I first 'played' badminton at the age of about four at my mother's "housewives and househusbands" beginners club in south London where my grandmother had previously coached, but didn't play seriously until I joined the University of York badminton club, which I went on to chair. After moving to Sheffield, I joined Oakbrook in 2006, and became Secretary about a year later. I now live in Derbyshire with a wife who prefers swimming and two bunnies who prefer eating the wallpaper. When I'm not playing badminton, I've been known to play ultimate frisbee, hockey, cricket and a few other sports, and play flute and sing. I also do puzzles and play board games. Oh, and do some work sometimes, too, probably shouldn't forget that.

Mens Feathers vs Rawmarsh, 29 October 2013

Oakbrook 2 – 7 Rawmarsh

Gavin B & Simon T | Tipue M A & Glen T | Aamir K & Dave R

One tends to get the feeling when one of the opposition is wearing an England shirt that things are going to be tricky.  And sure enough, Rawmarsh’s first pair made short work of Gavin and Simon at the start of the match: 27-42 in two games.  Tipue and Glen, keen to improve upon their first pair’s lead, went for the sort of improvement usually reserved for pole-vault world records, and went just one point better, 28-42 in two games.  With Aaron away in the north sea, Dave R was kind enough to step in for us, and as usual put in a performance better than he will admit.  Though with he and Aamir both relatively unfamiliar with feather shuttles and not having played together before, against a strong Rawmarsh team, the realistic target was always going to be to aim for 21 points in total across both games, and see if they could sneak a game on the way.  They started well, putting the two regular pairs to shame by not only making their 21 target, but exceeding both other pairs: 33-42 their combined score from the first game.

This spurred Tipue and Glen to greater things.  Which was pretty impressive given by this time Glen’s “my ankle’s a bit sore” had turned into Glen’s “you know what, I wonder if it’s broken”.  Their was visible surprise on the faces of the opposition’s strong first pair, as the Oakbrook couple played some excellent drives and drop-shots to take the first game to 20-20.  Sadly for us, their opposition rode the pressure well and took a narrow 22-24 victory before going on to win the second end, but we had them worried for a while!  Aamir and Dave were then again successful in getting their 21 target, although I have to admit I was mostly off eating biscuits at the time, so didn’t actually see how well they played to get their 22-42.  But I shall assume it was with Dave’s characteristic strong movement and smashing, and Aamir’s deceptive drop shots and dinky net shots.

Rawmarsh are one of three new teams to our third division this year, and we feared that they might all be a cut above the usual division three standard.  So we weren’t hugely surprised by being 0-5 down by nine o’clock.  The onlooking club members had long since stopped cheering for victory – well, I say ‘cheering’, what I mean is ‘looking-occasionally-in-the-direction-of-the-match-courts-with-vague-enthusiasm’ – and were instead wondering whether their team could avoid the whitewash.  The team were wondering the same thing.

Oakbrook’s first pair were on next, against the opposition third pair, so surely if any game was to be won, this was it.  Knowing this, Gavin and Simon went for it, missed it, and crashed to a 12-21 first game defeat.  Gavin made the rather lame suggestion to Simon that they were warmed up now, so they’d do better – and oddly enough it seemed to hold true, for they competed far better in the second game, taking it 25-23, and then going on to win the decider 21-15 after some very close line calls which even the watching opposition had to admit really were all just a centimetre out each time in our favour.

The opposite game, Rawmarsh first pair against Oakbrook third pair, saw Aamir and Dave fall just short of their previous scores, as Rawmarsh’s first pair made sure there wouldn’t be any more 20-all moments by making sure that they didn’t concede 20 points in total.  Gavin and Simon were then back on to try to repeat their winning performance from their previous game, but took ‘repeat’ a bit literally – again crashing to a 14-21 first game thwacking, again hoping they were warmed up better now, and again suddenly improving, this time with a 21-8, 21-18 finish to another tight game.

To round off the evening, Tipue and Glen had the final game.  With Glen by this point ‘tacking’ like a sailboat heading upwind when trying to get around the court with his dodgy ankle, it was impressive that they were able to make a very close game of it.  Solid, consistent rallies forced their opposition into mistakes, but not quite enough in the end, coming out 9-21, 21-19, 16-21 against.  A shame, since with a fully functional pair of lower limbs, Glen would surely have been able to give Tipue stronger assistance in coming out on top.

So overall a few close games, two of which we won, and a few not-so-close games, all of which we lost, but all of which we competed in.  Good experience for us all to play against a team whose deception and shot variety are better than we are used to, in rallies that are significantly more fast-paced.  Many thanks to Dave for subbing in for us, and to Gavin who did a lot of putting-things-away-at-the-end which was very useful as it freed me up to fend off and/or sympathise with the statutory comments of disappointment from opposition players about the colour of the lines.

If the other two new teams to the division are as good as this, it’s going to be our toughest season for a while.

Phoenix vs Mens Feathers, 15 October 2013

Phoenix 4 – 5 Oakbrook

Gavin B & Simon T | Tipue M A & Glen T | Aamir K & Naz M

Half a team of new faces in the Oakbrook line-up, as we started the season with a match against Phoenix, who have been our closest rivals for some years. Inconsiderately, they’d got themselves promoted to division 2 last year after what I believe was a couple of good wins and a couple of odd league table results and void matches. Happily (for us, if not for them), they’re firmly back in division 3 again this season so we can renew our acquantance.

So we arrived at their place, ignoring the potholed floor and cold-enough-to-turn-your-sweat-to-steam temperature, and focussed instead on the facts that they provide cups of tea, you can see the lines a lot more easily than at ours, and at least it wasn’t the depths of winter yet.

Gavin and Simon started quickly, and whizzed to a 21-17, 13-3 lead before the momentum changed and they found themselves at 21-17, 21-23, 20-20… but they hung on to deny their opponents an impressive comeback victory, taking the final game 22-20. With the number of frame shots, hit-the-net-and-go-over shots, and even one where the feather came off the shuttle to produce an unplayable slowed-down-mid-way smash, Simon was happy to assign the victory to luck more than talent. With fewer frame and net shots, but still with luck firmly on their side, they went on to win both their other games, making similarly hard work of one of them.

Aamir and Naz were finding themselves very much thrown in at the deep end. With neither having played with feathers before, and Naz recently promoted up three teams in one go, they were always fighting against the odds. They did win some respectable rallies but found it hard to string together enough to compete for victory, and ended up 55-126 down overall in their six games. Doubtless this year will be a tough one, but hopefully they will find success in later games.

So the match result relied on our final pair. Glen had kindly driven right across Sheffield and beyond to make it to the match, and then had to nurse a sore ankle as well, but put in a fine performance covering for Aaron G. We’re happy to have borrowed him from Drone this season! He was partnered by Tipue who has been involved in salvaging us a victory against the odds so many times before, that we were confident they’d be ready for the challenge. They looked reasonably comfortable against Phoenix’s third pair, but didn’t quite have enough against their first pair, winning the first and losing the second in straight sets. So it all came down to the final game of the night: 4-4, one to play. We needn’t have worried – either pressure doesn’t affect them, or they hadn’t got a clue what the score was – and they took it with one of Oakbrook’s best scores of the night: 21-15, 21-15.

Thanks to Glen for standing in for us, and to Aamir and Naz for braving their first experience of the feathers league. And of course to the long-standing team core for guiding us to victory. It’s almost always 5-4 or 4-5 against Phoenix, so it was pleasing that this time we got the 5 and they got the 4.

Session cancelled on Tuesday 8 October

The booking company for the school have just informed me that the hall at King Edward’s on 8 October will be closed due to “an open evening”.  Club session therefore cancelled on Tuesday 8 October 2013, but running as usual all other Tues/Fri.

So enjoy the irony of that while you sit at home unable to play, sorry!  🙁

New Season Starts

September is just about here, so it’s time for the new season to start.  As always, it runs from 1 September to 30 April, Tuesdays and Fridays, 1900-2200.

So the first Tuesday session back is Tuesday 3 September, 1900-2200

And the first Friday session back is Friday 6 September, 1900-2200

Teams will be picked by the selection committee during September, so make sure you let them know if you want to play – they will probably send out information to members on e-mail and/or at a club night soon.

New members very welcome – just come along to the sessions and say hello – see the “Joining” page for more details – join now and you could also get picked for a team if you wish.

See you at a club session soon,


No Summer Badminton on Tuesday 20 August

Hello all,

Summer badminton continues on Tuesdays but with one exception:

There will be no badminton on Tuesday 20 August due to the hall being unavailable.  Sorry about that – message below received from the booking company:

Unfortunately due to Water Works King Edwards Community Sports Centre will be closed from Monday 19th August -re opening Tuesday 27 August 2013.  We apologise for any inconvenience caused

So assuming it doesn’t over-run, we should be back on for 27 August as planned.

Summer Badminton

Summer is nearly here!

Or, possibly we just had it last week and now it’s going to be cold and rainy for the rest of the year.

But either way, we have more badminton for everyone!

Same as last year, we’re running one session a week – every Tuesday from 21 May until the end of August.  This is for anyone to come along and play – you don’t have to be an Oakbrook club member.

  • Tuesdays 1945 – 2145
  • 21 May through to 27 August inclusive
  • In King Edward VII Lower School sports centre (see contact/directions page for details)
  • Join for £25 for the whole of May-Aug (15 sessions in total)
  • Or pay and play for £3 per session
  • Three courts (on the nice white lines!)

Last year we had a good collection of people down – a mixture of Oakbrook’s club members, members of other local clubs, and visitors who hadn’t played in Sheffield before at all.  Hopefully we’ll get a similar mixture along this summer, so come along and join in.  Just turn up to play, or feel free to e-mail us (see contact/directions page) if you have any questions.


A reminder to all Oakbrook members – the AGM is on Tuesday 14 May.  Full details will be sent out by e-mail soon – contact Simon T if you don’t receive one.  Hope to see you all there!

Mixed vs Phoenix, 3 May 2013

Phoenix 3 – 6 Mixed

Anne B & Simon T | Calvin B & Morag D | Aaron G & Cheryl S

The final match in an unusually successful season for the mixed team saw them away in Phoenix’s gravel bunker.  The home match in April had seen a narrow victory for Oakbrook, led by Tipue and Sarah, neither of whom were playing today.  Like today, captain Simon O was unavailable and Simon T took the reins for the night.

So without our captain and last-time’s star players, the team looked to the only regular mixed-team pairing, Anne and Simon, to lead them down the path of victory.  Despite the challenging nature of the courts, Simon claims always to play well at Phoenix, and today was no exception with a far higher percentage of shots in the court than usual and his crazy scrape-it-off-the-floor-backhand shot working a treat.  Anne’s excellent reactions and shot placement from the front, along with many winners off return of serve, helped them to their best performance this year.  They recorded the best figures from an Oakbrook mixed pairing, taking all three games in straight sets against a Phoenix opposition that weren’t quite on their best form.  Though having given Anne the scorecards, I can’t now remember exactly what those scores were.

Calvin and Morag were finding things a little tougher, with close games always just going the way of the opposition, the closest being a 17-21 loss in the third end.  The advantage of knowing your partner well was showing at times, with Phoenix’s regular pairings at times holding a tactical advantage over Calvin and Morag who were a little irregular in comparison as a partnership, despite many good individual shots.

Aaron and Cheryl therefore needed to put in a winning performance if we were to take the match.  Their powerful shots and quick movement gave them an edge over their opposition, and they were able to use this advantage to win their first two games.  With the match now won, they dallied a bit on the final game of the night, taking it to three games, and allowing the third end to turn into an epic.  Aaron was the ‘personification of calm and tranquility’* as he fought for the final few points, a 16-21, 21-19, 27-25 victory completing their three wins of the evening.

So overall a 6-3 victory for the mixed team.  Thanks to Morag, Cheryl and Aaron for stepping in to replace Joan, Sarah and Simon – not the first time our substitutes have proven pivotal to our victory.

Despite being beaten every single match for the last four seasons, Oakbrook’s mixed team have always felt they weren’t far short of the mixed division standard, and this has been proven this year.  Although still losing to the established mixed teams again, they have beaten the new teams to the division – New Embers and Phoenix – both home and away this year in close-fought games, to finish the season with statistics of Played 8, Won 4, Lost 4, For 31, Against 41.  That puts them mid-table, third out of five in the tiny five-team mixed league.  Hopefully more teams will want to join the mixed league as it is a shame for the mixed fans that the combined leagues are so much larger.

*this may be a lie

Mixed vs Phoenix, 9 April 2013

Mixed 5 – 4 Phoenix

Joan H & Simon T | Sarah R & Tipue M A | Sue P & Calvin B

With captain Simon O on holiday, the honour of captaining Oakbrook’s least successful team in history passed to Simon T.  Although still rooted to the bottom of the Mixed league, Oakbrook have won their first ever game this season, and against Phoenix we were looking for our first win against a team that had actually brought three pairs with them.

Sarah and Tipue started very quickly, racing to a 21-12, 21-9 victory over their second pair, while Joan and Simon also came out winners of a close 21-17, 21-17 game against their first pair.  Sue and Calvin started well winning their first end 21-17, but ultimately came out the wrong way after a close three-setter.

So 2-1 up after the first games, it was looking to be as close a game as it always is when Oakbrook play Phoenix.  Sarah and Tipue were out to get the most from their match fee, and showed Joan and Simon what ‘close’ really meant, by coming out winners against their first pair 21-23, 24-22, 21-17.  Sue and Calvin made a respectable but unsuccessful score against their second pair with a number of interesting parrot-like squawks from Calvin as he saw the shuttle land just out of his reach one or two times too many.  Joan and Simon looked to have settled into winning ways with a straightforward two-set win against their third pair.

Now 4-2 up after the second round of games, we only needed one more victory to come out winners.  Sue and Calvin had the first shot, but against their first pair this was always going to be a challenge, and so it was, 16-21, 17-21 still being a good score to finish their evening.  Joan and Simon had won both their previous games in straight sets, and were up against the pair that Sarah and Tipue had already beaten to 12 and 9 earlier in the evening.  Confident of victory, they went into a 12-3 lead in the first game, after which something went a little wrong… whether it was tiredness, complacency, or a sudden burst of excellence and clever tactics from their opponents, no-one knew for sure, but the result was that although hanging onto that first game they lost the next two: 21-11, 21-23, 17-21 being the outcome.  With Joan and Simon slipping up, it fell to Sarah and Tipue to see us through to victory against their third pair.  So it was all looking to have ended badly when they lost the first game.  Perhaps sensing that it was coming down to them to decide the match, they improved from then on, and in the end made it look relatively easy, finishing 17-21, 21-14, 21-7.

A final score of 5-4, and a very rare win for the mixed team.  Simon puts it down to his excellent captaincy despite the fact his less-than-excellent playing at the end nearly cost them the match, and says that he will refuse ever to captain the mixed team again now in order to maintain his 100% winning record.  Many thanks to our substitutes, Tipue and Sue, for covering for Simon O and Anne.  That might even raise us off the bottom of the league for the first time in five years!

Mens Feathers vs University Staff, 5 April 2013

Mens Feathers 1 – 8 University Staff

Gavin B & Simon T | David W & John W | Calvin B & Nick F

Today’s excuse: John’s arm didn’t work.

In the last feathers match of the season, our three pairs had different fortunes.  Leading the way were Gavin and Simon, who put in a very good performance against their third pair, but still lost 18-21, 23-21, 13-21.  They went on from that to win their second game 21-19, 21-18, but their form dipped a little at the end and another tight three-set game again went the opposition’s way in their last game of the night.  But they can be happy enough to have got Oakbrook’s only game against the uni staff feathers team this year.

David and John’s evening was cut short after John’s arm decided it really was injured after all, and the pair had to pull out completely after losing their first game, thereby conceeding their others since we couldn’t convince left-handed John to play with his right hand like ‘normal’ people.  A disappointing end to a feathers season that hasn’t quite seen the pair match their success from last year.

Calvin and Nick, standing in for the missing Tipue and Simon O, had moments of “pretty good”, but also some “bad, verging on very bad” according to Calvin afterwards.  They found the uni staff pairs to be a little too strong, but still worked their way to double-figures most of the time, ending with 65-126 across their three games.  Thanks to both of them for stepping in to fill our vacancies.

We weren’t expecting a win, and weren’t necessarily expecting even to get a game at all, so avoiding a whitewash was pleasant.  Plenty of room for improvement next year though, since we remain second from bottom in the feathers league, ahead only of Abbeydale’s team of 12-year-olds.  As usual we’re not Oakbrook’s most successful team, but we give a good game most matches and do enjoy the chance to play with proper shuttles!