England stars Nick Matthew and Daryl Selby will be leading their Nottingham and Leicester teams out in tomorrow’s PSL final, both with their sights firmly set on taking the trophy home.
Nottingham, winners of Division A who beat Chichester 4-1 in the semi-finals, are appearing in their first final of the PSL (post-2005) era having lost out in the semis in 2010 and 2012.
Leicester are also in their first final, in just their third season in the league, avenging last year’s semi-final defeat to seven-time champions Surrey to reach the final.
Selby’s final debut
For Selby, who played for St George’s for many years before joining Leicester, it will be this first PSL Final since the 2011 and 2012 editions, in both of which he played a dead rubber, St George’s already having lost to Surrey.
“The Leicester chairman told me he wanted to win it in the next two years,” explained Selby.
“I said I could help him improve the team and we brought in some talented players and it has paid off. Last year we made it to the semis and this year we’ve taken another step forward.
“It would be huge for me to win it with Leicester,” he added, “they’re a great club with a really friendly atmosphere, it would be great for them after all of their hard work.
“Personally, I’ve won quite a few different things but the PSL isn’t one of them, so it would be great to win it.”
Matthew too is playing for a new team after many years at the head of the Duffield team who won the PSL title three times in six appearances in the final (they also won in 1998 when it was called the National League).
Matthew appeared in five of those finals, tasting victory three times. The most dramatic was the first PSL final in 2006 – also at the National Squash Centre – when, with the match poised at two-all, Nick went on court for the decider declaring “leave it to me, Boss!”
The Boss then was Duffield’s Brian Hargrave, while Tuesday’s boss will be Nottingham’s Nick Hargreaves.
“We have a young, English-based team with some stardust thrown in,” said Matthew. it’s a great team to watch and support.
“I’ve wanted the final to be a standalone showpiece at the National Squash Centre for years, so I’m delighted to see squash at its best there to end the season. I’m looking forward to a tough match and hope there will be a big crowd for the event.”
There’s plenty of local interest for the Manchester fans, with England Academy players James, Fallows and newly-crowned Welsh Open champion George Parker (playing for Leicester) all living in Manchester and regularly training at the National Squash Centre, as well as Cheshire-born Adam Murrills, who plays for Bowdon Squash Club, near Altrincham.
Add to that Matthew’s own Sheffield contingent a short drive away plus the home fans from both Nottingham and Leicester and there promises to be a great atmosphere around the all-glass court.
“It’s been my first season in a new team and a different city so it’s almost felt like a new league for me after playing for so long at Duffield,” added Matthew. “At first it felt strange pulling on a new shirt for a new team, let alone one who have been such close rivals over the years.
“We’ve grown as a team and really connected with the fans and it would mean a lot to win it for them on Tuesday. To top the season off with a final visit is massive and we want to go all the way now.”
Matthew and Selby are set to renew their rivalry – the most recent being the 2016 British Grand Prix semi-final at the National Squash Centre (Matthew won that), the most memorable definitely the 2011 National Championships Final – in the second match on the glass court (the very one that Selby won that 2011 final on) when the match could be poised at one-all or two-nil to one of the teams.
Nick Matthew v Daryl Selby 2nd on, Glass
Declan James v George Parker 3rd on, Glass
Richie Fallows v Mark Fuller 2nd on, C4
Adam Murrills v Darren Lewis 1st on, C4
Millie Tomlinson v Emily Whitlock 1st on, Glass