Excitement in close contests

WITH the new season still in its infancy, Michael Maltby takes a look at the teams competing in the Boston and District Table Tennis League’s A.D. Dickinson Division Two.

As well as Penmaen D and Lodgers E (promoted) and Penmaen C (relegated), Graves Park F have dropped out of the league, but two new teams, Lodgers C and Penmaen E, have stepped in to fill the gap, leaving the division with eleven teams.

Last season saw a thrilling climax, as Lodgers E and Graves Park D went level on points for the second promotion slot, Lodgers E gaining promotion by dint of their better head-to-head record.

With the same team as last year, Graves Park D, with top 10 players like Mick Dodes and Paul Matschull, become my favourite for the top place.

If newly-relegated Penmaen C, with the addition of Chips Davey, can hit the ground running, they will also be up there at the end of the season.

Several teams could well make up the chasing pack; Lodgers H had a good season last year, coming in a creditable fourth – but I suspect there will be several teams putting them under pressure this year.

Both Wrangle B and Graves Park Nomads suffered last season with unavailability of players, and if they can put those difficulties behind them, they are sure to improve on last season’s positions.

Into the mix comes the two new teams – Lodgers C and Penmaen E. Lodgers C comprise Steve Blanchard and Pete Truepenny, who appeared for Lodgers B in Division One last season, plus Pete Bell, who declined the opportunity to go up with his team-mates from promoted Lodgers E.

Penmaen E comprise students from Boston College, with the experienced Pete Evans (from the defunct Lodgers A team).

Lodgers D made a shock signing during the close season – Graham Lacey, ex-Lodgers A.

I understand that Graham does not intend turning out for the team, but will able to act as a substitute for Lodgers teams in Division One.

All of these teams have a chance of making a name for themselves this season, and I predict a series of really close and exciting matches between them.

This leaves the two Sibsey teams, and Belchford.

Sibsey A are virtually unchanged, the B team has been strengthened by the addition of Fred Calvert (ex-Graves Park F); depending on how many matches Fred is able to play, Sibsey B could well threaten the places of teams above them – such as their A team.

Belchford have lost Dave Butler to Wrangle B, but have signed B. Todd and P. Neep.

The challenge for them is to at least match the improvements expected in some of the teams immediately above them.