After grazing quietly in the mid reaches of the league for more than 20 years, Sudbury Nomads suddenly burst into the limelight in 2022-23 to score a comfortable victory in division two of the Braintree Table Tennis League.
The team first appeared under the Nomads name in 2008, emerging from the Delphi club that had been in the league the previous eight seasons. It added Sudbury to its name only last season.
The team retained its place either in division two or roughly in the middle when the league had four divisions – until this season.
Adding Ken Lewis to their roster a few years ago, and then Karl Baldwin last year gave them a new impetus that took them up to third place in 2021-22.
Two things contributed to their rise to the top this season, the signing of Jack Cansdale and the addition of a second team in division three.
Instead of having to accommodate a wide range of players in the one team, Nomads could now rely on Lewis, Baldwin and Cansdale, with only occasional appearances from reserves, and they strode to the division two title by 43 points, the largest margin in any division since Felsted RBL C’s 54-point win in 2018.
For the fourth season in a row, Liberal C finished in the runners-up berth.
Gareth Davies, Garry Fryatt and Dave Hardy were their usual consistent selves. They averaged 5.7 points over the season, compared with 5.5 last season.
Division three saw the closest finish in the league since 2015 when Netts A and Liberal A finished level on points in division one.
This time it was Rayne E and Sudbury Wanderers who finished level, Rayne taking the title on the basis of winning more matches, 22 compared with 20.
Rayne E – Martin Brunker, Oliver Hicks, Alex Morgan and Scott Whiteside – won all their matches apart from two draws against Wanderers and it was effectively their narrow 6-4 win over Wanderers in the first meeting between the two teams that settled the title.
But Peter Abbott, Louise Hartshorn and Ian Shrubsole – with Geoff Barrett a useful reserve – were a cut above the rest of the division, finishing 30 points ahead of Black Notley G, who took third place for the second successive year.
With encouraging noises from various directions, it looks quite likely that there will be additional teams in the league next season, which should mean a deserved place in division two for Wanderers.