Division 2 Reports 2017/2018
Strines Knights 8 v 2 Dinting Cricket Club A
A good win for Strines helped by the fact that Sheffield Wednesday were at home and Mike Stansfield was not available. Young Archie Chilton did well to beat Roger Etchells in 5 Dave Clark Ken Wood won all 3 and Dave Clark and Alan Darnell continued their good work from last year in the doubles!
Hollingworth Conservative Club B 5 v 5 Hyde Cricket and Squash Club
' BLOODY NETS' Se Lee for further info.
NET SAID FRED
I have a morbid fear of nets. It all started at school when a teacher who had real dislike of me made me wear a hairnet whenever I was in his class. All because my hair was a wee bit longer than the other boys, well a lot longer really. I got my own back on him by releasing half a dozen cockroaches in his Ford Zephyr. Another incident with nets was when I was putting the practice nets up at the cricket club pre-season. It was a bit windy but a sudden very strong gust brought them crashing down and there I was flailing about on the ground like a ruddy herring. I was there for half an hour before someone arrived to untangle me. Another incident at the cricket nets was when I was batting and one of our quickies was bowling and unbeknown to me the roof of the net had sagged a little. He bowled a bouncer and I went back to hook but my bat caught in the netting and the ball hit me straight on the forehead. I was out for the count for about five minutes. So you see when I played Fred on Thursday night and he accumulated at least two dozen net points you can see why I have this fear of nets. When we started I thought I had the beating of him as he was making a few unforced errors but his first net point seemed to inspire him and he never looked back. Even his winning point, when I need just a point to level, was a flaming net point! At least Fred had the decency to look embarrassed.
Neil had started us off against Stuart and they had a real ding-dong of a scrap but Stuart’s forehand smashes were deadly accurate and although Neil valiantly returned two or three per rally Stuart wore him down and Neil’s backhand drive, normally so accurate, was off target and he succumbed in three sets. Ian was really up for his set-to with Peter and he gave no quarter to the Hollingworth man. His blocking was spot on as was his serving and he targeted Peter’s backhand before inducing an error and then putting him to the sword in three sets. Fred had no answer to Neil’s game and the net was no help this time as Neil was relentless in his returning and he induced many unforced errors from Fred who surrendered in three sets. Stuart and Ian had their usual three setter and it was impossible to call in the fifth. Stuart had taken the first two sets as Ian’s radar was in need of calibration as smash after smash missed the table. Ian is made of sterner stuff this season though and back he came to take the next two sets, blowing Stuart away to 2 in the fourth. Stuart made more of a fight of it in the fifth but Ian was having none of it and the magic Lucozade did its trick and he took the set to 7 and the game. I went on against Peter. A few minutes later I sat down. Nuff said. Of all my opponents in a season Peter is one I just can’t figure out. I play a decent low chop and he just swings that long right arm and wallops it back. Very disheartening. Then came the shock of the night, Fred beat Ian. Most unexpected but not to Fred, as he’d implored the great net God to help him out again, and God agreed. Ian took the first set reasonably comfortably but Fred dug in and Ian struggled as Fred drew him into the chopping game and occasionally let loose a forehand smash which inevitably hit the net and crawled over. It was close but not close enough for Ian who lost in four. Peter and Neil had the game of the night as Neil took the first but back came Peter to take the next two with some accurate forehand drives that Neil struggled to return. Neil took the fourth with some great retrieving, one from practically on the stage was truly remarkable. It was the same in the fifth but this time it was our turn for a bit of luck as Neil took the set and the game with a net point. I had a decent game with Stuart but I’ll be honest I’m beaten in the Con Club before I even play a game there, I can’t play on carpet as I need my feet to slide and I lose the ball in the white pattern on the carpet when its off the table, so I’ll not be playing there again. Which left us needing the doubles, to earn the draw I felt Ian and Neil deserved. It was my turn to play but being the astute captain I am, I deduced it would be good tactics for Neil and Ian to play instead and whilst it was the first time they had played together, they came up trumps and in five hard fought games, they beat Peter and Fred. So, a good night’s tennis, sportingly played, and excellent company and goodbye to the Con Club from me.
Hyde YMCA B 8 v2 Strines Dragons
The promoted Dragons were slayed by the veteran line up of Hyde YMCA in a very friendly, entertaining and competitive game. Harry and Adrian were undefeated for YMCA and Pete Green, but in a rejuvenated performance winning two. Adrian Bellis won Dragon’s only singles in a good patient performance and he also gave problems to both Harry and Adrian. Dragons deservedly won the doubles with John Ashworth partnering Adrian Bellis.
Hyde YMCA B 5 v 5 Hyde Cricket and Squash Club
A keenly fought Hyde derby match resulted in a fair result, a 5-5 draw. Harry Garside was in exceptional form dispatching all his opponents quite comfortably. Brian Hadfield and Neil Coppard won 2 each both beating Adrian Borrell and Pete Green and teamed up to beat the same opposition in the doubles to secure a draw. Neil has stiffened? Up the cricket club and we look forward to a visit to Werneth Low for the reverse fixture.
As usual with games against the YM and if Harry’s playing, there’s always something happens. I was first on against him and after checking the table for spots of dust and dandruff etc, the door to check no one was likely to come up the stairs, the curtains to see they were closed and the heater was off, we made a start. Almost, a daddy longlegs had the temerity to land on the wall and it caught Harry’s eye. The nerve of the creature, it soon buggered off when it saw the murderous look in Harry’s eye. We eventually made a start. Well Harry did. ‘Nuff said, he wiped the floor with me. He didn’t miss one of his deadly forehand smashes and his serving was spot on. If anyone hits a forehand smash harder than Harry, I don’t want to meet them. He was on top form all night seeing off Neil, our new player who was of course playing against one of his previous teams. Neil was never really in the game apart from holding a decent lead in the first set but Harry fought back to take the set and the next two. It was Harry’s game against Brian that caused most interest for I’m certain that never before has Brian, or any player come to that, had to play against an opponent with an enormous wad of tissue protruding from his nostrils. Not long after they had commenced the game Harry dashed off saying he had a nose bleed. We agreed to delay that game and play the doubles which Brian and Neil won beating Adrian and Peter in five hard fought sets. So Harry needed to win his delayed game to salvage a draw for the team. He reappeared with the nostril adornments and in a match that flowed first one way then another, it was Harry’s lethal forehand smashes that won the day and he overcame Brian in five hard fought sets to secure the draw. Brian had seen off Peter relatively easy, although Peter was his own worst enemy in conceding so many fault serves. Adrian had reason to sulk after his game with Brian, which he did, for Brian used all his luck for the season, so many were the nets and edges he accumulated in seeing off Adrian’s challenge. I went on against Peter and I should’ve taken at least one game off him but for some reason my concentration always seems to waver when I play at the YM and I go from playing some great shots to missing dead easy ones. I gave Adrian a decent enough game but it was left to Neil, with some outstanding retrieving and deadly backhand smashes against Peter and Adrian to ensure we got at least a draw on the night. Some excellent tennis played and as usual good company, we look forward to the return when a nurse will be in attendance.
Strines Knights 10 v 0 Strines Dragons
A good win for the Knights, but 2 close games for Roger Etchells as both of his games went to 5! 100% records for Allan Sheppard and Ken Wood
Strines Knights 5 v 5 Hyde YMCA B
well this match could have gone either way as 3 of the matches went to 5, but Strines only won one of them. Allan Sheppard was on form for Strines winning all 3.
Dinting Cricket Club A 3 v 7 Hollingworth Conservative Club B
The Con Club proved too strong for Dinting with Mark Bennett the player of the night with 3 victories.
Hyde YMCA B 5 v 5 Chinley Table Tennis Club B
A close hard fought game ended all square. Chinley arrived at YMCA impressively turned out in their team kit. It would be good to see other teams follow their example. Joseph Cooper was the star that night winning all 3. Martyn Capper came close losing in 5 games. Debbie Kruger was unlucky to finish the night without a victory, losing in 5 close games to Adrian and Pete. Mike Davies and Joseph Cooper easily defeated the YMCA duo to secure a deserved draw. Chinley were in Division 3 last year but will certainly be a force to be reckoned with in Division 2.
Hyde Cricket and Squash Club 4 v 6 Stanley Square C
I was having a peaceful dream the night before this match. I was walking Lexi, my greyhound in the park near my house on a lovely summer’s day, remember them. All of a sudden floating over the treetops I could see a strange object. As it came closer I could make out it was a shirt and it reminded me of that TV advert, where a shirt escapes from the pile of washing because it’s been sprayed with Fabreeze or something and it takes on a life of its own. As we walked on the shirt suddenly swooped down and made a beeline for us. Lexi took off for home at top speed as the shirt , which I could now make out was the hideous grey Man Utd one. The Chinaman, the only other person who bought one apart from Ron Mitchell, must have thrown his away cos Ron keeps his just to haunt me with it. The shirt seemed to be mocking me as it chased me through the park and all the way home. Just surviving example of the worst colours Utd ever wore. The current away strip comes a close as I reached my house it wrapped itself around my head and I struggled to breathe. That’s when I woke up with a pillowcase on my head! Bloody hell its Ron Michell’s lot tonight I said to myself. Sure enough he turned up that night wearing the only second though! He was first on v Brian and took the first two sets but Brian fought back well to take the third set with some excellent blocking and backhand drives. It was nip and tuck in the fourth but Ron always held the advantage and took the set and the game with a fortuitous net chord when 10-9 up. A giant shadow blocked the light for a few seconds as Steve came in, either I’m shrinking or he gets bigger every time I play him. I was next on against him and no matter how I tried to move him around his feet never moved, he just reaches everything and I went down in three. Ian Dagnall is a much improved player these days since he changed bats and he gave Brian a decent enough game but lost in three. Ian B.was way below form v Ron and he lost in straight sets. Me v Ian D and we had a decent old battle but he’s developed this deadly forehand smash that comes from nowhere and is very difficult to reach. He’s also got a couple of tricky serves as well and although I took the third I capitulated in the fourth and lost in four. Ian and Steve had the game of the night as they traded sets setting up a deciding fifth and Ian had a couple of chances to take it but missed his smashes when he was set up and Steve eventually took the set 13/11. I gave Ron a real test in the first set even though I had to face ‘the shirt’ and I had a chance to take the set but blew it and lost it 11/13 and that was it. My consistency disappeared, Ron upped his game and I lost the next two sets far too easily although I thought that Ron showing off some fancy serves in the last set when I was down and out was taking the mick. Ian B saw off Ian D’s challenge fairly comfortably to win in three, which left Brian to play Steve and what a scrap they had. Brian took the first set 14/12 as Steve threw away a couple of chances with wild smashes. He then had a lead of 9-3 in the second but Brian had that steely look in his eye and he gradually reduced the deficit as Steve went for shots that weren’t on and Brian with some excellent serving and steady chop drew level. Still Steve had the odd chance but his game was falling apart and Brian took the set 13/11. Steve’s challenge fell away in the third and Brian took it to 5. The doubles, Brian and Ian v Ron and Steve was a humdinger with first one pair on top for a while but then the opposite pair took over, so it was no surprise that it went to a fifth set. Ian, whose form had been very up and down, at last found some consistency and he and Brian took the fifth at a canter. We still lost the match but the score was a wee bit better than it had looked like it was going to be at one stage and if I hadn’t played like a donkey, we might even had finished with a draw. Good company, good tennis, bad shirt! Lee.
Strines Dragons 1 v 9 Hollingworth Conservative Club B
The Dragons have been slain again and a long, hard winter awaits unless we can rediscover some of the form which helped us last season.
Strines Knights 6 V 4 Glossop Table Tennis Club Bandits A
Another win for the Knights! Helped certainly by the non-show of Lauren Thirlwell. Sam Coombes well and won all 3. Dave Clark and Ken Wood both won one for Strines and they won the doubles to secure the win. Alan Darnell struggling with a bad cold ran out of steam and losing the set to Toby Kalnins.
Dinting Cricket Club A 3 v 7 Hyde Cricket and Squash Club
The Jack Russell Bites
Talk about nightmares, the one I had the night before this match takes the biscuit. I was walking the dog through the woods when I got the impression I was being watched but I couldn’t see anybody. Lexi, our greyhound sensed it too and all of a sudden she was off, heading for home at top speed. Then I saw it, behind a tree, a Jack Russell and then behind another tree more of them and then they all came out from their hiding places. Ten of them and all had the face of Ian Wilson! They advanced on me and what was-most terrifying was they could talk, well…swear. They came slowly at first and I backed off as their profanities filled me with terror. ****! ****!****!****! It was almost as if they’d been taught to speak by Ian himself. I reached the stile onto the road and turned tail and ran. I ran so fast I almost caught Lexi up. I couldn’t hear them anymore, thank God for that I thought but too soon because there they were, at the end of the road, still swearing like troopers. I doubled back round the back of the house and we made it to the back door with the pack hard on our heels. I slammed the door and for what seemed like hours they camped outside questioning the legality of my birth among other things and telling me what Ian was going to do with me the next night. I woke at last to find Lexi lay across my bed with her paws covering her ears. “You weren’t half doing some swearing in your sleep.” Said my wife. “Me.” I replied. “It wasn’t me, it was those Jack Russells with the Ian Wilson faces.” “You don’t half have some weird dreams.” She replied. You’re not kidding I thought. And so the dream came to reality as we played Dinting CC that night and Ian, with the help of so many net points I lost count, and so much blaspheming he’d ‘ve even been given a red card in the Premier League, beat me. I took a set off him for which I was cursed to high heaven but he snarled his way to win the next two. The Jack Russell had become a Rottweiler! Brian had a curious night, maybe he dreamt of Jack Russell’s as well. He was on first against Eddie and to be honest he blew Eddie away in the first two games. Eddie had no answer to Brian’s serves and his backhand drives. He did come back a little in the third once he’d figured the serves out but it was too late and he went down in 9. Mike took the first game v Ian as Ian made a few too many unforced errors but once he cut those out and found his length with his smashes Mike had no answer and he lost in four. Brian on again against the jack Russell and he just couldn’t get his game going at all. His drives were way off and his blocking game played into Ian’s hands and his serves made no impression on Ian and he breezed the first game to 4. In the second game Brian got it together and helped by some unforced errors took the game to 9. Ian snarled and snapped at Brian in the third and with some tenacious defending took the third to 7. Brian was having none of it though and the language from Ian would’ve made a docker blush as he capitulated to 3. In the decider he shortened his game even more and cannily drew Brian into playing his game and by the time Brian realised he couldn’t find his length and lost the game to 5. Ian B and Eddie had a cracker with Eddie defending stoutly as Ian attacked with both backhand and forehand drives. It went to the fifth set and it was anybody’s game but Ian with some canny serves just managed to shade it to take the match. I was on next against Mike and I was blitzed in the first as Mike returned everything I threw at him and landed some big backhand drives. A wee bit closer in the second and I had chances to take the set but I blew them and lost it to 12. My game was improving though and Mike went for far too many drives which weren’t on and I took the third to 5. I was down and out in the fourth as Mike led 9-2 but I hung in and landed some good smashes whilst Mike was over confident and still going for big backhand winners and missing by a mile. I squared it at 9 all and eventually took the set to 11. Mike’s challenge faded away in the fifth and with some steady chopping and occasional forehand drives I took the set to 5 and the match. Ian took the first two sets v the jack russell but back came Ian W in the third as Ian, like Brian, was drawn into Ian’s short game. The cursing rose to a crescendo in the fourth as Ian W had chances to force the game into a fifth set but he blew it and the Hyde man emerged the winner of a hard fought game. Eddie and I had a reasonable game and who knows, if I had taken the second set instead of losing 13-15, the outcome may have been different. Brian should’ve been on next v Mike but Mike was disgusted at losing to me he buggered off. I have that effect on people. Which just left the doubles and Brian and Ian B had to work hard for the first two sets but finished comfortable winners in three. So we left Dinting checking our ankles for bite marks and with a whole new swearing vocabulary. Venue is now excellent as was the tennis and the company and we look forward to the return.
Hyde YMCA B 8 v 2 Stanley Square C
Steve Bartlett prevented YMCA gaining a clean sweep of victories by beating Pete Green and then Adrian Borrell in a very exciting encounter. Harry Garside was undefeated for YMCA. John Brahms came close against Pete Green succumbing in the 5th game. Lilian scored some spectacular rallies against Harry Garside but was unable to (????) a victory. The doubles was a close fought affair YMCA winning in 5. Good sporting night.
Strines Dragons 3 v 7 Hyde Cricket and Squash Club
The club was decorated for a Halloween Party the next night, the ball disappearing into the Halloween equivalent of Santa’s Grotto made for an interesting evening. The Dragons managed to pick up three matches at the expense of Lee, otherwise it was a clean sweep for Hyde.
Dinting Cricket Club A 8 v 2 Stanley Square C
First win of the season for Dinting with Tony Lawton the star man on his return to Table Tennis. Tony’s victory over Ian Robinson was the game of the evening.
Hyde YMCA B 8 v 2 Dinting Cricket Club A
YMCA proved too strong for Dinting on the night. Harry Garside continued his good form and Adrian Borrell rolled back the years. Both were unbeaten. Tony Lawton and the wily old Ian Wilson accounted for Pete Green who managed a good win over Mike Stansfield. Mike came very close to defeating Harry in a very good entertaining game.
Hyde Cricket and Squash Club 9 v 1 Strines Knights
KNIGHTS ARE VANQUISHED
The Knights arrived on Werneth Low having slain all the opponents they had encountered so far this season but in an evening when no quarter was given they left for Strines later that evening licking their wounds. Only Sir Ken De Wood managed a victory, against Brian of Romiley and this was truly hard won. Brian fought back from 1-2 down to level the match but his normally deadly backhand smash was missing and Ken was Mr.Steady himself and in a game that lasted over 20 minutes, Sir Ken finished Brian off. Our new recruit Neil of Dukinfield next took to the joust against Sir Alan D’Arnell and at first looked to have the measure of the knight and took the first set fairly comfortably but the knight fought tenaciously in the second teasing Neil with some delicate drop shots and canny short serves. It was nip and tuck but Neil just shaded the second. He came undone in the third though as Sir Alan persisted in his short game and Neil attempted some smashes that were well off target as well as a couple of fault serves. He cut the faults out in the fourth and though the knight made him work for every point Neil of Dukinfield took the set and the match. Ian of Reddish took on Sir Roger D’Etchells next and what a duel this was. Ian took the first two sets fairly comfortably but Sir Roger suddenly found his range with some blistering back hand drives that Ian had no answer to and added to a loss of concentration enabled the knight to take the next two sets to level at 2-2. Ian gave himself a good talking to and knuckled down in the fifth and Sir Roger lost his length with his drives and Ian took the fifth. Neil’s encounter with Sir Ken was a strange affair. The knight had no answer to Neil in the first set losing it to 2 but fought back in the third only to lose it to 8. In the third however he came to terms with Neil’s game and some of the rallies had me exhausted and I was only scoring. Anyone’s guess who would take the set as both had set point to win but a few lose serves from Sir Ken and some great retrieving from Neil enabled Neil to take the game 16-14. Sir Roger’s game was really off v Brian of Romiley and although he rallied somewhat in the second he had no answer to Brian’s serving and driving. Ian had a humdinger v Sir Alan although it really shouldn’t have been as he took the first two sets comfortably. In the next two sets though, Sir Alan, with the help of a magic chocolate bar provided by Merlin, was completely transformed and Ian couldn’t live with him and he took the sets with ease. All was set up for a real good joust in the fifth but no, the magic faded, Merlin was nowhere to be seen and the knight completely lost his concentration and yielded to Ian of Reddish. Neil of Dukinfield really put Sir Roger to the sword as the knight had no answer to Neil’s spinning lobs and it was over in a thrice. Sir Alan gave Brian a decent game and managed to take a set but Brian disposed of the knight in the fourth without too much trouble. Lee of Mottram, fully recovered from his wrenched shoulder, took to the table for the doubles and wielding his bat like a broadsword partnered Ian of Reddish to a five set victory in the doubles. So the knights mounted their chargers and slunk off through the mists of Werneth Low with their tails between their legs but with the knowledge that although the scorecard read 1-9, they had made the peasants fight for every point and promised retribution when they visited the castle at Strines where the giant jigsaws stand. A great night’s tennis and good company and yes the scorecard does sometimes lie.
Strines Knights 0 v 10 Chinley Table Tennis Club B
The result really says it all! Strines outplayed apart from Dave Clark and Ken Wood who both narrowly lost in 5 sets to Joseph Cooper and Mike Davies respectively. Joseph Cooper only to win all 3 – what will he be like in 10yrs time!!!
Hyde Cricket Club 6 v 4 Glossop Table Tennis Club Bandits B
Sam took umbrage at losing the first game and cleared off. Some sportsman!
SAM, SAM, PICK UP THI RACKET AND SCRAM!
In 1963 I was the U/15 javelin champion of Audenshaw Grammar School. I threw my bamboo javelin over 120 feet and I was selected to represent the school at the all Lancashire school’s athletics day. I turned up at some school in Wigan on the Saturday proudly clutching my javelin and was directed to the throwing area. An officious looking chap approached me, asked my name and school and then said. “What have you brought that thing for?” Pointing to my javelin. “It’s the javelin I throw at school.” I replied. “Well you can’t throw that thing here, you have to use one of those.” He pointed to a rack with a stack of shiny aluminium javelins. “ Go and select one and then you can have some practice throws.” B.b.but I’ve never thrown one of them.” I blubbed. “Now’s your chance then.” He replied with no sympathy. I couldn’t throw one for toffee, the technique was totally different and I came last. But I stuck it out because I was representing the school not myself and that’s what Sam should’ve thought of on Tuesday when after losing to Brian in the first game, he said. “I’m off.” Rang his mother to tell her to come and pick him up, leaving Matt and Lauren to battle on alone. The signs were there during his game as he became more and more frustrated as Brian, after losing the first game to Sam’s canny serving and deadly forehand smashes gradually worked Sam out and Sam resorted to trying to smash when it wasn’t the shot to try. The second and third sets were reasonably close but Brian really found his length with his drives in the fourth and Sam practically gave in. I was on next and I almost produced the result of the season as I took Matt to five sets but he is always capable of producing an unreturnable serve or a deadly smash and he proved just too strong for me in the fifth. Ian got his revenge on Laura for her beating him last season but boy did she make him work and he was helped by numerous net chord points. The first two sets were anybody’s and both players had set points until Ian managed to scrape them, the second one with yet another net chord point. Lauren’s challenge fell away in the third, no doubt disheartened by the number of nets and edges against her and Ian’s drives were landing with increased accuracy. Brian then played Matt and what a duel it was. In a game where both players traded smash after smash it was impossible to call. Brian, with the help of some sloppy serving from Matt, shaded the first two sets to 9 but back came Matt to take the next two, again both to 9. The fifth was nip and tuck with never more than a couple of points between them until inevitably it was 10/10. Brian had the opportunity to land a killing back hand drive but missed and Matt never looked back taking the set and the game. I had a cracker with Lauren, another five setter but I ran out of steam and concentration in the fifth and despite my many net chords and edges, she emerged the winner. Ian had a Titanic game with Matt that yet again went to five sets but Ian’s radar with his backhand blocking and driving went astray and despite one unbelievable point when he returned a full blooded smash from Matt, who just stood there dumbfounded, he succumbed in the fifth. Lauren gave Brian a decent game but he was just too strong for her and Brian won in three sets. The Bandits needed the doubles for the draw they deserved but Ian and Brian were too strong and hardly made a mistake as they won in three straight sets. Lauren and Matt were excellent company and battled away gamely and who knows what the result would’ve been with three players. We look forward to the return.
Hyde Cricket and Squash Club 9 v 1 Hollingworth Conservative Club B
I was on holiday so no write up except to say that Ian Barker played so well we had him drug tested after the game. It turns out the only drug he was on was ecstasy. He was so ecstatic that his partner has agreed that they get married that he played the best tennis of his life!
Strines Dragons 2 v 8 Hyde YMCA B
A good evening with yet another disappointing result for the Dragons.
Strines Dragons 1 v 9 Strines Knights
The Knights slayed the Dragons but not as easily as the 9-1 scoreline suggests. Only 3 matches were decided in 3 sets and half went to 4 sets. Gordon (a City supporter) beat Alan (a United supporter) - a fitting finale to the weekend of derbys!
Hyde Cricket and Squash Club 3 v 7 Hyde YMCA B
WHEN HARRY MET BRIAN
Had a dream before this game but it wasn’t a nightmare and at first I didn’t think it had owt to do with table tennis. I was back at the gas board, where I worked for 30 years and one of my tasks was to put together auxiliary systems that enabled the district governors to work efficiently. The governors reduced the high pressure gas to the pressure required at domestic gas meters. My boss was known as Mr Perfect and he would turn up at wherever I was working with his pockets crammed with tape measures, spirit levels, magnifying glass, reams of paper with all the plans and diagrams, oh and his packets of Capstan full strength! His first comment as he got out of his car and tilting his head to one side as he surveyed my work, would be: “Well…a man on a galloping horse won’t notice it!” The auxiliary systems were a series of valves, filters, inspirators and mini-governors, all linked by copper tubing and I was an expert at soldering them together. He would then proceed to go over my work with a fine toothcomb whilst uttering lots of “Mmm’s and oh’s and oh dear’s.” Finally he would come out of the kiosk, offer me a Capstan, which I always declined and say. “Well, I s’pose it’ll do, put the kettle on.” Which meant it was perfect.
It was only later that day that I put two and two together and remembered we were playing the YMCA and who plays for them…Harry. I got up to the Club early and made sure there was no dandruff on the table, the net was the correct height and there were no flashing lights anywhere and the radiators were set to the correct temperature. To give him his due Harry was on his best behaviour and the only thing that upset him was the only thing I’d forgotten to do, muffle the till behind the bar. Just as Harry was about to serve…Ding! Didn’t bother anyone else but to Harry it was Concorde taking off! Brian was on first v Adrian and they had a real humdinger and if we hadn’t gone a week without a game I’m sure Brian would have won but he just lacked his usual accuracy and Adrian worked his serve out and with some steady play and a deadly forehand smash he took the fifth game to four and this after losing the fourth game to two. I gave Harry a decent game and for the first time in many seasons I took a set off him but he worked out the serve I’d got him in trouble with and I went down in four. Ian saw off Peter’s challenge although Peter put up a great fight. Ian, like Brian seemed rusty after having a week off and it showed in his later games. Me on again v Adrian and once again I took a game off him but he worked out my tactics and I lost my range with my forehand smashes and went down again in four. Brian upped his game v Peter and although the YMCA man landed some great backhand smashes Brian was too steady and saw Peter off in four. Ian showed some promise of his form returning in his first game with Harry but he just lost it 10/12. His rustiness showed in the next two though and he constantly missed the table with his chops and his drives were way off mark. Possibly still dreaming of the Spanish sun as he also had many missed serves as well and Harry was steadiness personified and his forehand smash was lethal. Me v Peter and it was the same story as my other two games, I played really well in one set but the other three lacked consistency and Peter’s serving and his backhand drive were top notch and once again I went down in four. Ian bucked up a bit v Adrian and they had their usual five setter trading big drives with lots of long rallies but it was Adrian who just managed to emerge the winner. The best was saved to last as Brian took on Harry and what a scrap they had. Harry took the first two sets as Brian’s blocking let him down and his usually accurate backhand drive was off target and Harry hardly put a foot wrong. The third set was crucial and there were some long rallies as both players tried to chop their opponent into submission and Brian endeavoured to keep the ball away from Harry’s deadly forehand. At deuce it was anybody’s and both players had chances but Brian landed a backhand smash that defeated Harry’s attempt to return and Brian took the set 12/10. Brian then changed tactics and mixed his serves opening the game up and took the fourth and similar tactics in the fifth enabled him to emerge as one of the few to have beaten Harry this season. Me and Ian went down in the doubles in four to Peter and Harry. So an enthralling evening’s tennis came to a close with YMCA the winners by 7 to 3 and probably just about deserved. As usual the YMCA were good company and Adrian was dead chuffed to be back at the Club where he first met his wife back in 1950 (sic).
Hyde Cricket and Squash Club 0 v 10 Chinley Table Tennis Club B
Yet another team arrive after wandering the mists of The Low trying to find the Club. At least they didn’t turn up with a dozen eggs after asking our nearby farmer for directions! After a couple of decent results we were brought crashing back down to earth with a resounding hammering by a Chinley side that will surely be pushing for promotion. At least that will see the back of Graham and get him where he belongs, in Div.1. Nobody minds losing, we wouldn’t play the game if we did but there is no enjoyment in getting severely thrashed by a player way above the standard of the division. Brian went on v Graham to get the evening underway. A few minutes later Brian came off, soundly beaten. I gave Mike a decent game but he has a good forehand smash and a few tricky serves that I struggled to return and that was me done in three as well. Ian took a set off young Joe but the key was the third set in which Ian had a couple of set points but let them slip and Joe with great consistency took advantage and took the set. Ian’s concentration wavered in the fourth and a couple of service faults didn’t help either as Joe took the set and the game. I went on v Graham and I took points off him, which felt like an achievement in itself. Brian had a very close game with Joe, it went to five but the young man was equal to everything Brian threw at him and took a closely fought fifth set as Brian’s backhand driving let him down. Ian had a five setter with Mike and after looking to have regained his best form in the fourth it disappeared again in the fifth and he lost it rather tamely. Yet another five setter followed when I played Joe and I should have beaten him after taking a 2-1 lead but my concentration lapsed in the fourth and I was always playing catch up in the fifth and Joe, acting on the coaching from his Dad, had cut out any risky shots. Ian’s game with Graham was a carbon copy of mine and Brian’s and no sooner had he walked to the table than he retraced his steps and sat down. Brian was last on v Mike and in a game I would’ve put money on him winning after taking the second and third sets he lost concentration badly in the fourth losing it to two as Mike fought back. The fifth was nip and tuck but Brian’s luck ran out as Mike landed a couple of meaty blows to take the set and the game. Ian and myself took a set off Mike and Graham in the doubles but it’s a bugger when your best serve is smashed back before either of you can move! So a 10-0 drubbing, here’s looking forward to the return…No I’m not.
Strines Dragons 3 v 7 Glossop Table Tennis Club Bandits B
A pleasant evening but, alas, only a few scraps for the Dragons as Dennis and Matt won 3 matches each and combined to win the doubles.
Stanley Square C 5 v 5 Hyde Cricket and Squash Club
THE DEAD PLAY AMONGST US
Arrived at the Square whilst the home team were practicing and noticed Ian Robinson wasn’t there. “Is Ian not playing tonight?” I asked Lilian. Before she could answer, Neil Coppard, our number one for the night, answered. “Highly unlikely, he’s at death’s door with the flu, so I’ve been told by his boss.” So it was indeed a great shock when not too long after who should walk through the door…the corpse! He said he was recovering but for a dead man walking, he didn’t half play well, so well in fact that he won all his games and the doubles with ne’er a sneeze, a cough or a bead of sweat on his brow. Neil was first on v Steve and for anyone who was late they missed the game of the night. Neil blitzed Steve in the first, the big man had no answer to Neil’s unusual style and especially when he unleashed his deadly backhand drive. Fearing he’d caught Ian’s deadly virus Steve bucked up in the second as he was at the other end and further away from Ian. He worked out Neil’s method and kept the ball away from the Hyde man’s backhand so forcing more errors from Neil. His tactics were successful and he took a very close second 12/10. Steve continued to force errors from Neil in the third and he took the third comfortably to 7. Neil gave himself a good talking to in the fourth and slightly changed tactics deciding to try and move Steve about more and keep him away from the table which is where he prefers to be. It was impossible to call and to be honest Steve had his chances to take the set and the game but he blew it as he forgot about Neil’s backhand and set him up for a couple of chances which Neil put away and took the set 12/10. Steve’s challenge fell away in the decider as he was sure he was coming down with something but I suspect it was just the sheer exhaustion of the first four sets. And so Neil emerged the winner in what must be one of the hardest games he’s had this season. Me on against Lilian and as with most of my games this season I play one good set and then lose all concentration and play a poor one. Lilian took the first with some good forehand drives and I was off target with my smashes. I got it together in the second found a serve Lilian didn’t like and took the set quite comfortably. Back came Lilian in the third and all my form from the second set disappeared and she pasted me. I found it again in the fourth and Lilian lost it, talk about Topsy-Turvy! The decider was close but I cut out a lot of the unforced errors and decided to just let Lilian make the mistakes and it worked but it was close. The dead man took to the table against Ian B and to be honest he played the first set like a man recovering from flu! Nothing he tried came off but in the second…a miraculous recovery. Eveything he tried came off and Ian B had no answer to his blistering forehand drives. Downhill again in the third as he once again played at the Dukinfield end of the table, in fact nobody had won a game at that end so we considered putting that end in quarantine! Ian B found his length with his drives and managed to block many of Ian R’s drives and took the third. The fourth was where Ian B had his chance but a few unforced errors and a miss serve blew it and the game went to a decider which Ian R won decisively as once again Ian B’s radar was off line. Lilian went on next v Neil and soon was back in her chair, the Hyde player just too strong for her. Ian B then had a storming game v Steve and though he lost a very close first set from the quarantined end, he then set about Steve with some cracking backhand drives and canny chops and blocks to win in four. I gave Ian R a good game and in fact after losing the first to seven I could have taken the next two as I found some form only losing them both 12/10. Once Ian R had figured Neil’s game out he fairly blitzed him although Neil fought gamely. Some of the rallies were extraordinary and seemed to go on for ages but Ian R hardly missed a smash in any of the sets. I went on v Steve and I soon sat back down. I have no idea how to play the big man. I just cannot get the ball past him. Which meant we needed the doubles for a win but ‘The Shirt’ alias Ron Mitchell arrived to play and he and Ian R made short work of me and Ian B so the night ended all square, which was a fair result. And so Ian R pulled on his shroud and clutching his Lemsip left for his sickbed, whilst Neil delighted in telling him that he will ring his boss in the morning and tell him what an ace table tennis player he’s got working for him!
Great tennis and equally good company.
Hyde YMCA B 5 v 5 Glossop Table Tennis Club Bandits B
The depleted youth of Bandits were a match for the old YMCA men. Sam Coombes did not appear giving YMCA 3 start but Lauren and Matthew played very well to gain a 5 - 5 draw. Harry garside was the only YMCA player to record a victory. Matthew is an excellent player and Lauren has improved immeasurably. Some good table tennis to watch.
Hyde Cricket and Squash Club 7 v 3 Strines Dragons
THE DRAGONS FIRE EXTINGUISHED
Had a strange dream last night. I was in China town in Manchester watching the parade for the Chinese New Year when my attention was drawn to one particular dragon. Its face was almost human and it seemed familiar but I couldn’t put a name to it. As it drew closer I could see it was waving something about, a giant table tennis bat. The dragon looked at me and raising its head to the sky let out a roar and then handed me the bat. Then it dashed the bat from my hands and a sheet of flame belched from its nostrils and the bat was incinerated. A manic laugh followed and then recognition dawned. The face was Adrian Bellis and we were due to play the Dragons tonight. We could have done with the heat from the dragon as it was a wee bit chilly at the club as some clown had turned the heater to blow cold and it was ‘brass monkeys’ outside as John Ashworth found out. Got in his car the Arctic wasteland of Hayfield to come to the club and tried his windscreen wipers. Unfortunately they were frozen to the windscreen and they cracked the glass as they tried to work. He eventually arrived in his wife’s car. Brian got us underway v Gordon and he was in top form as his canny serving and deadly top spin smashes saw off the dragon in straight sets. Me v John next and we had a hell of a scrap. I took the first set 13/11 but then lost concentration completely in the second as John cut out most of his unforced errors and he took the set to 2. He also took the third as I missed too many forehand smashes. “Watch the flaming ball.” Said Ian. Taking heed of his advice I managed to take the fourth and concentrating on a short serve which John didn’t like and then forcing him back from the table I he missed too many smashes and I eventually took the set and the game. Adrian gave Ian a really tough time zipping quite a few fiery forehands through the Barker defence but he also missed many when the shot wasn’t really on and Ian took the first set. Adrian tested Ian to the limit in the next two sets and held a set point in the second but blew it and Ian got his backhand top spin drive going and eventually won in three. I had a decent game v Gordon but he was just too steady and his retrieving was excellent and I went down in four. Adrian had no answer to Brian’s lethal top spin drives, both forehand and backhand and he went down in three. Ian dealt unmercifully with John as he found his length with his smashes and produced some tricky serves that John struggled with and John too lost in three. I went on v Adrian and whilst he didn’t incinerate my bat he did produce a shot that made my bat shoot from my hand and I thought bloody hell if he can do that I haven’t a chance. Whereas he had been missing his forehand smashes against Ian and Brian the sod landed every one against me and I knew I’d had it when I retrieved two on the run, the last one from practically on the cricket pitch and knowing he’d try a drop shot next I set off for the table only to see the ball land on the net and dribble over. Nuff said, sit down! Ian then had a most peculiar game against Gordon, it was if he had completely switched off, perhaps he was thinking of his forthcoming nuptials, who knows? On the form he’s been in this season he should’ve seen Gordon off but no he lost the first two sets and this after having four set points in the second as well. He regained some concentration and fought back to take the next two and force a decider but he made more unforced errors in the fifth than he has done all season and went down in five. Credit to Gordon though who serenely glided through all the sets with ne’er any bother at all, letting Ian make all the mistakes. Brian made short work of John in the last singles to ensure a win on the night and Ian and I did similar to Gordon and Adrian in the doubles. An excellent night’s tennis and good company and the Dragons departed hoping there was a shop open to buy a box of Swan Vestas to reignite their fire.