Out of the hat first came Brian Bailey (-1), Charlie Brindley (-7) and Rachel Petrie (+7). They had the task of taking on West Lothian 1 at Ladywood. The West Lothian side comprised Barrie Hills (-4) (good to see him looking so fit), Graham Honeyman (+2) and youngster David McCrae (+7). There’s always one ringer in Handicap Cup games and surprisingly in this one it wasn’t either of the +7 players - although young David certainly has some great attacking shots which is always a huge advantage in Handicap matches. The difference on the night was +2 Graham - a player who has improved significantly over the last year or so and he showed that progression by comfortably dispatching all 3 Penicuik players. +2 - Give us a break cried the Penicuik trio!! Rachel played well to win the battle of the +7 players and was unlucky to lose out in 5 to Barrie. Brian provided the only other Penicuik win with a 4-end victory over Barrie as the West Lothian side progressed with a comfortable 5-2 scoreline.
Team 2 were the only side to play away from Ladywood - League teammates John Bald (+2) and Louis McLeod (+5) were joined by Gary McDougal (-5) as they travelled to take on Corstorphine. An excellent spread of handicaps for the Penicuik trio but on the night it was only Louis who managed to contribute, winning all three of his singles played in the resultant 5-3 defeat. There may have been some close matches but John and Gary are seemingly too old to have a phone that can take a picture of a scorecard whilst Louis is at the other end of the age spectrum - thanks for the in-depth and 4 day late report guys!!
When the draw was made there were some who thought it must have been rigged as Greig McDonell (-13) was joined by Abby Wighton (-3) and Sean Lennon (+3). The fact that Sean was responsible for picking his own name out of the hat was pure coincidence - he definitely did not see any writing on the piece of paper with his name on it! Would the dream team disappoint against Edinburgh International?
Greig started off by overturning a 19 point deficit to defeat young Struan McDonald before Sean (10-0 in a race to 18) played some unbelievably good TT to defeat Jim Grahame in 4 ends. Struan’s dad Stuart was the ringer in this match. A +1 Handicap for a player who was defensively solid, had good serves and could attack well when needed. Abby wanted to give up table tennis after losing in 3 straight sets including (sorry about this Abby) a 14-2 loss in the third set! Sean restored a two game advantage by defeating Struan before Greig then lost in 5 ends to Stuart. The match of the night (in terms of quality) then took place between Abby and Jim (4-0 to 15). Buoyed by encouragement from El Presidente (obviously), Abby put her first match behind her as she showed why she merits a place in the Premier Division this year - fast and sharp all out attack on both wings disposed of Jim in 3 including a 15-1 demolition job in the third set. Stuart completed his undefeated night by winning against Sean to reduce the deficit to 4-3. Abby v Struan - Abby giving her opponent a 9 point start to 14. On the sidelines Greig was having a nervous breakdown at the prospect of playing a 9th match decider against Jim - this is the kind of match for Abby where all out attack can be dangerous. Not a bit of it - in fairness to Struan he probably played his best match of the night with some terrific rallies but Abby hardly missed as she secured the match with a straight sets victory - a 5-3 win for the home side - and in fairness Jim looked almost as relieved as Greig that the match didn’t need to go the distance!
The final match of the week saw Team 4 of James Wighton (-4), Krzysztof Laszkiewicz (-4) and George Wilson (+6) take on Murrayfield 4 who fielded an experienced team in Lynn Somerville (-4), Ian Moran (-11) and Lindsay Muir (-7) - Minus 7 - Really? Krys got the home side off to the best possible start with a win against Ian before Lindsay’s spin game was too much for George and Lynn’s funny bat put paid to James. Fresh from his audition for the remake of Pirates of the Caribbean (have you seen his headgear?), it was good to see George play some great stuff to level the scores with a good win against Ian. Lynn then bamboozled Krys as the Edinburgh side went 3-2 ahead. Speaking of pirates, Lindsay then took further advantage of his “generous handicap” with an easy win against James. On the brink of defeat George kept the match alive against Lynn before James forced a decider by defeating Ian. Krys v Lindsay was to decide the match - a 3 point start for Krys was never realistically going to be enough as he fell to a 6-14, 10-14, 9-14 defeat. An unlucky loss for Team 4.
The rules of the game continue to cause issue. In our match against West Lothian last week two rather strong characters had a rather vociferous exchange of words about a rule. Vociferous enough to cause the other two matches to pause and look over to see if there may need to be some external intervention! All was sorted amicably in the end - the point raised by our “2016/17 Nicest Team Captain of the Year Winner”, Brian Bailey, was that before a point was actually over his opponent, Mr Honeyman, shouted something out. Mr B was not happy (his title is in danger this year - James is the Bookies favourite to take the trophy back). Should a let have been called because the conditions of play were disturbed in a way which could affect the outcome of the rally? Who actually knows what the rule is? In the end the point went to Brian’s opponent. The point? One we have raised many times before - how many of us actually know what the rules of the game say about situations such as this? Do Club’s have at least one qualified umpire in their ranks? Is such needed? Should it be a requirement that we all have to do some form of umpire course? There's an interesting question.
And finally, having had a go at various other clubs and the ELTTL in the first four weeks of the season, we are nothing if not fair - we end this week by having a go at ourselves! A 6.30pm start and we moan at other clubs if they turn up a bit late - the last couple of weeks have seen us rely on visiting teams to get the hall set up - thanks to our friends from West Lothian this week who were there before the vast majority of the home team players! It’s just not good enough said a senior Penicuik member - so what if you’ve all got jobs, travel issues, families to organise - get yourself to the Club early and give some help!!!
We love the Handicap Cup - roll on Round 2.