The second half of the summer season kicked off at the sweltering Miners Club ... Cats & Dogs were pelting down outside ... Benson & Hedges were smoking at the entrance ... Vodka & Coke were at the bar ... Butterfly & Stiga fought a silent brand battle in the arena ... Patterson & Ainsworth were wearing their captains armbands ... Titans & Saints were ready to do battle.
In the the arena it was more than warm ... it was a sauna ... so hot that Kenneth Wolstholme had changed into his lightweight summer fleece. And with ‘Big Nev’ back from his French excursion it meant Titans were at full strength ... but Saints were missing Young Adam so Dave came off the subs bench. In the FanZone cheerleader Kev was checking out the form book ... whilst Caravan Kicker Lee was telling as many people as would listen that he had broken his keepy-upy record at the same time as he had broken his foot ... six keepy-upies is pretty good though.
Game on ... one nil to Saints as Cappo Ainsworth takes the first from Kenneth Wolstholme ... but it was all square minutes later when Martin beat Dave ... was it going to be a yo-yo match? Or maybe a seesaw game? Or perhaps one of those matches where the pendulum swings one way and then the other? Or maybe the writer should just shut up with his speculation and get on with the match report.
Callum gave Big Nev a run for his money but Nev took it 2-1 with an all out attacking final set ... ok, Nev hit just a couple of rasping winners but that passes for all out attack in Nev World. But when the Garfinian beat the Chadster it was all square again.
Cappo Nev and Kenneth Wolstenholme took the doubles with surprising ease giving Titans the edge ... but Chris then equalised for Saints. The shot of the match was a winner on the back hand side ... but Chris decided to run around it ... he went down the main stairs, through the Gents loo’s, then up the back stairs so he could hammer it with his trustee forehand ... defying all the laws of table tennis it was a joy to behold.
Debutant Dave was one down to Gary when something stirred inside ... he grew in confidence and took a convincing final set ... Saints were in front. But the seesaw yo-yo thing appeared again and it was back level when Kenneth Wolstenholme out-strategised young Callum.
Then it was gladiator time ... Cappo Nev v Cappo Pete ... surely this was the pivotal game of the evening ... the banter had started ... Nev had been learning French from his teenage daughter and was calling Peter a “croque-monsieur” which is something in French to do with Peter’s dodgy leg. And it worked with Nev getting a valuable ‘un point’ for his team and a lead for Titans.
Then Titans only went and won the doubles with Gary not missing a ball in the second set ... the yo-yo had stopped swinging ... and when Kenneth Wolstholme beat Chris to make it 7-4 the FanZone went wild ... there was beer everywhere ... or maybe Kevin had just knocked over a water bottle.
Hang on a minute thought Cappo Peter, let’s stop the rot ... and in a tight game with Gary he did just that ... this set the tempo for Callum to step up and wallop Martin ... it was 7-6 with one to play and that bloody yo-yo thing had made a reappearance ... it was perilously pendulous ... but up stepped le capitaine ... and despite a gallant fight by Dave it was Cappo Nev that won the vital last point for his team ... he gave Titans a narrow 8-6 victory and with it Nev was crowned homme du match.
Another close encounter of the Leigh kind had taken place ... all had played their part ... hands were shaken ... bags were packed ... Titans later learned they had gone top on goal difference ... the dream was still alive ... the chance of an open top bus parade around Leigh Miners Car Park was back on.