Following the return of El Presidente, order was restored to Team 1 (Greig McDonell, David Melrose & Abby Wighton) as they recorded their biggest win of the season, a 7-3 victory over relegation certainties Corstorphine. Greig was undefeated on the night whilst David added two and Abby 1. David combined with Greig for the important doubles victory. Had Team 1 not managed a win then they would have definitely been joining Corstorphine in Division 1 next season - as it stands, they’re only odds on favourites for the drop! Positivity is what’s needed – wins against Murrayfield 1, Merchiston 1 and West Lothian 1 in the last 4 weeks of the season would probably see us safe………
Since El Presidente’s absence Team 2’s Division 1 campaign has completely gone off the rails. His return also brought some good fortune for them as they recorded an 8-2 victory. With Clive Liddiard unavailable, James Wighton and Charlie Brindley were joined by Krzysztof Laszkiewicz as they faced bottom of the table Edinburgh International 3. Good relations between our Clubs were restored as Ed Int turned up with only two players. James was undefeated on the night and combined with Charlie for a win in the doubles fixture. Ken Benjamin provided the two away wins with successes against Charlie and Krzysztof. Not out of the woods yet for Team 2 but a much-needed win. Although the result promotes Team 2 up the table by two places they remain only 4 points clear of the relegation zone.
In Division 3, Team 4’s miserable run continued as they faced an away trip to Corstorphine 4. John Bald was spotted at Straiton Park & Ride waiting on his teammate arriving to travel to the match with only two players given Brian Bailey’s absence due to injury. As Team 1 arrived at Corstorphine it became apparent that the hosts only had two players for their Division 3 encounter – a fair fight was on the cards after all – until John turned up on his tod!! Louis McLeod had been taken ill at the last minute – John played an entertaining match against his two opponents in the knowledge that a concession would have to be given to Corstorphine – now here’s a result you don’t see very often – 7-0 to Corstorphine!! Since mid-November Team 4 have played 10 matches and out of a possible 20 points they’ve won 3! Yet remarkably they still sit safe in 6th position in the table!
Meanwhile, Team 5 succumbed to a 10-0 whitewash defeat at the hands of joint leaders, North Merchiston 5 last week at Ladywood. Regulars Craig Johnson and Stuart Bennett were joined by Adam Woodhouse who made his Division 4 debut for the Club in Week 19. According to Coach Tom who was watching the match the 10-0 win was a fair result with only 3 ends going the way of the home side. It looks difficult now for Team 5 to retain their Division 3 status - 5 points behind 3rd bottom, Edinburgh Sports Club and a worse game difference. As a positive, however, they have a game in hand on ESC and a match to come against bottom of the table West Lothian 7. Anything but a win in that match and the bookies will be refusing to take any further bets.
And so to Division 4 – two matches last week for Team 6. Having defeated then top of the table Haddington 3 a couple of weeks ago a win against Haddington 4 was surely on the cards? Julian Taylor, Rachel Petrie & Sonny Taylor were however turned over by their East Lothian opponents. An 8-2 defeat with both Julian and Rachel picking up 1. In fairness, this match was much closer than the result suggests – 4 matches on the night went to a deciding 5th set – all four of them lost by Penicuik – oh what might have been? Team 6, however, picked themselves up a couple of nights later as they recorded a good 6-4 win against Edinburgh International 5. This time 5 of the ten matches went to deciding fifth sets with Team 6 crucially winning 2 of those. Julian and Sonny both won 2 singles and combined to win the doubles whilst Rachel added the important 6th win.
And finally, to Team 7 of George Wilson, Phil Daly and Kristian Skotzen. 3 wins on the bounce for this trio – Team Captain George was dreading the return of El Presidente – bad things happen when he’s around! Lo and behold a visit to Fife was on the cards in Week 20 – could they prove that their controversial 5-5 draw in the first half of the season was a fair result? Well maybe they could have had it not been for Phil’s late call off due to illness! No replacement available and a two-man team lost out 8-2 with George picking up both wins for the visitors. Come on George it’s just a coincidence – it’s got nothing to do with his return to the Club! One thing to cheer George up - his wager that KLOS will win Div 4 is looking an even better bet with every week which passes.
And so to our Player of the Week Award for Week 20. Only two players were undefeated for the Club last week – Greig for Team 1 and James for Team 2 – oh come on it’s not even a contest! James may be our nicest team captain and everyone at the Club may love him but one of his victories was against that guy Mr Walkover – that can’t count!! Greig’s return from his very long mid-season holiday (who at the Cub authorised that by the way – shocking) brought a set of positive results back to the Club (3 out of our 6 teams recorded victories) – for that and his undefeated night against Corstorphine, he is this week’s unbiasedly chosen winner!!
Now to our Controversy of the Week section – Jings there’s a lot we could cover here…..
Let’s start with our friends from Corstorphine 1. They’ve not had the best of seasons in the Premier League – bottom of the table and beaten twice by us! They’ve conceded 3 matches so far this season. So what we hear you cry. They were apparently taken aback when it was pointed out to them by the League that the Rules state that an offence of conceding a match shall be punished by fines being imposed – a third such offence shall be marked by a £20 fine and suspension from the League for the remainder of the season!! Oh dear – is ignorance of the law a defence in this scenario? In fairness to Corstorphine even if anyone was to make an issue about this (which no one is as far as we are aware) they’re doomed to relegation in any event. Mind you what if they had beaten us last week to ensure that we would follow them into Division 1? But wait, it gets worse – the rule states that in addition to the suspension from the League the Team will automatically be relegated to the bottom division for the following season!! Wow! That’s some punishment for conceding 3 games!! Never mind though there’s a right of appeal against that. And hey there’s a precedent for taking no action at all – last year Haddington 4 conceded five matches. It seems to us that to relegate a team to the bottom of the League for this “offence” is harsh in the extreme. We can all surely see a scenario where a team might need to concede 3 matches over the course of a 22 match season – look at our Team 4 last week – no intention to concede but only one player turned up for the match – that’s a concession! What is the rationale behind the rule? It appears it’s another one which is there just as a deterrent but in fact is never enforced – In addition to Haddington last year, WL conceded 3 and University conceded 5 in season 2015/16. Back to our age old comment – what’s the point of having a rule that isn’t enforced – just get rid of it!
Moving on what about the battle at the top of Division 1. The match between Edinburgh University 2 and Haddington has been the subject of some considerable discussion. The match ought to have been played in September last year but ultimately was rearranged to January – that in itself is a breach of the Rules. It appears that Uni did field a full team but one of their players had been registered for Uni’s Team 1 at the beginning of the season when the fixture ought to have been played – he was then allowed to be moved down at some point to Team 2 but in terms of the rules he was not eligible to play in this rearranged fixture – the card was initially completed with his scores reflected – this was then changed and his results were removed including a doubles performance – was the outcome changed as a result?? We believe it was and resulted in a good and important win for Haddington – of course the rules say that in this scenario the match should be awarded against the team fielding an ineligible player 10-0 – that didn’t happen – as with our Team 5’s match earlier in the season only the ineligible player’s games were overturned – no rule to say this should happen but hey who needs rules. A great result for Haddington – not so good for West Lothian, Murrayfield and Edinburgh International who are all vying for promotion. As an aside, having been de-registered out of the Premier it seems to us a bit bizarre that the same player has subsequently played up for the Premier team on at least a couple of occasions – once against us – we would have thought after moving someone down they shouldn’t be allowed to play up again?
Further controversy in Division 1 when we add into the mix that Edinburgh International seem to have added a couple of strong new players to their teams. Some of the other contending clubs for promotion are also feeling a little hard done by. One of their new players registered for Team 3 (bottom of the Division) played against struggling Murrayfield 5 – new player won his 3 in a 5-5 draw. He then “played up” for Team 2 against Murrayfield 4 and won two along with both his teammates in a 6-4 win. (Don’t new players have to play so many matches before they are allowed to play up?) They’ve still got Murrayfield 3 (going for the title) to play – maybe he’ll show up against them as well to completely spoil Murrayfield’s party! According to an email sent to the League by another Club, Edinburgh International have again registered a new player in a team well below his standard!
And what about the strange rearranged match between Ed Int 2 and Ed Int 3 – rearranged to a date where they could only field 4 players between them! Neither of the new players featured for either team in that match and a 7-2 result was the outcome.
Wherever the controversy is, if there is one in any of the above, what we can say for sure is that the Division 1 title and promotion race is an absolute cracker – 4 teams all capable of finishing in positions 1 to 4 (Haddington, Edinburgh International, West Lothian & Murrayfield) and various fixtures between the respective Clubs still to play – as exciting a race for promotion as we can remember – just a pity we’re not part of it.
And finally, one of our pet hates, CHO CHO CHO!! On view again at the Schools Championships at the weekend at Bathgate – as one parent was heard to say – why don’t the coaches do something about that type of behaviour – everyone loves an occasional fist pump or word of encouragement and if it has to be CHO then so be it – but really after every point won whether a good shot or an error by your opponent – that’s just ridiculous!!
We’ll have nothing to write about next week – everything’s been postponed due to the snow – hold on, the League have just sent the proposed new rules out – that should be fun…..