In a week blighted by injuries, Woodham A solidified their ‘New Kidz on the Block’ reputation in the Burnham & District Table Tennis League with a thunderous victory against current champions Fambridge.

They are now firm favourites for the title as all concerns about fleeting glory and lack of depth have been dashed with impressive result after impressive result. 

After last week’s defeat to Woodham A, Fambridge were probably not relishing such a quick return visit and rightly so. Fambridge juggled their squad but Woodham stuck to the old adage of never change a winning team – and boy did it pay off.

Fambridge found themselves 8-0 down before they troubled the scoreboard – a position they may never have been in before. Both Harry Chivers and Chris Penrose won all their matches – Penrose needed to go beyond deuce in the fifth set to eventually taste victory over Keith Adams, and Adams was injured late on in proceedings so unfortunately had to concede his match with Chivers.

Lee McHugh was the third leg of the Woodham Holy Trinity and he had beaten both Adams and Bruce Kettle in straight sets before succumbing to the experience of Fambridge Captain John Poysden in the penultimate match of the evening. A final result of 9-1 to Woodham and a sporting shockwave that troubled the local Richter scale.

The second injury of the week occurred in the Cold Norton derby where the A team hosted the B team, and this one may have impacted the final result. Cold Norton B came through with a 6-4 scoreline in their favour courtesy of some excellent wins from Sam Lowman and Ian Wall. Dave Richardson had already beaten Charles Sweeny for one point and then received a walkover point for his final match with Duncan Taylor that had to be scratched for an injury scare. It was this point that secured the overall victory that keeps Cold Norton B secure in third spot.

Maldon A picked up a good haul of points against Cold Norton C as both Derek Balding and Lloyd Bennett-Smith picked up hat-tricks. Balding has only lost once this season and is in the reckoning for the coveted most valuable player trophy if he can continue to rack up enough matches. 

Despite their incredible singles form, Balding and Bennett-Smith are clearly less adept in the doubles department as they got swept aside in 3 quick legs by Cold Norton’s Dick Wyman and Tim Cramphorn. Maldon’s Colin Napper edged his match with Wyman to complete the scoring for Maldon in the final 7-3 victory.

At the bottom of the table there was another repeat fixture from last week as Stow A hosted Woodham B. It is not clear what was said to the Woodham players that evening but they clearly took inspiration from their A team victory earlier in the week and managed to repeat the 9-1 scoreline – surely the best two results of the season for the Woodham Club.

For Woodham, Dan Patynski (pictured above taking on Peter Chastin) was on fire with three comprehensive singles victories that gave him his third player of the match award for the season. His partner in crime Sanjay Saptarshi was equally successful with three singles victories but he was made to work hard for this as Stow’s Gary Brignall took him all the way to a fifth set in the opening match of the night with some excellent aggressive play.

Despite an awful doubles performance the week before Woodham persevered with the Patynski / Saptarshi doubles pairing and this week they were unstoppable and the faith in them was restored with a quickfire straight sets win. Often for Woodham B that’s where the scoring stops but this week saw Eamonn Hall rack up a couple of wins for his team for his first brace of the season in Division 1. Hall seemed to find all the right answers in the battle of the mathematicians with Stow’s Peter Chastin – well only in the fifth set, it had been very cat-and-mouse up until then as both players measured and assessed each other’s strengths and weaknesses. For Stow, Brignall stopped the whitewash coming from behind to beat Hall in a testing four-setter.

Woodham C continue to set the pace in Division 2 and it would be easy to dismiss their 8-2 victory over Stow B this week as a straightforward win. It was anything but!

Five of the individual matches went to a deciding fifth leg, and only one match all evening was settled in straight sets. Woodham’s David Meah put in a star turn for his team with a hard-fought hat-trick of singles and a bonus doubles point with partner Chris Hancox. In a rollercoaster five-setter with Stow’s Peter Hance, Meah faced several match points as the fifth set went all the way to 14-14 before Meah somehow mustered the will to win. In fact, that was Hance’s only defeat of the evening as he was able to squeeze passed Hancox in five, and Adi Kamma in four sets. 

The real story though has to be the incredible fighting spirit of Stow’s Nicky Reece-Ford. He lost out to Meah in five sets having led 2-1, then fought back against Kamma to square up at 2-2 before succumbing 11-9 in the final set, and then in the very last match of the evening against Hancox he again fought back to even up proceedings at 2-2, and then took a 10-1 lead and was evidently on his way to a much deserved point. But Hancox, staring at defeat down both barrels, relaxed and just started hitting everything – boom, boom, boom. 11 points on the bounce for the most incredible recovery since Lazarus opened his eyes. With a perfect win record and such gumption within the squad it is hard to see Woodham being caught this season.

Maldon B continue to fight to close the gap on Woodham and this week they were able to beat Cold Norton D 7-3 with a Colin Napper hat-trick. Dawn Baldry chipped in with two good wins and Shirley Carroll playing up for the B team scored an excellent five-set win over the dogged Gordon Gatheral.

Maldon C recorded the same result against Blackwater B with all their points coming from an unbeaten night for Steve Aspland and Colin Barrell for all their seven points.

Stow D upset the alphabetical apple cart as they overturned their own C team with a fine 7-3 triumph. The D team’s Tim Pulham continued his great vein of form as he went through the card unbeaten and untouched with three straight sets victories. Pulham was ably wingmanned by Ken Sheard with two wins and Graham Naggs chipping in with a decent five-set win over Jean Chasmer. For Stow C Pete Layzell was on good form as he defeated both Naggs and Sheard for a worthy brace.

The Woodham D versus Maldon D encounter was the most dramatic of the week as the Woodham starlet Alex Wilson was badly injured in the middle of his opening game against Ella Sach and had to be rushed off to A&E. We all wish Alex a speedy recovery and hope to see him back playing once his body has healed. So with Wilson incapacitated Woodham found themselves 4-1 down after just two games.

Maldon’s Marty Englander and Shirley Carroll were both able to get the better of Peter Mortensen so were able to take a 5-2 lead with just three games to go. Mortensen and Alan Dadswell came from behind in the doubles against Englander and Sach to win the final two legs both 11-9 to keep the match alive. Continuing the theme Mortensen came from behind against Sach to make it 4-5 going into the final match. Carroll took a 2-1 lead against Dadswell and looked like she had wrapped up the victory, but Dadswell wasn’t quite done and clawed his way back into contention before seeing out the deciding leg 11-7 to secure a share of the spoils. When interviewed after the match an emotional Dadswell dedicated that victory to his injured team-mate.

It was a busy week for the Woodham Club as their E team turned out twice in Division 3 this week but unfortunately had missed the rousing team talk and failed to register a win.

First up, the delightful Blackwater C trio dispatched them with a convincing 8-2 victory and another player of the match trophy for Kath Little. Little came from behind to eventually beat Woodham’s best player Peter Harverson in five sets. Harverson won his other matches to record his team’s two points, with Blackwater’s Deb Ginn and Phil West both scoring a couple of points a-piece.

Later in the week the same Woodham trio travelled to Maldon E and whilst statistically they fared a little better this was wholly down to Maldon fielding a two-player side. But if you are a player down then it’s good to have two of your best and this is what they had in Arthur Shadforth and James Raymond – both recording excellent hat-tricks and of course combining for the doubles – an excellent nights work as they won 7-3.

Blackwater E maintained their push for a podium finish this year with a tight 6-4 victory over the Maldon E side. For Blackwater the under-utilised Jason Bush was the clear star as he went unbeaten in singles and doubles, including a tight five-set victory over Arthur Shadforth.