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London C 27 Sussex C 17

Inter CountyThe London C bandwagon keeps rolling on! On Sunday the team recorded its sixth win of the season to remain unbeaten and top the table by six clear points with four matches remaining. We outplayed a Sussex team that showed flashes of brilliance, especially on some tough long blacks, but for the most part was inconsistent.

The first thing to say was that the bulk of this team was of course comprised from those who had helped us secure our previous victory, against Kent. Why change a winning formula? However, we were missing some players - Big Mo, Mark Hester, plus GT who was back with the Bs - so it was a good opportunity to welcome back Will Gayler, Ben Williamson and Alex Stones, and they all contributed big time to the big win.

We had little difficulty in establishing an 8-3 lead after the first set. We lost the opener and also the last two frames of that set, but the run of 8 in between was to set the pattern for the match. The atmosphere was electric as the superb team spirit carried us to frame after frame.

It's possible we flattened out a bit in the second set. Sussex dug in, and the set itself was tight throughout - I was fairly certain we would lose it as they had the momentum but great frames from Chappers and Mr Dawson saw us edge it 6-5 to extend our lead.

We found our spark again in the third set, which we again won by 8-3. By now Sussex looked beaten but to their credit they did their best to hold off the inevitable, and even won the final set 6-5. We were hoping to hit 30 but Sussex pinched the last three frames to add some respectability.

Though players from both sides played the match in good spirit, and the atmosphere was good, it was not without its controversy. There were a few incidents throughout which at times bordered on the bizarre. One of these concerned the dress code. At the outset, Sussex skipper Paul Hicks had said it was possible they'd be fielding a player who wouldn't be in a proper shirt, and in the spirit of the game I said that wouldn't be a problem at all. Paul and team manager Jo thanked me, and I hinted that we may also have to ask for a bit of lenience on a similar issue (Paul Fitz had turned up but was in jeans). They agreed to that but in the end it wasn't necessary to call up the favour. However, out of the blue, their referee stopped the match to comment on Danish's shoes. At the last match, Danish had been taken aside by Babs and warned about his trousers so he had made the effort to get some proper ones this time, but there'd been no mention of the shoes. We discussed this for a while and then their skipper Paul stepped in and rightly pointed out the captains' agreement we had made, so the complaint was dropped. However it did make me worry that still, a few of our players were wearing trousers that were borderline regulation at best, never mind the shoes. We do not want to be in a position where we could lose frames by default because of a dress violation - which nearly happened on Sunday. Let's sort this out, please - you should all know by now.

The controversy didn't end there. Tony and Andre were both subjected to questionable refereeing decisions which cost them frames, simultaneously. Tony was down on the shot to play his black when the referee called a time out to check whether it was or was not frozen, disrupting Tony's rhythm. Naturally a ref needs to check whether or not a foul might be committed, but to call time out at such a point was unusual, to say the least, and upset Tony. Meanwhile, Andre was in the zone but snookered himself on the black. He asked the ref whether he still had two visits remaining, but the ref indicated wrongly that he had only one, which changed Andre's game plan. Having played his shot he was then told he had one more remaining, to which his opponent concurred. Meanwhile, our timekeeper rightly, I think, did not comment as timekeepers no longer have second refereeing powers. Having not set himself up, Andre duly lost the frame, and was seething! With arguments going on on both tables, I was then called aside by a senior member of the Sussex squad on an entirely different matter - they had put down a substitution which they were not not able to make so my permission was requested for them to change the team sheet. Naturally, I approved of this, in return for which they allowed the Andre frame to be replayed. Andre won on the replay but the whole incident was unfortunate for all involved, not least the ref of the first frame who I understand was devastated by it.

What made it worse, from a London point of view, is that we did not have, to my knowledge, a senior referee present. I really think this is something we need to work on for future games.

Anyhow, thankfully the Sussex players were good-natured about it all and I am sure everyone wishes them well for the rest of the season. But I say again, to avoid any future controversies, I think we need to make sure we are all 100% within the regulations, and that any issues can be handled by a qualified matchday ref.

Performance-wise, the team excelled to a man. Two players got 4/4 - Baz, back to his best, and Will, making a superb return to the team. Andre, top of the regional stats, got another great 3/4, as did Ben, another returnee who had a really good day, plus Danish, the lunatic hero of the Kent game, and Booney, the king of the 3/4s! Some of these guys were unlucky not to win all four, as there were a few fluked blacks during the course of the day! Alex Stones and Paul Dawson both got solid 2/4s. Richard Chapman and Tony Bailey both got 1/4 but both can feel a little aggrieved by decisions that went against them. Lee Bushell got 1/3 and Paul Williams came on and was unlucky to lose his frame.

Of course, it is great to have secured another win as we march towards that dream goal of achieving London's first ever C division trophy. Well done to the As, Bs and Seniors as well for good wins, and to the Ladies for putting up such a terrific fight to get the draw. I can only say to the Ladies that this time last year the Cs were in a bit of a state but with a bit of a reshape we have come out this year all guns blazing, these things take time and I am sure the Ladies will be up there with the best next season.

I have to call a man of the match. I do try to be democratic about this, and as Baz has already received one for the first of his three 4/4s, I think I will give this one to Will for achieving his first, especially coming back from a break. But I think it needs pointing out that in six games this season, Baz and Andre have each got 4/4 three times, and Chappers twice, while Booney has got five 3/4s to his credit. That's consistency of the highest level.

Great stuff, as always. I will see you all in August, at Berkshire, where I know we will be missing Booney and Ben, so let's hope for a good turnout from everyone else.


#1 | pickwickpoolshark on July 09 2012 17:41:39
guys, massive congratulations to our C team yesterday, just a couple of things, firstly we are now 9 points in front of berkshire and 6 points each in front of kent and surrey, we have all 3 to play yet but i think we can count berkshire out now, lets go to berkshire, prove what a solid team we are and prove that we are the best C team in the region.
6 games won and 0 loses, its not over with yet, lets not get complacent, it would be nice to win all 10 games which would put the icing on the cake, take each match as it comes, beat our opponents and before we know it we could be saying 1 more and we there.
on a more happier note, i noticed a few of sussex guys faces yesterday when they was getting beat, a comment was made of "how many more A team players do they have in there team" and especially the look on alex stones opponent when he was getting dished up.... guys, we beaten all the teams in the region, they know what we can do, and they are frightened.... lets go to berkshire, hampshire and kent and do what we do best. well done boys...
#2 | williamgayler on July 09 2012 20:13:54
yes the c's fantastic performance again lads and a comprehensive win all be it taking our foot off the gas slightly in the second set. really glad to be back helping the team after my unavoidable 3 game absence. onwards and upwards now lets get this region won and put it to bed over the few matches.

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