Team 1 of Greig McDonell, David Melrose and Abby Wighton faced a tough task against West Lothian 1 at Ladywood but went into the match in positive mood after two consecutive wins in the previous 2 weeks. There were two major talking points – one good and one, well, how can we describe it – not so good! The good news is that Abby has broken her duck and is now off and running in her first season in the Premier Division after a deserved win against West Lothian’s Steve Collins. We stand by what we have repeatedly said to the League – the choice to play Abby in the Premier in front of Clive and Charlie from Team 2 was and remains the right choice. Steve was playing up for WL 1 from Division 1 and guess who he’s already beaten this year in Division 1? Yip you guessed it - 3-0 wins against both Charlie and Clive! Anyway, back to the match – picture the scene – Team 1 are leading 3-2 as David takes on Brian Hunter. Team Captain Greig is starting to get excited that an upset could be on the cards if David could win this match – if not a win then a draw is a distinct possibility. Half way through the second end and in a moment of frustration David “Rocky” Melrose decides to take his frustration out by punching that big brown thing at the end of the hall – what’s that called again? The thing that runs all the way around the hall – Oh yeah, a Brick Wall! Would you believe it, punching a brick wall with some degree of force can actually hurt! After an injury time-out David manfully played on but couldn’t really grip the bat properly, couldn’t shake hands after he lost, couldn’t straighten out his hand and had to abandon the rest of the night! Fortunately for the rest of the season the hand’s not broken, just bruised and swollen. Unfortunately for the match Team 1 went on to suffer a 6-4 defeat. Greig won 2 whilst David and Abby both won 1.
That loss was the first of many in the worst week of the season so far for the Club. In Division 1, Team 2 of Clive Liddiard, James Wighton and Charlie Brindley faced an away match against Murrayfield 3. Both James and Charlie defeated young Jamie Sloan – pity neither of them could have done that when they played him in the 5-5 draw against Murrayfield 5 earlier in the season! Those were the only wins for the visitors who fell to an 8-2 defeat.
Meanwhile Team 3 were set to get back to full strength against an understrength West Lothian 3. When, by 6.45pm, Chris Markey still hadn’t shown up, Gary McDougal and Krzysztof Laszkiewicz started to panic – frantic attempts to contact Chris failed and with no time for a replacement to be found, Team 3 fell to a disappointing 6-4 defeat. Both players picked up 2 wins and this has to go down as an opportunity thrown away to climb into mid-table. The defeat results in the home side dropping in to the relegation zone.
It was a bit of a pre-season friendly reunion at Ladywood on Wednesday night – the 3rd West Lothian side to visit was their Team 6 who took on our Team 4 of Brian Bailey, John Bald and Louis McLeod in Division 3. Team 4 went into the match having hit the heights of the top of the table the previous week. The higher they are the harder they...... A chastening 9-1 defeat brought Team 4 back down to earth with a bump – Louis McLeod was the only winner for the home side.
Team 5 managed a draw last week and were looking to improve on that as they travelled to take on Murrayfield 8. A team of 4 and only 1 regular was available as Sean Lennon was joined by two Division 4 players, George Wilson and Lewis Baldock (playing his first match of the season). Sean and George both won 2 in a narrow 6-4 defeat for Team 5 – Team Captain Stuart was left feeling that any combination of their normal team would surely have managed at least a point!
Team 7 faced a home match in Division 4 against Edinburgh International 5 who started the night a point behind the Penicuik side. Phil Daly, Kristian Skotzen and Hannah McDonell were disappointed to end the night with a 7-3 defeat, Phil winning the 3 for the home side.
And so a whitewash of defeats was on the cards for the Club in what truly was a dreadful week! To the rescue came Team 6 as they travelled to Haddington on Thursday night. When Sonny Taylor lost Match 1 their run of bad form looked like it might continue, but from there the visitors didn’t look back – Sonny won 2 whilst both Rachel Petrie and Julian Taylor were undefeated in singles play – father and son also combined for a doubles win in the resultant 9-1 victory.
And so to our Player of the Week Award for Week 9. Special mention this week to Rachel who started playing in the League in the 2014/15 Season. According to the record books, Rachel has never had an undefeated night in singles play – until this week – an achievement well worthy of praise. Well done Rachel. The only other player undefeated player this week was Julian. Another player in the running though has to be George – playing up from Division 4, he seems to play his best table tennis against better opponents – two wins against Division 3 opponents is worthy of note. But this week’s winner, for the third week in a row, comes from Team 1. (We say again that the Committee is not biased)! Amongst all the controversy of playing supposedly out of order in the wrong team, Abby has shown throughout the season a desire to improve and most who watch her have commented on how much she has progressed as the season has gone on. More impressive is her ability to keep putting in the effort, to keep working hard at training and to not be down heartened after 7 matches without a win. For getting her first win in the Premier Division Abby is this week’s deserved winner – well done to her.
There were controversies a plenty this week – Rocky won the award for best right hook of the week, Team 3 won the award for not being able to communicate effectively and field a full team, Team 5 the award for “having the greatest number of unavailable players"! But the real controversies were discussed at last Monday’s League Committee Meeting. The Abby saga was discussed and the League have authorised Charlie or Clive to play up but only to replace David or Greig if they are unavailable – better than nothing we suppose but still a bit of a cop out!
Remarkably, despite support from two independent and influential sources, the Committee decided that the fielding of an ineligible player DID NOT result in such a team forfeiting the match. That’s what the rules say should happen – but hey rules are there to be breached and bent so long as there’s no malice involved – we think that’s the point?? It will be interesting to see how this decision is conveyed in written form to us!
And as yet another example of the rules being bent (for some) we hear from our source at North Merchiston that the Committee took it upon itself to interfere with one of the most straightforward rules which exist:
“A team may not postpone a match except with the prior confirmed consent of the other team”
University 1 sought a postponement from North Merchiston 1 of their match to be played this week. North Merchiston refused. University decided to raise it with the League. Remarkably, the Committee decided that there were “special circumstances” which merited them interfering with the Club’s decision to refuse the postponement – where on earth do they think they derive that authority from?? Putting that to one side, what were these special circumstances? Uni had some sort of Inter University match involving all their top players? It gets better. Although we understand the Committee were led to believe that this match was away from the Edinburgh area and would mean it was extremely difficult for the Uni players to get back for a 6.30 start against NM 1, it turns out that in fact the match is at home in the afternoon on Wednesday and will probably be finished by 5 / 5.30pm!! On discovering that piece of information, it appears that the Committee have now reversed their position and the match will take place after all!! Unreal on so many levels!!
Week 10 to look forward to - surely it can't be any worse than Week 9!