The confusion started in the first minute of this top of the table derby clash at The Rainford Labour Club Stadium Arena of Light. Who would wear the team shirt, the home team or the away team?
One solution was for the away team (Smash) to wear team shirts and the home team (Sandgrounders) to wear skins ... you know, like you did in the school summer holidays on the local park when you played 17-a-side. We decided not to do this as nobody wanted to see a shirtless Ray Hibbs with his moobs on display.
Sandgrounders were Cappo Hibbs (AKA The Hibbster), Josh Taylor and Ged Wilson whilst the Smash trio were Pimps Out Taylor, Kraftwerk Nick and Scamperer ... with Dazla on the subs bench, umpire duties and general goading of the opposition.
Josh v Pimps Out to start proceedings ... 3-1 to Pimps Out with a close 12-10 fourth set ... Smash had the early momentum. Alas Sandgrounders quickly turned this around when The Hibbster used his consistent chop sprinkled liberally with attacking backhand winners to beat Kraftwerk. Ged and Scamperer had a good four set battle with Ged taking the last two, both 12-10. A pattern of tight finishes was developing ... 6-4 to table toppers Sandgrounders.
Pimps Out briefly put Smash back in pole position winning in straights before Josh demolished Scamperer in double quick time. The doubles was a great contest ... after losing the first the Sandgrounders then won 13-11, 13-11, 12-10. Compelling viewing.
The match was simmering nicely when we entered the last three games ... Scamperer beat The Hibbster 3-1 but it was the next game that took it to boiling point. Pimps Out two games up with match point in the third ... an almighty thwack to win the game for Smash ... but it turns out Ged is a bit of a scamperer too ... he retrieves it and wins 14-12. Fast forward to the fifth set and it’s 7-all, 8-all, 9-all until we reach the deuce points ... at 14-all both players had won and lost match points. It was Pimps Out who maintained his 100% winning record by winning 16-14 ... the best game we’ve seen this season.
Kraftwerk v Josh ... this was a rumbustious affair between two players willing to take chances by knocking the skin off the ball at the slightest opportunity ... this was Wacaday table tennis (thankfully without Timmy Mallet). At 8-8 in the fifth it was anybody’s game but Kraftwerk did some clever stuff to take a 10-8 lead ... only for Josh to be just as clever to spoil Kraftwerk’s party and win it 13-11. Sandgrounders had won 22-17 with six of the ten games ending with a deuce finish. Sandgrounders stay top and Smash stay second ... it was a terrific night.
The Radio 5 Live phone-in was alive with post match calls ... Boris Johnson called to say “Sandgrounders could have this division won before we get Brexit done” ... not to be outdone Jeremy Corbyn piped up to say “it is incumbent upon the Sandgrounders captain to ensure that all members of the squad get a fair share of games otherwise we will seek to unionise table tennis” ... and Nigel Farage called to put the top hat on it “they’re all from Southport so this makes them immigrants in my book”. Who says politics and sport don’t mix.