2017-18 Start of Season Report

Myopic Views From The Fence

My opening gambit on day one of the new season– All league players, especially captains – Attention please, this is serious stuff!


Remember the League’s three ‘R’s? Result, Reaction, REPORT!!!!!

We start a fresh season full of hope. All and Sundry as keen as kippers, especially old Sundry, I thought it might just be a good time to remind players and particularly team captains in all three divisions that we do need to keep our League match reports rolling in. With the loss of the handbook, which was deemed to be surplus to requirements, I’m not sure that we have as yet a reminder system in place now requiring all captains at various stages of the season to do their bit and pen a report of their night’s work. So please take this as a reminder, I will say this only once...
Let’s abandon altogether the previous protocol of waiting your turn for the ‘R’ to come round in the handbook on a night or two a season, and just email us (Dave Unwin or Bob Harman) as to what went on at any given match played on any given night in any given week – home or away team captain, we don’t give a fig who takes the plunge and puts us in the picture concerning the ensuing battle on the night or in the car park afterwards even!

I do think we as players need to communicate the good things, the bad things and dare I say it the ugly things a little better and more frequently than has been the case in previous seasons! What better than to have two match reports on the same match from opposing captains in the opening salvo of matches that kick off at Kegs this evening, starting with two of Bury's best protagonists, Messrs Yaxley & Unwin, the latter I will name and shame as never having offered up a match report in his life, shame on you David!! Rectify that if you will please…the report can be as short as Napoleon’s legs or as long as this missive, let us not allow the demise of the handbook cover the keyhole on what the butler saw at the likes of KEGS, Sugar, Thurston, Rougham and Stowie.

Go on, spill the beans and paint us a picture that we can all enjoy and relate to, just as you did hopefully on the night in victory or defeat, or where honours were even as the case may be. It could be a man/woman/boy/girl of the match nomination, or something about a particular venue or team you might enjoyed playing at or against, or perhaps just tell us how cool or uncool are Sugar’s natty new Puff shirts, does Mr Y have a truncheon concealed in his kitbag? Should Rev Green be allowed to play in his dazzlingly white dog collar and matching latex shorts? All reasonable reports that might or might not need editing will be very welcome!

Think…white knuckle ride, or Spitfire pilot gripping the controls…Bingo, there you have it, your handshake for the season!

This is something that really bugs me year on year…it could be that you might want to report on something as simple as a handshake between players (and their umpire at end of game) on any given night. Well simple probably isn’t a good choice of word for this thorny subject. It really cannot be just my teammates and I that notice how this ritual can vary from ‘correct’ pressure grip levels (let’s call it the norm) to the ‘gossamer’ grip (let’s just call it limp). This wild variety of shakes was offered even from within the confines of one team – three players, one shaken, two barely stirred at all! Two of the three players might as well have offered up just their little finger to shake rather than their entire hand, such was their lack of commitment throughout the evening to the said process.

While I’m not suggesting an arm wrestling contest should take place, win or lose as the last point is over, I do think it reflects badly on you as a player if you don’t make the said process at least meaningful – it’s very much a two way thing, please try and remember that if you happen to be of the wet lettuce persuasion - and whilst on the matter of handshakes, please try not to forget to press the flesh properly with the umpire too. I have even seen someone recently not bother to even shake the umpire by the hand post match, which was pretty poor and was swiftly pointed out to the reluctant perpetrator who just shrugged his shoulders. Definitely not cricket that…

Serving up a storm? ‘Swisher’ alert and a few apple pickers in court proceedings

Finally and on a more serious note, a somewhat touchy subject or two to reflect on, but they are covered in the League rules and in some cases not being adhered to, so I think it is only right to discuss them here.
Are players when serving keeping to the rules? Watching one or two players last evening on the opening night of this season on an adjacent table at Thurston, I spotted some less than savoury serves from a certain player frankly old enough and experienced enough to know better - let us know whether you consider this to be a problem or not on any given night. It is probably only a small minority of ‘foul servers’ who do so deliberately to actually gain a perceived advantage - at best it’s often perhaps just a bad habit developed over years of playing and not being corrected or clamped down on by umpires.

Arguably, some say that these players who are habitual foul servers actually gain little or no advantage from their dubious service action, well at least in the long term; serving straight off the palm of the hand without throwing the ball upwards at all is arguably the most ‘popular’ offence (tell me about it I hear you sigh), but in my opinion this heinous act of ‘Swishing’ (as I call it) actually prevents the Swisher from imparting much spin at all to the ball other than a hint of top spin. Some might argue that we would be doing Swishers a favour correcting their bad habit, as more often than not the ball tends to hit the net on the Swisher’s side and the point is yours and gained with zero effort on your part, which is of course a Brucie bonus.

All we can really hope for is that matches are fought fairly and played in the spirit they were intended to be played in…it is important to educate not only the Swishers of this world but also those few players among us who feel the need to repeatedly call a temporary halt to proceedings between points - for example stopping play briefly to get a tissue from your kitbag is acceptable behaviour, especially if you have a runny nose - but using more routines than Rafa Nadal could ever be accused of most certainly isn't. It is so easy to almost fall asleep mid-game as the culprits pace around at a snail’s pace at the back of the court, stealing precious time in order to gather their thoughts or perhaps apples from a nearby tree, who knows? So please try and stick to the rule that play should be continuous…..we really shouldn't need to introduce a code violation system for umpires to use, just a reminder to players should suffice. That’s it then…..hopefully a few bricks in place, as someone famously said recently, let's build that wall!! Have a great season all, including Sundry, especially old Sundry, who assures me he is out to avenge some shocking losses last season. Good luck with that Sunders…

Author: via Bury St Edmunds Table Tennis League
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