Walton C needed to win their final Group D match against Lawford in the Clacton & District League’s Handicap Cup in order to qualify for the next Round – and they did so, largely thanks to the efforts of their captain, Mark Gale.

Walton’s long-serving skipper, who’s enjoying the form of his life, stayed unbeaten in his two singles and two doubles as Walton edged past Lawford by the narrowest of margins, 5-4. Gale is pictured above (photo by Roger Hance).

Walton won both matches which went to five, Paul Meikle (-1) beating Ian Sherwood (+1) 6-11, 11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7, with Gale (-1) being involved in the closest encounter of the contest, getting the better of John Colvin (+1) 12-10, 8-11, 14-12, 4-11, 11-9.

In another Division One v Division Two encounter in Group D, Walton A had an almighty scrap with Brotherhood C, going down 1-3 and 3-4 before emerging as 5-4 winners. Even then it was a tight last match, Kevin James and Derek Willis (-3) edging past Mark Boyland and Mark Beckham (+1) 3-2 (11-2, 11-9, 1-11, 12-14, 11-7).

These results mean three teams finish equal on five points, with Brotherhood C and Walton C taking the first and second places, and Walton A qualifying as one of the best third-placed teams.

In Group A Brotherhood B made it a clean sweep with three victories from three matches, winning 5-0 against a two-player Walton D who, nevertheless, still qualify in second place.

The Panthers and Lions were left playing solely for Nomads club bragging rights and, in a keenly fought contest, the Lions took it 5-4, Adam Cuthbert, Jason Lloyd and Ethan Lloyd winning all three doubles. And so the Panthers, Cup-winners in two of the last three seasons, are out of this year’s competition.

In Group B Windsor Kestrels surprised the young Brotherhood E side which had previously inflicted crushing victories on Windsor Magpies and Windsor Harriers, winning 5-4. But they did it the hard way, Debra Found, Allen Denyer and Jackie Bunce coming back from 4-2 down to take the last three matches, Found staying unbeaten on the night.

The Magpies lost their opening doubles to the Harriers, Isabel Barton and Jenny Higgins (-1) beating John Plummer and Malcolm Caley (+1) 3-2 (13-11, 9-11, 2-11, 13-11, 11-9). But the Magpies took control from thereon and ran out 5-2 winners, Dave Sweetland undefeated.

As in Group D, these results left three teams equal on five points, with Brotherhood E and the Magpies finishing first and second respectively, and the Kestrels going through as the second of the best third-placed teams.

In Group C Windsor Buzzards had a walk-over against Nomads Ocelots and so qualify as one of only three unbeaten teams in the Group stage.

The other match in the group was a winner-takes-all encounter and Second Division Brotherhood D, despite not winning either of the doubles matches played, took the honours 5-3 against their Division Three opponents, Windsor Penguins. Duncan Dunne and Tony Edmonds each won their two singles for Brotherhood.

In Group E Nomads Jaguars were 5-1 winners against Walton E. The closest game was the opening doubles where Daryl Lott and Kevin Hume (-8) beat Lynette Sparks and Adrian Sexton (+1) 11-8 in the decider.

But it was not enough for the Jaguars to qualify for the knockout stages, Nomads Lynx and Brotherhood both qualifying from this group. Their encounter ended 5-2 in favour of Brotherhood, their third group win, with Joe Sherwin unbeaten on the night. Anne Kigang of the Lynx was involved in two close five-setters, losing 11-6 in the fifth to JJ Barry in a scratch-match and, (on +1), defeating Tom Bryden (-1) 3-2 (11-8, 6-11, 10-12, 11-9, 14-12).

In Group F four teams, all from Division One, entered the final matches on level points, meaning the winners of these matches were guaranteed to go through to the knockout stages.

Brotherhood A and Windsor Hawks emerged successful, Brotherhood defeating Walton B 5-2, with Russell Hillier’s (+2) 11-9 in the decider win over Peter Burrows (-2) in game six proving pivotal, whilst Ian Fielder stayed unbeaten as the Hawks defeated Windsor Eagles 5-3, winning three of the four individual matches which went the distance.

Finally, there were just three teams in Group G – Windsor Merlins, Nomads Bobcats and Nomads Leopards – and, in the final match, the Merlins beat the Bobcats 5-1. This meant all three teams had won one and lost one. But, because the Merlins had failed to score when they went down to the Leopards, they’re the team to miss out, with the Leopards and Bobcats qualifying.

So, in Round One of the knockout stage, there will be four teams from Division One, and six each from Divisions Two and Three.

All six teams from Brotherhood have qualified – a marvellous achievement – whilst Windsor have four teams through, and Nomads and Walton three each.

Details of the draw for Round One, to be played during week commencing 23rd January, will be circulated, and details placed online, by 12th January.

* The League’s first Tournament of the season, the Handicap Singles, takes place on Saturday 4th February at St James’ Hall, Clacton-on-Sea. Play starts at 10am, although playing times for some players will be staggered and start later. The initial round will be played in groups of four wherever possible. The entry fee is £4 and can be sent to either Tony Oswick by post or made online to Peter White. The closing date is Friday 27th January.

* The Windsor Club is organising a Quiz Evening on Saturday 28th January at the Brotherhood Hall, Clacton-on-Sea, starting at 7.30pm. The cost is £3 per person for teams of up to six players. For more information or to enter a team, contact Jenny Higgins (on 07790 240566) or Ferdy Rodriguez (on 01255 830951).


Group A
Nomads Panthers 4 Nomads Lions 5
Brotherhood B 5 Walton D 0

Group B
Windsor Kestrels 5 Brotherhood E 4
Windsor Magpies 5 Windsor Harriers 2

Group C
Windsor Buzzards 5 Nomads Ocelots 0 (w/o)
Brotherhood D 5 Windsor Penguins 3

Group D
Walton A 5 Brotherhood C 4
Lawford 4 Walton C 5

Group E
Walton E 0 Nomads Lynx 5 (w/o)
Walton E 1 Nomads Jaguars 5
Nomads Lynx 2 Brotherhood F 5

Group F
Windsor Eagles 3 Windsor Hawks 5
Brotherhood A 5 Walton B 2

Group G
Nomads Bobcats 1 Windsor Merlins 5