With the new Boston and District Table Tennis League season season fast approaching, Michael Maltby previews the upcoming campaign...
In Division One, perhaps the major change from the AGM is the withdrawal of Graves Park B, and the consequent reinstatement of Sibsey C to make a 10-team division.
With Nick Langley moving up to Durham, Graves Park A have signed Alan Reetham (ex-Graves Park B), whilst Graves Park C welcome back Mick East to their numbers.
Lodgers A suffered a blow when Mark Hulme announced he was taking a season off, but they too have recruited an ex-team member Gary Hill.
Peter Munch has decided to concentrate on the other leagues he plays in, but Penmaen still have five players to call on as they seek to defend their title once again this season.
Sibsey C, who came bottom last season, have increased their chances of survival in this season’s competition with the shrewd signing of Andy Gilbert.
Much will depend on how often he is available to play.
Promoted team Lodgers Blades are the same as last season, minus Nathan Raistrick and Jamie Stanton, whilst the other promoted team, Lodgers C, will see only two players, Scott Sykes and Andy Birks, playing from last season’s Division Two title-winning side, supplemented by last year’s number-three ranked Andrew Pocklington from Belchford, and new player, Darcy Proud.
This leaves Lodgers B, Stickney and Wrangle, who each have the same line-up as last season.
So, how will this season play out?
Last season, Penmaen were unbeaten, and I cannot see them letting their grip on the trophy loosen, with Lodgers A pushing them hard, but being runners-up once again.
Graves Park C have too much firepower to drop below third, but the mid-table is where things get far more interesting, with several clubs in the melting pot, including Stickney, Wrangle, and Graves Park A.
The unavailability of Langley for a large part of the first half of last season meant that Park A ended up in a false position at sixth.
All three teams will need to avoid turning up at matches with only two players if they are to stay above the chasing pack.
The two promoted teams, plus Lodgers B and Sibsey C, may well have their own mini-league, but at least each has a 50 per cent chance of staying up at the end of the season.
My tips for relegation? This year, I’m hedging my bets - there are too many imponderables involved – but my feeling is that it will be tight at the end of the season.
The handbooks should by now have been received by each team captain.
If a team has not received theirs they are asked to call Rob Smith.
The season starts on Monday.