Premier Division: Nomads ‘A’ 2 Ramsbottom ‘A’ 7
Nomads’ Billy Russell and Keith Dale weren’t to know that teammate Frederic Turban would turn over the league’s numero uno scalp, Michael Moir. They were already in the doldrums – 7-1 down on the night; Russell and his colossal thighs departing early due to coaching commitments and Dale probably stricken by the grief of ‘playing up’, albeit in respectable four-set matches.
Should the ‘85th’-minute leavers be castigated though? Should they have stayed to watch the night’s final match between the no.1 seeds? Yes – most definitely. And Turban, who did something only Louis Rosenthal has done since the league’s current electronic records began in 2011 – namely, beat Moir - seemed to feel the same, although he was too polite to say so.
Asked whether he felt pumped up after the victory over Moir (8-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-7), his words were a little mournful: ‘Sad that no one in my team was there to witness my game against Mick but that is life. I know I achieved something that probably few do. I arrived in the Premier in 2012 and three years later I beat Mick. I still know I have to practise hard to beat him again, but at least I am on the right path.’
To put into context Turban’s triumph, Moir (85th ranked in England) before starting this fifth season -as archived by tabletennis365.com - had won 212 of his 213 matches. Only Rosenthal had upset Bolton’s table tennis lion and in much tighter circumstances (10-12, 11-9, 11-9, 11-7) in what was frustratingly Moir’s last match of the 2013/14 season.
Given that it is so early in the table tennis calendar, was Moir rusty? Were outlandish and freakish gremlins at play in what is typical of September battles across numerous sports? Such analysis is very doubtful. Turban simply figured Moir out. ‘His serves did not bother me at all and I could return without putting myself into difficulty. I think this changed Mick’s game as he had to work on the third ball.’
Turban, a steady Premier player, but with a win percentage in this division that is noticeably improving (26% 2012/13, 46% 2013/14, 51% 2014/15), is an example of what can happen when a player in the middle rankings meets a top player; French flair intervenes.
Born in Semarang, Indonesia but with 20 years of France inside him - plus a bit of Thai spice and English mustard - Turban’s time has possibly come.
* Article headline courtesy of Bury amateur cricketing legend, Matthew Metcalfe. This article will appear in The Bolton News on Tues, 29th September 2015.