Match Report - Thurston Vulcans v British Sugar

Thurston Vulcans 1-9 British Sugar

04/01/2016 - Bob Harman


‘Flaws are what make people human’ Paloma Faith so beautifully stated during her very humbling acceptance speech at the Brits last year. Flaws are something that make most table tennis players feel very human too and fittingly vulnerable, especially when cruelly exposed by the more cunning and perhaps less human among us during that frantic headlong rush to the magic figure of 11.

I can think of a few floors over the years that very made this ping player feel more flawed than floored, but that didn’t spring to mind watching ‘static’ Sean Gridley playing our very own freedom fighter ‘We shall not be moved’ Will Hall in the opening salvo at the recently revised and now significantly more flawed Thurston ping venue.

A venue which now features runway-style lighting to temporarily blind you at one end of the hall (a flaw touched upon by Thurston’s Ping King Colin in his recent home match report) and at this time of year a magnificent Christmas tree which stands tall and proud in the practice table area that nobody was practicing in for the vast majority of the evening, which impacts on the already limited space granted to the movers and shakers among us. More flaws equals less floor, didn't Einstein offer us a formula for that? If he didn’t, he certainly should have…

Is this all part of a very cunning plan you might be thinking to upset the invading Hun and gain some home advantage? Nope, it’s a practical solution due to the usual practice night being snatched away, simple as Simon.
Ok I get that, but there is and has been for a few years now a manurial (sorry it’s not an adjective in the OED but it works) whiff of Animal Farm goings on in the set-up of the hall that latter-day Orwellians would happily feast on – namely that all Thurston pingers are equal, but some are more than equal than others, and thus command more floor space.
I get that too, the Christmas tree is currently king of the Thurston castle and being a most impressive one gets the most space – for now at least until the status quo is revisited. Comrade Napoleon would of course have nodded his pink chin in approval of the pecking order.

The match itself? Well, it was as ever an enjoyable match played in the usual friendly yet competitive spirit that exists between these old rival teams. No arguments, shared umpiring and on the whole a good level of play despite the tricky conditions.
Will decided for reasons only known to himself to plant himself at the table like a feeding ostrich about to give birth, and ended up with omelette on his face losing to his pal and Ipswich team-mate Sean, who spotted the obvious flaw in Will’s not so cunning plan by playing the ball out on the wing, and we all know ostriches can’t fly Will, don’t we?

Mark James was in absolutely flying form, not a flaw in sight all night, it reminded us of that Halloween evening over at Sugar a few years ago when Mark last downed the Vulcan bombers, hitting the sweet spot on virtually every shot, even whilst holding a pint of Guinness behind his back in his left hand. Pure genius once again…

The least reverend yet clearly most flawed Bob Harman (no, he is not proud of this) proved that at least one of the new plastic fantastic balls is no more and was indeed flawed by splitting it in two during one flawed moment of pure emotion that there isn’t an emoticon yet created to capture such a violent visage – although maybe they do have one in North Korea where their version of ‘H’ from Steps now lives, breathes but hasn’t started singing…as yet.
Not since Stowmarket’s Nigel Howe kicked the plug in and the wall behind him too in a fit of pique at British Sugar has such aggression been seen, but at least Mr Flaw of Flawed Hall did offer an immediate apology, we are still waiting for ours from Naughty Nige…

Performance ratings on the night:

10/10 and deserved title of Top Banana was definitely Mark ‘Haybaler’ James who didn’t drop a leg in his singles and arguably has the best serves in Bury, which are especially useful in doubles - try hitting them at your peril!

8/10 for Bob ‘The Wand’ Harman who is still mixing it up and moving well enough despite advancing years, the odd creak, croak and a distinct shortage of leg.

7/10 for Sean ‘Gridlocked’ Gridley who didn’t allow Will’s ostrich impressions to put him off, he could easily be still playing in 2050 with his economy of movement.

7/10 for Will ‘The Ostrich’ Hall if you want a man with a plan, look elsewhere - he readily admits to struggling to cope in less than ideal conditions, but to his credit tonight, he did fight off stern challenges from Messrs Meadows & Janes to seal a double on the night.

6/10 for Gordon ‘Genial Giant’ Meadows a renowned master of disguise, currently resembling a 1960s fashion designer plying his trade behind a pair of thick-rimmed black glasses – one wag suggested he must have very good eyesight to see through those beauties. Still plays to a high level and a very dangerous opponent if the old one-two, the serve/smash combo, is on a going day.

6/10 for Andy ‘The Joker’ Janes almost as genial as Gordon as his nickname might suggest! The general opinion in the pub afterwards was that if Andy’s forehand could ever match the quality of his backhand he would a threat to even the very best in Div 1.

Author: via Bury St Edmunds Table Tennis League
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