So only two derbies remained. In Division 1, Team 2 of Clive Liddiard, James Wighton and Charlie Brindley were the nominal home team against Team 3 of Krzysztof Laszkiewicz, Chris Markey and Gary McDougal. No love lost between these 6 players – they don’t even like their own team members never mind the others – we jest of course, James actually likes everyone and everyone likes him – as for the other five………
Team 3 went into the match as underdogs, 4 points behind Team 2 but with a degree of confidence based on the fact that this was only the 5th time this season where they were able to field their full side. New dad, Krzysztof got things going for Team 3 against Team Captain James – fatherhood seems to be treating Krzysztof well as he won comfortably in straight sets. When Gary then defeated Clive, much to Clive’s disgust, Team 2 were under pressure. Charlie then secured a 3 set win against Chris to ease some of that pressure.
Match 4 was crucial on the night. Krzysztof took on Clive and in a 3-1 win for underdog Krzysztof, his 3 victories were by the narrowest of margins (11-9, 12-10, 11-9) - when Chris went on to defeat Gary, Team 3 had a real chance of upsetting the odds, 4-1 up and seemingly in control. Charlie kept the home side in it with a victory against Gary before the crucial doubles. James and Charlie proved too strong and suddenly the score was tight again at 4-3. A point was secured for Team 3 as Chris then rounded off Clive’s miserable night by winning in 3 straight sets. Mr L couldn’t take any more, feeling that his losses were going to see his side come unstuck. But hold on, when Charlie was again victorious, this time against Krzysztof, James still had a chance of salvaging a draw as he took on ex-teammate Gary. This pair were always going to go the distance – you could feel the tension in the air – 2-0 up for James but back came Gary to win ends 3 & 4 to send it to a decider. Although momentum was clearly with Gary, James held his nerve to squeeze home 11-8 and with it secured a point for Team 2, much to the disappointment of Team 3. Charlie was the difference on the night, 3 wins and a doubles victory for Team 2, whilst James added that all important 5th win. For Team 3, both Krzysztof and Chris won 2 whilst Gary added 1. Was a point a fair result? Not according to Team 3 – they threw away a golden chance to get out of the relegation zone.
In Division 3, Team 4 (John Bald, Brian Bailey and Louis McLeod) took on Team 5 of Stuart Bennett, Sean Lennon and Craig Johnson – new boys this season to Division 3. Surely the 180 combined years of experience held by John and Brian would see them through this encounter. In fact, it was the youngest member of Team 4 who was the difference on the night. Louis has gone through a bad run of results recently and came into this derby with confidence low but his first three matches of the night proved crucial as he defeated Stuart in 3 straight sets before a tight deuce in the fifth win in Match 6 against Craig. He then combined with John for an important doubles win as Team 4 took a 5-2 lead going into the final three fixtures of the night. That doesn’t quite tell the whole story, however. Stuart had lost a 2-0 advantage against John in Match 4 and that was sandwiched between two very surprising results - a straight sets victory for Craig over Brian in Match 3 and a 4-end victory for Sean against Brian in Match 5. Had a couple of points gone the other way in the two five set matches, Team 5 could easily have been leading 4-2 going into the doubles. When Stuart then lost a 2-1 lead in Match 8 against Brian, however, the match was over as a contest. Sean rounded off a good night for him with a win against Louis in five ends while John showed his experience, undefeated on the night and rounding off with a win against Craig. A 7-3 victory for Team 4 doesn’t do justice to how tight this match actually was and who would have predicted that 6 of those 7 wins would have come from John and Louis.
There are some great pictures from the Derby night available (courtesy of Daddy Krzysztof) which can be viewed on the Website: http://www.penicuiktabletennis.com/gallery.html
Finally, in Week 12, Team 1 of Greig McDonell, David Melrose and Abby Wighton travelled to take on reigning Premier League Champions, North Merchiston 1. The less said about the 10-0 result which followed the better. Only one end won by the visitors as Greig took Glynn to a fourth set! The chances of NM 1 defending their title, however, look pretty slim, especially with their star player Elina returning to Sweden before Xmas – pity she hadn’t needed to catch an earlier flight home. Whilst she was immaculately turned out the biggest talking point of the night had to be the utter scruffiness of her teammates! Stewart and Glynn looked as if they were taking part in this weekend’s “Sleep in the Park” Event. The Premier League sponsored by one of their own Club members – NM with a rather nice team kit – clearly this pair missed the sale of those items at the beginning of the season – Greig summed it up as he pointed out that their table tennis may be streets ahead of the Penicuik trio but Team 1 were clearly better dressed – oh if only we had their table tennis ability to go with our kit!!
And so, to our Player of the Week Award for Week 12. And with this award is also our second controversy of the week. Team 2 v 3 sees Charlie almost single-handedly secure a 5-5 draw for Team 2. He only lost one end in singles play and also combined for the doubles victory. The award given by Team 3 for player of the match is given to……….. Yip, you guessed it, everyone’s favourite and nicest player at the Club, James! Ok, so in fairness, it may have been given to him because his one singles win on the night came in the deciding match where he held his nerve to overcome a former teammate and actually secure the 5-5 draw, but come on, he was only in that position because of Charlie’s performances on the night! Never mind though Charlie, the Committee have decided that you are in the running for our player of the Week along with John from Team 4 who was also undefeated in singles play and combined for a doubles victory in Team 4’s 7-3 victory. Now, the last time John was in the running for a TT award was in season 1975/76 so sentiment may suggest that he wins this week? Na – he lost 3 sets on the night! Well done Charlie!
Anything else controversial this week?? Two controversies already covered in the body of this report – three if we include dress code!! Let’s finish with one of our favourite topics - the Handicap Cup. Round 2 next week. We get a reminder from the League that Cup matches take priority over re-arranged League fixtures. Really? What about the rule that postponed League matches have to be played within 4 weeks of the original date?? By the way, how are we all doing now in complying with that rule? North Merchiston, Murrayfield, Edinburgh Uni, Corstorphine, Fife and Haddington are all still in breach – oh hang on and Penicuik!! Anyway, moving on, a common theme in these reports is the state of our Rules and their enforcement. Some rules are complied with, some are not – some rules are enforced and some or not. And some rules just seem to be made up. Our friends from West Lothian regularly bring up the so called “100-point Rule” in relation to registration of players in playing order – there is no such rule in existence. In the Handicap Cup we are told that fresh Handicaps shall be issued before the second round matches take place. Where does that rule come from? Unlike the 100-point rule there is actually specific provision within the HC Rules for review of handicaps – what does the Rule say?
“The Handicap Sub-committee shall issue handicaps for all players in the League prior to the start of the Handicap Cup. Handicaps shall be reviewed again after the 2nd round has been played.”
But hey, let’s just ignore that and make it up as we go along! We’re not saying there’s anything wrong with issuing new handicaps before every round but if that is what has been agreed at some meeting behind closed doors then tell us about it and change the Rule.
Oh the joys – one week left before the season of goodwill to all kicks in!!