Tim Pulham was the star turn this week in the Burnham & District Table Tennis League as he took on the two top teams in Division 2 with his Stow Maries comrades and came out unscathed against the best players the Division could throw at him. 

At the top end of Division 2 Mapledene C had a very busy week fitting in 3 fixtures and hoping they could steal a march on leaders Woodham C. In a full gamut of emotions the Mapledene C team managed a win, a draw, and a loss across the week but failed to impose themselves at the top of the league.

In their first match they faced up to Stow Maries D and were truly Pulhamed as they limped away with a draw as Stow’s Tim Pulham went through the card without dropping a set including the doubles where he paired up with the tricky Graham Naggs. Naggs also bagged a singles point with an excellent five-set comeback victory over Sue Body winning the final three legs all 11-9. For Mapledene both Mick Tappenden and Lin Roff won 2 singles.

In their second encounter the Mapledene Club had 3 new competitors and this trio fared much better as they produced a whitewash 10-0 victory over bottom team Maldon D – hat-tricks all round for Barrie Delf, Dave Woolmer, and Bill Smith.

If Monday and Tuesday had been hard Mapledene next hosted Blackwater A on the Wednesday – and they were in for a tough time as Blackwater A are an accomplished side, all with their unique and disruptive styles. Mapledene were 4-2 up at the interval and looking cushty for another victory but in the key games Neil Freeman beat David Woolmer, Denis Balic got the better of Barrie Delf over 5 sets, and in the key doubles encounter Freeman and Scammell just pipped Delf and Woolmer to secure the final 4 points for Blackwater and to register a shock of a win at 6-4.

Meanwhile back at Stow Maries Tim Pulham (pictured above taking on Chris Hancox) carried on his destroying streak as his team invited leaders Woodham C into their arena and the chance to face the mighty Pulham. It might have been a bit tougher this time but the Pulham Tornado was in full destructive mode with another fine hat-trick of singles wins and of course he bagged the doubles bonus point with partner Tim Huxtable.

So 4 points to Sir Pulham, but the other 6 went to Woodham as they maintained their 100% win rate with 2 wins each, all in straight sets, for Chris Hancox, Dave Meah, and Adi Kamma.

Maldon B had a good week as they were on the right end of the 8-2 scoreline against Stow C with Colin Napper chopping his way to a fine hat-trick including a 5-set victory over Stow’s best player on the night Pete Layzell who won his team’s two consolation points with noteworthy wins over Dawn Baldry and Hamish Innes.

With so much action early in the week we almost forgot there was still one game to play on Thursday and Stow B used their home advantage to good effect as they beat Woodham D in a close 6-4 battle. Stow’s Mr Reliable Peter Hance was at it again with a hat-trick of wins, although he only squeezed passed Malcolm Henstock right at the death. Hance paired up with Dave Marsh for a professional doubles win that ensured the spoils would stay with Stow. For Woodham both Alex Wilson and Henstock won their remaining singles.

Division 1 remains as open as it has been for many a year with 4, possibly 5, teams still in the running. Each week we expect Fambridge to storm to the top, and the unbeaten Woodham to drop a clanger. But, as we hit the halfway mark of the season, neither has happened and Fambridge have it all to do and Woodham A are genuine contenders with the only 100% win rate intact.

Fambridge sidled up the hill to Cold Norton B this week but they were unable to conquer their foes as the Cold Norton defence held firm and they sent the Fambridge boys home nursing a 6-4 loss. Lots of long and tough games in this one – a real top-of-the-table clash – and a very late finish. 3-3 at the break, then a run of 3 wins for Cold Norton before Fambridge’s Mark Stones came from behind to beat Eric Green in 5 for the final point and a semblance of pride restored.

For Cold Norton there were braces for Ian Wall and Sam Lowman, which were matched by Fambridge’s Bruce Kettle and Stones. Green and Lowman won out in the momentous 5 set doubles against Kettle and Stones, and Green added another 5-set point in his victory over John Poysden.

Green was asked to pay double the weekly match fee as he had hogged the table all evening playing in the maximum 20 legs!

Top met bottom twice at the Woodham venue this week as the two bottom teams took on the top 2 – would either team be able to dent or leave any impression against their higher rated opponents? The simple answer is no, as both Woodham A and Mapledene A ran out comfortable 10 victors against Stow Maries A and Woodham B respectively.

In the Woodham A match captain Dan Piggott led the way with a 9-leg hat-trick and was barely troubled throughout – he was matched by team-mates Chris Penrose and Kaung Htet Paing but without the 9-leg stardust. In fact, Htet Paing had to come from 2-0 down in his match with the spinny Keith Martin to preserve his unbeaten evening, and Piggott and Penrose almost slipped up in the doubles against Gary Brignall and Martin but came back from match point in leg 4 to win out 11-9 in the decider.

On the other side of the hall Mapledene A arrived bruised from their loss to Woodham A the previous week and fielded a much younger side – with both Gary Young and Daniel Young in attendance. Daniel Young was on fire and blasted through the card with ease – 4 points in 12 short legs.

The rest of the match was at least a bit closer despite the 10-0 outcome. Woodham’s Eamonn Hall took a shock 2-1 lead against Babul McLeod and went all the way to 6-6 in the fifth with some uncharacteristic attacking verve before his luck run out, and that was as close as Woodham B got to troubling the scorecard.

Derek Balding continued his fine start in the Burnham League with another hat-trick for Maldon A – this week his victims were Mapledene B. Those 3 points were enough to help secure the draw with Mapledene’s David Jacob and Colin Chatfield each scoring 2 points and combining for the doubles.

Drama in Division 3 this week as leaders St Lawrence fell to their first loss of the season. Who could have inflicted such pain on the Baysiders? Well take a bow Maldon F. Talisman and main points scorer John Leavett was in fine fettle with 2 good wins but it was debutant Ross Kirby – the secret weapon – that did the majority of the damage with an unexpected hat-trick of wins against the leaders.

St Lawrence captain David Siggins was his trickiest opponent but Kirby kept his nerve and held on in 5 sets. Kirby and Leavett teamed up for the important doubles point that ultimately earned the victory.

Blackwater D took home the bragging rights this week having defeated the lovable Blackwater C team 6-4. Jacqui Treacy was on top form for her personal hat-trick and was ably supported by David Smith with 2 wins and Chris Rolison with a point. For the C team Phil West gave it his all including two 5 set victories including a 15-13 final leg triumph over Rolison.