It was thirty years ago that Martin Edwards last achieved success in the Clacton & District League’s Handicap Knock-Out Cup.

This week the long-serving Brotherhood B skipper gave himself the opportunity to repeat that achievement, leading his team to a place in the 2015 final with a 5-2 semi-final victory over Windsor Eagles.
The Brotherhood side got off to the worst possible start, with the Windsor pairing of Phil and Mark Smith (-6) confidently taking the opening doubles 3-0 (14-12, 11-9, 11-6) against Gracie Edwards and David North (+1).

But the ever-reliable Edwards (+1) steadied the Brotherhood ship by edging the second match 3-2 (11-4, 11-3, 9-11, 8-11, 11-9) against Gary Cattermole (-3) to level the scores.
From then on, Brotherhood took control, with both North and Gracie Edwards winning convincingly in their singles to race to a 4-1 lead.

Cattermole (-6) briefly gave Windsor a glimmer of hope when he edged out Gracie Edwards (+1) in five (8-11, 11-9, 3-11, 12-10, 11-9) to make the score 4-2.

But Martin (+1) held his nerve in match seven and, using all his experience and determination, defeated Mark Smith (-3) 3-0 (11-7, 11-6, 11-9) to settle the tie in favour of Brotherhood.

In the final, Brotherhood B will meet fellow-Division side Walton C, who ended the dreams of Division Three giant-killers Nomads Leopards.

But Walton’s old hands – Derek Willis, Paul Meikle and Mark Gale – were made to fight all the way for the victory and the 5-0 scoreline scarcely reflects the hard-fought efforts of the Leopards’ trio.
Indeed, John Bonner, Harry Beezer and Tom Collins can be justly proud of their endeavours in this year’s competition, and for keeping the flag flying for lower division sides.

The final takes place on Tuesday May 5 at 7.30pm at Clacton’s Brotherhood Hall.

For the record, Martin Edwards was part of the all-conquering Great Holland A team of the 1980s and, alongside David Binns and Derek Wood, won the 1985 cup final by beating the emerging CCHS A side of Martin Hogg, Karl Pryor and Andy Schooler 5-2.

* In Division Two of the League, mid-table Brotherhood E were in action in two matches brought forward against fellow Brotherhood teams, both of whom are fighting for honours at the top.

In their first match, the E team lost 6-4 to Brotherhood C. Although Gary Stallwood retained his unbeaten record for the winners, the C team could muster only two players – and the two-point penalty deduction could prove vital in the final outcome.

Rodney Betts picked up the E team’s sole victory gained on the table with an unexpected 3-1 (12-10, 4-11, 11-5, 13-11) win over Fred Gallone.

The C team’s cause was not helped when Brotherhood D went on to defeat the E side 8-2, Russell Hillier and Lee Harvey staying unbeaten.

So Brotherhood C now have 164 points, eight ahead of Brotherhood D, who are on 156, with both sides having two matches to play. But Nomads Ocelots, who were without a fixture this week, have 147 points with four matches to play – it looks as though the promotion race in the division will go down to the last week of the season.

* The League’s 2015 Closed Championships on April 18 and 19 at the Coastal Academy Sports Hall are fast approaching. Because of the increased number of entries, play will start at 9am on both days. More detailed check-in times will be sent to all entrants by Friday April 10. Any player who does not receive this information should contact Tony Oswick or Peter White.

* The Windsor Club’s Pig Race Night at the St Osyth Village Hall takes place this Saturday at 7.30pm. Tickets are £3 (for adults) and £2 (for children). Bring your own nibbles and drink. For more information and tickets, contact Jenny Higgins (Tel: 01255 432397 or 07790 240566).

Knock-Out Cup semi-finals

Walton C 5 Nomads Leopards 0
Brotherhood B 5 Windsor Eagles 2

Division 1

Brotherhood B 0 Nomads Panthers 10

Division 2

Brotherhood E 2 Brotherhood D 8
Brotherhood C 6 Brotherhood E 4

Tony Oswick
April 7, 2015