With the Team 1 v 2 Derby match postponed, Team 5 v Team 6 in Division 4 took centre stage at Ladywood on Wednesday. There was a lot riding on this match with Team 5 still in with a chance of promotion (although they needed help from others). They called on the services of Team 7’s George Wilson who joined regulars Craig Johnson and Millie Bennett as they faced Rachel Petrie, Craig Linton and Adam Woodhouse. Did anyone tell Team 6, who had little to play for, that Team 5 desperately needed a win? If we did, that didn’t stop Team 6 throwing everything at their promotion chasing clubmates! George started off with a good win v Craig L before Rachel raced into a 2-0 lead v Millie. Rachel’s resolve would surely have been broken when Millie came back to 2-2 with a 17-15 win in the 4th end - but no - Rachel dug deep and proceeded to win the 5th end comfortably. Craig then defeated Adam before the scores were levelled again as Craig L defeated Millie in 4 ends – 2-2 match score and Team 5, keeping El Presidente up to date by text, were worried! George again gave the favourites a lead by winning match 5 v Adam before match 6 was to prove crucial. Craig J v Rachel – at 1-1 in ends, Craig scraped over the line 12-10 in the 3rdand had that gone the other way who knows what might have happened – as it was Craig got more confident and ran out victorious in 4 ends. In the battle of the Craig’s it was Team 6’s Craig who won in a fifth end nail biter but that was the only other win for Team 6 as Team 5 secured a hard fought 7-3 victory. With the help of a huge favour from Haddington 4 the next night as they defeated Fife, Team 5 now find themselves in 2nd spot in the division and their destiny is within their own control – 4 or 5 weeks ago they could not have asked or hoped for anything more than that – one match to go and a victory in that match will secure them promotion. Good luck.
Elsewhere, Team 3 of James Wighton, Ian Hislop and Abby Wighton faced a nerve-racking tussle at Ladywood v ESC 3 in Division 2. This match was one of those which could easily have turned on a couple of points here and there. After the first 3 singles, the Penicuik trio held a 2-1 lead. After the next round of singles, the scores were tied at 3-3. A win in the doubles gave the hosts the advantage and James secured a point with a win in Match 8, but ESC kept the contest alive with a win in Match 9. The stage was set for Ian H v Gary Woodhouse – talk about an unorthodox match-up! 2-0 up and Ian was coasting to victory – hang on 11-5, 11-7 wins for Gary and the game was level at 2-2. The deciding set had everything, including we’re told, some amazing attacking play from Ian H. Really?? We witnessed Ian playing in Round 1 of the Handicap Cup where he played 95 shot rallies over and over and over again without a positive shot! But no, attack he did, and fortune favoured the brave as he ran out an 11-8 winner securing a 6-4 victory for the Ladywood side.
Our first team to complete their 2018/19 season was Team 4 of Julian Taylor, Tony Brentnall and Sonny Taylor as their final match took them on their travels to play ESC 4. They’ll be wishing the season wasn’t over as they romped home to a 10-0 win rounding off a decent campaign for this trio. Having stepped up from Division 4, Julian and Sonny can be proud of their achievements this year – a 4th place finish is guaranteed and Julian finishes with a very respectable 75% win rate. Sonny may just about hang on to a top 10 individual finish on 65% just a little behind Tony on 68% who, after a couple of years off, showed glimpses of being back to near his best.
Team 7’s season could have been so different had Phil Daly not got himself injured just before the 2nd half of the season started – eye surgery was followed by a slow recovery and although not 100%, to avoid having to concede, he bravely took to the table for his first competitive match this year as he and Kristian Skotzen faced West Lothian 8. For the third time in March, Team 7 had to play with just two players and on this occasion, they weren’t able to overturn their 3-0 deficit. The good news, however, was that Phil won 2 of his 3 matches and that was a very positive outcome for him! Kristian was disappointed with only 1 win and the pair don’t want to talk about the fifth end of their doubles match which they lost 11-1! A 7-3 defeat for Team 7 but we don’t care about that – it was just good to see Phil back in action.
And so, to our Player of the Week Award for Week 28. This week’s undefeated players were Ian Hislop from Team 3, all of Team 4 and George playing up for Team 5. Harsh though it is, Team 4 were playing opposition already relegated from Division 3 so they’re all out of the running. George has been in great form of late and his 3 against Team 6 was a terrific boost for Team 5 – but he won it last week and we don’t want his head getting too big!! Gary still can’t believe that this man won last week’s player of the match award with a two whilst playing up for Team 2, this week he definitely deserved it – 3 singles wins and a doubles victory in a 6-4 win – add to that the fact that he played some attacking TT (we still can’t believe it – did anyone catch it on camera?) and there can be no doubt that Ian H is our deserved winner.
And finally, our Controversy of the Week section.
Away from our matches this week, another Club raised with us a matter which has almost now become the norm rather than the exception – playing matches on two tables! The Team in question, we’re told, have played their last 3 away matches on 2 tables. Whilst it is understood that given time constraints, this may be unavoidable, in the three venues in question, they played on completely different makes of tables. Our source suggested this was crazy, as in each venue players were practicing on tables that were identical to the one being used for the match. They felt that with a little extra effort this could have been easily avoided and they feel this should perhaps be a rule for forthcoming seasons. We dislike the two-table set-up for different reasons. In the “good old days” there was no doubt that playing in the League was about being part of a “Team” – the League is of course a “team event” but, in our view, the “team spirit” which used to exist in League matches is slowly being eroded away by “having to play” on two tables (sometimes 3). This can be especially hard for youngsters (or David Melrose) who need the support of teammates to sometimes get them through the games! For some (although others would say they should be concentrating solely on their own game) they can become easily distracted as they glance over, wondering how their teammate is getting on. Of course, for some, maybe it is just more about individual performances but that’s not what it’s supposed to be. Whilst we accept that playing on two tables has almost become inevitable (we do it ourselves) because of venue difficulties, we wonder whether there is any other way of dealing with it. Get rid of the doubles and go back to 9 matches? That’s what they do in the West of Scotland League. Only play six singles as we do in the Scottish National League? If we want to keep the doubles fixture, play six singles and a doubles match? In these times when we are looking to attract youngsters to the game, finishing at 10pm (or after) is going to put many parents off letting their young ones take part. In recent years adapting the format of league matches has been looked at but never voted for - maybe we need to look at it again – wouldn’t we all benefit from a shorter match format??
And finally, as we said in our match reports, it was great to see Phil back in action. When asked how his vision had withstood the test of match play, he replied that he had been OK but bizarrely he kept thinking his shots had caught an edge when they hadn’t and so clearly his eyesight wasn’t back to normal yet. Phil, we hate to break this news to you – that’s nothing to do with your operation – everyone at the Club knows that you’ve always seen edges (but only on your shots) when no one else in the Hall has!!
April is upon us and Divisional winners, promotion issues and relegation issues have all been decided, apart from Division 4. That will be dealt with in the coming week!