Brid pair celebrate 30 years on court

Nigel Fell and Paul Robinson
Nigel Fell and Paul Robinson

They could be the longest-serving partnership in badminton in Yorkshire.

Bridlington’s Paul Robinson and Nigel Fell are playing together for the 30th year this season.

They will again be representing Bridlington in Yorkshire League Division Two and forming a formidable men’s partnership for Priory in the Bridlington leagues.

Paul has played at junior, senior and masters level for Yorkshire and Nigel has represented the county at masters and played for Humberside at senior level.

They told the Free Press about some of their favourite memories from three decades together on the court.

What was your most memorable performance?

Paul: There have been so many over the years. I would pick a game when we lost to Yorkshire legend and England international Nitin Panesar and Norman Wheatley, while we were playing for Scarborough in Division One of the Yorkshire League in the late 1980s.

They played for Headingley, who were European club champions and we pushed them for every point.

Nigel: In the same match, we lost in three gruelling sets against Mike Brown and Brian Wallwork who both played for England during their careers.

They certainly knew they had been in a match.

What are your strengths as a doubles partnership?

Paul: Our friendship on and off the court, consistency and our excellent defence, along with our awareness of each other on court.

Nigel: I am good at the front of the court and with net play.

Paul, especially when he was younger, dominated the back of the court with his smash and his never-say-die attitude, which he still has at 51.

Who is the calmest on court?

Paul: Definitely Nigel. We would not have lasted as long if Nigel was like me - very vocal, excitable and loudon court.

We’ve had a few arguments with opponents.

Nigel: Me. Paul once blamed me when he served into the net.

Funniest moment?

We played a Yorkshire League match at Darlington and we were told the entrance to the badminton hall looked like a house.

It certainly did because I walked in and a family were having Sunday lunch. Their dog chased me out with my team-mates laughing their socks off.

Nigel: We were playing in the men’s open final at Scarborough when a message came over the tannoy ‘would the owner of a blue Morris Minor, please go and shut the car door. And there is also a plated Sunday dinner on the back seat’.

It was Paul’s car. The corwd and our opponents found it very funny.

How many more years can you play for?

Paul: We both had career-threatenining injuries last season and wondered if we would play again.

So to be back in the Yorkshire League Division Two again at our age is unbelieveable.

We can only think of two players who have played together as long as we have and they do not partner each other at Yorkshire League level.

Hopefully, if we can stay injury-free, we can keep playing for a few more years.

It’s good that we have some young players breaking through into our team to add speed and stamina.

We bring our own qualities to the team and when we don’t perform, we will know it is time to retire.

Best win?

Paul: Winning nine Bridlington Open titles when the entry was massive and the event was played at the Spa.

Nigel: Winning our first Bridlington Open when I ws 19 and Paul was only 15.

What is your advice for up-and-coming players?

Paul: Give your all in every match and always respect the ability of your opponents.

It helps if you have a hard smash and a brilliant defence and you can be deceptive in your play.

Nigel: Enjoy the game and look to improve in every performance.