When has any fixture in the Matlock Table Tennis League ever produced such a great advert for the Association?
Amid the many excellent fixtures in the first round of the Blair Cup, one stood out as having the potential to be match of the round.
The fixture between Ever Hopefuls of Division Two and current Matlock champions Rowsley 08 had all the hallmarks of being a classic and that is exactly what we got.
Sam Perry took time out of his busy schedule to play in this game and, with Warren Slaney and Jamie Smith also in the team, Rowsley were at full strength while Ever Hopefuls were having to play a substitute as Louis Gay had not arrived back from Australia.
One thing was certain, everyone enjoyed the match and Sam Perry (three) gave a masterclass in how the game is played at the top level. The result was a 6-3 win for Rowsley but that was only a mere detail. The true result was a night of sheer enjoyment as everyone left the Whitworth Academy beaming, even the losers.
Holders Colin Deaton TTC B were involved in a classic of their own, beating LiverPooles by a narrow 5-4 margin. Honours were shared between the two sides with Nathan Hallows (two) taking them for the LiverPooles and Darryl Gleeson (two) and Phillip Rastrick (two) for the visitors. Colin Deaton progress to Round Two, along with Rowsley 08.
Cylinder Cougars A beat Cromford Cavaliers again by 5-4 but had to face Peter Hamshaw (three) of the Cavaliers in majestic form. Andreas Lee (one) played well for the Cavaliers but it was not enough and it will be the Division One side in the next round.
As the New Year begins, and to underline the new-found importance of the Blair Cup, Rapid Fire took on Balls Of Fury in the only preliminary match of the round and, rather than postpone the game, the Fury went in not at full strength. David Molyneux (three) was the star of the night, winning his matches in some style. Stephen Cook was best of the Fury, taking games against Gabrial Hodgkinson (one) and Steve Molyneux (two) although he could not prevent his side losing 6-3.
Detonators faced Wessington in a match at Cromford which ended 6-3 in favour of Wessington. Eddie Gregory (two) could not prevent his side losing although Wessington’s Eric Easom (three) was in the kind of form that was always going to make life difficult for the opposition.
Pommy faced a difficult challenge against first division side Fiesteros Reborn, who had Andy Burton in their ranks. A good all-round effort by Pommy saw Peter Davis (three), Andy Mellor (two) and Mick Shimwell (two) working hard to secure a 7-2 win.
New side Crich St. Mary’s had little joy against first division Rowsley Scorpions but Stephen Howard (two) spared their blushes with good wins over Mike Bradbury (two) and Andrew Middleton (two).
John Davis made light of the handicap, taking his matches in majestic style and ensuring his side went through 7-2.
Qualifiers for the next round are: Pommy, Wessington, Cougars A, Rowsley 08, Colin Deaton B, and Rowsley Scorpions with Turnditch Tigers or Colin Deaton A and Cromford CC or Rapid Fire yet to play.
Eight quality teams will battle it out in the second round and I for one cannot wait for the draw to take place at the next Management Committee meeting in a few weeks.
There is no escaping the honour of playing in this competition but enthusiasm is not the same as dedication and there is still some work to be done by some teams.