So straight into the Derby action we go as Team 2 took on Team 3 in a relegation dogfight in Division 1. Had Team 3 managed to defeat Murrayfield in Week 24 a draw would have secured survival for both teams – not that such a result would have been manufactured by the Club – we would never stoop to that level! Team 3 blew it, however, so their only chance of survival is now at the expense of Team 2 and that needed to start with a win against their Penicuik teammates. Krzysztof Laszkiewicz, Gary McDougal and Chris Markey held Team 2 to a 5-5 draw in the first half of the season and they must have therefore been in confident mood when the news came through that Clive Liddiard was unavailable to play for Team 2 and Team Captain James remarkably (some say stupidly) didn’t seek a postponement! Did he realise that Team 2 could still be relegated? He was joined by Charlie Brindley and Craig Johnson playing up from Division 3. Craig faced a pretty impossible task against 3 experienced Division 1 campaigners and so it proved as he was winless on the night.
Charlie proved his worth to Team 2 as he was undefeated in singles play including a tense 5 setter against Chris. Crucial to the outcome in the end were two matches involving James. Against former teammate Gary, it went to a deciding fifth end and as with many matches this season James couldn’t quite get over the line as Gary came out on top. In the doubles James and Charlie took on Gary and Krzysztof and looked to be in control at 2-1 up and with an advantage in the fourth end. However, as the shouts increased to drown out the noise of the dogs back came Team 3 to record a deuce in the fifth win in a pivotal match. A 7-3 victory resulted for Team 3 and with it their survival hopes remain. James has had constant nightmares since Wednesday night in the knowledge that their better game difference (only 2 games) is the only thing keeping them out of the relegation spot! Team 2 face an away match against West Lothian 2 who are chasing the title while Team 3 face a home match against the equally likely promotion candidates Haddington 1. Looks like game difference may decide the final relegation spot.
In Division 3 Team 4 could only muster two players (John Bald and Louis McLeod) for the second consecutive week as they took on Team 5 of Stuart Bennett, Sean Lennon and Millie Bennett. Despite Team 5’s two terrific wins in Week 24 their fate had already been decided by Team 4’s inability to defeat Edinburgh Sports Club in a rearranged Sunday night fixture. There’s no doubt which team has finished the season better and if there were another few weeks of the season left its likely Team 4 would be relegation favourites. It was clear on the night that Team 4’s confidence has taken a battering in the second half of the season and that combined with the pressure being off Team 5 probably resulted in the 7-3 Win for Team 5. Sean was undefeated on the night for Team 5 and with Louis having the proverbial nightmare (winless on the night) John’s 2 wins and a doubles victory were the only positives for Team 4. The result has done nothing to help next season’s selection committee decide who should form our Division 3 Team!!
In Division 4, our two most successful teams of the year (who would have thought that at the beginning of the season) met as Team 6 of Julian Taylor, Rachel Petrie and Adam Woodhouse took on Team 7 of Phil Daly, George Wilson and Hannah McDonell. With Julian undefeated on the night (he only lost one end all night to Hannah) and contributing to a doubles victory the matches against the other players were always going to be crucial for Team 7. Matches two and three proved decisive. Two of our newest League members, Hannah and Adam took centre stage and at 2-0 and 6-1 down Hannah looked out of it. She somehow, however, conjured up a comeback to level the game going into a deciding fifth end only to then fall 5-1 behind at the change of ends in the fifth. But back she came again against the unlucky Adam to secure an 11-9 victory. Next up was Phil v Rachel – on paper an easy win for Phil but Rachel had other ideas as she took a 2-1 advantage and had Phil on the ropes in the fourth end. Phil just managed to keep in it by winning the 4th end 11-8 before pulling away in the decider. Those two wins set up a chance for George to claim a draw in the final match of the night which he duly did with a victory over Adam. 5-5 was probably a fair result in the end. Spare a thought, however, for a Team 7 regular, Sonny, who has managed to break his finger prematurely ending his season. A 5th place finish likely for Team 6 and after a shaky start an 8th place finish is secured for Team 7 – the Club’s best two finishing positions of the season!!!
Rounding off a terrifically busy night at Ladywood was Team 1’s fixture against the Defending Premier League Champions North Merchiston 1. In an effort to preserve his mediocre 55% average Team Captain Greig offered a draw to his opponents by text message which was remarkably turned down! Colin Weir, to avoid the journey to Penicuik then offered a 9-1 result and in the negotiations which followed agreement couldn’t be reached for a 7-3 result in favour of Merchiston so the match went ahead!! Greig was joined by David Melrose and Abby Wighton who were unkindly told by the Merchiston team of their captain’s efforts to sell them down the river! In the entertaining yet meaningless match which followed, Greig produced some better than average play to defeat Colin and Stewart Armitage. At 2-1 up against Glynn Eggar he was on for an unbeaten singles night. With the match still in his grasp, his best line of the night was a shout of “don’t blow your chance for a 3 against the Premier League Champions”! Guess what? He blew it! An 8-2 win for NM who must have faced the long journey home thinking they should just have accepted the 7-3 offer!
And so, to our Player of the Week Award for Week 25. Julian, Sean, and Charlie were all undefeated in singles last week. But this award is about much more than just winning! And with that in mind this week’s winner is someone who didn’t win any singles matches! For not taking the easy option of postponing and thereby creating history by having all 7 teams playing on the one night at Ladywood, this weeks deserved winner is James! So what if his team are now in relegation trouble. So what if he lost yet another five ender. So what if he lost a deuce in the fifth doubles. (He helped El Presidente coach 14 beginner kids on Saturday) Well done James!
And finally, to our Controversy of the Week Section. This could have been about James but hey we’ve covered that above – stop calling him foolish! In a week of intra-Club fixtures there could be no controversy surely – we all love each other and get on like a house on fire. The Team 2v3 Match was remarkably calm, apart from an occasional scream from Gary. Obviously, this match had to start with a warning to Team 2 about rebel Chris and to watch out for his conduct – but he was angelic all night! Team 4v5 couldn’t muster anything controversial other than the headache of Team 5’s win. As 105-year-old John put it, the old guard are in trouble! Team 1 were playing friendly opposition in North Merchiston. Despite Craig suggesting we should try and fall out with them as they were the only club we seem not to have irritated all season, nothing controversial was ever going to happen there – David was also on his best behaviour! And so it was left to Teams 6 and 7 to produce the only flashpoint of the night!
In George’s match against Rachel umpire Julian pulled George up on service for his foot being in front of the end of the table. He perhaps wasn’t ready for George’s aggressive response telling him to perhaps speak to his own teammate about her illegal serves (or words to that effect – seemingly said with a bit more vigour than the written word allows us to convey!) Now the real issue here is whether this is even a rule? It’s not like Tennis where a foot fault can be called. George, a left hander, serving a forehand from his backhand side has a habit of of putting his left foot down the side of the table although the ball is still thrown up and struck from behind the end of the table. Is this legal? Nobody knew the answer. All they did know was that allegedly Rachel’s serve straight out of her hand was a fault! Who would ever call that though in a friendly intra-Club fixture in Division 4! If only Roger from Haddington had been present – we might not have had any rallies at all. Anyway, it all ended with a friendly discussion, a shake of hands, a few hugs and a session in therapy for those who witnessed it!
Separately, we’re happy to confirm that as Treasurer Craig promised, our transfer fee for Ian Hislop of £11 has now been fully paid up to Edinburgh International, our last weekly instalment of £1 having been paid last week. As a thanks, it appears Edinburgh International turned out against team 5’s nearest rivals for relegation ESC with only two players. That resulted in a 6-4 victory for ESC. We’re sure this wasn’t deliberate. Team 5 still feel hard done by from their result earlier in the season when Edinburgh International fielded an ineligible player against them – the rules were clear - Ed Int should have had to forfeit the match. But the rules weren’t followed. But really, that can’t be used as a reason why Team 5 were relegated. Were there other reasons? Let’s have a go at Edinburgh University 4. They conceded two matches in season 2017/18 – guess who those were against – yip you guessed it, both against ESC. 4 points and a +20 game difference as a result. Oh and hang on, Corstorphine turned up on the 7th of March against ESC with only 2 players in a 5-5 Draw. Even ignoring our own Team 4 playing ESC with an understrength team ESC’s total points are considerably increased by two concessions and two matches played against Mr Walkover. Without those points it seems ESC would have been relegated instead of Team 5! None of that of course is ESC’s fault – they’ve maybe been a bit fortunate but that’s just how it goes – just as they can perhaps think themselves lucky having been relegated last season to Division 4 – hang on they finished 2nd bottom but still played this season in Div 3 – league reorganisation coming back to bite Team 5 on the proverbial. Sour grapes we hear you cry – maybe! But it just goes to show how concessions and playing understrength for mid table teams can really have a huge impact on other teams!
Anyway, enough moaning, we’ve still got a few outstanding matches to play so we’ve got at least a couple of more weeks of reports to look forward to…….
Happy Easter to everyone.