By Tony Oswick

Joe Plummer may be the youngest player in the Clacton & District League but he’s old enough to steal the show – which he did this week in Windsor Merlins’ Division Three clash with title-chasing Walton E.

Although it was not enough to prevent Walton taking the match 6-4, 11-year old Joe, in his first season of League table tennis, notched up an outstanding hat-trick for his side with notable wins over three experienced players – 3-1 (11-9, 12-14, 14-12, 11-5) against Tony Sharman, 3-2 (11-8, 3-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9) against Rivhu Khan and 3-2 (6-11, 11-9, 12-10, 3-11, 11-7) against Clive Allenby, this last result denting Allenby’s hundred per cent record for the season.

Overall, the match was a tight tussle, with five of the individual encounters going the distance. Joe’s older brother, Sam, enjoyed an 11-7 in the fifth win over Sharman, and took Allenby close, just failing to win the final match of the evening which would have squared the match, going down 3-2 (3-11, 11-3, 14-16, 11-9, 7-11).

For Walton, Khan and Allenby took a couple each and shared what turned out to be a crucial doubles, 11-4 in the decider, against the Plummer brothers.  

Windsor Penguins were 8-2 winners over a Windsor Robins’ side fielding a guest player. Penguins’ captain Kayley Rodriguez inflicted a rare defeat on Neil Chegwidden 3-2 (5-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 11-8) but Chegwidden, in his turn, enjoyed a personal success of his own, defeating Peter Aumord 3-1 (11-5, 11-6, 8-11, 11-6).

So, in the closest Division Three title race since 2016, the Penguins, with three matches to play, now lead Walton E by seven points, with Walton having a game in hand – and the two teams still to meet in a vital clash in early March.

In the only other match in the Division, it was little surprise that Windsor Magpies won 9-1 against a Nomads Ocelots’ side playing with a guest. But it was something of a surprise that the Ocelots’ points-winner, Hazel Blanche, defeated Alan Rutledge in the final match of the evening.

In Division One’s big match,leaders Nomads Panthers beat second-placed Walton A 7-3 in a match of pulsating quality. An undefeated Sam Hume was the Panthers’ hero, his closest match an 11-5 in the decider win over Gary Young. James Denyer took two and Liam Harris one for the Panthers but both lost their unbeaten records, Denyer going down to an inspired Daniel Young, and Harris losing to both Daniel Young and Gary Young, the score in the latter match being 11-7 in the fifth.

There were a couple each for Kevin James, Colin Dearman and Derek Willis as Walton B defeated Walton C 7-3 although no-one could get the better of Peter Burrows who took his maximum for the losers. Graham Buxton failed to get on the scoresheet, the unfortunate Walton C player going down 3-2 (6-11, 8-11, 11-7, 13-11, 4-11) to Willis, 3-2 (11-8, 11-4, 4-11, 8-11, 7-11) to James and 3-2 (6-11, 12-10, 5-11, 12-10, 8-11) to Dearman.

Brotherhood A beat Walton D 9-1, a defeat which does nothing to improve Walton’s survival chances. Kevin Gowlett and Luke Burridge took hat-tricks for the winners, Burridge’s treble including a 3-2 (6-11, 4-11, 11-6, 14-12, 11-5) victory over Mark Gale. But Gale managed to get his side on the scoresheet, beating Gracie Edwards 3-1 (13-11, 4-11, 11-9, 11-9) in match ten.

It was a comfortable 10-0 for Division Two leaders Brotherhood B against lowly Brotherhood E, Grant Sharpe, Paul Alden and John Owen taking eight of the matches in three-straight. Brotherhood, who with First Division Nomads Panthers are one of only two undefeated sides in the League, now need a mere 22 points from their remaining four matches to guarantee the title.

In another all-Brotherhood clash, hat-tricks from Barry Allen and Mark Salter, and one from Tricia Salter, saw the ‘C’ team to a 7-3 victory over the ‘D’ team. Mark Beckham and Paul Metcalf won one each for the losers and shared a doubles success. In the two closest matches of the evening, Metcalf beat Tricia Salter 3-2 (11-5, 11-5, 8-11, 13-15, 11-6) but lost 11-6 in the fifth to Allen.

Brotherhood C remain in second place but Windsor Buzzards still harbour an outside hope of snatching the runners-up spot following their 10-0 success against Windsor Harriers. But it was a hard-fought four-hour marathon for the Buzzards, Pete Bloomfield, Andy Cawley and Dave Martin finally emerging undefeated, although Martin had two tough struggles which ended deuce in the fifth, the closest seeing him edge out Ferdy Rodriguez 3-2 (11-6, 9-11, 12-14, 11-8, 14-12).

Three reserves were on show as Windsor Kestrels improved their position with a convincing 8-2 win over Nomads Jaguars, a result which leap-frogs them into eighth place over the Harriers. Peter Aumord, playing instead of the injured Kestrels’ skipper Graham Bunce, stepped up to the plate with a hat-trick whilst the much-improved Debra Found also stayed unbeaten, although it was a close 3-2 (6-11, 11-8, 2-11, 11-7, 13-11) against John Hockley. For the Jaguars, Hockley and reserve Stuart Wilkinson each won one whilst the second Jaguars’ reserve, Arthur Wells-Garrett, came close to taking another but went down 11-7 in the fifth to Jackie Bunce.

* Finally, congratulations to talented local player, 17-year-old Daniel Young, who this week won the Chelmsford Men’s Singles title in their Closed Championships, a magnificent effort for a junior player and one he’ll be aiming to replicate when the Clacton Closed Championships take place later in April this year.

Division 1

Walton D 1 Brotherhood A 9
Walton C 3 Walton B 7
Nomads Panthers 7 Walton A 3
Division 2
Brotherhood B 10 Brotherhood E 0
Windsor Kestrels 8 Nomads Jaguars 2
Windsor Buzzards 10 Windsor Harriers 0
Brotherhood D 3 Brotherhood C 7
Division 3
Windsor Robins 2 Windsor Penguins 8
Nomads Ocelots 1 Windsor Magpies 9
Walton E 6 Windsor Merlins 4