Match Report - Read one get one free

Riddlesworth Hall 0-10 British Sugar

09/11/2015 - Bob Harman & Mark James

Email from Bob to Dominic...

Hope your evening out went well last night, thought I would clue you in on last night’s goings-on at Riddlesworth Hall. What we thought was going to be a routine night was far from it as I will try my best to recall what happened from the get-go.

It sends shivers down my spine to even think about it to be honest, but in short, poor Trevor now has the yips, Will nearly broke his neck tripping over some exercise mats, and we were ‘visited’ by at least three ghostly characters in the space of fifteen minutes, one even had the audacity to do a return haunt with accompanying smells. Thankfully, it’s my turn to sit out our final game there in April, I have booked a holiday today for that week in Egypt, nice discount I got on it too, just to make sure I’m not around in case anyone breaks a fingernail and cries off.

We got there on time, few stags bypassed safely as we weaved around the country roads, to arrive in the virtual pitch black in the corner of the grounds there as you know well. We were met at the gate to the sports hall by two likely looking lads, both looking like gym-fit boxers who introduced themselves as Simon & Robert, aka ‘The Riddlers’ emblazoned on their tracksuits, with steam rising from their shiny domes into the autumn night sky. They wished us a good evening and declared that they were ‘seeking out the poorer quarters, where the ragged people go’ (whatever that meant), and told us they would like to watch a match or two as part of their cooling down routine. Fair enough we thought, nice to have an audience for a change, or so it seemed anyway...

After a couple of games Robert, who was perched up on the stage at the back of the hall with his pal Simon who busy rolling a long cigarette presumably ahead of his journey home, announced quizzically: ‘Leaves are falling all around, it’s time I was on my way, thanks to you I’m much obliged for such a pleasant stay.’ And they turned on their heels and disappeared into the night through the side door by the stage, the door slamming firmly behind the two pugilists. ‘Riddlers indeed’ Will said as we laughed among ourselves - right couple of jokers Mark reckoned. For once, I kept my counsel hard as that may be to believe I know...

‘Regulars here are they?’ Will joked with a big grin on his face as he shouted across to big Trevor during their pre-match warm up. Trev retorted: ‘Never seen them before in me life mate, we assumed they were a couple of your work buddies here to support you’.
Before Will could say Jack Sprat, the side door by the table blew open and a chill wind blew through the hall, clearly affecting Trevor’s already slightly iffy service action, as he struggled to throw the ball up and hit it properly into play even in the knock up. It was a sign of things to come...

As you know Dom, I don’t believe in ghosts (well I didn’t until last night anyway) but as the game commenced, the handle on the main door down the end suddenly dropped and in shuffled a tall and very strange-looking lady with big square shoulders, with mops and buckets a-plenty dragging effortlessly along behind her. She never lifted her gaze from the floor or uttered a word, just headed for the back room, clunking and clattering as she went, oblivious to the contest (much as it was even a contest as such at that point with Trev continuing to serve either into the net or off the end time after time, ad nauseam) going on only a few yards away from her.

And she repeated this routine half an hour or so later, again moving zombie-like across the hall, dragging her tools of the trade behind her. I swear this time there was a smell of rotting flesh as she went by on her way to the back room, before she left, head bowed again, some ten minutes later, this time empty-handed. I looked across the room to see Trevor’s reaction to all this, but he was struggling big time at this point, slumped with his head in his hands, probably wondering where his next successful serve was coming from – you couldn’t blame him, 25 duffers and counting the poor guy had managed come the end of the night. Despite my curiosity, I wasn’t rushing down to check the contents of the room without a view and as you can imagine, neither were my fellow not-so-brave Ghostbusters!

Meanwhile, there was Scott, smiling and laughing his way through the evening, clearly unaffected by all of these strange goings on, even wishing everyone good luck before the start of each match - what a nice guy Mark and Will opined. But being older and perhaps wiser (ok maybe not, wilder maybe or wider even) I had my doubts, had Scott seen this all before, and was he just lulling us into a false sense of security? Far from being unnerved by it all, he seemed to grow in stature as the night went on - it even took a final set decider to see Mark safely through against him, captain my captain having to rely on his trickiest of tricky serves to finally seal his victory.

To add to the rocky-horror show, I kid you not, all night long that damn side door by the stage kept on opening by itself, it was bizarre and was beginning to freak us all out, young Will was even close to tears until I told him to man up. My mind was working overtime by the time the doubles arrived and we were looking to win it to secure the 10-0 we had hoped for pre-match - it was all I could do to hit a few banana forehands and get the hell outta the place asap before the clock struck midnight. There were more riddles posed than answers, your Ruby would have had a few questions for the assembled throng, namely what was in the shuttered room, who really are Simon and Robert and their strangely familiar words, were they already the undead or did they meet their fate at the hands of the clanking cleaner from Clacton? What was I going to have for supper when I got home?

Back to reality, fortunately poor Trev made sure that we got the win sooner rather than later, the yips had well and truly set in by this stage as he struggled manfully to put ball on bat. Had that initial icy blast really affected him to the point where he almost a gibbering wreck come the doubles? Anyway, mate, gotta fly here, I bet you are really looking forward to that last match of the season though! Enjoy...oh, and by the way, I’ve copied you in on Mark’s match report below from last night for you to enjoy before it hits the League website! Dunno what match he was playing in...wasn’t my take on the night at all!!
Another 10-0 in the bag at least, see you Tuesday at Kegs.

Cheers Bob

More conventional from Mark James...

An interesting evening, with Will falling over a few badly placed exercise mats on his way back to the table from the 30 yard walk back one end, which was very funny, and Bob smacking himself in the eye with a ball mid match that flew off the edge of his bat.

Difficult conditions, a shut door flying open unexpectedly in the wind, a strange cleaner stumbling in mid match and back out again later on without looking up or saying a word, could have been a ghost, who knows!

Scott Boast (a thoroughly good egg, even wishes you good luck before the game, what a nice chap) played out of his skin having looked as nervous as a kitten against Will to begin with - he took Mark to 5, and led 2-1 before Mark's tricky serves saw him through.
With a strong wind blowing in from the open door Trevor was struggling to master his serve, must have messed up 25 serves on the night minimum, quite amusing and a standing joke for everyone by the end of the night.

All finished by 10pm and an early night with no post-match pub visit for once...but an enjoyable evening nevertheless with a really nice bunch of guys from Riddlesworth, we look forward to the return matches later in the season.

Author: via Bury St Edmunds Table Tennis League
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