The Northumbria League winter season gets under way this week with 50 teams taking part in five divisions. There should be strong competition in the Premier Division

following the demise of NESLC Legends. Cramlington Casuals will now have Andrew Wilkinson in their ranks although young Ryan Richardson may not be available for many matches as he will be at University. Former Northumberland champion Ian(Benny) Robertson is making a return to league competition and will be turning out for Cramlington Trojans who have come up from the first division. Last year’s Northumberland Champion Dave Robson is in the Tigers line up and as  usual Saint Chads will be a force to be reckoned with and they open up with a home match against the Trojans. The other newcomers to the Premier Division are Byker TTC and they begin with a visit to Cramlington Reivers (formerly Venture Portraits) but they will be without Adam Curran who has now taken up residence at Grantham College.

Seaburn Dene  and Blaydon A will be looking for a quick return to the top flight after their relegation to Division One. The Dene start the new season by entertaining North Fire B but Blaydon have to wait until the following week to get they campaign under way. Newly promoted Newcastle Community start  in the first division with a visit to Whitehouse Lane A.

Matfen B, in the league for the very first time,  begin life in the fourth division with a visit to near neighbours Newton D.

The  Summer League ended with Cramlington Casuals winning the first division and St.Chads runners up, North Fire and Newton being relegated. Newcastle Community and Mortimer A are promoted from division two with Whitehouse Lane B and Mortimer B dropping down to division three. Their places will be taken by Sacriston A and Old England Crocks.  NESLC and Cramlington Ravens gained promotion from from division four and will replace Cramlington Dragons and Whitley Chapel.

The Chinese club, Newcastle Community, entertained Whitehouse Lane B in their final match of the season in the Tesco Express Northumbria Summer League second division in a match that was to decide the winners of that division. Ken Hu got the home team off to a winning start by defeating Mike Hope in straight games but this was quickly cancelled out when a long five games match between Ken Lee and Charlie Mouzon  was won by the visitors. Ben Yu then had a comfortable victory over Mohinda Rawat and Lee beat Hope to put the home team 3 – 1 ahead. They then brought in Terry Kwong to partner Hu in the doubles but they lost out to Hope and Rawat.

The home side then took the next two sets with Hu and Yu being victorious over Rawat and Mouzon respectively. Rawat pulled one back for the Lane before Yu completed his hat-trick with a win over Hope. In the final match Mouzon got his second win of the night, the final score being 6 – 4 to the home side to give them the title.

North Shields YMCA took on Old England Jacks and had James Bradbury in fine form as he won all of his sets in a 7 – 3 success. He was well supported by Nigel Rodgers and Ronnie Scott who had two wins each. Lynne Herrington got two for the losers and also won the doubles set, partnered by Alan Atkinson. The YMCA then visited Blaydon with a weakened side and were beaten 6 – 4.

Third division Saints completed their fixtures with a 7 – 3 victory away to Whitley Chapel but were made to fight for it  in a very keenly fought match. Vince Killen was, however, unbeaten with Steve Dawson and Tom Marley getting two each. John Henderson and Stefan Sobell got on the scoresheet for the home side and Sobell was also on the winning side in the doubles, partnered by Linda Pinkham.

Several Northumbria League players took part in the North East Veterans tournament and whilst none of them had success in the main events, Paul Stead did extremely well to win the Over 60s Mens Plate competition and Pauline Long was runner up in the Womens Over 50s.

In the Tesco Express Northumbria Summer League first division John Williamson and Chris Dixon each won two sets when Seaburn Dene visited Whitehouse Lane but neither of them could beat young Adam Curran.  At one stage the match was all square at three all with Curran on the scoresheet twice and Steve Dickinson once for the home side with Williamson and Dixon having won one each and the combination of Dixon and Ken Bowman being successful in the doubles.The next three sets, however, all went the way of the visitors who eventually ran out 6-4 winners.

The Lane were then well beaten in their final match when they visited the newly crowned champions Cramlington Stingers. Curran, Dickinson and Dean Eadington got one set each but that was all they could manage and went down 7-3.  Ryan Richardson and Andrew Wilkinson were both unbeaten for the victors. North Shields YMCA still have to play Mortimer A, Old England Jacks and Blaydon in the second division and the outcome of these matches will decide the promotion places.

In the third division Sacriston B have struggled all season but finished on a high note by beating Whitley Chapel twice.  They followed up a 7-3 victory by winning 9-1 away from home.  Chris Grant was unbeaten in both matches and Dan Nicholson won five out of six, only losing out in the home match to John Henderson.  The two victories ensure that they escaped relegation leaving Cramlington Dragons and Whitley Chapel in the bottom two places.

Cramlington Stingers beat second placed Saint Chads to win the Tesco Express Northumbria Summer League championship for the second year running. Andrew Wilkinson, as expected, won all of his sets but the star of the night was young Dean Richardson who got his side off to a great start by defeating Jimmy Scope 11 – 6 in the fifth end and also beat Dave Bissett by the same score. He went on to win another long match with Andrew Dryden, getting home 12 – 10 in the final game and for good measure helped Wilkinson to win the doubles. Saints had the consolation of finishing in second place when Cramlington Eagles were held to a draw by the Lions and could only beat Newton 7 – 3.

North Fire finished on a high note when they entertained Whitehouse Lane A thanks to an unbeaten performance from Dale Aitkenhead who saw off Adam Curran, Dean Eadington and Mohinda Rawat. Frank Lasek managed two wins against Rawat and Eadington and Karen Henry, playing again after a long lay off through injury got the better of Rawat. Success in the doubles gave the home side a 7 – 1 victory but despite this they will still be relegated.

Newcastle Community stay on top of division two but they only just beat Old England Jacks 6 – 4. They were without their star player Ken Hu and only scraped home thanks to three sets from Ben Yu who also combined with Terry Kwong to take the doubles set. Lee and Kwong got one singles each whilst Alan Atkinson got two  and Lynne Herrington and Dave Craddock one each for the losers. The Chinese side are favourites to win the division but North Shields YMCA, who beat Mortimer B 7 – 3, could still come into contention as they have three matches to play.

Sacriston A , who were already winners of the third division were denied finishing with a 100% record when they were held to a draw by Old England Crocks. Ian Mcallister won his three sets but Jon Mawson and Duncan Fraser were both beaten  by Ken Clark and Colin Robson and they also went down in the doubles. Chris Grant was unbeaten for Sacriston B as they won their bottom of the table clash with Whitley Chapel to stay in the division.

NESLC, who had already won division four, finished the season unbeaten with a 7 – 3 success over runners up Cramlington Ravens. In the same division Diane Cartmell and Allan Mann both got two sets for the Dynamos who defeated Ouston 6 – 4 despite Jeff McKenna getting a hat trick for the losing side.

Cramlington Stingers and Saint Chads are still battling it out for the championship of the Tesco Express Northumbria Summer League. The Stingers team of Andrew Wilkinson and Ryan and Dean Richardson eased to victory to the tune of 9 – 1 at home to North Fire, while the Saints came away from their visit to Cramlington Eagles with a 7 – 3 win under their belts. The title could well be decided this week when the two teams are in opposition at Cramlington. Robert Reed and Geoff Salter were both unbeaten for the Lions who won 7 – 3 at Newton and Adam Curran had a hat-trick as Whitehouse Lane A defeated the Eagles 7 – 3.

Newcastle Community moved back to the top of division two at the expense of Mortimer A when Ben Yu and Ken Hu were both unbeaten in an 8 – 2 success against Whitehouse Lane B while Mortimer were being held to a draw by Old England Jacks .Lynne Herrington and Alan Atkinson between them won five of the singles sets for the Jacks and then repeated the performance to beat Mortimer’s B team 6 – 4.

In the third division runaway winners Sacriston A were too good for Saints as they ran out 9 – 1 winners but their B team went down 6- 4 to Cramlington Tigers. The all Cramlington match between the Dragons and the Casuals ended in a 6 – 4 win for the Casuals thanks to Lynsey Storey who won all of her matches.

NESLC have completed the fourth division double by winning the league and also triumphing in theLeague Cup. The final against Ouston was a closely fought out affair with

Norman Badger unbeaten for Ouston who fought back from 5 – 1 down and very nearly forced a draw. Pauline Long and Russell Roper won two singles  each for NESLC  and also combined to win the doubles and Pat Thomas chipped in with one set when he beat Joe Tron.  Ouston’s Jeff McKenna also got on the scoresheet with victory over Thomas. Cramlington Ravens ensured that they will finish as runners up in this division when they drew their home match with Lanchester. Youngsters Adam Shafiq and Arran Kent got two each and also took the doubles while Harry Robertson and John Cook each won twice for Lanchester.

Saint Chads are still in the hunt to  win the Tesco Express Summer League after picking up seven points away to North Fire. Dale Aitkenhead got the home side off to a good start by beating Jimmy Scope but Keith Weatherby quickly levelled  with a victory over Barry Hill. The home team went ahead again when Mick Bull got the better of Dave Bissett but the lead was short lived as Scope then defeated Hill. The doubles set went to the visitors with Weatherby and Scope too good for Aitkenhead and Hill before the home team drew level once again as Aitkenhead beat Bissett. From there onwards  all of the sets were won by St.Chads with Weatherby claiming a hat – trick and the victory keeps them in second place in the division. An 8 – 2 win for Cramlington Stingers at Seaburn Dene keeps them in top spot but the two teams still have to play each other.

Cramlington Eagles consolidated third place with a 7 – 3 win away to Newton.

Second division leaders Mortimer A were held to a draw by Whitehouse Lane B who looked to have victory sewn up at one stage when they held a 5 – 2 lead but Mortimer came back strongly to force a draw. Alex Smith and Dave Pringle both won two with Dave Bannon getting one while Mohinder Rawat and Charlie Mouzon got two each for the Lane and also won the doubles set. Newcastle Community took advantage of Mortimer’s dropped points by cruising to a 10 – 0 over Mortimer’s second string and they are now only two points adrift at the top of the table with a match in hand.

Sacriston A came away from Cramlington Casuals with a 9 – 1 win to preserve their 100% record.  Ian McAllister and Tony Taylor  were both unbeaten  and Paul Dale got two, losing out to the home side’s Lynsey Storey. The victory means that Sacriston have already won the third division as second placed Old England Crocks went down 6 – 4 at Saints despite Ken Clark winning all of his games.

NESLC retained their unbeaten record in division four with a resounding 10 – 0 win away to Sacriston C,Dave Swan.Rusell Roper and Pauline Long being far too good for the home team.

The Wrekenton club, Whitehouse Lane, are looking for players for the Winter League and anyone interested should contact Mick Hope ( Tel: 4165794).

At the AGM on 7th July it was agreed that player membership fees will remain the same as last season, no increase. Player licences have increased by 50 pence for Cadets and Juniors and 1 pound for Seniors. You can now renew for the 2012/13 season at he ETTA by visiting the site.

The Grand Prix is to be held over the weekend of the 12th & 13th October 2012. Further details will be made available nearer the time.

Seaburn Dene had Chris Dixon in great form as they beat the  Tesco Express Northumbria League leaders Saint Chads. Dixon won all three of his sets beating Dave Bissett, , Jimmy Scope and Andrew Dryden. With John Williamson also getting the better of Bissett and Scope and the pairing of Dixon and Ken Bowman winning the doubles Dene ran out 6 – 4 winners. Cramlington Stingers took advantage of Saints defeat as they beat Cramlington Lions 8 – 2 to move level on points with a game in hand.

In division two the Chinese side Newcastle Community lost their 100% record when they visited North Shields YMCA with only Ken Hu winning any of the singles matches. His three wins and success in the doubles partnered by Ben Yu were not enough to save his side from a 6 – 4 defeat. James Bradbury, Nigel Rodgers and Ronnie Scott all got two for the victorious home team. Worse was to follow for the Chinese when they were without Hu the next night in a rearranged match at Blaydon and they slumped to an 8 – 2 defeat. Rob Scott won all of his sets for the home side with Mark O’Connor and Andrew Firth each scoring twice. The two defeats leave Newcastle Community seven points behind leaders Mortimer A but they do have a game in hand.

Third division leaders Sacriston A kept up their winning ways at the expense of their B team who were beaten 6 – 4 and they are now virtually assured of winning this division. The all Cramlington clash between the Dragons and Tigers ended in a 9 – 1 win for the Tigers with Mike Dunn and Moise Coulon unbeaten.

Cramlington Ravens, lying in second spot in division four visited Ouston and the two youngsters on the team, Adam Shafiq and Arran Kent both excelled themselves by winning all of their singles and combining to take the doubles set. Senior player Ken Brown got two but lost out to Jeff McKenna as the Ravens ran out 9 – 1 winners.

Lanchester also had a 9 – 1 win when they visited Sacriston C with Harry Robertson, Frank Clarke and John Cook too strong for the young home side.

There are vacancies in the coming winter league and any interested teams should contact Dale Aitkenhead (Tel: 07540897558 )

The Tesco Northumbria Summer League leaders, Saint Shad’s were involved in a long and close match when they visited Cramlington Lions. Keith Weatherby, however, won all of his matches, defeating Jim Stamas, Geoff Salter and Paul Baines and with Chris Blake and Jimmy Scope getting one each and the Lions having to forfeit the doubles when they ran out of time Saints won 6 – 4 to stay in pole position. Salter nabbed two for the home team with Stamas and Baines getting one each.

Cramlington Stingers stay on the heels of the leaders and also have a game in hand after they also won 6 – 4 at the expense of bottom team Newton. There was another 6 – 4 scoreline with Seaburn Dene getting the better of North Fire.

Second division side Newcastle Community were also made to fight for their victory over Blaydon with the match being level pegging all the way to 4 – 4 but the Chinese got the last two sets of the night. Ken Hu was their star with three singles wins and success in the doubles partnered by Ben Yu  who also got two singles victories. Mark O’Connor did best for the losers with wins over Yu and Ken Lee. Mortimer A who have played more matches stay on top of the table despite being held to a draw by North Shields YMCA for whom James Bradbury got a hat-trick.

Whitley Chapel and Sacriston B are still in the relegation places in the third division after defeats against Cramlington Dragons and Old England Crocks respectively. On the other hand the Crocks team are now in second spot thanks to unbeaten performances by Ken Clark and Colin Robson whilst Sacrison A kept their 100% record at the expense of Cramlington Tigers although Kit Robinson did manage to get one set for the Cramlington side. Lynsey Storey was in fine form for Cramlington Casuals winning all of her sets against the Saints players Vince Killen, Tom Marley and Steve Dawson in a drawn match. Dawson did win his other two and Alan Hedley got two for the Casuals.

In the fourth division both leading teams won, NESLC defeating Cramlington Dynamos 7 – 3 and the Ravens having a 10 – 0 success against Sacriston C.