The journey there wasn’t the most straightforward... but it was worth it for what was a fun and friendly tournament. The outbound trip was always going to be a bit convoluted, involving a drive to Leeds, a train to Manchester and then flying via Amsterdam. What I hadn’t planned for was an unexpected detour via Paris when the AMS-LUX flight was cancelled due to an issue with aircraft. Credit to KLM, they sorted everything out quickly and against expectation, my luggage arrived in the Grand Duchy at the same time as I did.
If travel was the challenge for that day, the challenge for the next was more one of mountaineering... or more specifically, working out the best/safest/least inelegant way to scale up the almost vertical ladder into the umpire chairs. There were definitely a few nervy moments, not mention a couple of bruises as I tried a few different techniques before settling on a method involving climbing the first three rungs, grabbing onto the back of the seat, twisting my right foot round 180 degrees and swinging my left leg around as gracefully as possible.
We were well looked after by the Luxembourgish Badminton Federation and with the hotel being attached to the badminton hall, everything we needed was close by. Just as well as the first couple of days went on beyond 11pm, so it was nice not to have too far to crawl to bed.
The official stats for the tournament make interesting reading. I apparently spent a total of 17 hours and 37 minutes on court, beating the Swedish umpire into second place by a whole 23 minutes (hard working or inefficient, I’ll let the reader decide!).
A few highlights from the tournament:
1. The referee coming onto court before the start of one of my matches trying to track down a bee, which had been reported to have been somewhere on the court. Said bee was located and rather unceremoniously dispatched - not so much bee, as used to bee...
2. During a pre match clothing check, noticing that one half of a men’s doubles pair had an additional advert on his shorts. I asked more in hope than expectation whether he had another pair of shorts and was surprised at the answer of ‘yes, I do’, followed by the illegal pair being dropped to the floor in front of me!
3. Seeing the new spin serve live, both from the sidelines and in one of my matches. I concluded it was more effective in doubles than singles, but interesting to see the contrasting reactions it drew from opponents, being calm and relaxed at one extreme, and yellow card worthy frustration at the other (the former definitely worked better).
4. Chance of some German speaking practice, with no less than five native speakers among the umpire ranks.
After leading out on finals day to do the women’s doubles final it was a short trip back to the airport and thankfully a far less eventful back to Blighty in time to enjoy the bonus bank holiday Monday.