When Roger Lloyd-Pack passed away in January of this year he left behind not only a serious acting career (roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company and The National Theatre) but a comedy legacy. Colin ‘Trigger’ Ball, as he was known to adoring fans of John Sullivan’s Only Fools and Horses, was famous for his innocent yet howling one-liners; “What’s the name of that bloke who invented the Dyson vacuum cleaner?” just one of the masterfully-scripted scores.
Better known for addressing Nicholas Lyndhurst’s character, Rodney Trotter as ‘Dave’, Lloyd-Pack demonstrated the immensity of playing the low-IQ, straight man. Like a barman using the default of ‘John’ to unfamiliar faces, perhaps the Peckham road sweeper was trying to keep his life simple and manageable.
There are plenty of Daves in this world – very few Rodneys. This is evidenced by a quick glance at the player names in Division Two of the Bolton League. The Rodneys are outnumbered by five to one (more than 20 to 1 across the entire league). It is for this reason and in honour of the blue-suited Trigger that I will concentrate this piece of journalism on the table-tennising Daves.
Their records appear quite rotten on first inspection – almost reinforcing the plight of being a ‘Dave’. But then you look beneath the surface, as with most things, and realise there are various stories afoot.
‘Battle of the Daves’ Team Played Won Win%age
David Cain Ramsbottom D 36 15 42%
David Jones Bolton Uni B 48 13 27%
David Brookes Harper Brass A 15 1 7%
David Mottershead Bolton Uni B 15 0 0%
Dave Rogers FarnworthSC A 15 0 0%
David Cain, old warrior that he is, has returned to the game almost full-time after a decade out. Funny bat, ‘holiday’ legs, the Ramsbottom man has held his own with a notable ‘double’ over Tony Eardley and big wins against Gary Hilton, John Birchall, John Cole and Stephen Hunt. His win percentage at 42 is respectable indeed and puts him top of the Dave table.
David Jones – the burly bruiser playing for BoltonUniversity – whilst suffering a dip in form since December (just two wins from twenty-four matches) is a handful for anyone. The hard-hitting Farnworth man, playing up a division from last season has been unfortunate to lose six out of seven five-setters whilst on that run.
Such stats become psychological. His losses over the season to patient players such as Brian Greenhalgh and Alan Bradshaw perhaps tell the tale but his Division Two win percentage of 27% is still a ratio-busting figure when compared to last season’s 33% in Division Three.
David Brookes is the enigma of the bunch for me. A bit-part player (loves his handball and holidays), the Harper man is possibly a victim of never quite ‘getting going’ or having a sustained run in the team. His one victory, a truly uplifting five-set win against the might of 58% man, Gary Hilton was remarkable yet somehow demonstrative of better things to come. The father of Premier demon, Jordan, David quite simply needs to replicate his son’s killer instinct.
The remaining Daves – Mottershead and Rogers – although yet to record a win between them this season should be applauded for taking a set off Gillian Marsden and Bob Waller respectively.
Watch out, Rodney Hall (60%) – they’re gunning for you!