George from Team 7 enjoyed our Report so much last week that he’s asked us to again start the round-up with the bottom team and work upwards! A feeble attempt to get some more press inches for his scrapbook. Steady on George – one week of that in a season is more than enough!
This week we start with matches which were crucial in terms of relegation and survival hopes. Team 2 faced an away match against fellow strugglers Corstorphine in Division 1 – the teams started the night level on points, only two clear of the relegation zone and both teams knew that a win would go a long way to securing their Division 1 status for next season. In Team 2’s case they also knew that a win here would be a massive boost to our own Team 3 in their efforts to survive. What a massive match! Oh hang on a minute - for the second week in a row only James Wighton was available! But even worse than the previous week Team 2 turned up to this match with only two players as Gary McDougal was called up from Team 3. Really??!! This even brought some comment from League Match Secretary, Ken Benjamin! A 7-3 defeat followed for Team 2 with two wins for Gary and one for James.
And so to Team 3 of Krzysztof Laszkiewicz, Gary McDougal and Ian Hislop, fresh from their excellent 6-4 win against West Lothian last week. Not much was really expected against title contenders Edinburgh International 2 and so it proved as they fell to an 8-2 defeat, Ian continuing his good form with the two wins for the home side. But on Friday night there was another crucial match as Team 3 travelled to take on University – a definite target for team 3 – a win here would put them in with a great chance of avoiding the drop and drag University down into the relegation dogfight. Ian and Gary turned out but no Krzysztof! Surely not we hear you cry! Without a regular third, they fell to a 6-4 defeat with both Ian and Gary winning two. John Bald played up from Division 3 and although he picked up a couple of ends, it was always going to be an impossible task for him. More on this match later in our Controversy of the week section.
It now looks certain that the second relegation spot is going to be filled by either Team 2, Team 3 or Murrayfield 5! Oh look – Murrayfield 5 v Team 3 is this week and the final week of the season sees Team 2 v Team 3!!!!
In Division 3, Team 5 fell to another heavy defeat as Stuart Bennett, Craig Johnson and Millie Bennett suffered an 8-2 loss at the hands of Fife. Craig and Millie picked up 1 win each. Last week the fat lady was warming up her vocal chords, this week it appears she’s on stage and just about to pick up the microphone! Still mathematically in Division 3 but……
As for Team 4 we commented last week that the wheels had completely come off their Division 3 campaign. The engine seems to have fallen out as well as they went down to an 8-2 defeat away to Edinburgh International. In Week 8, Team 4 were at the top of the Division 3 table – oh my how far they have fallen as their 9th loss in their last 12 matches results in them being 4th from bottom! In fairness their freefall down the table can be explained by the injury to Brian Bailey and the regular unavailability in the second half of the season of young Louis McLeod. Phil Daly played up from Division 4 as he and John Bald picked up one win each.
Not much good news so far in Week 23! Maybe Team 1 could pull off the result of the season against Premier Division Leaders Murrayfield 1 and rekindle their survival hopes? Ok, maybe not! James Wighton deputised for Team Captain Greig McDonell and he joined daughter Abby and David Melrose at Ladywood. Scurrilously, when Greig turned up about 8.30pm to support his teammates there was a suggestion from the Murrayfield team that he had been protecting his average!! If only it was worth protecting! A 10-0 result ensued but the really bad news for Team 1 came later in the week when they discovered that Edinburgh International had picked up two wins in Week 23 to retain their Premier Division status for another year! Oh dear can we hear another fat lady approaching the stage…..
But who cares about any of that? What we really want to know is how our two Division 4 teams fared last week! Team 6 of Julian Taylor, Rachel Petrie and Sonny Taylor faced an away match against Corstorphine 5. Their 7-3 win combined with Fife’s loss brings Team 6 within one point of 4th place – a great first season for this trio. On the night Julian was undefeated, Sonny picked up two and Rachel added 1 singles win. The father and son duo also combined for the doubles victory.
So what about Team 7? With Kristian Skotzen on holiday (another holiday during the TT Season!!!) Phil Daly was joined by George Wilson and Hannah McDonell as they faced a tough match against promotion candidates Haddington 3. An entertaining match filled with some great rallies but a 7-3 defeat for the home side as Phil won 2 and George added 1. Seemingly George’s win in the last match of the evening was all down to the excellent advice he received from El Presidente! Who knew you could give good advice, George was heard to say!
And so, to our Player of the Week Award for Week 23. A slightly left field choice this week - only Julian was undefeated but he’s won this award on a couple of occasions! For the result of the week we have to delve into Team 3’s match against Edinburgh University. One of Uni’s top players Stefanie Koss started the night with a terrific 87% record in the Division. Up steps a man who’s played with the same bat for the last 30 years and is having, by his standard, a fairly mediocre season with a 40% record - lo and behold he holds his nerve to win 11-9 in the fifth. This week’s winner is Gary McDougal – well done to him.
And finally, to our Controversy of the Week Section. There can only be one topic on everyone’s minds this week – news which has rocked Scottish Table Tennis to its core. Hang on hang on – it was the Murrayfield boys that wanted this story – Our Press Officer is more of a Broadsheet Journalist than a tabloid one!!
Let’s stick with ELTTL controversies. As alluded to Teams 2 and 3 have been struggling in Division 1 to field their full sides. What are we playing at asked Ken Benjamin in an email earlier today. Team 3 Captain Krzysztof did not waste the opportunity of detailing the, in his view, unfairness of his opponents. The match against Edinburgh University was a postponed one. University were certainly not free of relegation worries themselves. Team 3 were the side who asked for the initial postponement so when it came to re-scheduling the rules indicate that the home side (if they didn’t request the postponement) only have to offer one date as an alternative. And that’s exactly what they did! Having made it clear that the date on offer would not enable us to play a full side the response was:
“….unless you are able to put out a team for 16th March, I am afraid that your team would have to forfeit the match.”
Thanks very much! Within the Rules? Absolutely. Taking advantage of the Rules? Absolutely. Sporting? Probably not. Would we have done the same in their position? Someone else can answer that! To avoid any misunderstanding though we think we should clarify that in Krzysztof’s email on the subject, his reference to his opponents as “donkeys” is due to English not being his first language – the actual translated Polish word is a term of endearment. Honest!
But let’s end on a positive – during Team 4’s match against Edinburgh International, Phil was sure he had got an edge at a crucial point in his match against Ian McLaren – the umpire was sure he hadn’t – his opponent, to prove that sportsmanship still lives on in the ELTTL, saw it and insisted that the point be given to Phil. And then on Thursday Phil “not another edge” Daly was again involved with a difficult umpiring call – this time one of his opponent’s teammates spoke up to confirm that the point should go to Phil. The fact that the two Haddington players involved are now not speaking to each other is neither here nor there! Joking of course – it’s not Clive and Brian that we’re talking about!
Week 24 might well clear up the relegation picture for a number of our teams – let's try and keep the fat lady in the wings for another week!