Last Sunday (23rd January, 2011), whilst Widnes Vikings were entertaining St. Helens on the field, inside the Halton Stadium, Barrow were completing rounds 9 and 10 of their British League Premier Division campaign.
Despite best efforts, for the first time this season, a complete Barrow squad didn’t travel to a fixture. Gavin Rumgay had returned from the Slovenian Open the day before and needed to be in Sweden that evening to play for his Swedish club BTK Rekord. His presence was missed by the Barrow team as well as the spectators who commented the venue lacked atmosphere without his cries of “cho”.
Barrow I vs. BATTS I
Going into the fixture, BATTS could feel the weight of the whole division upon them as they sat bottom of the table. With this in mind, Barrow were expecting a fight from a team with strength and depth (Wang Zheng, Craig Bryant, Thomas Bennborn, John Nilsson, etc.). However, BATTS’ star players didn’t travel despite an afternoon match against fellow strugglers Westfield. Maybe BATTS have accepted their fate?
Playing for BATTS I: John Nilsson (Sweden), Tom Maynard (England Number 17), Martin Kubrt (England Number 53), Jimmy Walsh (England Number 63).
With the English Open Pro-Tour starting on Wednesday, both Darius Knight and Paul Drinkhall looked particularly sharp. Indeed, Drinkhall had just returned from a rare and unique trip to China where he had trained with the Chinese U21′s for a week and the Senior National Squad for a further week. It was Knight and Drinkhall that got Barrow off to a winning start with Knight beating John Nilsson (11-7, 9-11, 11-5, 11-3) and Drinkhall beating Tom Maynard (12-10, 11-4, 11-5).
After a 5 match absence, Barrow born Jonathan Crawford returned to action and winning ways disposing of Martin Kubrt (12-10, 11-9, 13-11). Barrow’s German signing Sebastian Laux followed and made easy work of Jimmy Walsh (11-6, 11-6, 11-5) to earn Barrow a 4-0 lead at the half-way mark.
The second half went the same way as the first as Barrow raced to an 8-0 victory. Drinkhall won an exhibition match against Nilsson (11-8, 11-5, 11-8), Knight beat Kubrt (6-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-4), Laux beat Maynard (11-7, 11-5, 11-8) and Crawford beat Walsh (11-9, 7-11, 11-1, 11-7).
Final Score: Barrow I 8 – 0 BATTS I
Barrow I: Paul Drinkhall (2), Darius Knight (2), Sebastian Laux (2), Jonathan Crawford (2)
BATTS I: John Nilsson (0), Tom Maynard (0), Martin Kubrt (0), Jimmy Walsh (0)
Barrow I vs. Sycamore
After a 7-1 thumping at the hands of Drumchapel Glasgow in the morning, Barrow’s next opponents had dropped to the second relegation spot.
For only the second time this season, Barrow fielded an unchanged winning team.
Playing for Sycamore: Kevin Dolder (England Number 19), Sean Cullen, Danny Lowe (England Number 34), Sam Perry (England Number 29)
Despite looking the better player and leading throughout, Jonathan Crawford just couldn’t close out Danny Lowe (8-11, 12-10, 12-10). Sebastian Laux followed and proceeded to make Sam Perry look ordinary (11-5, 6-11, 11-4, 11-6). This gave Barrow a 3-1 lead at the halfway point.
Kevin Dolder embodies the fight and drive teams like to see in their players and he threw everything he had at Barrow’s Paul Drinkhall. However, despite everything Dolder hurled at Drinkhall it all came back with painful ease as Drinkhall entertained and won (11-5, 11-6, 11-2).
Knight had a fright after been 10-8 down to the ever-consistent and deceptive Danny Lowe at one set apiece, but came away with his 100% record intact. Sebastian Laux completed a good day at the table with a comfortable win over Sean Cullen (11-5, 11-7, 12-10).
In the final match, Crawford once again looked the better player and led throughout against Perry. Perry mustn’t have believed his luck and for Crawford it must have felt like Groundhog Day as he let Perry steal the game (11-9, 14-12, 12-10, 14-12).
Final Score: Barrow I 6 – 2 Sycamore
Barrow I: Paul Drinkhall (2), Darius Knight (2), Sebastian Laux (2), Jonathan Crawford (0)
Sycamore: Kevin Dolder (0), Sean Cullen (0), Danny Lowe (1), Sam Perry (1)
On Sunday, at the Halton Regional Table Tennis Centre, Barrow I will be going on an adventure to the quicksand mired world of the ‘Relegation Zone’. The ‘Relegation Zone’ is a place big enough for two, but currently occupied by three tribes; Sycamore, Westfield and BATTS. However, on this journey, there will only be enough time for Barrow to go to battle with two of the inhabitants, Sycamore and BATTS.
Barrow will be looking to make the visit to this hostile world brief and swift. But before calling to Denis Neale, “Beam us up Denis”, there is a couple of side missions Barrow will be wanting to complete. Barrow’s Paul Drinkhall will be relishing the opportunity to make a point against Sycamore’s Sam Perry and the team as a whole will be looking to lay to rest the ghost that haunted them so much last time, BATTS’ Thomas Bennborn.
British League Premier Division First Weekend Table
British League Premier Division Results
British League Premier Division Barrow Player Averages
Last weekend, a full strength Barrow I confidently strutted into the DHS Greenhouse Progress Tournament Centre to make their British League Premier Division debut. Heads visibly turned as players and spectators counted in the Barrow stars; Paul Drinkhall – check, Gavin Rumgay – check, Darius Knight – check.
Drumchapel Glasgow I vs Barrow I
Played in front of a large and expectant crowd, the majority of which were Barrow supporters, Barrow I’s first game saw them face Drumchapel Glasgow I. The game had been billed by the ETTA as “the most eagerly anticipated British League match for many years”.
Playing for Drumchapel Glasgow I, British League champions for the last two seasons were: Ryan Jenkins (Welsh Number 2), Gareth Herbert (former England Number 1), Terry Young (Commonwealth Gold medallist) and Craig Howieson (Scotland Number 2).
In the first game, Gavin Rumgay faced Ryan Jenkins in a repeat of their Liverpool Grandprix final a month ago. On that occasion, Ryan got the better of Gavin. This time around, despite Gavin stealing the first set 13 – 11, Ryan went on to win 11 – 4, 11 – 4, 11 – 3. Gavin wasn’t playing his usual confident self, possibly victim to jetlag from his flight from China, and Ryan fresh from the European Championships simply didn’t let him get going.
Paul Drinkhall then stepped up and demonstrated his class comfortably beating Gareth Herbert (1 1 – 7, 11 – 6, 11 – 7). It was then over to Barrow I’s German signing Sebastian Laux who made a sensational British League debut going 2 sets to 0 up against England Number 14 Terry Young (11 – 8, 11 – 8). However, Sebastian didn’t take his chances when they presented themselves and eventually went down to the ever-fighting Terry (6 – 11, 9 – 11, 9 – 11). Darius Knight put in a workmanlike performance beating Craig Howieson (11 – 8, 5 – 11, 11 – 7, 13 – 11). At the halfway point, the match was tied two apiece leaving all to play for.
Barrow I went into the second half confident and struck Drumchapel Glasgow I with a hard hitting 1-2-3 combo. Paul Drinkhall, utilised his skill and power to beat Ryan Jenkins (11 – 9, 11 – 2, 11 – 9). Barrow I team captain Gavin Rumgay mustered his Scottish spirit beating Terry Young (5 – 11, 11 – 5, 11 – 8, 11 – 8 ) whilst Darius Knight dished out killer forehands and the killer blow as he beat England Number 11 Gareth Herbert 11 – 7, 12 – 10, 4 – 11, 13 – 11.
With victory secured, Sebastian Laux once again entered a marathon of a game against Craig Howieson. This time, he went 2 sets to 0 down (9 – 11, 6 – 11) before fighting back to bring the game level (14 – 12, 11 – 9). In the final set, Sebastian got off to a flier, however, he couldn’t maintain the momentum and Craig came back to take the game and set (11 – 13). This left the final match score 5 – 3 to Barrow I – an excellent and memorable victory.
Final Score: Drumchapel Glasgow I 3 – 5 Barrow I
Barrow I: Paul Drinkhall (2), Gavin Rumgay (1), Darius Knight (2), Sebastian Laux (0)
Drumchapel Glasgow I: Ryan Jenkins (1), Gareth Herbert (0), Terry Young (1), Craig Howieson (1)
Barrow I vs BATTS I
After a very early climax to the season, Barrow I needed to keep the impetus going as they faced BATTS I.
Playing for BATTS I were: Wang Zheng (China), Craig Bryant (England Number 18), Thomas Bennborn (Sweden), Jimmy Walsh (England Number 69).
With Paul Drinkhall beating Craig Bryant (11 – 8, 9 – 11, 11 – 4, 11 – 9), Gavin Rumgay beating Wang Zheng (11 – 9, 11 – 7, 8 – 11, 11 – 3) and Darius Knight beating Jimmy Walsh (11 – 5, 11 – 3, 12 – 10), it wasn’t until Bradley Evans faced Thomas Bennborn that a challenge was met. Thomas played the most deceiving of defensive games and got the better of Bradley winning 4 – 11, 11 – 7, 11 – 5, 11 – 5. At the half-way point, the match score was 3 – 1 to Barrow I.
Paul and Darius continued where they left off. Paul beat Wang Zheng (11 – 9, 11 – 9, 11 – 8 ) and Darius beat Craig Bryant (11 – 6, 11 – 9, 11 – 6). Once again, Thomas Bennborn proved to be the thorn in Barrow I’s side as he hacked the ball in half with authority scoring an excellent win over Barrow’s Gavin Rumgay (12 -14, 11 – 8, 1 – 11, 11 – 9, 15 – 13). Bradley concluded the day with a comfortable win over Jimmy Walsh (11 – 8, 11 – 8, 11 – 9) to earn Barrow I a satisfactory 6 – 2 victory.
Barrow I vs Sycamore
This was the first game to be played on the Sunday and given the previous night’s “celebrations”, it was with little surprise that the team got off to a slow start.
Playing for Sycamore were: Omkar Torgalkar (India), Sam Perry (England Number 32), Daniel Lowe (England Number 34), Jason Ramage (England Number 71).
The first game saw Paul Drinkhall face Sycamore’s Sam Perry. Powerful and often vocal Sam was clearly up for the game, whilst Paul was a little more subdued and took a little bit longer to get going. Well, two sets to be precise as Sam went 2 – 0 up (8 – 11, 11 – 13). The third set was tight and Paul had to produce a bit of magic and draw on his experience to clinch the third set 13 – 11. In his head, Sam must have realised that he had missed an opportunity that most likely will never be repeated. In sets four and five, Paul took control of the game as he won 11 – 6, 11 – 4.
Gavin then faced one of this seasons British League surprise packages, newcomer Omkar Torgalkar who had claimed some significant scalps during the previous day of play. Gavin’s scalp is one that Omkar will not be able to boast however, as Gavin beat him 11 – 6, 11 – 5, 5 – 11, 9 – 11, 13 – 11 in what was a tight match. Darius Knight then produced yet another professional performance comfortably beating Jason Ramage (11 – 6, 12 – 10, 11 – 6).
In the fourth game, Jonathan became the first Barrovian to ever play in the British League Premier Division as he faced higher ranked Daniel Lowe. With a number of expectant Barrow eyes watching in the crowd added to the pressure he had put on himself, Jonathan struggled to find the form that saw him unbeaten in the British League play-offs as he lost 11 – 7, 6 – 11, 8 – 11, 6 – 11. At the halfway point, Barrow I had a comfortable 3 – 1 lead.
Once again, Barrow I produced a killer 1-2-3 blow on the backend as Paul Drinkhall comfortably beat Omkar Torgalkar (11 – 8, 11 – 4, 11 – 4), Darius Knight beat Sam Perry (11 – 8, 11 – 3, 11 – 8 ) and Gavin Rumgay beat Danny Lowe (15 – 13, 11 – 8, 11 – 9). Jonathan Crawford simply found Jason Ramage too much to handle as he went down 5 – 11, 9 – 11, 6 – 11 to leave the final score 6 – 2 to Barrow I.
Final Score: Barrow I 6 – 2 Sycamore
Barrow I: Paul Drinkhall (2), Gavin Rumgay (2), Darius Knight (2), Jonathan Crawford (0)
Sycamore: Omkar Torgalkar (0), Sam Perry (0), Daniel Lowe (1), Jason Ramage (1)
Westfield I vs Barrow I
Going into the weekend, this fixture was predicted to be Barrow I’s easiest. With Westfield I propping up the table, it looked as if this prediction was going to be true.
Playing for Westfield I were: Richard Andrews (England Number 20), Shaun Marples (England Number 23), Alim Hirji (England Number 25), Lewis Gray (England Number 108).
Gavin Rumgay started off in style playing to the audience as he put on an exhibition beating Richard Andrews (15 – 13, 13 – 11, 11 – 7). Paul Drinkhall carried on where Gavin left off beating Shaun Marples 11 – 2, 11 – 8, 11 – 5. It was then the turn of Barrow’s Scott Crawford to make his British League debut against top England Junior Lewis Gray. The match was a pleasure to watch with exchanges a plenty. However, despite Scott’s creditable fighting performance, it was Lewis Gray that got the better winning in five sets (12 – 10, 8 – 11, 11 – 8, 10 – 12, 11 – 5). Darius Knight was all set to face Alim Hirji. However, Alim had to withdraw due to injury handing Darius the win and giving Barrow a 3 – 1 lead at the halfway point.
Once again, Paul made table tennis look hideously easy as he toyed with Richard Andrews beating him 11 – 6, 12 – 10, 12 – 10. The baton was passed over to Gavin Rumgay who once again put on a show beating Lewis Gray 11 – 7, 11 – 6, 11 – 4. Darius looked composed and professional as he brushed aside Shaun Marples 11 – 9, 11 – 3, 11 – 7. Scott Crawford was handed victory by the injured Alim Hirji earning Barrow I their most comfortable win over the two days.
Final Score: Westfield I 1 – 7 Barrow I
Barrow I: Paul Drinkhall (2), Gavin Rumgay (2), Darius Knight (2), Scott Crawford (1)
Westfield I: Richard Andrews (0), Shaun Marples (0), Alim Hirji (0), Lewis Gray (1)
Tristran Swan, Barrow TTC team manager, discusses Barrow’s British League Premier division debut and the Teams memorable victory over Drumchapel Glasgow with BBC Radio Cumbria’s Paul Newton.
Planes, trains and automobiles. What you may ask. Well, these are all the different forms of transport to be used by Barrow players to get to Barrow I’s British League Premier Division debut this weekend at Southall.
Gavin Rumgay will be flying in from Scotland’s Commonwealth Games training camp in China, Paul Drinkhall and Darius Knight will be flying in from the European Championships in the Czech Republic, Sebastian Laux will be arriving by train from Germany, whilst Bradley Evans and Jonathan Crawford will be making their way by car along with travelling fans.
Over the weekend, Barrow I will be facing Drumchapel Glasgow I, BATTS I, Sycamore and Westfield.
Without a doubt, the division’s standout clash is that between Barrow I and Drumchapel Glasgow I. This will be a contest that sees Barrow I’s British Number 1 Paul Drinkhall, Scottish Number 1 Gavin Rumgay, England Number 3 Darius Knight and one other going head to head with Drumchapel Glasgow I’s Welsh Number 2 Ryan Jenkins, Chinese player Qian Hai Song, former England Number 1 and Commonwealth Gold Medallist Gareth Herbert and Commonwealth Gold Medallist Terry Young. It is going to be a fierce contest of dramatic games with intense points and outcome that will have a big impact on Barrow I’s European table tennis aspirations.
British League Premier Division Table Tennis returns to one of it’s spiritual homes next weekend and anyone with some spare time on their hands would be well advised to visit the DHS Greenhouse Progress Tournament Centre, Southall College, Beaconsfield Road, Southall, Middlesex, UB1 1DP on Saturday / Sunday 18/19 September 2010. Action kicks off at 11.00 am on the Saturday and at 10.00 am on the Sunday morning and admission is free. The venue is a three minute walk from Southall main line station.
Champions for the last two years Drumchapel Glasgow (Ryan Jenkins, Qian Hai Song, new signing Gareth Herbert, Terry Young, Craig Howieson and Stephen Jenkins) couldn’t possibly face a tougher challenge in their first match. They will be up against promoted Barrow whose star-studded squad of Paul Drinkhall, Gavin Rumgay, Darius Knight, newcomer Sebastian Laux, Bradley Evans and Jonathan Crawford will take some beating. This promises to be a match of the highest order between two of the best squads ever to have played in the British League. Both sides are understandably reluctant to commit exactly who will be playing for them but Barrow have high hopes that their English international stars – Paul and Darius will be available – not withstanding their commitments in this week’s European Championships.
Other matches that should be competitive are the Saturday afternoon clash between promoted Fusion and Westfield who finished a magnificent third last year. Fusion have added Adelele Kaseem Adisa to an already strong squad of Sule Olaleye, Loresas Trumpauskas, Mark Smith, Tommy Cutler and Emran Hussain whilst Westfield look to have a nicely balanced side – Niall Cameron, Richard Andrews, Shuan Marples, Alim Hirji and Mark Simpson.
BATTS have ventured into the transfer market and the acquisition of former Ellenborough players Thomas Bennborn and John Nilsson allied to the tried and tested skills of Wang Zheng, Craig Bryant, Martin Kubrt and Jimmy Walsh gives them a strong look as well. They will be looking forward to their Saturday morning clash with Fusion and their Sunday morning match against Westfield.
Champions for ten successive years – DHS Greenhouse Progress finished a fine second last time and although that might be a bit beyond them this year they still have a very strong team. Pick any four from Chen Po “Barry” Huang, Colum Slevin, Jason Sugrue, Da Qing Tong, Fei Ming Tong and Ashley Willetts and you can see what I mean. With players of the calibre of Daniel Basterfield and Igor Morais “knocking on the door” they have strength in depth as well. Sycamore finished fifth last year and they have secured the services of a new number one – Omkar Torgalkar. He will be joined by Stewart Crawford, Kevin Dolder, Sean Cullen, Sam Perry, Daniel Lowe and Jason Ramage. Expect Sycamore’s Sunday afternoon match against Ormesby to be a cracker.
The Middlesbrough giants haven’t added to their squad but their hard-hitting side of Michael Marsden, David Meads, Nigel Eckersley, Patrick “Paddy” Thomas and Andy Wilson will be hopeful of consolidating their excellent fourth place of last Season.
Steve Kerns (British League Press Officer)
Barrow I will be facing the following teams and players in the Premier Division of the British League 2010/2011 Season.
DHS Greenhouse Progress I
Chen Po Huang
Da Qing Tong
Fei Ming Tong
Drumchapel Glasgow I
Qian Hai Song
Adelele Kaseem Adisa
Barrow I British League Premier Division Fixtures
Barrow II British League Division 2 North Fixtures