With Rory Scott no longer running NJL at The London Academy in Edgware nor NCL at The College of Richard Colyer, Horsham, Tim Holtam and Pedro Santos stepped in organising both NJL and NCL at The University of Sussex at Brighton.   This is a huge undertaking with each League in adjacent but separate Halls.

As some of the boys wanted to double up and play in both Leagues, the club opted to go for NJL at Brighton and NCL at Morpeth.   Two teams were entered, the A consisted of Joe Gillhouley, Joe Tickner, Eddie Gillhouley and Henry Morrell while Tommy Cowling was scheduled to lead the B team with support from Ben Forrester, Ben McKay and Felipe Fujimori.   The best laid plans can go wrong and did so drastically on Day 1.   Joe Tickner wasn’t available and Joe Gillhouley then sustained a serious wrist injury just a few days before.   Eddie therefore led the team with Tommy moving up to support him and Henry.   Ben F took over the reins for the B with Ben M and Felipe completing the line up.

It was soon realised on arrival that the A would be out of their depth in Division 1 and a swap was arranged with South Croydon B.   Both teams were therefore in Division 2 as the B had already been placed there in Division 2 and gave it a go but found points hard to come by.

Round 1

The A began against South Croydon C (Ben Hansen/Chidumebi Egbeama/Leone Saccoh).   This was a much closer match than 1-5 would suggest and there were opportunities in several sets.   However, the only one secured was by Tommy who beat Leone, a very good win for him.

The B had a tough opening assignment against Crusaders (Mudhav Muralikrishnan/George Noel/Jacob Archer) and it soon became clear that Crusaders meant business.   Only Ben F managed to get a game, not the best of starts of the B’s campaign.  

Round 2

The second round brought the inevitable domestic derby.   Eddie & Co were not feeling very magnanimous and the B team boys found it hard to get a look in.   Six points in the bank for the A was, however, most welcome.

Round 3

The A moved on to tackling Crusaders (Matthew Carpenter/Mudhav Muralikrishnan/Jacob Archer) and it was hoped they would pick up points here.   They did in deed do just that.   Both Eddie and Henry had confidence boosting wins over Matthew but that was all that went into the bank, not through lack of effort though.

The B took on Brighton City B (Max Wilson/Louis Drake/Rio Alvarez) who were expecting themselves to do well.   There were a number of good games fought out and Felipe pulled out all the stops against Rio, just losing out on the big points in the fifth.   He also did well against Louis narrowly losing 11-8, 13-11, 12-10.

Round 4

It was the A’s turn to face Brighton City B and they put up a good fight.   Both Eddie and Tommy took a game off Louis and Henry was so close to beating Rio as 16-14, 11-9, 8-11, 7-11, 8-11 would indicate.

The B then ran into Graham Spicer B (Daniel Clark/Tin-Chi Wong/Justin Lam), all well known to the club.   The boys made a big effort and it was encouraging to see Felipe once again giving Justin a run for his money 11-9, 10-12, 8-11, 11-13 gives an idea.   It was also encouraging to see Ben M showing signs of finding his way by taking a game from Justin too.

Round 5

It was the A’s turn to take on Graham Spicer B (Daniel/Tin-Chi/Justin).   Eddie produced his best here and defeated Tin Chi in straight games.   It was certainly his best result of the day.   Although there were quite a few close games, the only other set where the A might have picked up another point was Henry getting very close to beating Justin but the fourth slipped away 11-13.

The B were, without doubt, struggling but they had hopes of picking up something against South Croydon C (Ben Hansen/Chidimebi Egbeama/Leone Saccoh) and took three sets to a fourth game.   Ben M was so close to beating Ben H 14-12, 8-11, 4-11 10-12 gives an idea but doesn’t reflect how hard he worked.   Ben F took a game from him and Felipe a game from Leone so it was down to the last set.   Could Ben M get a point on the board for the team against Leone, a much more experienced and powerful player?   Yes, he could.   Ben was 1-2 down but fought back to take the fourth 13-11.   Once back on level terms he was off and ran away with the fifth 11-5, much to everyone’s delight.

It was a long, hard, tough day.   No one gave up, gave 100% and that is all they could be asked to do.   It all goes into the Great Bank of Experience and a lot could be learnt from this day out.   The A survived, finishing fifth overall but the B will compete in Division 3 next time.   Hopefully they will start picking up a few wins.


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