by Brian Croasdale
When you ask Mike Bradbury what’s the best game he has ever played in Matlock, he has to ponder.
Fair enough when you consider he is Matlock champion and a favourable National League player. That said, however, there cannot be many weeks like he had last week in his local table tennis career.
Playing for Rowsley Scorpions, he successfully beat Warren Slaney (one) and Jamie Smith (two) to set up a match that will live long in the memory of those fortunate enough to have seen it.
Played out amid gripping drama, it was probably the best match ever witnessed in the Matlock League. The doubles which Scorpions won by 11-6, 11-9, 6-11, 11-13, 22-20 was just a taster of the entertainment on offer. Needless to say, Sam Perry went through the game unbeaten but even he knew he had been in a match of rare quality. For the record, Rowsley 08 beat Rowsley Scorpions 6-4 but with another two matches to play against each other this season, just a slight improvement by Scorpions might just see the champions in trouble.
Cromford CC visited Cougars A in Chesterfield on Friday and, despite only fielding a two-man squad, put up a good performance. Geoff Gill was made to fight for his match against Tony Gregory (two) but eventually came out on top 11-2, 11-4, 7-11, 9-11,11- 7. With Dean Clayton taking the decision over Andrew White they did enough to take a point back to Cromford in a 7-3 defeat.
In Division Two, Detonators came up against Cromford Cavaliers and paid the price for a below par performance going down 6-4 to the new side. They all took a game but could not cope with the rapidly improving Mark Briddon (three) and Andy Hodgkinson (three).
Leaders Ever Hopefuls cruised to a 9-1 victory over Liver Pooles and cemented their position at the top of the table. Both Louis Gay and Phillip Fisher were unbeaten, retaining their 100 per cent records with ease. Newcomer Derek Northin lost the only match, going down to Nathan Hallows in four.
Rapid Fire continued their good start to the season with a 7-3 win over Crich St. Marys while new side Matlock Marauders came up
against the Hit & Miss duo of Bradley Vallance (two) and Dean West (one) and probably wished they had stopped at home. Bradley thrilled the spectators with his best performance this season while newcomer Dean West also took a match. Hit & Miss won this one 4-1.
On Friday, leaders May B’s beat Cabers 5-0 with Sally May (two) again unbeaten. Adam Lovell made Sally fight all the way but just could not get the better of the Darley Dale lady.
The Unreliables, hot on the heels of the May B’s also won by the maximum margin, beating their close friends The Power 5-0.
Jonathan Goodwin and Ewan Fisher did the damage here and look good to repeat the dose to a few teams yet.
Whitworth One had a disappointment against Be Afraid, losing 4-1. Tom Tate (two) won his matches comfortably and with Paul McDonald gaining a three-game win over Connor Davies, it was left to Luke Harris of Bonsall to register a win. This he did by beating Paul 11-4, 8-11, 9-11, 12-10, 14-12.
Both Mike Bradbury and Bradley Vallance have much to celebrate this week and this likeable pair at both ends of their careers have still a lot to offer table tennis. Both gave compelling performances and we look forward to more from them in the future.