Crook Double for Bernard
The annual Crook Veterans Table Tennis Tournament was held in the Crook Memorial Hall on Sunday, February 17th. 24 players, mainly local but also featuring a loyal band of enthusiasts who travel up every year from Merseyside, played in 4 round robin groups starting at 10.00 in the morning. The completion of the round robin group play was followed by a splendid lunch traditionally provided by the Crook ladies. This was enjoyed by all but a number of pre-tournament favourites, who one suspects may have overdone it, fell at the first hurdle after lunch. Those that won the most matches before lunch progressed into a knock out competition for the main trophy. Those that did less well moved into the plate competition. Both events were keenly contested and defending champion, Natland’s Bernard Pickthall and newcomer David Gott who plays for Trimpell Raptors in the Lancaster & Morecambe League, made it through to the final. An enthralling encounter ensued and inevitably it was soon 2 games apiece. Gott soon recovered the 3 point handicap deficit and dominating with his destructive forehand loop, cruised to a 10-6 lead but Pickthall was having none of it. 4 points later, with the forehand loop for once missing its target, it was 10-10. Simultaneous match point, a fitting way to end the tournament, saw Pickthall crush a brutal forehand smash into the corner of the table to snack victory from the jaws of defeat. The crowd, with almost every competitor staying to the end to witness the final, gave the 2 players a well-earned round of applause. The plate final was an equally close and entertaining spectacle. Two Crook players, Phil Riley and John Hardwick fought out another topsy-turvy encounter. Again, the handicap committee were celebrating another titanic battle. Hardwick led 14-10 in the fifth and final game only for the class of Riley to shine through as he emulated Houdini to close out a 15-14 victory. By now it was almost 5.00 and thanks were given to tournament referee Phil Swift and the ladies who had produced the excellent lunch and everyone returned home to recover and look forward to next year’s event.