Home team Smash had won their semi final last week and progressed to the final of The Plate ... so their mission was to score as few points as possible so they could get a better handicap for the final ... this should be an easy strategy to deploy against the talent of the table toppers.
I don’t think Nick ‘the Knife’ Foss got the memo though ... in the first game he went out all guns blazing and beat Gordon ‘chopping’ Wood in three straights. Up stepped Alex Almond, in uncharacteristically jolly mood, to do the same to Mighty Joe to make it 3-3 after the first two.
Next up the battle of the dodgy bat versus the dodgy style ... Malcolm Jackson succumbed to Scamperer 3-1 ... and then Mighty Joe went and beat Chopping Wood in the next ... it was 9-6 to Smash ... couldn’t anyone in the Smash camp stick to the script?
Dodgy Bat Jackson frustrated Nick the Knife with his clever and awkward shots to win in three ... and then the Standish boys took the doubles in five sets. It was the first time the Almond/Woods pairing had played together ... Alex said after the game it will be their last ... a bit like Sam Allardyce’s 100% England record ... played one, won one.
Almond v Scamperer went the way of their last encounter ... five hard fought sets with the Standish boy winning out. And when Dodgy Bat Jackson beat Mighty Joe 3-0 the momentum was well and truly with Standish. Scamperer v Chopping Wood ... it went to Scamperer in a game you would have paid good money not to watch ... it was notable for Chopping Wood hitting his one and only attacking shot of the season ... the Umpire dozed off twice in the last set ... each player dozed off at least once during the game ... and Mighty Joe went to the toilet only to return whilst the same rally was still in progress.
But the scene was set for the final match ... Smash 16 v 18 Standish.
All guns blazing Foss took the first, then like a Wigan Athletic centre forward of yesteryear Almond equalised ... only for Foss to go 2-1 up. Three match points to Foss in the fourth (which included a memorable winner that he hit from somewhere in the car park) ... a very respectable 19-all draw loomed large for Smash ... news of this reached the locals in the bar across the hallway ... one of them enthusiastically said ... “I wondered what all that noise was on Tuesday nights”.
But the guiley, wiley Almond wasn’t done ... he got it back to 10-all and then won 12-10 ... it was a cracking game of Table Tennis as they they nipped and tucked throughout the fifth set ... it deserved the drama of a nerve jangling 10-10 finale ... and it got it ... only this time Foss went on to take it and win 3-2. Despite this the table toppers had won 20-19 on the night.
In the Sky Sports studio Jacob Rees-Mogg was the guest pundit, he had watched the game and praised the resolute Standish chaps ... “it’s a classic case of carpe diem” ... Gary Lineker mostly agreed, except to say “it was night time, so surely it’s carpe noctem” ... nice one Gary!