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|Recorded By: David Unwin||1 - 9|
Stowmarket Pumas 1 - 9 Sugar Puffs
04/10/2017 - Bob Harman
IT’S NEVER OVER UNTIL THE FAT LADY SINGS
I doubt there has ever been a ‘closer’ 9-1 result than this particular match, which was keenly contested throughout and played in really good spirit by both sides throughout the match - the fact that the match took around two and half hours, yet was played mostly simultaneously on adjacent tables tells you all you need to know. It was attritional, a veritable feast of table tennis and a war of wills, albeit a friendly war which the Puffs edged very much in their favour match by match.
All the King’s horses, no sorry that’s a different story - let’s try that again - all the Puffs’ men spent many hours honing their skills in the summer break, whether that be on a golf course or back under the bright lights of the Sugar Hall, with the exception of August perhaps - which saw Will ‘Man vs Food’ Hall spend a month travelling in the States eating his way from coast to coast. Just as night follows day, man-size pizza followed by King Kong size pizza, our beloved doughboy unsurprisingly arriving back looking a little larger than life than when we had last clapped eyes on him. But to his credit, Will soon got back on the Culford treadmill on his return and after a few tough matches in the Ipswich League, is looking fitter by the day and ready to take on all-comers again.
Crowned League Men’s Singles Champion last season, Will showed plenty of those fighting qualities on the night here to see off some serious challenges from both Nigel Howe and Luke Davies-Stokes. Luke had beaten him on their last encounter at Stowupland and this was another close battle, with Will showing who was boss in the fifth and final leg. His next match with Nigel was a bit of an epic, which went right to the wire 11-9 in the fifth, both players giving absolutely everything on a sweltering evening.
In fact, Nigel’s games were all epics on the evening, but it just didn’t prove to be his night as he squandered no less than 3 match points in the fourth leg against Bob Harman and another one at the same stage in his match against Dom Melero, before agonizingly succumbing to both the older Puffs, also in five legs. More about this later…
It has to be said Nigel’s languid style does mean he is not one to ever take huge risks in games, nevertheless he was seriously fired up for this match - but perhaps he would have been better off going for a winner or two when the crunch came. ‘It’s never over until the fat lady sings’ as they often say in sport and life generally, and both Dom and Bob must have caught sight of a trio of such voluminous ladies hitting the high notes, while watching their games through the glass door at the entrance to the hall.
The Weather Girls clearly inspired the two Puffs, who fought like true honey monsters to claw the advantage from a hapless Nigel, thus maintaining both their unbeaten starts to the season. On the subject of claws, I wouldn’t have wanted to be Nigel’s long-suffering cat after his deflated and much miffed owner arrived home to reflect on some seriously missed opportunities. Tiddles, leg it puss quick if you know what is good for you, we have seen how lethal Nigel can be with his right peg from short range, our wall at Sugar still bears the hallmarks of an angry Howe toe-poke to this day!!
Now one thing that was universally agreed by the Puffs in the post match pub de-brief is that one of the nicest guys you will ever meet across a table tennis net is without doubt young Jack Samson, who struggled manfully to find his best form in his singles matches, without truthfully cutting much ice against the more experienced trio of Puffs he faced. No histrionics, no moaning, Jack is somebody willing to listen to criticism, and work at improving and learning from his mistakes. It was a very different story in the doubles though, as Jack suddenly sprang to life, in true Tiddles fashion, hardly missing a forehand and ably assisted by Luke, managed to put an end to an unbeaten run of at least two seasons for the self-styled Houdini-like doubles pairing of Will and Dom, whose luck finally ran out having won numerous games by the skin of their teeth - well played indeed Jack!!