Brandon Crusaders continued their dominant form in Division 4 this week as they beat Ouston B 9-1. The Crusaders line-up of Jamie Westwater, Jamie Collins and Brian Childs are currently top of the Individual Averages in the league with 12, 12 and 11 wins respectively. Ouston visited Brandon with Duncan Hindmarsh, Jamie Milroy and Shirley Robson and, unfortunately, were no match for the experienced home team. Hindmarsh did well to beat Jamie Collins but Milroy and Robson couldn’t pick up any wins.

Lanchester and Cramlington Jaguars had a closer game as a hat-trick and Player of the Match performance from Alan Kent helped the home side to a 6-4 victory. John Rayner picked up 2 wins and Nigel Cardale picked up another, Mick Sursham and John Murrells winning the only games for the Jaguars. This was an important win for Lanchester as they find themselves bottom of the table, albeit with 2 matches in hand.

Brandon’s other team in Division 4, the Devils, continue to find themselves unable to win any matches as they were on the receiving end of a 7-3 loss against Redby. Istvan Franko and Malcolm Deneven both won their hat-tricks plus the doubles. Brandon recouped some points as their line-up of John Spencer, Ian Cumpson and Caroline Lee were all able to pick up wins against Redby’s Angela Wilkinson but on the night it wasn’t enough for them to acquire any points to aid their struggle for survival.

Things aren’t looking great for Brandon’s Division 5 team either. The group of youngsters playing under the banner of Brandon Energy are brand new to competitive table tennis and have barely won a game all season, registering only 2 sets won. This week was unfortunately no different as they faced Cramlington’s brightest youngster Matthew Mastaglio and his teammates Patrick Easton and John Hogg. The Brandon line-up of Jack Huntley, Stevaan Hall and Jacob Hall were unable to win any games leading to a 10-0 defeat, keeping them bottom of the table.

East Boldon were also on the receiving end of a heavy defeat this week as they travelled to Oxhill to play against Backspin C. Backspin’s Debbie Irwin won her hat-trick plus Player of the Match, supported by another hat-trick from Lyndsey Beacham and 2 wins from Bob Cook. Bruce Davison won a consolation game for the away team but James Collar and William Walton were unable to pick up any wins ending up in a 9-1 win for the home team.

It’s Cramlington Falcons who are top of Division 5 and their bid for promotion received a welcome boost as they beat club rivals Cramlington Magpies 10-0. Israel Shodeinde, Alfie Davies and Jack Cairns are all top of the averages in the division and Shodeinde just pipped Davies to the post in this match as he lost the fewest points and therefore won the Player of the Match award. New players Jessica Yang and Oliver Ho, supported by Paul Athey, did well to win some sets but none of the games ever really looked in doubt.

 

Tyneside A are currently top of Division 2 with a game in hand. This week they hosted Ouston A, a game which helped them to temporarily claim this position as they won 8-2. Steve Dickinson took Player of the Match as he won his hat-trick alongside Mark Kimberley who did the same, Mark Patterson chipping in with a single win. Tom Fowle and Jeff Mckenna both beat Patterson but third player Mark Rodgers was unable to pick up any games. Mount’s C team fielded a strong line-up when they faced Sacriston Aces. Former top Premier player Tony Gelder turned out for the Mount, returning from a significant period away from the game. He won 2 matches, as did Mohinder Rawat and Dave Bannon helped out with 1. The Aces’ Duncan Fraser was too good on the night though as he beat Rawat in 5 ends, Bannon in 4 and, surprisingly, Gelder in 3 straight, earning him the Player of the Match award. Jonathan Mawson was able to beat David Bannon but teammate Kevin Richardson won none.

Paul Jamieson was the star of the show when Cramlington Cobras took on Backspin A. He beat John Cook, Liam Ord and Craig Fryer, never dropping an end. The fact that Fryer won his other two matches comfortably showed the level of class displayed by Jamieson on the night. Jonathan Rippington and Mike Jones both beat Cook and Ord, giving an 8-2 victory overall. In the final game of Division 2 this week, NECA faced break-away rivals Tyneside B. The home side lined up with former Premier players Steve Robinson and Terry Kwong plus Haoran Wang. All three players won two matches and Robinson and Wang combined to take the doubles, giving an overall victory of 7-3. Daniel Kubacki, new to the region and training at Cramlington, did well for the away team when he beat both Robinson and Kwong but was unable to make it a hat-trick as he lost out to Wang in the deciding end. Steve Pearce chipped in with another win but David Craddock continued his difficult season with a duck.

In Division 3, Matfen Senators encountered no difficulties when they played host to East Boldon A. Alex Holliday, David Swan and Stephen Oxley won 10-0 over Boldon’s Adam Allsopp, Ryan Campbell and Jeffrey Hope. Matfen’s other team, the Tribunes, found themselves on the receiving end of a similarly-difficult evening as they visited Prudhoe United Services B. Prudhoe’s usual A team turned out for the B team, Mark O’Connor, Maurice Cheek and Shirley Gelder having all played just two weeks earlier in Division 1 against Mount A. John Henderson, Nigel Tree and Robert Neil Forsyth found themselves a bit out of their depth and only managed to win 4 ends in the singles matches.

Sacriston Comets and Brandon Bravehearts battled for the only draw of the week in either division when Dan Hutchinson, Ian Mcpherson and Nigel Coe faced Stephen Pattinson, Ryan Morton and Jordan Dove. Anti-spin player Pattinson proved that his unique brand of chess-like table tennis to be effective as he won his three and took Player of the Match. Hutchinson and Mcpherson won two matches each and combined to win the doubles, Nigel Coe unable to win any for the home side. Brandon’s Ryan Morton and Jordan Dove both won 1 each to support Pattinson’s hat-trick. The final match of the week in Division 3 was again fairly one-sided as two Cramlington teams, the Corinthians and the Trojans, faced off against each other. The Trojans, league favourites, fielded Alastair Johnson, Blair Carmichael and Lynsey Storey. Johnson lost the fewest ends and therefore took Player of the Match but Carmichael also won his three. Storey lost out to Richard Williamson but neither Adrian Barnes nor Pauline Long were able to win any matches leading to a 9-1 defeat for the home team.

Paul Jamieson

In Division 1 this week, three of the four matches were decidedly one-sided. Mount B travelled to Brandon to face Brandon Air and only Jamie Dent was able to win a match for the away team. Lee Tinkler and Jamie Lupton both won their three, Troy Maddison winning two. Rod Roberts came close to beating Tinkler but couldn’t get started in the deciding end. Dave Cutler was only able to win one end all evening against the newest team in the division.

League-leaders Cramlington Stingers travelled to Old England as a line-up of Marc Cotton, Dale Aitkenhead and Steven Penman faced a home side of Lynne Herrington, Joe Muldowney and Alan Atkinson. Unfortunately the Stingers were simply too good on the evening and despite some close games, including two five-end tight victories for Penman, Old England found themselves on the receiving ends of a 10-0 whitewash. Mount A had a better week than the club’s B team when they hosted Prudhoe United Services A.

Mount’s Duncan Wraight, David Pringle and Phil Prady won 9-1 over Mark O’Connor, Maurice Cheek and Shirley Gelder. Wraight and Prady both won their three plus the doubles and David Pringle, returning for his first competitive match in over 2 months away from the game due to injury, assisted with another two wins. O’Connor beat Pringle to preserve a sliver of dignity for the visitors.

The closest game of the week was a 6-4 victory for St Chads against Cramlington Casuals. The home team’s line-up consisted of Keith Weatherby, Jimmy Scope and Charlotte Weatherby whilst the away team fielded Gareth Pearson, Adam Webster and James Bradbury. Webster managed to win two matches for the away side but hit a brick wall when he came up against Jimmy Scope who beat him comfortably in three straight ends with the youngster unable to get close to his opponent. Scope took Player of the Match with his hat-trick of wins which helped to seal the victory for the home team.

As things stand, both Cramlington Stingers and St Chads have won all of their matches and find themselves first and second respectively. The Stingers have only lost 4 sets to Chads’ 8 however and their win this week keeps them top of the table.

In Division 4, only Brandon Crusaders have won both of their matches so far. This week they travelled to Oxhill Youth Club to play against Backspin B which the Crusaders won 6-4. Jamie Westwater, Winter season Division 2 stalwart, won his three supported by Jamie Collins with 2.

Ouston B’s players all won two matches each plus the doubles when they faced Cramlington Jaguars but John Murrells proved too good as he won his hat-trick and Player of the Match. Unfortunately this wasn’t enough for the visitors as Ouston won 7-3.

Redby made a good comeback this week after losing last week to the league leaders Brandon Crusaders when they beat Lanchester 7-3. Malcolm Deneven and Frank Booth both won their hat-tricks but Alan Kent, Martin Johnson and Jeff Singleton were all able to beat the home side’s Angela Wilkinson which meant they took 3 points in a 7-3 defeat.

Brandon and Backspin teams also faced each other in Division 5 this week as Brandon Fire hosted Backspin C in a closely-contested 6-4 defeat for the home team. Brandon’s Bill Maclennan won his three matches and Player of the Match but teammates Abbey Maddison and Paul Henderson could only chip in one between them in support. Backspin’s Lyndsey Beacham and Bob Cook both took two wins and Martyn Parry helped out with another plus the doubles to seal the victory.

Ethan Brown was the star player when East Boldon B faced Cramlington Knights as he beat Patrick Easton, Matthew Mastaglio and John Hogg. Mastaglio and Hogg both won 2 matches when they beat the home team’s Duri An and Sophie Richardson, plus the doubles which helped them to a 5-5 draw.

Two Cramlington teams also battled it out this week when the Magpies faced the Lions. Alan and Tony Roskilly both won their hat-tricks and Rohan Rawat chipped in with another as the Lions won 8-2 over the Magpies line-up of Taylor Rippington, Oliver Ho and Jessica Yang.

The final match of the week was a whitewash for divisional favourites Cramlington Falcons when they beat Brandon Energy 10-0. The talented youngsters Alfie Davies, Israel Shodeinde and Jack Cairns won all of their matches against Brandon’s team of Jack Huntley, Jacob Hall and Stevaan Hall.

In the first week of Summer league, matches in Division 2 got off to an entertaining start with a variety results.

Tyneside A had a close battle against Mount C, drawing 5-5. Mount’s Mohinder Rawat won his three and Player of the Match, supported by Alex Smith who took two wins. Tyneside’s Steven Dickinson and Mark Patterson won one game each and Mark Kimberley won 2.

Ouston A hosted Tyneside’s B team and Neil Wilkinson continued his form from the Winter league, winning his hat-trick as usual. Tom Fowle supported him with 2 wins but Jeff McKenna was unable to win any.

Tyneside’s John Carr won 2 but Rob Lawson and David Craddock could only chip in with 1 each leading to a 6-4 loss for the away side.

Duncan Fraser led his team to victory against Backspin as he won a hat-trick for Sacriston Aces against Backspin A. This match featured a brother against brother highlight as Ian Mcallister took on old brother David. Ian won this fairly comfortably 3-0 but lost to Craig Fryer. Jon Mawson beat Adam Butler and the Aces won 7-3 overall.

The final match played in the division saw Neca beat Cramlington Cobras convincingly. One of the Winter Premier division’s best players, Chun Yin Yu, comfortably won his hat-trick and Player of the Match, supported by Robin Francis who also won three. Terry Kwong was unfortunately only able to win one game as he lost to both Paul Fairlamb and Jonathan Rippington. Neca won the match 8-2, temporarily putting them top of the division.

Division 3 was a different story entirely as all of its opening fixtures were one-sided on paper. Cramlington Corinthians were only able to field two players on their visit to Matfen to play against the Matfen Senators. Unfortunately neither Adrian Barnes nor Phil Smith were able to pick up any wins as the Senators line-up of Alex Holliday, David Swan and Stephen Oxley eased to a 10-0 victory.

Brandon Bravehearts inflicted a similarly large defeat on away team Cramlington Trojans when they won 9-1. Jordan Dove took Player of the Match as he and Stephen Pattinson won their three, but Lyndsey Storey was able to steal a win for Cramlington when she beat Ryan Morton.

Prudhoe United Services B had a fairly one-sided match when they visited Sacriston Comets, Mark O’Connor and Shirley Gelder both winning their three matches. Nigel Coe played well to beat Maurice Cheek and avoid a whitewash, Prudhoe winning 9-1 overall.

New team East Boldon A may find the division quite challenging as they lost 8-2 to Matfen Tribunes. Ryan Campbell won one for the home side when he beat Mark Perrin but the Tribunes’ John Henderson and Nigel Tree both won all of their games.

Last Friday the Northumbria Table Tennis League hosted an Awards Evening which they hope to become a new annual tradition. Players who won events at the Northumberland Closed and Northumberland Junior Closed tournaments were presented with awards, as were the Handicap Cup winners and then, last but certainly not least, the team winners and runners-up from each division in the Winter league. The event was held at Goals Newcastle’s function room which was beautifully presented and the buffet went down a treat with the 60 or so people in attendance. Next year additional awards are being planned including committee and team-voted inclusions such as “Most Improved Veteran” and “Most Sporting Team”.

One of the players who unfortunately couldn’t be there to pick up his awards for winning the Premier division title with the Cramlington Casuals and also winning the Open Singles in the Northumberland Closed tournament was Andrew Wilkinson. Wilkinson was competing in his first Veteran’s Nationals competition in Wolverhampton where he did extremely well to win a Silver medal in the most strongly-competed event, Over 40’s. Wilkinson, seeded 8th, beat the number 2 seed Neil Charles in the semi-final. By all accounts the game was superb to watch and Wilkinson showed immense ability and mental strength to overcome Charles 11-8 in the fifth and deciding end. In the final he faced Premier British League player Lorestas Trumpauskas. Wilkinson played well and found himself ahead at the start of each game but in the end lost 3-0 to the well-known veteran. Considering the tournament was his first, Wilkinson can certainly be proud of his accomplishments and will no doubt set his sights on the title next year.

The Summer league kicks off this week and in Division 1 Cramlington Stingers immediately indicated their intent by beating new Division 1 team Brandon Air. Marc Cotton came back from being 2-1 behind against Jamie Lupton to win 3-2 but then had to retire injured. Steve Penman also had a close game with Jamie Lupton, coming back from 2-0 to win 3-2 in a match which saw two players with very similar styles duking it out with long rallies and great retrieving. In the end the Stingers only lost the matches that Cotton had to forfeit, winning 8-2 overall.

 The Casuals

     

Andrew Wilkinson                         Marc Cotton, Peter Smallcombe, Steve Penman (and son) – Gareth Pearson, Chairman NTTA

 

Both the Northumbria Winter league and the Handicap Cup competition have now finished which means it’s time for the Summer league to take over. Thanks to some new entries like Redby and East Boldon who primarily play in the Sunderland league during the winter season, all 5 divisions have been filled with 8 teams in each.

There’s no Premier division in the Summer league which means that Division 1 is host to a mixture of teams from Winter Premier, Division 1 and Division 2.

League winners and usual favourites Cramlington Casuals are represented by a mixture of Division 1 and Premier players such as James Bradbury, Rob Reed, Adam Webster, Gareth Pearson and Iain Wood. The actual players from the Winter season’s Casuals team are registered for the Cramlington Stingers – Andrew Wilkinson, Peter Smallcombe, Steven Penman and Marc Cotton with the addition of Dale Aitkenhead from Winter team Mitford who haven’t entered a team into the Summer league.

Mount also have two teams in Division 1, recalling last Summer season’s players Duncan Wraight and Lee Eadington to accompany their usual Winter line-up of Graeme Barella, David Pringle, Anthony Ainley and Phil Prady in the A team. The B team consists of Winter Division 1 stalwarts John Russell, David Cutler and Rodney Roberts.

Old England have only entered a single team which means they can call from a host of quality players including Jacob Helm, Alan Atkinson, Lynne Herrington, Joe Muldowney, Brian Bateman, Ken Clark and umpteen others.

St Chads will wheel out their usual squad of the Weatherby family, Jimmy Scope, Dave Bisset and Chris Blake but they’ll also add Paul Baines from NESLC’s Winter team.

Riding Mill have moved to a venue in Prudhoe and will now be known as Prudhoe United Services. They’ve entered two teams into the Summer league, one in Division 1 and another in Division 3. Currently the A team only has two players registered – Premier-quality players John Williamson and Jeff Salter – but the B team has no short supply of good players to support them in the form of Mark O’Connor, Andrew Firth, Shirley Gelder, Maurice Cheek, Allan Thompson and Peter Stempczyk. Players from a lower-registered team can play up to 5 matches for a higher team but on their 6th appearance they “join” that team permanently and can’t play for their original, lower-ranked side.

The only team to have players with no Winter league Premier division experience is Brandon Air. Comprised of Jamie Lupton, Lee Tinkler, Paul Dale and Troy Maddison, the line-up is full of up-and-coming young players who have proven themselves comfortably in divisions too low for their current ability. Despite their lack of experience at this level the youngsters shouldn’t be considered rank outsiders and most players who know them would certainly not be surprised to find them climbing well above the relegation spots.

The Cramlington Stingers team are certainly the favourites with their players having barely lost a title in the past 5 years but St Chads and Mount A could potentially cause upsets depending on which team fields their strongest players most regularly. Top players Andrew Wilkinson and Graeme Barella could yet again face each other if Wilkinson is practising for national Veterans tournaments at the same time that Barella returns from a work placement in London. Other players to watch include Brandon’s Jamie Lupton, a very steady, consistent retriever who likes to play away from the table, and Dale Aitkenhead who is slowly but surely recovering from injury and will invariably find a vein of form if he plays enough games for the Stingers this season.

The final of the Northumbria Table Tennis League KO Handicap Cup has now been played at Mount’s new summer league venue in Dunston. A Mount line-up of David Cutler, Rodney Roberts and Jamie Dent triumphed over Ouston B’s Neil Wilkinson, Tom Fowle and Jeff McKenna in a brilliant spectacle of table tennis.

Ouston’s route to the final included beating Cramlington Reivers in the quarter-finals and then Byker B in the semi-finals. Mount beat Birtley in the quarter-finals and then Newton B in the semis. In the Winter league, the teams play in separate divisions – Mount in Division 1 and Ouston B in Division 2, so Mount were prepared to deal with giving Ouston some decent-sized head-starts as part of the Handicap format.

Ouston started comfortably as Tom Fowle beat David Cutler in 2 ends. Cutler being the higher-graded player had to give Fowle a 7-point start and couldn’t quite overcome it, Fowle winning 21-18 and 21-15.

Mount bounced back quickly and took three matches in a row. Jamie Dent was responsible for 2 of these wins as he beat Neil Wilkinson 21-13 and 21-19 then Tom Fowle 21-10 and 21-10 again, both with Dent having a 2-point deficit to overcome. In-between these results, Rodney Roberts and Jeff McKenna battled for three close sets in the best display of the evening. Roberts gave McKenna a 9-point start and couldn’t prevail over this in the first end, losing 21-18. In the second end Roberts found form and won by the same score, 21-18. The deciding third end was even tighter still but McKenna eventually lost out 22-20, giving Roberts and Mount a 2-1 win.

At 3-1 down, times looked tough for Ouston. To get them back in the running, Jeff McKenna stepped up and played well to beat David Cutler in two quick sets after his disappointment of losing out in such a close match to Rod Roberts. Teammate Neil Wilkinson then backed him up with a consecutive win against Rodney Roberts with a 7-point start which put the match score at 3-3.

Mount halted Ouston’s momentum when Jamie Dent then faced Jeff McKenna and overcame a 6-point deficit to win in 2 sets 21-13 and 22-20 which meant Mount just needed one more win to take the Cup.

The eighth match of the contest, Mount winning 4-3, was between Rodney Roberts and Tom Fowle. Fowle had a 7-point start but narrowly lost the first set 21-19. The second set was absolutely mammoth and Fowle really proved his resilience and nerve by winning 29-27. Eventually however Roberts dug in and battled to give his team the match and win them the Handicap Cup as he beat Fowle 21-19, Mount winning 5-3 overall.

Roberts’ nerve was key to winning the match for his team and as such he deserves a mention for Player of the Match. Jamie Dent however barely dropped a match all the way to the final and can consider himself Player of the Season in the Handicap Cup competition.

Winners – The Mount: Rod Roberts, Jamie Dent, Dave Cutler

Runner -up – Ouston B: Neil Wilkinson, Tom Fowle, Jeff McKenna


Graeme Bell

Newton A clinched an unbearably close Division 1 title this week as they beat Mount B in a head-to-head countback. Both teams finished on 126 points by winning 126 sets and losing just 54 so the winner of the division is worked out by looking at the two teams’ matches against each other. In the end, the division was decided by just a single match as Mount lost 8-2 away to Newton. Newton’s Graeme Bell took Player of the Match as he and John Russell sealed the game and division title with hat-tricks. Craig Fryer chipped in with a single win over Alan Livingstone but lost out to David Cutler and Rodney Roberts. The sting of losing the title by such a small margin probably won’t last too long for Mount as they have certainly achieved their main objective of gaining promotion to the Premier division. The closest competitors to the top two teams were Mount’s third team with 92 sets won, followed closely by Matfen Centurions.

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Iain Wood

In the Northumbria Table Tennis League’s Premier division there are only 6 outstanding games yet to be played. As things stand, the Cramlington Casuals have won the league by an inescapable margin and Byker A have guaranteed their own demotion, but there is a fight on for second place between NESLC Eagles and NECA A. Old England Jacks could reach the 65 points already accumulated by third bottom Cramlington Stingers if they win their outstanding match, away to Riding Mill,  by 10-0. However it would not save them from relegation as Stingers have beaten them twice which, on the count back rules, would put them above Riding Mill.

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