On Saturday, 10th February at the Sporting Club in Cramlington, the Northumberland Table Tennis Association once against hosts its annual Closed Tournament for players who have participated in the league. The Tournament, organised by league Chairman Gareth Pearson and his team, consists of a number of events including Open, Womens, Veterans and Handicap singles.

Open Singles

The biggest entry is for the Open Singles in which nine groups of players will battle it out to win the biggest and most prestigious trophy. The top seed in this is last year’s winner, Andrew Wilkinson. Cramlington Casuals’ star player has lost just one match this season, against Chun Yin Yu of NECA A, but the Chinese University student failed to get his entry in by the deadline despite being given a second opportunity to do so. Spectators are now wondering whether this is a lack of organisational skills, or the fear of facing Wilkinson in a tournament environment where Yu has never prevailed over the number one seed. The second seed is last year’s Open Singles runner up Graeme Barella who lost 3-0 to Wilkinson in the final. Mount A’s Barella has lost two matches this season, one also to Chun Yin Yu, and an unexpected defeat against NESLC’s Richard Wilson. When on form and in the right mindset, Barella can beat any player in the league and has proven this with a solid track record against top seed Wilkinson. Coupled with a thirst for revenge, a final between the top seeds could be brilliant viewing.

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Cramlington Cobras travelled to Matfen with only two players this week in Division 2 and were promptly undone as the Senators’ line-up of Alex Holliday, Robert Neil Forsyth and Stephen Oxley won 10-0 against Mike Dunn and Joe Swinburn. The score appears representative of a gulf in class between the two teams as the visitors were unable to even pick up a single game across all 7 matches played. This win boosts the Senators’ challenge for the title as they currently lie in second place with 73 points but 2 games in hand over league leaders Brandon Anacondas on 87 points.

Conversely, the Anacondas didn’t do themselves any favours in this regard as they drew 5-5 with Cramlington Trojans. The home team’s Adam Hardiman and Blair Carmichael each won 2 matches and combined to win the draw-sealing doubles. Brandon’s Tony Taylor and Paul Dale both won 1 match each but anti-loop player Stephen Pattinson shows his continued improvement as he won his hat-trick and took Player of the Match.

Third-placed Ouston B encountered a similar stumbling block as they dropped 5 key points to Cramlington Swifts. Peter Wilkinson and Ron Scott both won 2 matches, and although Lynsey Storey wasn’t able to pick up any wins she combined with Wilkinson to win the doubles. Ouston’s Tom Fowle and Jeff McKenna both beat Storey but Kevin Richardson took Player of the Match as he beat all of the Swifts’ players.

The last match of the week was an interesting one when Mount D travelled to Tyneside to face a B team line-up of John Donnelly, Don Catley and James Robertson. All three Mount players, John Rowell, Michael Bradley and Bill Edwards, won a single match – but against different opponents. Donnelly, Catley and Robertson each won two matches, Robertson and Donnelly also pairing up to take the doubles.

In Division 3, Matfen Tribunes put themselves atop the table as David Swan, Nigel Tree and Keith Hodges beat Saints’ Steven Dawson, Ray Joynson and Ken Greatbatch 8-2. Swan took his hat-trick and Player of the Match, Hodges also winning 3 whilst Tree chipped in with a single win against Greatbatch.

Philip Smith continues his rich vein of form by winning his three matches against interclub rivals Cramlington Spartans this week, but it was the Corinthians’ Richard Williamson who took Player of the Match by losing fewer points. Teammate Alan Hedley lost two matches but took a win from Paul Long, rendering her void of wins. Sam Nair and Adrian Barnes made up the 2 wins for the Spartans as the Corinthians took the fixture 8-2 overall.

Tynemouth Golf Club’s resident PGA Professional has returned to table tennis after a decades-long hiatus, and already finds himself winning matches in Division 3. John McKenna, alongside Daniel McManus and Joe Hastings, drew 5-5 with Brandon Bravehearts – McKenna and McManus both winning two matches, Hastings winning one. Brandon’s Patrick Nicholson took Player of the Match however as he won all three of his games, supported with a single win by Edward Nicholson. John Parkin as the home team’s third player was unable to win any matches.

Both Old England teams cruised to victory in Division 1 this week as the Crocks beat Tyneside A and the Jacks beat Ouston A. Tyneside and Ouston both find themselves in a relegation scrap after the half-way point and desperately need to pick up points if they want to stay in the division.

Colin Robson and Kenneth Clark both won their hat-tricks for the Crocks against Tyneside’s Mark Patterson and James Robertson but David Craddock won the battle of players “playing up” as he beat Division 3’s Joseph Perrin, giving Tyneside just a single point from their 9-1 defeat.

Neil Rodgers marked a notable win against Division 1’s second-highest averaging player Joe Muldowney when Ouston faced the Jacks, but this was their only shining light in an otherwise dismal performance, only Michael Lyons able to win any other ends. Alan Atkinson and Lynne Herrington both won their hat-tricks; Mark Rodgers unable to pick up any wins for the home side.

The other two fixtures, NECA B against Mitford and Matfen Centurions against Prudhoe United Services Club B were closer matches. Mitford’s Barry Hill put in a top performance as he was the only person to win three games against NECA B’s lineup of Kenneth Lee, Barry Li and Kit Robinson. Lee and Li both won their matches against Michael Bull and Robert Atwell but Robinson was unable to pick up any wins leading to a 6-4 victory for the away team.

Mark O’Connor was in a similar position as he was the only player to win three for Prudhoe against Matfen. Malcolm Aitchison won 2 games for the home side whilst both Chris Kilsby and Philip Rainford were only able to beat Maurice Cheek, and both lost to Shirley Gelder. Fortunately for Matfen, an 11-9 win in the deciding end of the doubles allowed them to scrape their fifth point and hold on to a draw.

Matfen find themselves in the relegation places at the moment, just one point behind Tyneside A but with a game in hand. NECA B similarly find themselves just a few points above the drop and the battles between the four relegation candidates will likely prove instrumental in deciding who gets to stay up.

At the other end of the table, a gap has opened up between Mount C and third-placed Cramlington Reivers with Mount having 65 points and Reivers just 58. Old England Jacks are sitting 2 points above Mount in the top slot and their compatriots Old England Crocks are just behind the Reivers in fourth place, albeit with a game in hand.

Mount C’s Dan Dodds and Tony Gelder are top of the averages, with the former having won more games but the latter having a better ratio of games won. Mitford’s Barry Hill is in third place with 21 games won from 29, followed up quickly by Cramlington Reivers’ Paul Jamieson and Tyneside A’s Mark Kimberley, both with 21 games won out of 30 played.

It was a hectic week in the Premier division this week with four games being played; three of which were close encounters and one a total whitewash.

The league leaders NECA, spearheaded by top player Chun Yin Yu, hosted a St Chads team which fielded neither Josh or Keith Weatherby, leading to a 10-0 win in which only a single set was won by the away team when Jimmy Scope took an end off third player Adam Webster.

Richard Wilson deserves a shout-out as he managed to beat one of the league’s best players Graeme Barella as NESLC Eagles scraped a 6-4 victory at home to Mount A. As well as beating Barella, Wilson took Player of the Match as he beat both Phil Prady and Anthony Ainley to complete his hat-trick. Barella beat Stamas and Baines, despite being 2-1 and having match point against him, but teammates Prady and Ainley could only grab one win between them as Ainley beat Stamas. Paul Baines also won two as he defeated Prady and Ainley, and this was enough to take the win despite Stamas and Wilson losing the doubles to Ainley and Barella.

Youngster Callum McRae, with his retrieving/control style of play helped Cramlington Stingers to a one of only four wins this season as they beat Prudhoe and District United Services Club A by 6 games to 4. McRae picked up his hat-trick by beating experienced Premier pimples player John Williamson plus Maurice Cheek and Shirley Gelder. Iain Wood beat Cheek and Gelder, Rob Reed also chipping in with a victory over Gelder.

In the last match of the week, Mount B put up a strong performance at home to Cramlington Tigers, clawing themselves somewhat clear of the relegation battle in the process. Jamie Dent won Player of the Match by beating the Tigers’ Rob Reed, Gareth Pearson and James Bradbury. Rod Roberts did well to beat Pearson and Reed, and Dave Cutler chipped in with a win against Gareth Pearson.

With only 1 win this season, the Tigers find themselves just 5 points clear of bottom place – but unfortunately for them, Newton A have two games in hand. Unless their performances improve in the second half of the season it looks like the drop will be unavoidable.

The second half of the season gets underway this week in the Northumbria Table Tennis league. The champions, Cramlington Casuals, look as though they are very likely to lose the title which they have held for the last five seasons as they are ten points behind the current Premier Division leaders North East Chinese Association who have yet to be beaten this time round.

At the other end of the table relegation threatens Cramlington Stingers and Tigers along with Newton.

Old England Jacks are still unbeaten in Division One although they have drawn three and have a narrow three point lead over Mount C with Cramlington Reivers a further three behind. Ouston A , who have yet to win, will struggle to get away from the foot of the table but any one of the teams in the bottom half could also go down.

Division Two sees four teams in contention for promotion with Brandon and Byshottles currently on top and Matfen Senators in second place only one point ahead of Mount E team and Ouston B who start the second half with a home fixture against Brandon only five points further adrift.

Cramlington TTC could also lose two teams from this division with both the Trojans and Cobras currently in the bottom three along with Newton B.

Matfen Tribunes head Division Three but are only two points ahead of the unbeaten Old England FATTS side. Saints lost ground on the leaders when they were held to a draw by Matfen Whitley Chapel in a rearranged match.

Teams that will have to work hard in the second half to avoid the drop to Division Four are the Cramlington sides Jaguars and Reivers as well as Tyneside TTC C team.

It seems to be a foregone conclusion that Ouston C and Cramlington Falcons will gain promotion from Division Four.

The last scheduled week of League fixtures for the first half of the season were in week commencing Monday 4 December 2017. There were 2 outstanding matches in the Premier division 1 of which were  played prior to Christmas with the remaining fixture due to played on Thursday 4 January.  There were also outstanding matches in divisions One (3); two (1); three (3) and four (1) completed prior to Christmas. Comments on these matches are below.

Cramlington Casuals were held to a draw by NESLC Eagles in a rearranged match in the Premier Division. Andrew Wilkinson only played in the singles and duly won all three but Steve Penman and Dale Aitkenhead were only able to get one each.  Martin Shapira who had been brought into the Eagles side in place of Jim Stamas who was unavailable beat both Penman and Aitkenhead as did Richard Wilson. Wilson also teamed up with Paul Baines to take the doubles set.

This result leaves the Casuals in second place and ten points behind The North East Chinese Association A team.

Bottom club Newton A will play Prudhoe and District A on January 4th in the only outstanding fixture.

League updateOld England Jacks are still unbeaten in Division One and finished the first half of the season with a flourish when they defeated their Crocks side 10 – 0. Joe Muldowney, Jacob Helm and Lynne Herrington made up the winning team with Muldowney and Helm playing together in the doubles.

Having caught up with their fixtures the Jacks are now top of the division, three points in front of Mount C and six ahead of Cramlington Reivers.

Cramlington Swifts  moved up into the top half of the Second Division as Alastair Johnson, Lynsey Storey and Pete Wilkinson overcame a two man Newton B team 9 – 1. John Henderson got the better of Wilkinson for Newton’s lone point.

Stefan Sobell was in fine form for Matfen Whitley Chapel in Division Three , winning all of his singles and with Peter Seago getting two and Mark Perrin one, his team came away from Tyneside TTC C with a 6 – 4 victory. Tom Manuel won two for the home side and also got the doubles set partnered by Ramon Pini who won one of his singles.

Whitley Chapel’s remaining first half match, at home to Saints, resulted in a 5-5 draw. Peter Seago and Stefan Sobel each won 2 games with Linda Pinkham making up Chapel’s 5 wins. Vince Killen and Steve Dawson each won 2 games and combinedc to win the doubles.

Matfen Cohorts entertained Cramlington Dynamos in Division four and Gavin Wilson and Jamie Parker both won two but lost out to young Alan Roskilly. They also won the doubles set against Roskilly and Ojas Aggarwal but the visitors were given three sets as the home side fielded an unregistered player.

Cramlington Reivers who are in second spot in Division One of the Northumbria League entertained unbeaten Old England Jacks in a match that swung one way and then the other before ending all square. Player of the match was Duncan Wraight who won all of his singles although he was pushed all of the way by Lynne Herrington before taking the deciding game 11 – 6. Paul Jamieson and Steve Pearce got one each for the home side while Jake Helm did best for the visitors with victories over Jamieson and Pearce. Alan Atkinson also beat Pearce while Herrington and Atkinson edged out Jamieson and Wraight 12 – 10 in the fifth end in the doubles.

 Dave Swan was unbeaten for Matfen Tribunes who defeated Cramlington Jaguars to go to the top of Division Three. They led 5 – 0 at one stage before the visitors got on the scoreboard but with Swan winning all of his singles and also the doubles with Keith Hodges, Hodges getting two and Nigel Tree one, they ran out 7 – 3 winners. Daniel McManus got two and John Murrells one for the losers.

 Prudhoe and District B had Andrew Firth in form with an unbeaten performance as they defeated North East Chinese Association 6 -4 in a replayed match. Mark O’Connor got two and Shirley Gelder one. Barry Li won two for the unfortunate Chinese who did not have  the same strong team who been well ahead when the original match was abandoned because of a power failure.

 Fifteen year old Adam Webster, who plays in the Premier Division for the Chinese A team excelled himself at the Ormesby Junior Open tournament in Middlesbrough when he won the Junior Singles event with victory over Durham’s Jamie Peacock in the final having beaten  highly ranked number one seed Kieran Wardell of Cleveland in the semis.

The North East Chinese Association have opened up a gap at the top of the Premier Division of the Northumbria League after beating Prudhoe and District  8 -2. They brought Harry Saxton into the team and he duly won all three of his sets as well as partnering the unbeaten Chun Yin Yu to success in the doubles.

Cramlington Casuals lost ground when they visited Mount  without Andrew Wilkinson although they still won 6 – 4, Marc Cotton, Steve Penman and Peter Smallcombe getting two each. Player of the match, however was Graeme Barella who was unbeaten on the night in both singles and doubles.

The leaders of Division One, Mount C, were held to a draw by Old England Jacks who are still unbeaten this season and second placed Cramlington Reivers suffered a defeat at the hands of Matfen Centurians for whom the undefeated Chris Kilsby was in fine form.

Neither of the top two in Division Two were in action and Mount E closed to within one point of them by beating Newton B 8 – 3 with Caron Guthrie winning all of her matches.

Barry Matthews was the man of the match for Old England FATTS as the third division leaders beat Cramlington Corinthians 7 – 3 while second placed Matfen Tribunes got home 6 – 4 against Tyneside C whose Tom Manuel got three.

The Northumbria League Under 15 side of  Sree Kanakala, Ethan Brown and Ojas Aggarwal won three of their four matches in the second session of the North East section of the National Junior League, defeating Ormesby 8 – 1, Darlington B 8 – 1, and Darlington A 6 – 3 but losing out to Bishop Auckland A 3 – 6.

In the Handicap Cup Cramlington Corinthians and Saints both progressed to the third round with victories over Brandon Bravehearts and Cramlington Knights respectively.

The Northumberland County team of Chun Yin Yu, Andy Wilkinson, Graeme Barella, Christine Burke and Lynsey Storey gained promotion from the County Championships Division 2A with a great unbeaten performance at Draycott. Newcastle University student Chun  and Barella both won eleven of their twelve sets over the weekend and were ably backed up by  the rest of the team who all contributed to their success. They started off on Saturday with an 8 – 2 win over South Yorkshire followed by a 7 – 3 success over Staffordshire but were then held to a draw by Cambridgeshire. 

 Sunday saw them draw with a very strong Worcestershire side, beat Hertfordshire 6 – 4 and clinch promotion with a 7 – 3 victory over Warwickshire seconds.

Chun and Wilkinson had been in direct opposition a couple of days earlier when the Chinese player came out on top and helped North East Chinese Association to a 7 – 3 victory over Cramlington Casuals, a result which means the Chinese club are now favourites to win the Premier Division of the Northumbria League this season.

The Northumbria League  team of Sree Kanakala, Israel Shodeinde and Jack Cairns did well  in the National Junior League North East Division  when they defeated Darlington 6 – 3, Ormesby 6 – 3 and Darlington B 9 – 0 . However they lost 1 – 8 to a very strong Swerve side and finished the first weekend in second spot.

The Northumbria League Handicap Cup competition saw some close matches in the second round With Ouston B team of David Byers, Kevin Richardson and Tom Fowle defeating Cramlington Spartans after being 4 – 1 down. Two sets each for Bob Sanderson and Tom Manuel helped Tyneside C to beat Matfen Tribunes by the same score with Nigel Tree getting a couple for the losers.

Ten year old Jessica Yang was tremendous for Cramlington Magpies beating two 13 year old boys, Alan Roskilly and Ojas Aggarwal as well as Alan’s father, all off scratch. Veteran Aubrey Drapkin also beat the two boys to put the Magpies into round three.