In the Northumbria Table Tennis League’s Premier division there are only 3 outstanding games yet to be played. As things stand, 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.
The NESLC Eagles gave themselves a fighting chance of taking second position when they hosted a weakened Miftford A side. Richard Wilson took Player of the Match when he won both of his games comfortably in three ends and Paul Baines did well to win his two too. Jim Stamas, recovering from a weekend of tough games in the Veterans County Championships, lost concentration against Duncan Wraight and lost the only match of the game 3-1. Lee Eadington, Mitford’s only other player, was unable to even win any ends for the away team.
A Cramlington Casuals line-up of Steve Penman, Marc Cotton and Peter Smallcombe beat Old England Jacks’ Lynne Herrington, Alan Atkinson and playing-up Joe Perrin 10-0 but it’s possible that the score wasn’t a true reflection of how the match was played. Steve Penman for example went to a deciding end in two of his matches and was fortunate to pull through 13-11 against Alan Atkinson.
James Bradbury played well for Cramlington Tigers as they visited Mount A but neither of his teammates Gareth Pearson and Rob Reed could support him as they lost 8-2. Phil Prady got his hat-trick and Player of the Match, Dave Pringle and Rod Roberts both winning two each.
Riding Mill A and Byker A had the tightest match of the week as Mark O’Connor, Maurice Cheek and Andrew Firth lined up for the home team against Mark Kimberley, Steven Dickinson and David Craddock. Byker got off to a roaring start as Mark Kimberley dismantled Mark O’Connor in three comfortable sets and then Steve Dickinson beat Maurice Cheek in four. The home team got their acts together quickly however and proceeded to win the game outright by taking the next six matches back to back. Andrew Firth beat David Craddock, Cheek beat Kimberley, O’Connor and Cheek won the doubles, O’Connor beat Craddock, Firth beat Dickinson and then Cheek beat Craddock to take the win. In the end Firth, Cheek, Kimberley and Dickinson all won two matches but it was Mark Kimberley who was awarded Player of the Match.
The final Premier match of the week saw the North East Chinese Association’s A team host Cramlington Stingers. Kevin Wilson deserves massive plaudits for his efforts this season, running the Stingers team despite serious line-up setbacks throughout. Wilson has played every match of the season, fighting for every point, earning himself a top-drawer average of 75%, single-handedly dragging his team to several victories whilst organising other Cramlington players to “play up” in his team mates absence. Unfortunately he didn’t do himself justice against NECA, losing all three matches, but he combined with Iain Wood to take the doubles. Overall the Stingers lost 8-2, only Iain Wood managing to take a singles match as he eased to victory over Adam Webster.