Woodham C clinched the Burnham & District Table Tennis League Division 2 title early in the week without playing a rally as Maldon B relaxed too soon and dropped a single point against Blackwater B.

Woodham then went onto to record a 7-3 victory against pre-season favourites Mapledene C for an anti-climatical victory party. In Divisions 1 and 3 the title races were clarified and muddied in equal measures.

Woodham C (pictured above are David Meah, Chris Hancox, Adi Kamma) have been the most consistent team in Division 2 all season. They remain unbeaten with one game to go and have now clinched the championship early allowing them to relax in their final match against an ‘up-for-it’ resurgent Woodham D side – sparks will fly for sure in that one.

The week started well for Woodham when Blackwater’s Neil Thompson looped his way to victory over Dawn Baldry of Maldon B – that was the single point Blackwater achieved but it was enough to mathematically crown the Woodham C team. So a 9-1 victory to Maldon B with hat-tricks for Colin Napper and a notable performance from Chris Ravenhill playing up from the D side for his first Division 2 hat-trick of the season.

So come Thursday and what had been billed as the crunch tie of the run-in, Woodham were champions and then Mapledene C only had two players so it was all a bit of an anti-climax for the crowds that had paid to see this one. Woodham ran out 7-3 winners with Bill Smith and Sue Body putting up more than a spirited fight for Mapledene.

Woodham’s hard hitting Chris Hancox won all of his matches and Dave Meah edged a 5 setter against Body, but it was the tricky play of Bill Smith and his spinny serves that caused the most problems as he scored wins over Meah and Adi Kamma.

In the other Division 2 matches Blackwater A beat Stow C 7-3 with everyone getting a win, but no-one could beat Blackwater’s defensive master Denis Balic as he picked up a hat-trick and player of the match bragging rights.

Choice of bats and rubbers are very important in table tennis and even more so when you play with specific rubbers designed to confuse and disrupt your opponents’ play. Cold Norton’s Gordon Gatheral is one of those players with a unique style and personalised rubbers so best he doesn’t misplace his bats on the day of a match and have to play with someone else’s bat with normal rubbers – but that is what happened this week and the Maldon D trio took full advantage of the confusion bestowed upon Gatheral to take three unexpected points. That was their total haul in a 3-7 loss with Cold Norton’s Dave Hancox and Peter Lucraft picking up the remaining seven points.

Woodham D continued their run of form with a 6-4 win over the tricky Stow D side. For Woodham Gus Heath won all three with the cyclonic Malcolm Henstock taking two in support. For Stow, Tim Pulham won two but couldn’t get past the Heath machine.

In a wholly unexpected twist Division 3 will now go all the way to the final matches of the season. A few weeks ago, St Lawrence were firing on all cylinders and held a clear and unchallenged lead that seemed unassailable. But a combination of poor form on the St Lawrence side and an upturn in form for Blackwater D we now find ourselves in a nervy end of season drama that Hollywood can only dream about.

Last week both the protagonists had 7-3 wins that keeps the gap at five points with one each to go. Blackwater D on paper have the easier game as they face bottom side Woodham E, whereas St Lawrence will face a Blackwater E side hoping to help out their colleagues with a good performance. With an extra win across the season Blackwater D also become champions if the scores are level.

Blackwater D overcame Blackwater E this week with David Smith taking a hat-trick for the D team, and Peter Davenport taking two points for the E team. St Lawrence were victorious over Maldon E but the star of the evening was the young and rapidly improving Arthur Shadforth who scored all three of the Maldon points leaving the Bayside trio of Mike Pratley, Steve King and Mick Robinson with a brace of wins apiece.

Division 1 remains a two-horse race by the absolute minimum amount of mathematical contrivance. Leaders and champions elect Woodham A destroyed their B team in a cut-throat whitewash to take them to the edge of glory and leaving the B team feeling all ga-ga. Hat-tricks for player of the match Dan Piglet, Lee McHugh and Harry Chivers.

The B team’s Dan Patynski took McHugh to a fifth end in the opening salvo, and then combined with Trevor Collin to force a match point in the doubles but eventually succumbed to the Chivers & McHugh partnership. This win leaves Woodham A just a single point from glory with two games to play, and they face their Woodham B team in the return fixture next week.

The remaining contender Mapledene A took a good 7-3 win over third-placed Cold Norton B with Gary Young racking up a fine hat-trick. Sam Lowman won two matches for Cold Norton including the scalp of current Men’s Singles Champion Reece Seddon – a good marker to put down just a week before this year’s championships.

A two-man Fambridge side swept all in front of them against Cold Norton C with hat-tricks for Bruce Kettle and Mark Stones in their 7-3 win, and Cold Norton A and Maldon A drew 5-5 with Cold Norton’s Charles Sweeny in fine fettle for his unbeaten hat-trick.