First up on Wednesday night was Team 1 with an away match in Fife. After our internal troubles, as reported last week, Team 1 had to call upon the services of Charlie Brindley from Team 2 to join forces with Colin Green and David Melrose. Fife Team Captain Peter Aird must have one of the most difficult jobs in the League – he has 8 players to pick from for his side! Oh, how we would love to have that problem! Surely some of them would prefer to play for Penicuik for a guaranteed place each week wouldn’t they?? The match result may not have changed had matches 2 and 3 on the night gone the other way but looking for some positives to take from the evening both David and Colin had their opportunities to give the visitors an early advantage after Charlie lost the first match of the night. Both players lost out 11-9 in deciding fifth ends to Tales Yamamoto and Peter Aird respectively. When the next 3 matches also went the way of the home side, the match was over. Colin managed to salvage a crumb of comfort in Match 8 with a 5-end victory over Tales but with no other wins on the night Team 1 fell to a heavy 9-1 defeat.
Thursday night then saw Teams 2 and 4 both in action at Ladywood. Team 2 faced Edinburgh University in a Division 1 encounter which they would have targeted as a potential win. Charlie Brindley (fresh from some match practice the previous night) was joined by Julian Taylor and Gary McDougal. Before the match there was some controversy with Edinburgh Uni seeking clearance for one of their players, who was ineligible to play up, to be allowed to play up – more on that later. On the night, all three home players picked up victories against the “playing-up” player (good job!) and Charlie and Julian picked up a 5-set win in the doubles. That meant 4 matches were in the bag for the Penicuik trio – just one win needed against the two remaining University players. That should have been achievable but on a very disappointing night none of the Penicuik trio could pick up that elusive 5th win as they fell to a 6-4 defeat – a worrying night for Team 2.
In the other half of the hall, Team 4 (Craig Linton, Jim Jack & Rachel Petrie) were in action in Division 3 against Corstorphine 2. It was noted by Team 4 prior to the match that Corstorphine had thrashed ESC 10-0 last month and ESC had hammered Team 4 10-0 in their last outing – fair to say then that the Penicuik trio went into this match with a little trepidation. Although on paper the 9-1 defeat which followed would seem to give little confidence to Team 4, there were some real positives to take from the match. Five of the ten matches went to 4 ends – Craig won one of those. In four of the other losses, therefore, the team showed that they could compete at this level – 12 ends played on the night and lost by the home side were only lost by 2 or 3 points. The difficulty which Team 4 seem to be encountering is finding consistency in their match play – once they can do that wins will surely follow.
The final match of the week saw Team 3 travel to face Edinburgh University 4. The Uni 4 team had defeated Uni 3 earlier in the season and Uni 3 had defeated James Wighton, Hannah McDonell & Abby Wighton by a 6-4 scoreline a few weeks ago so the visitors knew they were in for a tough match. James started the match off against Jakub Kara’s long and short pimples – what on earth is a young student doing playing with that combination!! It had the desired effect as James fell in five ends. The girls then gave the visitors the advantage as they both won their opening matches and when James won his next match they led 3-1. Dodgy Bat player then took on a very confused Hannah and cut the deficit to 3-2 before Abby restored the advantage with her 2nd victory of the night to give Penicuik a 4-2 advantage going into the doubles. Team 3 hadn’t won a doubles match up to this point and all three different combinations had been tried – it was back to girl power this week and that paid off as Hannah and Abby combined for an excellent 3-0 win to secure a point for the visitors. Hannah then secured the win with her second victory of the night before James laboured a little to a 3-2 win in match 9. Jakub finished off his unbeaten night with a win over Abby but the visitors left delighted with a 7-3 victory, all 3 players picking up 2 singles wins each.
And so, to our player of the week award. There’s not much to choose from this week – all three of Team 3 picked up 2 out of three wins and Abby and Hannah also won the doubles – they can’t be split though, so we are, for the second time this season, going to give the award to an away player. One opponent, in particular, was extremely impressive – a young man who has been on the radar for some time but seemed to up his game to a different level last week – he strolled through Wednesday night’s match against our top team and won all 12 ends which he played – three singles and the doubles. The manner of his victories was impressive and it’s fair to say that even though Colin pushed him close in a couple of ends, his wins never looked in doubt – well done to Andrew Nimmo from Fife – its only an extra hour over the bridge to us Andrew if you’re interested!!!
And finally, our controversy of the week section. We are still waiting to hear about our appeal against Edinburgh University 1 v Penicuik 1 (reported earlier in the season) but with that in mind it was somewhat bizarre that the League once again authorised an ineligible player to play last week against Team 2 for the University. For whatever reason the player in question was on the “can’t play up list” and as such 3 conditions require to be met. The third of those, as per the League Match Secretary’s email to all Clubs, is:
“I as Match Secretary have explicitly determined (and informed their Club’s Secretary) that they are in the correct team, or, if not, into which team they should be placed. If they remain in what seems to be the wrong team then playing-up restrictions, to themselves or others, may apply.”
The University sought clearance for a player who had played two matches for them – he had won 4 out of 6 games – 1 of his losses was against another University player (no idea whether he has been assessed yet as being in the correct team) – his other loss was against a Murrayfield player who himself has only played in two matches, seems to be new to the league and has won all 6 games he has played.
Now the fact that the player in question is playing in Division 4 and won no games against Team 2 is irrelevant – the point is that the League seem able on some occasions to just ignore their own protocols and that cannot be right – whilst we accept that it is only a guide that players should play at least 4 matches to enable an informed decision to be made, the Match Secretary clearly had not deemed that the 2 matches played by this player was enough because he had not made any determination before being contacted by Edinburgh Uni – it seems to us that he was “pressured” in to making a decision before he would ordinarily have done so. We all like the fact that there has to be flexibility and it’s great to have an ability to get decisions made quickly but when these decisions seem to only be made for some clubs and are not based on the general guidance ordinarily used, it is easy to see how some could start feeling a sense of “unfairness”.
We are of course extremely thankful that the player in question didn’t win any matches – although he nearly did, going to five ends against Gary! Can you imagine the tone of this controversy had that happened and had that proven decisive in the match!! So, no harm done – unlike Team 1’s match against University earlier in the season – we await a decision on that with bated breath……