Badminton glory for Jersey

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Not only was their 28-2 victory over Guernsey in the New Gilson Hall Jersey’s best ever score in the inter-insular but, more pertinently, it ended an amazing 27 years of Sarnian domination.

Even veteran skipper Ian Coombs-Goodfellow – one of the Island’s most successful sportsmen with a bagful of honours and medals over the past two decades and more – had never tasted victory in the famous Gilson Cup, first contested in 1934.

Yes, he has savoured Island Games and Commonwealth Games success over the Sarnian team, more often than not partnered by Jersey Badminton Association president Steve Watson.

But success in the Gilson which, with a 12-strong team format, more accurately measures an island’s strength in depth, had eluded him throughout his career.

Indeed any inter-insular success was missing until he helped the veterans to victory earlier this season! Satisfaction The fact that this year’s success was not unexpected – the captain had famously announced that he would almost bet his life on victory days before – did not dull the satisfaction.

Jean Shiels, a member of the last Jersey team to win, at the ‘old’ Gilson Hall in 1977, said: ‘Ian has worked so hard for this – he has done so much for Jersey badminton since starting off as a junior.’ As the score indicates an understrength Guernsey were never at the races against a strong Jersey side bolstered by national champion Elizabeth Cann and England junior Mariana Agathangelou, who had both returned especially for the match, and Anton Kriel, a former South Africa Olympian.

A great start by Jersey’s men – they went on to win 9-0 – paved the way and Guernsey did not even win a set until after an hour and a half.

As it was that match, won 2-1 by Guernsey No 1 Elena Johnson and Lisa Hayward over Jersey’s Kerry Coombs-Goodfellow and Agathangelou, was the Sarnian highlight.

The same Guernsey pair had to wait another 90 minutes before registering their second and final success, this time over Jodie Mercier and Kim Ashton.

But Mercier and Ashton had, six matches later, the great satisfaction of gaining the 16th victory that ensured that the trophy, named after a former JBA president, would come back to Jersey.

So, before even starting the mixed doubles, the match was over and done with.

Or so you might have imagined.

‘There was still a lot to play for from our point of view,’ said the captain, who refused to single out star performers – ‘It was a real team victory,’ he beamed.

‘And we wanted to drum it home.’ Drum it home they most certainly did, winning all 12 of the mixed matches to register a record victory for Jersey and one that has only once been surpassed – a 30-0 win for Guernsey in 1970.

Given Guernsey’s amazing record over the past three decades it’s no surprise that they lead the overall series 47-15.

But look out, Jersey have enjoyed the taste of victory! JBA president Watson presented the trophy to his ‘good friend’ Coombs-Goodfellow after thanking both sides for the spirit in which the match was played – a point worth highlighting as the sporting discipline is such that no umpires are required.

Not many highly competitive inter-insulars can boast that.

Elizabeth Cann won the the Blampied Top Player award, just edging out Anton Kriel by two points.

Cann flys out of the Island today to prepare for the World Team Championships with England in Bejing next month.

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