Greig McDonell was looking to avoid playing Team 2 and had called up Ian Hislop to join David Melrose and Iain Johnstone in their Division 1 derby. Gary McDougal, Charlie Brindley and Krzysztof Laszkiewicz were looking forward to making things awkward for their Team 1 opponents. Hold on, drama before the match even started as David seemingly had a bit of a sniffle and wasn’t going to make it! Oh dear, Greig had to face that awkward trio after all! This was a classic intra-club fixture – no love lost, a real desire to win, bad language, bad tempers, unsporting behaviour, bitterness at every edge or net that went to the opponent - and all of that was just from Charlie! Oh, if only David had been there – this could have turned really ugly! As it was, Iain J started the match off with a 4-end win v Charlie, the third end of which was crucial and accordingly to Charlie, Iain had about 13 edges and nets in his 11-9 win. Greig comfortably dispatched Krzysztof before Gary came back from the dead to win 12-10 in the fifth v Ian H. Match 4 could have gone either way – Greig was nice and relaxed in the first end but when Charlie sneaked it for a 14-12 win things got interesting. Charlie, buoyed by that, took a 6-0 lead in the 2nd end and Greig appeared to be stuck in 1st gear – he couldn’t even seem to motivate himself as he remained calm and quiet – that was until an edge was greeted with a despairing grunt from Charlie – the first David Melrose style “Good Boy” of the night wasn’t received well by Charlie who was left even more annoyed by Greig’s retort that the "Good Boy" was merited as a result of the shot’s perfect length! Oh my – aren’t we from the same Club?? Greig ultimately took a 2-1 lead before Charlie stuck at it and clawed back with a 12-10 fourth end win! In the 5th, Greig decided that pushing wasn’t going to win this match and suddenly decided to “just go for it”. A good tactical decision as he won the 5th end 11-1. Had Charlie managed to secure victory there, this could have become a very interesting match, however, that was as close as Team 2 got to levelling the scores, their only other win coming in match 9 as Charlie defeated Ian H. In the end an 8-2 victory for Team 1 probably flattered the Division 1 Champions.
Meanwhile, Team 6 hosted Team 7 in the last fixture of Division 4. As a result of Greig’s late call up to Team 1, he returned direct from Glasgow with daughter, Hannah, in tow giving Team 7 the opportunity of “pulling a fast one” by turning up with 3 players as opposed to Team 6’s two! All’s fair in love and war isn’t it? Hannah was joined by Kristian Skotzen and Phil Daly (still recovering from eye surgery) as they took on Team 6’s Louis McLeod and Craig Linton. This derby match wasn’t quite as fiery as the 1v2 game but had its moments – Kristian can be really bad tempered at times – has anyone noticed that?? And as for that Hannah….
Louis again proved his worth to Team 6, an undefeated night for him in which he only lost 1 end (to Hannah) and a win in the doubles secured 4 wins for Team 6. Fortunately, Mr Walkover hadn’t performed too well for Team 6 so that made it 4-3. When Hannah and Kristian both recorded wins over Craig, Team 7 were 5-4 up. The last match of the night was to prove decisive - Craig v Phil. As Craig took the first two ends comfortably (11-5, 11-6) he looked in complete control – credit to Phil, however, as he came back with an 11-7 win in set 3 to make the game interesting. In the end, however, Craig proved too strong and given Team 7’s shenanigans it was probably fair that Craig secured the 5th win for Team 6 as the spoils were shared with a 5-5 draw.
Away from the League, Abby Wighton, Sonny Taylor and George Wilson took on Corstorphine in the first semi-final of the Handicap Cup. When Sonny (previously undefeated in the competition) lost the first match of the night the writing was on the wall for the Penicuik trio. They battled back however and with time running out they found themselves 4-3 down. As George was losing Match 8, the decision was taken to get match 9 started on another table (just in case). As Abby won the first end of Match 9, George was involved in an epic battle in end 4 of his match. At various points he found himself match point down but battled hard to somehow win that 4th end and take the game to a decider. League teammate, Hannah, commented that she’d never seen George looking so nervous as he pushed ball after ball that were almost above head height – that’s the beauty of the Handicap Cup – it makes us all play some ridiculous games at times! Talk about nerves – with a big crowd looking on, George’s screech of delight (more like relief) was heard as he levelled the match score at 4-4. No pressure then Abby! As all of the nervousness of George’s match had been going on, she lost end 2 and was embroiled in her own epic third end. Giving away a 6 point start in a race to 13, she had comfortably caught her opponent before the end of the game, but then, as seems to regularly happen in these matches, the players started trading points – after 7 deuces, Abby agonisingly lost the 3rd end and that was to prove crucial – a great effort but she fell to a 3-1 defeat and Corstorphine progressed to the final – a terrific match to end the night.
The week wasn’t over there though for the Club as the next night saw the final quarter final take place between Murrayfield and Penicuik. David was unavailable (work seemingly rather than his sniffle from the previous night), and so he was replaced by Craig Linton, making his debut in the Competition as he joined regulars Gary McDougal and Louis McLeod. A terrific 5-2 win followed for the Midlothian trio and the only question at the end of the night was will David be able to claim his place back in the team for the semi-final – unlikely seemed to be the answer from that harsh Team Captain, Gary, who was still annoyed at David for having avoided the derby game the previous night!
And so, to our Player of the Week Award for Week 30. This week’s undefeated players were Greig and Iain from Team 1 and Louis from Team 6. Louis got a good mention last week and so he’s out of the running this week! Greig and Iain also won the doubles together – how can we split them? Surely the man who gave up his plans at the last minute, rushed back from the West through rush hour traffic and at the same time managed to bring Team 7 a third player deserves this week’s award? But wait, Team 2 for some bizarre reasoning appear to have awarded the POTM award to Iain J – oh well – dubious though it is, this week’s winner (kind of deserved) is Iain J!
Controversial moments this week? We have to end on a happy note for a change. The League season is over, and it’s been a good one for the Club – even with some outbursts in our Derby matches, everyone shook hands and had a laugh about it after the event. At the end of the night the Club spirit was there to be seen as everyone stayed around to support our team in the Handicap Cup Semi-Final. And that’s what TT at our level should be about – be determined and always want to win on the table but be friendly and supportive of each other away from the table – a pat on the back to Penicuik TTC for continuing to have that “family friendly” feel about it.
And so on we go with one final matter still to be decided for the Club - another Handicap Cup Semi-Final, hopefully with a better outcome than the last one.....