The evolving team strategy at LSG Titans took another turn in this January Transfer Window ... Dave Goulden had been sold to LSG Slayers for an undisclosed sum, rumours of a locker room bust-up abounded. The headline at The Leigh Gazette read “January Sales going well in town centre”. Somehow they had missed this massive scoop at The Leigh Miners Table Tennis, Bowls, Darts, Pool, Rugby, Zumba, Yoga and Knitting Club.
Titans captain, Kenneth Wolstenholme, was laid low with a virus ... their three were Minh Le, Wayne Nolan and John Barker ... Smash were missing their talisman, Pimps Out Taylor, so they fielded Scamperer, Dazla and Kraftwerk Nick. Titans started favourites.
Mercurial Minh kicked off proceedings with a nice topspin routine on Dazla, despite a gallant 13-11 third set it was still won in three by Minh. Then John (no nickname yet) Barker did that top-spinney thing on Kraftwerk ... in no time at all it was a convincing 6-nil to Titans.
An out of sorts Nolan took on Scamperer and lost 3-1 ... there was hope for the Smash boys. Alas this was just a temporary respite from the Titans short-serve, topspin-return, third-ball-attack strategy.
Barker v Dazla was a three set affair, again Dazla took the final set to deuce, eventually losing 14-12 ... John Barker was on fire. So when the fifth game of the night went Titans way (Mercurial Minh beating Scamperer 3-1) the Smash boys were in a right old lather. It was 13-4 to Titans at half time, master tactician Kenneth Wolstenholme went home to his sick bed ... safe in the knowledge that his master plan was working a treat.
Then an unexpected win ... the previously unbeaten Minh/Wayne doubles duo were trounced in three ... a comeback was too much to ask but at least it restored some pride. In the next match Kraftwerk got spanked by Wayne in the first set of the next game so the writing was on the wall ... but Kraftwerk decided not to read the writing on the wall ... maybe he’s dyslexic ... and he went on to win 3-1. Smash had two consecutive wins.
John Barker had taken part in two 3-0 games on the night and he was involved in another, except this time on the receiving end ... yes Smash had another win ... the Leigh Gazette reporter who had come to report on a cat stuck up a tree had a better story for his readers. Two to play and the scores on the doors were Titans 14, Smash 13.
Old friends Wayne and Dazla took to the table ... Wayne was still out of sorts and Dazla exploited this to win in three ... the Leigh Gazette reporter took out his Olivetti typewriter and started typing about the great Smash revival, they now had a two point lead.
And so to the final match ... Kraftwerk Nick v Mercurial Minh ... Kraftwerk took the first and Smash had a three point lead ... the famous Kenneth Wolstenholme quote was being typed at 50 words a minute on the Olivetti “people are on the pitch, they think it’s all over” ... it was an ‘Aguero moment’ for Smash as they came back to win ... except Mercurial Minh hadn’t the read script ... or the writing on the wall. Minh took the next three with his short- serve, topspin-return, third-ball-attack ... 17-17 on the night.
The anti-climax was too much for The Leigh Gazette reporter ... he put his Olivetti away and went to check if the cat had got down from the tree yet.
There was one important issue yet to resolve ... it was a safeguarding matter ... Wayne Nolan was inconsolable after his abject display so we dutifully rang Mrs Nolan to ask her to put all sharp objects out of his reach.