On Tuesday 9th January Team 3 made the trip to Edinburgh Sports Club in Division 2, hoping for a repeat of their first half result when they were victorious by 7 games to 3. Gary McDougal, Krzysztof Laszkiewicz and Bob Porteous took to the table for the visitors. The first two matches set the tone for the night – Bob won in three, but two of the three ends went to deuce. Gary then went the distance against Keith Walker. The two ends he lost were to deuce but the three he won were comfortable and gave the visitors the perfect start. Krzysztof won matches 3 and 5 on the night, ESC getting on the board in match 4 as Keith defeated Bob. The second set of singles matches were rounded off by a win for Gary as the Penicuik trio stormed into a 5-1 lead. A win in the doubles secured the victory before two further wins (Bob and Gary) resulted in a final score of 8-2 for Penicuik.
On the same night Team 5 made the trip east to take on Haddington 6 in Division 4. The home fixture for Team 5 had seen the young Randall twins undefeated in a 7-3 win for the East Lothian outfit. If the boys had improved their play over half a season, Team 5 were going to be in real trouble. Jim Jack, Rachel Petrie and Chamika Diyunugalge were buoyant when they discovered that the boys weren’t playing! After losses in the first two matches for Jim and Rachel match 3 became hugely important. It looked like Chamika was in control at 2-1 up but an 11-7 fourth end defeat was followed by a tight 11-9 defeat in the fifth and the visitors were in real trouble. It got worse as the hosts extended their lead to 4-0 after Jim lost match 4, but wins for Chamika and Rachel, followed by the pair contributing to a win in the doubles brought the match close again – 4-3 down going into the final set of singles and a terrific comeback was on the cards. Unfortunately for the Penicuik trio it wasn’t to be and three wins out of three for the East Lothian outfit saw them over the line 7-3.
Week 15 was then rounded off at Ladywood on Thursday evening with two further matches against Haddington opposition. Team 4 called on the services of Patrick Shanks from Division 4 as he joined regulars Kristian Skotzen and Craig Linton in their fixture against Haddington 5 in Division 3. This match was over in a flash – the first 5 games all went the way of the hosts as they secured at least a point. A mini revival saw the visitors win match 6 v Patrick and a win in the doubles, but the final three games all went the way of the home side as they recorded a solid 8-2 victory.
Finally, Team 6 were in action against Haddington 7 in Division 5. Mat Dyluk, Ian Millar and Roscoe Cairney were hoping to improve upon their 9-1 loss from the first half of the season. In their first encounter, Roscoe v Brian Eyles had gone the distance, the Haddington player winning 11-7 in the fifth – would you believe it, talk about history repeating itself, on this occasion it was exactly the same, an 11-7 in the fifth win for Brian! And even more bizarre, Roscoe in both home and away matches scored 44 points! Roscoe also went to five in Match 5 of the night but lost out 11-8 in the fifth and that unfortunately was as good as it got for Team 6 as they fell to a 10-0 defeat.
And so, to our player of the week award. Three players this week had undefeated nights in singles play – Gary, Craig and Kristian – well done to all of them. Having had what the player himself accepts was a “sketchy” first half of the season, this week’s winner proved how he can play with a terrific performance – the only player in his team to be undefeated, well done to Gary.
And finally, our controversy of the week section. In the festive spirit of our Week 14 report, we decided not to discuss some of the matters which were raised at the latest ELTTL Committee meeting. One of those relates to inter-club fixtures. It was highlighted and suggested that the postponed fixture between West Lothian’s Teams 1 and 2 had not met the spirit of the rules. The issue was that the top side lost that match having played up two Division 2 players against the weaker WL 2 side. The match ought to have been played on 20th November. At that point WL 2 were heavily involved in a relegation battle, sitting on 4 points. A victory against fellow strugglers Haddington gave them some breathing space before their match against WL 1, a team who at the start of the season probably fancied their chances of challenging the top two in the Division. As it was, WL 1 had been on a poor run of results before they played their final game before Xmas. We do have to assume that had WL 1 been in the “title hunt” they would never have played with just one regular player. The result? The two players playing up didn’t get on the board and the “underdogs” ran out 8-2 winners. Although it was pointed out that no rule had actually been broken it was stated that the intention of the rules had always been to prevent the possibility of any club "fixing" (that’s the word used in the ELTTL Minutes) an intra club fixture so that a lower placed team could achieve a “surprise result”. The WL representatives at the meeting indicated that they had been unaware of the issue and that the relatively inexperienced WL I and WL II captains had been under the impression that the fixture had to be played within four weeks of the original date. As it seems is the case with virtually all our rules, they are subject to being “put to one side” in the event of some exceptional circumstance and it was pointed out that the Match Secretary would have allowed an extension to the four week rule had he been told of the player unavailability situation rather than the need for two Division 2 players playing up for the higher ranked side. We suppose it could have been an option for two of Team 2 to have played for Team 1 and the two division 2 players then to play for Team 2? It’s doubtful the playing up Team 2 players would have “thrown” their games for the good of their “real team”! In fairness to WL they offered to replay the match if that was required but, rather than that, it was suggested that they (and all other clubs we assume) should be more careful if such a situation arises.
We are fairly sure that it wasn’t actually being suggested by the League that this match was “rigged” but the problem is how it looks to other clubs in the League. We remember a few seasons ago getting an absolutely ridiculous and irate email from a certain Haddington player / official after one of our Team 5 players had played up for Team 4 against “his own Team”. The Team 5 player was, in reality, probably Team 5’s best player but with Team 4 being a player short what else were they meant to do – the problem which Haddington had was that our Team 4 and one of their teams were battling for promotion and from their perspective the situation looked like a way to ensure there was no slip up for Team 4 against their own Clubmates!
Let’s just hope that at the end of this season the youngsters of WL 2 are well clear of any relegation battle, and in fairness it looks like they will be after picking up another win in their last match before the festive break – but imagine if they aren’t!!
And so we’re off again – it will be April before we know it!!