Next up in Week 4, was Team 4’s trip on Tuesday to Edinburgh Sports Club 3. Rachel Petrie, Jim Jack and Bob Porteous were looking for a morale boosting win against a side just two places above them in the Division 3 table at this early stage in the season. The first match could easily have gone the way of the visitors as Jim did terrifically well to come back from 2-0 down only to lose in five. Rachel lost match 2 before Bob got the visitors on the board with a win in Match 3. A loss for Jim in match 4, was then followed by a four-end loss for Bob – 4-1 down and Rachel had the task of keeping the Penicuik side in with the chance of a win. Match 6 kind of summed up Team 4s season so far – a dreadful first end for Rachel where she didn’t trouble the scorers, followed by a tight 12-10 loss before an 11-8 win and then a 17-15 reverse! Had she won that won we would have fancied her to win the match in the fifth – as it was the doubles was needed to avoid a defeat – in fairness Jim and Bob were never really in it as they lost out in 3 straight ends. The final round of singles saw Bob lose out 12-10 in the fifth and Rachel again show glimpses of what she’s capable of losing out narrowly in four. A 9-1 defeat which doesn’t really do justice to how close some of the games were.
Thursday night at the Club saw Team 1 take on reigning Premier League champions Murrayfield 1. Greig McDonell conveniently managed to get away on holiday to avoid the clash! Colin Green and Brian Hunter were joined by Sonny Taylor playing up from Team 2. Lacking a full team, the hosts were not particularly hopeful, but their opponents also turned up without a regular third player, the difference being that they were able still to call on another premier player from their 4 teams in the division. After the first round of singles there was probably no surprise that the visitors led 2-1, Colin picking up the one win. When he and Brian both won in their second round fixtures the scores were tied at 3-3. The third round of singles saw Brian record a terrific win against Charlie McGowan, but the other two games went to form. The doubles was to prove crucial. Brian and Colin v Gordon Muir and Charlie. This couldn’t have been closer – 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 9-11 took the players into a deciding fifth end – this was anyone’s game! A 12-10 fifth end score summed up the closeness of the doubles and what a win that proved to be for the hosts as they secured a point against the reigning champions. According to Colin, Greig should just stay on holiday – he’s lost his place in the doubles!
Finally in Week 4, Team 5 made the long trip to Ocean Terminal to take on Murrayfield 12 in Division 4. Patrick Shanks was joined by Roscoe Cairney and Phil Daly making a welcome return to league action after several seasons out and after recovering from eye surgery. Roscoe showed signs of improvement from his first league match at the beginning of the season and picked up a couple of ends in his three singles matches. The ends he lost were close so some good signs for him. It was good to see Phil back in action, not quite turning the clock back to his best but managing nonetheless to secure 3 cracking wins. Patrick continued his excellent run of form with a very straightforward 3 victories. Roscoe and Patrick combined for the doubles victory as Team 5s great run continued with a 7-3 victory catapulting them up to third in the table, and only behind the top two on game difference.
And so, to our player of the week award for Week 4. Well done to Phil and Patrick for undefeated nights but this week we turn to our top team for the award. Colin can’t remember ever gaining a point against Murrayfield 1, so this week’s result was fantastic. Both Colin and Brian won 2 singles and combined for that all important doubles win. They key victory, other than the doubles, was Brian holding his nerve after young Charlie McGowan came back from 2-0 down to level the match at 2-2. Brian used all his grit and determination to get over the line for a terrific win – Well done Brian – his first player of the Week Award for the Club – mind you he’s only played three matches!!!
Finally, what about our controversy of the week section. We had so much to report from last week that we missed a few things from our experience at the Scottish National League. In one of our matches that old chestnut of strong umpiring reared its head again. Picture the scene, 10-10 and one of our players is serving – a decent serve, returned by the opponent, played back by us, returned again before the opponent puts his hand up as a winner is hit past him. It was a let wasn’t it, he says to the umpire (his teammate) who remains motionless and keeps the score at 10-10. Did you see a let asked the Penicuik player – silence from the umpire. Three times the same question was asked, and the question was met by the same response – silence. Eventually, the player asked in more forthright terms whether the umpire saw a let or not – the response was its 10-10 so yes I did. Clearly, he never saw a let but felt that the player had stopped so a let it was - and you know what happens next! A 12-10 loss for the Penicuik player. Unless the players agree, surely it’s up to the umpire to call the lets – that’s common sense, isn’t it? Now we’ve heard it said that if a player immediately stops, catches the ball for instance, on the basis that he thinks it’s a let then that’s different – is it though? Surely the same rule applies – if the server and umpire don’t see a let then it’s the server’s point. In this case the rally was fully four shots in before a let was claimed and that just can’t be right?
The second issue we had was a player in the middle of the final game involving James, interrupting the flow of play to take over from the umpire who had started the match because it “was his turn to umpire”. The Opponents didn’t see why we got a little irritated by the turn of events – they couldn’t see any issue - it would be unfair to let the same player umpire two matches – what was unfair was breaking the rhythm of the game – especially for James who can be very easily distracted! At least wait until the end was over – surely that would have been more acceptable.
Turning to our own issues, here’s one from Murrayfield’s Head Coach, Gordon Muir, who like Pete Lugton the previous week wanted us to mention this controversy – as if James stealing Murrayfield 9s Match balls from the Gyle wasn’t bad enough, Murrayfield 1 turned up on Thursday night at Ladywood to find that not only did Team Captain Colin not have any match balls, he didn’t have any scorecards either - Shocking display! Colin’s explanation? President Greig had taken them all on holiday with him to London! Oops! He does vaguely remember Colin giving him some stuff the previous week after the Haddington game – still in the boot of his car perhaps??!! Never mind though, Colin managed to scramble around and find some newish balls in various players’ bags - that’s the real issue – the amount of balls the Club goes through every couple of weeks is crazy – we’re having a “ball return amnesty” over the next fortnight – get those TT bags checked and we won’t make any issue when you turn up to training with the two dozen balls you’ve collected over the last few months – not mentioning any names in particular – you all know who you are!!
Week 5 sees the first round of Handicap Cup matches – that will be fun!