Cup cheer for Cold Norton

The protagonists for this season’s Burnham & District Table Tennis League Handicap Cup Team Final were decided this week in two hotly contested semi-finals.  First up was Cold Norton C from Division 1 against Blackwater A from the second tier of the league.  The initial contests saw Cold Norton take a commanding 3-0 lead with the only real resistance being shown by Blackwater’s Alan Scammell (-5) who took the loopy Neil Want (-11) to 3 long sets.  The 4th match was the introduction of Blackwater’s handicap joker in the form of David McHattie from the third division with a handicap of +13.  In his first singles match poor Dick Wyman (-10) had to face a 23 point difference against McHattie and clearly used up all his energy in the first leg to edge it 22-20.  McHattie was playing the long game though and went on to win the next two legs pretty comfortably by channelling his inner tortoise against the hare (or lack of) of Wyman.  Inspired by this great victory Blackwater took the next doubles to bring the match back to 3-2 in favour of the Nortonites.  Alas that was the end of the fight for Blackwater as Wyman and Tim Cramphorn (-10) swept up the next two legs for an overall 5-2 victory.  Cramphorn taking no nonsense from McHattie with a very impressive win (18, 18) despite the same 23 point difference at the start. 

The second semi saw a mixed Woodham B and C side take on the current holders and bookies favourite Cold Norton B.  In a match where every player tasted at least one victory it was Cold Norton who started at a canter winning the first 3 matches without dropping a set.  Cold Norton’s Ian Wall (-18) had the most impressive victory by shaking of a -13 starting point against the hard-hitting David Meah (-5).  In the next encounter Dan Anderson (-12) got off to a slow start against Woodham’s Eamonn Hall (-5) but with the benefit of the longer style matches he was able to claw his way back with excellent positional play and selecting winning shots as necessary to win the first leg and then take a commanding 20-16 lead in the second leg.  Things were looking bleak for Hall and his Woodham side but he rattled off 6 points on the bounce – with the help of a net at leg point – to bring the match back from the brink of defeat.  Anderson started much better in the deciding leg but once again Hall fought back and took the point to provide some small hope for the Woodham trio.  Inspired by this new hope the Woodham pairing of Graham Briggs (-9) and Meah somehow stormed the next doubles match against Wall and Eric Green (-16) in 2 comfortable legs that brought the match back to 3-2 and a real contest was developing.  However those losses were merely a flesh wound for the Norton Trio as Green played superbly to beat Hall in straight sets despite the -11 start, and Anderson made up for his earlier loss by beating Meah in 2 sets – the first very comfortable, but the second a rollercoaster 25-23 marathon.  Another 5-2 victory, mirroring the scoreline and timeline of the first semi.  So this year’s final will be an all Cold Norton affair – the Parish Council are still considering whether the village will have a local bank holiday for the occasion. 

There was limited league action due to the cup activities this week but the games that were played were significant in the run in for the top slots in divisions 1 and 2.   Mapledene A bounced back to the top of Division 1 following a 7-3 victory over their B team.  Needing to keep the pressure on their championship rivals the A team seemed to be heading for a much higher score as they went 5-1 up at the break and family combo Gary and Daniel Young took the doubles for an overall 6-1 lead.  The only blot on their copybook being Gary Young’s loss to Simon Jacob in the opening match of the night.  In the final 3 singles the B team’s Keith Willett used all his know how and general wiliness to come back from 2-0 down against Daniel Young to square things up at 2-2, and then to 10-10 in the decider before winning the most unexpected of points.  In the penultimate match Jacob and Peter Barrett went to 5 sets also with Jacob coming through 11-4 in the decider to give the overall score a semblance of equality.  In the final encounter of the evening Gary Young faced the awkward John Monk.  Monk was in this one and had a chance to take the match to a decider when at 2-1 down and deuce in the 4th set, but Young held strong and won out for his second win of the evening and for the overall 7-3 triumph that takes Mapledene ahead of Woodham A at the top of Division 1.

Current Division 2 champions Mapledene C hosted current Division 2 leaders Woodham C this week in a match where Mapledene needed an extremely good win to stop the party celebrations continuing down Woodham Way.  At the break the match was evenly poised at 3-3 with Mapledene’s Barrie Delf and Woodham’s Adi Kamma the only 2 unbeaten players.  Delf in particular had to work extremely hard in his long 5 set victory over Woodham’s David Meah –  11-8 in the deciding leg but he had lost leg 2 15-17, and then in leg 4 he lost out 19-21 – tough going for the big fella!  Meah must have been enjoying these long 5 setters as he lost out to Lin Roff in his second match including going to deuce in the final 2 legs!   So 3-3 and Woodham needing to display their title credentials.  This they did with some aplomb winning the final 4 matches only dropping a couple of sets along the way.  The pick of the wins being Meah’s redemption point over Tony Jacks, and then Kamma’s excellent 4 set victory over Delf – although Meah was claiming an ‘assist’ due to the earlier marathon he had bestowed upon Delf.  This win leaves Woodham 20 points clear with only 4 games to play – all local bookmakers are already paying out on the win!   In the clash of the Stow teams this week B outwitted D for a 7-3 win.  It was no surprise that Peter Hance was once again the star man for the Stow B side with yet another hat-trick, however it was a surprise that after being spoken about in such glowing terms in last week’s report the D team’s Tim Pulham only won once this week.  Pulham beat Dave Marsh coming from behind in a long 5 setter, and then gave up a lead to lose out to very hard-hitting Nicky Reece-Ford in another long 5 setter.  Reece-Ford also beat Ken Sheard in 5 sets to rack up only his second hat-trick of the campaign.  There was only one catch-up game in Division 3 where Maldon F beat two-player Woodham E to widen the gap at the foot of the table.  A notable evening for Kym Eames as she took her first ‘hat-trick’ and player of the match title for the season in the 7-3 victory.

Pic 1 – Cold Norton’s Eric Green leading his team to victory in the Cup semi-final this week

Pic 2 –  Woodham C, leaders of Division 2 (Adi Kamma, Graham Briggs and David Meah)

Pic 3 – Simon Jacob – the thorn in Mapledene A’s side this week

Pic 4 – Action from the Handicap Cup semi final – Eric Green (Cold Norton B) v Graham Briggs (Woodham)