Team 1 were without the services of Colin Green after his late call-off due to illness – worry not, he doesn’t seem to have certain symptoms which would cause him to be kept away from the rest of us – David Melrose and Carsten Giebeler travelled to Bathgate to face struggling West Lothian 2 thinking they were going to start the match 3-0 down. At the last minute super-sub Charlie Brindley made the trip to Bathgate, having played the previous night for Team 2. Perhaps the most thankful players for this last minute substitution should be our friends from North Merchiston 2 who are in a battle with WL they avoid the drop. Charlie took on Dave Fletcher in Match 1 of the night and came back from 2-1 down to brilliantly win 11-4 in the fifth. When Carsten defeated unquestionably the home side’s best player, Lewis Hills in three straight games this looked like being a real struggle for the hosts. David then had a chance to put the visitors 3-0 up as he faced Steve Collins – this went the distance – an 11-9 fifth end win for Steve kept the WL side in the match. Wins for David and Carsten in the second round of fixtures gave the Penicuik side a 4-2 advantage going into the doubles and when that pairing scraped home 11-8 in the fifth they held an unassailable 5-2 lead with the final round of singles matches to play. Wins for Lewis v David and Steve v Charlie (only just) we’re probably not surprising but match 10 of the night was surely a banker – the undefeated Carsten against the winless Dave. TT is a funny old game – a 12-10 in the fifth win for Dave have the hosts an unlikely 5-5 draw and with it a fighting chance (although they are still favourites for the drop) to cause North Merchiston some sleepless nights!
In Division 1, Team 2 of Charlie Brindley, Gary McDougal and Ian Hislop faced a home match against Murrayfield 6, a team who a couple of weeks ago seemed to be in free fall and who had been dragged into the relegation battle. The last couple of weeks have seen the Edinburgh outfit leap out of trouble and they were by far the more relaxed team as they travelled to Ladywood. In young Charlie McGowan, Murrayfield 6 have one of the best players in the division and it seems to go without saying that wi5out him, his team would probably already be relegated. He again proved his worth with an undefeated night in singles play, however, not without a couple of scares along the way – both Charlie B and Ian took him to five ends, Ian just losing out 11-9 in the fifth. A draw was still on the cards though for Team 2 but a five set loss for Ian v Lynn Somerville made that job very difficult. Needing to win the last 3 matches of the night there were good wins for Charlie v Lynn and Ian v Haydn Jackson, but young Charlie delivers the winning point with a straightforward win v Gary. Another 6-4 defeat for Team 2 in a season, where if they do go down, they can look back on SIX 6-4 defeats, not to mention three 5-5 draws which could easily have been wins. There wasn’t really any other good news for Team 2 last week as a couple of other matches saw Edinburgh International pick up a point v Haddington 1 and those pesky students from Herriot Watt picked up a draw against the fellow students of Edinburgh,University, including bizarrely, one of the Edinburgh Uni players conceding, it would appear, the last match of the night when they led 5-4! Controversial?? Who knows?
Team 3 were not in action last week in Division 2 but we need some positives in this report, so let’s report on a surprise 7-3 win for North Merchiston 4 v Murrayfield 7. This was perhaps our Merchiston friends returning our favour of not losing to West Lothian in the Premier division! Murrayfield 7 were the closest challengers to Team 3's promotion efforts, but they are now out of the picture as a result of that defeat. Edinburgh University 3 were mathematically still in with a chance of overtaking Team 3 until their rest v Fife was posted online over the weekend - a win for Fife means that without picking up a bat Team 3 have gained promotion to the 1st Division for next season - well done to them.
Team 4 rounded off the week as they hosted Granton at Ladywood on Wednesday night in Division 2. They called on the service of Craig Linton from Team 5, which was better than Granton could do who only turned up with two players. A 3-0 advantage was never going to be lost and undefeated nights for the Taylor duo, Julian and Sonny saw Team 4 record a much needed 7-3 victory. Although others around them are losing games, they have a tough finish to the season and if they can finish in the top 6 that will be a great achievement.
Our Player of the Week Award is again a tricky one this week. Whilst Sonny and Julian were undefeated they only played against a two-man team. Looking elsewhere, however, only one other player picked up 2 wins – Carsten in the Premier League. He, however, then went on to lose the last match of the night which would have seen a win for Team 1. But this week, the award goes to a player who only had one win – but a hugely important one and he has received huge support form another Club – for making the long journey at less than an hours notice, playing two matches in two days and for contributing to a vital point (not so much for us but for NM2), well done to Charlie Brindley.
Before our controversy of the week, Congratulations to Murrayfield 3 for winning Division 1 at a canter, annoyingly even more impressively than we won the Division last season! Further congratulations to Murrayfield who saw the Premier League title secured this week with their first team’s win over North Merchiston 1. Add to that the fact that Murrayfield 4 look odds on favourites to finish 2nd in Division 1 and this has been a great season for Murrayfield’s top 4 teams (Murrayfield 2 in with a chance of second place in the Premier League). There really is no argument that they have more “top players” than any other Club in the League.
So our controversy of the Week this week suggests we should punish them for that! In the Scottish National League, there is a rule, new to us, that no division can contain more than two teams from the same club. Despite finishing runners up in Division 2, Murrayfield C miss out on promotion because their top two teams are already in the top Division. Should we have something similar in the Edinburgh League. Bigger divisions so let’s suggest no more than three teams in any one of our five Divisions. That would be bad news for Murrayfield 4 but with the greatest of respect to our Edinburgh friends, do any of us actually want to play Murrayfield EIGHT times in the Premier League! Not to mention TWELVE intra-club fixtures. Surely that’s anti-competitive – Murrayfield are the biggest Club in the league and if they have the players to field 4 teams in the top division then they deserve to be able to do so? To suggest otherwise is ridiculous isn’t it? Well not according to National League Rules. And of course this wouldn’t just apply to the top division – it would apply equally across the whole league and would affect Division 4 just as much as the Premier Division. Certainly from our perspective, last year having three teams in Division 4 made the division a little stale, particularly given WL also had three teams. Half of Division 4 was made up of two Clubs.
Now the argument would be a no brainer if we had a high number of different clubs in the League. TT is concentrated at the moment across 12 Clubs in the ELTTL – 11 of them providing all but one of the teams (Granton). Of course it should only be 10 clubs unless someone can tell us which part of the Lothians Fife play in (only joking Fife – we love travelling over the bridge to see you). But for the sake of having a good mix of clubs across the divisions should some thought be given to bringing the national league rule into our League? One for the AGM perhaps.
And finally, we just wish to say that we hope all our TT friends stay well at this crazy time. PTTC are meeting this evening (by telephone so as to keep that social distancing going) to discuss whether we should continue playing the game we love given the unprecedented risks which we are all currently facing. An announcement will be made tomorrow (Monday 16th March).