’s and O65’s over the same weekend, and the standard of squash for all age groups was of the highest standard. The weekend consisted of semi-finals on the Saturday and finals on the Sunday.
Chris Lilley got Cumbria off to a flying start in the semi’s with a very close 3-0 victory over his Surrey opponent. Terry Belshaw secured their semi-final victory with a 3-1 win. Trevor Musson played well but lost his match 0-3.
The finals saw Cumbria against the favourites and reigning champions Sussex. Chris Lilley got off to a shaky start, losing the first game, before coming back strongly to take the second. Whilst a very close match, he closely lost the next 2 games, losing 1-3.
Terry Belshaw came up against his nemesis Ian Graham, having narrowly lost to him in the England Open Championship Finals. Ian Graham is ranked no. 1 in England and no. 2 in the world! Terry played well but his opponent was just that little bit better with more consistent shots, winning 3-0. With the finals lost, Cumbria’s Trevor Musson played his ‘dead rubber’ losing 3-0.
Whilst a little disappointing to only finish as runners-up, it was still a magnificent achievement, given Cumbria’s relative small catchment area compared to the other ‘big’ counties. Cumbria is now looking forward to doing better next season.
Report by Chris Lilley