After Selectors Craig & Greig found a random way to get them both in teams they liked, Team 1 ended up with Julian, Charlie and the aforementioned Craig and they faced a trip to Inverkeithing. With news of a blackout on the west side of Edinburgh knocking out all the traffic lights and long tail backs on the Queensferry Crossing things didn't look like getting off to the best possible start for Team1. Charlie, wondering what traffic Scotland were fretting about, had other ideas and made a leisurely traffic free journey to the Kingdom of Fife as he reminisced on the old Forth Road Bridge - £80 lighter in the pocket later he arrived in a bit of a bad mood!
Julian (scratch) kicked off proceedings against Fife's Wes Smith (+7). With Wes' strong forehand and requiring only 4 points in each game Julian was in for an early battle. Playing a patient game Julian took his chances and clawing back the deficit took the first point for the visitors with a 3-1 win. Up next was Craig (+4) v Ian Wardrope (-3). With a 7-0 head start up to 14 Craig got off to a nervous start going down 2-0 before finally being able to return Ian's serves and keep his blocks and hits on the table to win the next two ends comfortably. The 5th end saw a return of some nerves for Craig and having recovered to only 10-9 down it looked like Ian was going to pull off the win only for Craig to win the final 4 points to win 14-9 and put Team1 2-0 ahead. Game 3 saw Charlie (-7) pitted against Fife's Neil Hoggan (+4) with Neil having an 11 point start to 18. Three runaway ends later and Neil left the visitors 2-1 up but scratching their heads and double checking the ELTTL handicap list to see if Neil's handicap was really meant to be -4!
The next round of games saw Julian beat Ian 3-1, Charlie lose to Wes and Craig lose to Neil to leave the scores 3-3 going into the final 3 games. With Charlie losing a close game to Ian 3-1 the visitors were 4-3 down with the final two games to play. With time drawing in those final games were played on two tables. Julian played Fife's player of the night Neil whilst Craig played Wes. With Neil having a 4-0 advantage to 11 against Julian, the closest game of the night was played out with the ends see-sawing between the two players leaving it 2-2 going into the 5th end. Meanwhile on the other table, after losing the first end, Craig won the next two ends but then faced being 10-6 down in the 4th before winning the next 6 points to bring the game level at 4-4. Simultaneously and unaware of that result Julian found himself 10-6 down in the fifth. With the prospect of a solemn car journey back to Midlothian empty handed for the Penicuik trio, Julian dug deep and won the next 6 points to clinch a highly entertaining game 5-4!
Team 2 faced a trip to Murrayfield in their quest to reach Round 2. The random computer selection process had resulted in Gary McDougal and David Melrose being joined by Louis McLeod, who at +6 was identified as a potential match winner – and so it proved as Louis was undefeated on the night – Gary and David both added 1 as Team 2 recorded a solid 5-2 win.
Team 3 meanwhile travelled to Bathgate to take on West Lothian 5. Abby Wighton (-5) was joined by Sonny Taylor (+3) and George Wilson (+4) in a tough looking match against a trio of Div 4 players. When Sonny, giving 3 of a start to Tommy Toner, lost in 3 quick ends it looked like it was going to be a difficult night for the visitors. Wins, however, for George and Abby were followed by a first win of the night for Sonny and suddenly a 3-1 lead for the Penicuik trio who looked in control. Tommy, however, had other ideas making a mockery of his +6 Handicap as he dispatched Abby 16-8, 16-8, 16-7 to bring the hosts back into the match. Game 6 was to prove crucial on the night. Bob Lander had lost out to George in the League in Week 5 and with a 2 point start surely George was a comfortable favourite. 12-10, 12-10 in the first two ends to Bob and youngsters Abby and Sonny were starting to panic. With the pressure on, George seemed to find another gear as he won the final 3 ends to 5, 4 and 6. With an 11 point start, Jordan then won his first match of the night against Abby to reduce the deficit to 1 before match 8 pitted Bob against Sonny. Tactically, the visitors were left wondering why WL had put their best player on paper (and in reality) to play games 1, 5 and 9 and they were made to pay for that as Sonny finished the match in 3 straight sets whilst the undefeated Tommy sat on the sidelines with a match still to play.
That random Excel Generator Programme came up with Ian Hislop to join father and daughter McDonell in Team 4 (seemingly, it only took Craig 17 attempts to get Greig and Hannah in the same team)! They made a visit to Granton and with an 8pm start, the visitors (and no doubt Hannah’s mum in particular) were relieved to see that Granton could only field 2 players, Swang Shallangwa (Scratch) and Kevin Lawson (+4). Swang comfortably won match 1 v Hannah from 0-7 down but not to worry the Penicuik trio had a 3-0 start to defend. That then looked a decidedly dodgy lead as Ian then faced Kevin in a mammoth match. Ian is not known for his attacking prowess and despite Kevin having the ability to play some terrific positive shots, he decided to play a patient game and so there then followed what must be the longest match ever to have taken place at the home side’s venue (and thinking about it probably at any venue in the League)! With neither playing giving in to the pressure of those watching to do something different, the average rally length was between 40 and 50 strokes! Great consistency and concentration from both but in a match which started at 11-0 in a race to 18 by the time of the fifth end those watching just wanted it to end quickly! It was not to be as the last end went all the way to an 18-16 scoreline in favour of the dogged Ian. Hannah counted one rally that contained 72 pushes. By the time Greig and Swang took to the table (0-12 to 23) for the next match it was after 9.30pm! Having thought daughter Hannah had just not been playing well, Greig suddenly found out that Swang’s scratch handicap was very generous – he seemed to play better the closer Greig got to him – he took the first end 24-22 after having been caught at 20-20! Greig had to dig deep and in a terrific match where the Granton player showed a full array of attacking shots, Greig secured the win in the next three ends 23-19, 24-22, 23-20. A 5-1 victory given the three walkover wins (more on that subject later!)
And so to our Player of the Week Award for Week 6. Louis and Julian were the only players to play a full three matches this week undefeated. But in a week where all 4 of our teams progressed to Round 2 of the Handicap Cup (and that we think is a first) this Week’s award has to go to the man who manipulated the random selection process – well done to Craig!! Oh Ok – on the table Julian’s three wins were crucial and the way in which he did it, coming back from the death (10-6 down in the 5th) to secure victory merits this week’s award – well done Julian.
And finally, our controversy of the week section.
Granton only had two players last week and so we thought the match would be fairly straightforward – only two wins needed, and we can all go home. Kevin Lawson had other ideas and put his “Mr Walkover” at position A on the card. We should have realised something was going on when the scorecard was altered from a 0-3 starting score to 0-1 after match 1 between Greig and Mr Walkover! By the time of match 5 on the scorecard Penicuik had won 2 matches on the night and with a 3-0 advantage the match was over. It was a bit of a surprise therefore when Ian & Greig went to shake hands with their opponents to be told that the match wasn’t over. According to Mr Lawson the scoreline after 5 games (Mr Walkover being down to play games 1, 5 and 9) was only 4-1 to Penicuik and the match needed to continue! What? Surely Mr L is not being serious, is he? Oh yes, he was. 2 walkover wins at matches 1 and 5, a victory each for Ian and Greig and one win for Swang – 4-1! Hold on – this must be a joke – if we played matches 6, 7 and 8 and lost them all Granton would have pulled level at 4-4 and Hannah was then due to play Mr Walkover in Match 9 – it was pointed out that it was impossible for Granton to win! Show me the rule where it says the match starts at 3-0 asks Mr Lawson. Oh my goodness this really was a serious debate. Ian H came up with the idea that we simply concede matches 6, 7 and 8 and then we could still go home victorious as 5-4 winners. By this time, it was nearly 10pm! In the end Team Captain Greig had to make a phone call to Handicap Cup Secretary, Mr Benjamin who fortunately answered his mobile! Kevin still wasn’t happy with what Ken was telling him again asking where the rules were which covered this scenario. Thankfully he eventually accepted that the match was over, and a 5-1 win was recorded on the scorecard and 11-year-old Hannah was in her bed for just after 11pm rather than into the next morning! How bizarre!
This week’s best comment also came from the Granton match. Realising he’d left his bat in his car, Greig asked the caretaker how he got out of the building to get back to the car park – “that door there will take you direct into the car park”, came the response – “I doubt your car will still be there though”! – that’s what TT is all about at our level – having a bit of fun.
Back to the League next week among numerous requests from Club players that the League should be run on a handicap basis….