At the league’s annual meeting it was decided to bring forward the first round of the Marchant Memorial Challenge Trophy and introduce the competition as a Blind handicap event.
As a result, the handicaps were somewhat speculative and consequently results were not as close as expected.
However, it did prove extremely popular and by the time of the second round the majority of the ties will be closer.
Higham Band B (0) 347: (David Carrigan 98/116, Stuart Futrill 130/79, Deirdre Kiziak 119/103)
Westfield D (0) 342: (Stuart Rae 103/115, Roy Smyth 101/111, Iain Rae 94/121)
On paper this was the only really close tie of the round for the reason was not for table tennis reasons as the stewardess demanded the closure of the venue at 10.30pm, causing the hosts to forfeit the doubles. As befits an all scratch tie, most games were close apart from game 7 where Iain Rae gained a mere 20 points in a 10-11, 3-11, 0-11, 7-11 defeat to Stuart Futrill. Over the night David Carrigan has a small deficit and Deirdre Kiziak a small gain and the hosts owed everything to Futrill who gained a massive 51 points to negate having to concede the doubles.
Wanderers A (0) 428: (Graham Ellson 128/68, Andy Law 124/66, John Stamp 132/71)
Wanderers C (140) 375: (James Findlay 82/128, Tony Wallis 64/124, Carl Singh 59/132)
Normally an all Club clash tends to favour the lower sides, but despite the absence of Tony Wharton, the A side won with surprising ease. Only in game 8, where James Findlay went down 7-11, 9-11, 8-11, 9-11 to John Stamp did the visitors attain the handicap and this was more than cancelled out in games 5 and 6 where Ellson and Stamp only conceded 34 points in winning out 11-4, 11-7, 11-5, 1101 and 11-5 11-4, 11-4, 11-4 over Carl Singh and Tony Wallis respectively.
Chesterwell D (0) 374: (Duncan Wright 127/75, Caspian Wagner 116/96, Gordon Campbell 94/123)
WDHA Raj Riders (90) 422: (Rushabh Patel 60/124, Akash Kumar 121/110, Aum Lakhani 113/103)
The hosts are a much improved side this season but did not reach their full potential as the visitors won out by 48 points. Duncan Wright opened sensationally winning out 11-3, 11-3, 11-2, 11-2 over Rushabh Patel and despite gaining 52 points on the night, faded somewhat dropping a leg to Aum Lakhani and in game 9 sharing 11-6, 9-11, 11-8, 10-11 with Akash Kumar. A disappointing night for the home side ended when Wagner and Campbell lost out 8-11, 10-11, 11-5, 8-11 in the doubles to Kumar/Lakhani.
Westfield B (80) 417: (David Rogers 1-9/94, Steve Fuller 115/110, Mark Holly 81/120)
Old Grammarians A (0) 341: (Phil Laurence 96/110, Mick Ball 103/97, Martyn Reeves 113/98)
In the last few years the visitors have tended to underperform in the cup, and this was another example. Game 4 saw Steve Fuller in only his second outing, restrict Phil Laurence to 22 points in a 11-7, 11-4, 11-6, 11-5 victory. David Rogers shared in all 3 games and although Mark Holly had a bad night gaining only 2 legs and dropping 39 points, the handicap proved more than adequate and the hosts won out by 76 points, only 4 less than the handicap.
Old Grammarians C (55) 432: (Alan Hill 103/121, Roger Fleming 114/112, Paul Lipczak 118/108)
Higham’s Harriers B (0) 371: (Oli Hicks 113/111. Neil Stevens 114/110, Katie Hicks 114/114)
The hosts fielded a very strong line-up for a 3rd Division side and with hindsight the handicap was possibly rather high. Games 2 & 3 gave the hosts a flying start with both Roger Fleming and Paul Lipczak winning out 4-1, 11-9, 11-6, 11-10, 11-6 and 11-7, 11-8, 11-10, 11-5 over Neil Stevens and Katie Hicks respectively. Only a few more points were pulled back and the visitors succeeded in the rare feat of winning by more than the handicap.
Wanderers B (0) 439: (Mike Terry 132/27, Paul Goodman 132/23, Bob Hickson 131/46)
WDHA Rising Stars (280) 391: (Swati Jethwa 27/132, Shivam Gopal 17/132, Jiten Gopal 52/131)
This was undoubtedly the win of the round as the hosts overcame a massive 280 handicap to win out by 48 points. In a stupendous opening 2 legs, Mike Terry and Paul Goodman dropped a mere 4 points, winning out 11-0, 11-1, 11-3, 11-0 and 11-1, 11-1, 11-0, 11-2 over Swati Jethwa and Shivam Gopal respectively. Bob Hickson always prone to a shock either way, dropped a leg and 24 points to Jiten Gopal but that was the only bright moment as the hosts drove remorselessly on to win our far more comfortably than expected in view of a tough handicap.
Stanwick VHTTC (0) 431: (Ian Baldock 132/48, Graham Taylor 125/40, Geoff Neville 130/82)
Wanderers E (190) 371: (David May 76/125, Derek Shears 44/130, Steve Hoole 50/132)
This too was in the running for the win of the round as the hosts made light of a stiff handicap to knock out last years’ losing finalists. In some superb performances, possibly the best was in game 2 against the experienced Derek Shears, Graham Taylor dished out 2 whitewashes in restricting him to 7 points, 11-0, 11-2, 11-5, 11-0. For the visitors, David May provided stiff resistance scoring 33 points against Geoff Neville in a 7-11, 10-11, 10-11, 6-11 defeat and incredibly won out 11-4, in his 4th leg against Taylor after losing 3011, 3-11, 5-11 in the other 3.
Chesterwell C (88) 346: (Stuart Coles 59/132, Maxine Shears 97/115, Clare Coles 74/132)
Chesterwell B (0) 422: (Luke Hughes 128/78, Johnathon Driscoll 126/78, Daniel Mann 125/74)
On paper this was a stiff handicap as an all club tie and only one place separating them in the league table, but an incredible result the B side made mockery of the handicap to win out by a massive 76 point margin. Maxine Shears tried hard for the home side sharing with Daniel Mann and Luke Hughes but losing out 6-11, 7-11, 4-11, 11-5 to Johnathan Driscoll. Stuart Coles found the going tough gaining only 59 points and was whitewashed by Driscoll in a 0-11, 8-11, 4-11, 9-11 defeat. Clare Coles, normally a doughty cup player also failed to gain a leg to complete a horrendous result.
Thrapston (0) 361: (Pete Briggs 117/90, Chris Warliker 113/113, Alan Tyler 89/128)
St John A (25) 394: (Pete Boustred 102/107, Grant Timms 110/110, Richard Wills 119/102)
Table tennis wise, this was the closest tie of the round and would have been even closer had the hosts been at full strength. Alan Tyler who struggles as this level only managed 1 leg and dropped 39 points. Pete Briggs who has been in tremendous form in the Wellingborough league shared with Grant Timms and comfortably saw off Richard Wills and Pete Boustred and was unlucky to be on the losing side. The inconsistent Chris Warliker scored a brilliant 4-1 win over Timms and then lost out to Wills and Boustred.
Higham Harriers A (0) 424: (Graham Bird 121/85, Norman Wooster 127/77, Ian Bird 132/44)
Old Grammarians B (295) 521: (Martin Rice 71/124, Colin Lord 72/124, David Bayes 63/132)
As a first division side giving bottom division sides a massive handicap the one thing you can’t do is field a weakened side, but Steve Kendall was replaced by Graham Bird, making his first appearance this season. The first 2 games gave an indication of what was to follow as Bird and Norman Wooster dropped legs and in the context of the game a massive 57 points. Although Ian Bird kept on handicap, his team mates were well above and the visitors gained easily the biggest win of the night.