First match up was Rachel v Slav – 9-0 to Rachel in a race to 13 – she didn’t mess around taking full advantage of her advantage to win in 3 very straightforward ends, 13-2, 13-8, 13-2. Next match saw Sonny take on Graham – Sonny is in a rich vein of form at the moment – and after his win in Division 1 v Alex and his pimples the previous week he was full of confidence with a 6-0 start in a match to 17. Even with that 6 point advantage, the sensible money was on Graham making it difficult for Sonny – nothing could have been further from the truth – 17-5, 17-2, 17-5 was an absolute thumping. The final match in round 1 of singles pitted Gary against Aidan – Aidan had a 5 point start but surely Gary’s awkwardness and experience would tell – nope! Aidan was untroubled as he got Merchiston on the board with a 15-11, 15-13, 15-5 win. Sonny restored the 2 match lead for the home side with another “easy victory” – Slav had no answer to Sonny’s controlled attacking play – the 1 point start made no real difference as Sonny eased to victory 12-2, 12-9, 12-6. Match 5 was to prove crucial on the night – Rachel v Aidan – Division 3 v Division 2 – Veteran v Junior (seemingly only about 50 years of difference) – Steady pusher v all out attacker – Rachel had a handy 6 point start which saw her win the first end 11-6 but Aidan then seemed to work things out a little as he took the next two 12-10, 14-12. The fourth end was pivotal to this contest – As Aidan fought his way back into this end, Rachel decided to try and drop some balls short – her long pushes were being punished by Aidan’s excellent loops – and it seemed to work as she secured a 14-12 victory. That seemed to knock Aidan off his stride and the same tactic in the decider saw Rachel get over the line comfortably with an 11-3 win. 4-1 to Penicuik and then the two oldies took centre stage – Gary’s dead rubber v Graham’s pimples – it wasn’t pretty to watch but it was tight – Gary held his nerve in the deciding fifth end as the home side secured an excellent 5-1 victory – well done to them as they progress to the Quarter final stage.
In the League, Team 1 made the trip to the Gyle to take on Murrayfield 2 after giving them a postponement earlier in the season – Colin is probably wishing he hadn’t done that – they were one player down for the original fixture and of course because David Simpson wasn’t registered for us at the time of that original fixture he couldn’t play in the rearranged match – well that’s the rule anyway – although the Match secretary seemed to ignore that rule when Team 1 played University earlier in the season – what’s happened to our appeal about that result?? Still waiting it appears…. Anyway, back to Murrayfield v Team 1. We won’t spend much time on this report – Colin Green, David Melrose and Iain Johnstone were never really in this one – Colin did what he does so well and came back from the dead against Keith Dingwall winning ends 4 and 5 by an 11-9 scoreline and that was the highlight of the night for the visitors – Iain looked like he had a chance against Charlie Ellis in one of the other matches but from 2-1 up we won’t mention the scores in ends 4 and 5! As for David, his comments on how he played can’t be published! A 9-1 win for the Murrayfield outfit and that didn’t flatter them!
Team 2 also caught up on an outstanding fixture in Division 1 as they also took on Murrayfield opposition – the Edinburgh club’s Team 4 who sat in second place in the division. Julian Taylor, Gary McDougal and Sonny Taylor knew this was going to be tough. After losses for father and son in the first two matches, Gary got the visitors on the board with a good win against Colin Clark. Match 4 may have been a turning point – Sonny led Leandro Golinski 2-1 but lost the fourth heavily and then suffered a 14-12 deciding end loss – 3-1 to Murrayfield soon became 5-1 as Gary and Julian lost. The doubles was needed to keep hopes alive of an unlikely comeback – it wasn’t to be and in the third round of matches only Gary was victorious as the visitors fell to an 8-2 defeat. A lot of hard work to do for Team 2 in the second half of the season.
And so, to our player of the week award. Hmm – a tough one this week. The rearranged league matches were disappointing and it’s difficult to give it to someone in the Handicap Cup who gets significant advantages. Rachel and Sonny were both unbeaten in the Cup, but both have favourable handicaps – although he only won 1 out of 2, it was the crucial match winning game and in the league he was the only player to pick up a two – yeah we’ll never hear the end of it but well done to Gary – jings we must really be in the festive spirit!
And finally, our controversy of the week section. We weren’t happy last week with the Handicap Cup. Our three teams entered in this year’s competition were all due to play on Thursday 16th December. The cost of hiring Ladywood for a night is not insignificant. Add to that the fact that we had spent a considerable amount of time gathering different pools of players and had selected teams to represent the Club and one can imagine the irritation caused by the following:
Two days before the scheduled matches and we had one email after another from our various opponents seeking postponements. Corstorphine have 17 players registered but in fairness had entered 4 teams in the Handicap Cup – they couldn’t get a team together. What about West Lothian – they have 21 players registered and have only entered 2 teams in the Handicap Cup – 3 players were therefore not available for selection and 2 were unavailable due to Covid issues – that still left 16 players to choose from – apparently the Handicap Cup is not popular with members of West Lothian – maybe they shouldn’t enter it next year if they can’t field 3 players from 16. North Merchiston had entered 2 teams this year and have 16 players to choose from – as of Wednesday morning this match was also off – they lost one player due to a self-isolation issue and couldn’t get a replacement. That request for a postponement made it 3 out of 3 matches which were then not going to take place.
It used to be the case that handicap Cup matches would just be played on the home night of the team that was hosting. The rules don’t say that – and probably never have – but that’s the basis on which everyone used to proceed. And anyway, this is the ELTTL – it doesn’t matter what the rules say – what matters is what our Match Secretary says! It was simpler when that’s how everyone proceeded – you knew when you’d be playing and you would just turn up on the home night of your opponents – if you couldn’t get a team together, it’s a knockout competition – you should be out. Even with this “reduced” season we now have to try and fit in additional Handicap Cup matches in a schedule which might be tight going into the new year. Now as outlined in this Report, North Merchiston, by Wednesday afternoon, had in fact found a replacement – Slav – but only because – wait for it – he was going to be playing for the other NM team in the Handicap Cup, but their game was cancelled!! Ultimately we therefore didn’t incur a full hall charge for no purpose at all, but we still incurred more charges than would otherwise have been the case had all 3 matches taken place – who do we send the bill to for our losses??
We love the Handicap Cup but surely it needs to be run on the basis that it is simple to organise for the teams without the need to be offering two dates in the Handicap Cup Week when lots of Clubs, like ours, don’t have that luxury – play it on the hosts home night and that’s it – sorted. If you can’t play your opponents are through! Maybe fine any clubs who enter and then can’t play and pass on any fines not to the ELTTL coffers but to the clubs who have been put out by any failure to play. Maybe that should also apply to League Matches – fines for postponements might help clubs like ours cover some of the costs incurred by having premises booked and then having them lie empty! This is still very festive – Scrooge is a Christmas character isn’t he?
First half of the season over already – that did go quick. Despite our controversy section filling column inches each week, we love playing in the League and missed it horribly during lockdown – lets keep our fingers crossed that further restrictions stay away from our sport and that everyone stays healthy and happy over the festive period – Merry Christmas to all our TT friends wherever you may be.