Here are some photos from last weekend when Barrow TTC were crowned champions of the British League. A full report is to follow.
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.
I really enjoyed last weekend for a number of reasons, but there is one highlight that really stands out.
It isn’t that Barrow II retained their 100% record beating division leaders Chesterfield in the process. It isn’t that it was so good to see so many of the first team present supporting the second team. It isn’t even laughing, as Denis Neale got so wound-up when Duncan Crawford suggested Bradley Billington had beaten Jan-Ove Waldner. Lastly, it isn’t how well Graham Coupe played against Peter Morgan on the Sunday afternoon. Infact, it wasn’t even a table tennis match. Though it did involve Sheffield player Peter Morgan.
It was only a matter of time before the PS3 came out. With Peter Morgan boasting a 3-year unbeaten FIFA spell, the gauntlet was laid. It was Kane that took up the challenge.
Whilst Pete enjoyed most of the possession, he simply couldn’t convert in the last third. Kane on the other hand possessed unpredictable flashes of brilliance, which were deadly. So deadly, they ended Pete’s 3-year FIFA unbeaten spell in the most entertaining of fashion. It was brilliant, compelling on the edge of the seat stuff and my highlight of the weekend.
Happy days and massive thanks to Darius for putting us up.
It was Division 2 North of the British League last weekend and in attendance was Barrow TTC Coach Denis Neale. Now, for those that don’t know Denis, he is a passionate (mature) man that is always correct. It is his passion and strong beliefs that make him fun to wind-up every now and then.
Anyways, whenever I see Denis, he always asks whether I know when the next $100,000 hardbat tournament is going to be in Las Vegas. As far as I knew, last years event was struggling to get sponsors and wasn’t happening.
This weekend however, Denis had the answers. Apparently the hardbat tournament had been modified to a sandpaper bat tournament and is once again going to be held in Las Vegas. At first, I thought someone was winding him up and suggested that this might be the case. Denis insisted it was genuine and that he was in the process of entering.
Well, the first thing I have done this lunchtime is check out whether this $100,000 sandpaper bat tournament is genuine. Guess what, it is!
UPDATE: Barrow Table Tennis Club’s Paul Drinkhall will be playing the 2011 World Championship of Ping Pong on February 7-8th, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“Allow me to introduce you to the new premier table tennis organization, the World Championship of Ping Pong (WCPP). We are officially accepting applications for the 2011 World Championship of Ping Pong on February 7-8th, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The top sixteen professional players will be selected to represent their respective countries and will compete in the ‘Classic’, a single elimination round robin tournament with one ultimate champion. The second day’s competition features the ‘Marco Polo Cup’, a team event pitting the eight World players against the eight Asian players.
We are proud to partner with FoxSportsNet and Matchroom Sport, as we will offer the first global broadcast of the WCPP with eight original hours, premiering in April, 2011. The programs will be viewable in over 810 million homes worldwide on Fox Sports Net in the USA, Eurosport in Europe, CCTV in China, and ESPN Star TV throughout Asia, to name a few.
The WCPP aims to revitalize the sport of table tennis with the introduction of our unique sand paper racquets. Racquets will be distributed to you via mail before the tournament starts. Since the racquet is the first of its kind you will have an equal opportunity to train and play.
The World Championship of Ping Pong will take place on February 7th and 8th, 2011, in Las Vegas at the Pearl Theatre of the Palms Casino Resort. Here, the world’s top table tennis players from around the world will be showcased as you compete for over $100,000 dollars in total cash prizes. Every player will be awarded a minimum of $1,500 for attending, free round trip airfare, hotel accommodations, as well as a daily stipend for food and leisure spending.
Coming away from the last British League Premier Division weekend, there are three things that stand out in my mind:
- How much I had underestimated Ormesby, DHS Greenhouse Progress and Fusion. These teams played tremendously, in particular Jason Sugrue and Sule Olaleye, and our matches were as competitive and intense as our first match against Drumchapel Glasgow. Indeed, on the day, I think our scores against DHS Greenhouse Progress and Fusion flattered us.
- How much Darius Knight has improved. I have yet to see him tested, but his comfortable win over Gareth Herbert who is in tremendous form is testament to how well Darius is playing at the moment.
- That Barrow really is the best team to play for in the British League. I don’t think there is a team with our camaraderie and to see every game well supported, whether it is a match clincher or the last match when everything has been decided is brilliant. Not only that, but everyone gets on so well off the table and it is brilliant to see the players families all involved.
For those that haven’t witnessed a British League Premier weekend, I would go as far as saying last weekend was way better and way more exciting than last season’s English Open finals (during which my girlfriend knitted a scarf as I fell asleep next to her).
This weekend, Barrow I will be making the long journey south to Old Harlow to play the second of four weekends that constitute the British League Premier division season.
Barrow I currently top the table with four wins from four, including an important 5-3 victory over reigning champions Drumchapel Glasgow.
Barrow I’s opening Saturday fixture is not only tough, but has an interesting twist. It comes in the form of an experienced team from a northeast club co-founded by Barrow TTC coach Denis Neale in 1957, Ormesby. This is the team that Neale won the European Club cup with in 1972, the only English team to ever do so. After that, Barrow I face London club DHS Greenhouse Progress.
Sunday’s aperitif comes in the form of a match-up between Barrow I and Fusion, the team Barrow were promoted with after last season’s play-offs. It is then time for the main course, the British League crunch match of the decade, the return fixture against Drumchapel Glasgow.
Speaking about the weekend and the Drumchapel Glasgow fixture in particular, Barrow Team Manager Tristran Swan commented,
“Only Drumchapel Glasgow concerns me. Barrow and Drumchapel are a class apart from the other teams in the division. Saying that, we can’t afford to go easy as a loss against Drumchapel will bring all the other results into play.”
“The Drumchapel game is massive. The players know it and they know what is at stake. A win will make us very strong favourites for the title. A draw will put us in a perilous position, as we can’t guarantee that our top players will always be available. For me, a loss will be a disaster as I don’t believe we can beat Drumchapel on game difference.”
“There will be a few key games (in the match against Drumchapel). Assuming they have the same squad, the match between Gavin (Rumgay) and Ryan Jenkins is hugely important as are the matches involving our number 4 player (player to be announced).”
Two young Furness table tennis stars grabbed the chance to play for England with vigour at the Schools International 2010.
Former Dowdales pupil Scott Crawford and current pupil Emily Bolton showed their worth at the event in Limerick, Ireland.
Taking on teams from the rest of the UK and Ireland, Scott came away with a gold medal from the team event and a bronze in the singles at under-18s level.
Emily, meanwhile, was playing her first international tournament at the age of 12, coming up against opponents up to two years her senior in the under-14s event.
She also came home with a medal, taking a bronze in the team event, having been eliminated from the individual competition at the quarter-final stage.
Playing at the National Arena, at the University of Limerick, Crawford teamed up to great effect with fellow Bristol Academy of Sport student Tom Maynard in the team event to make up England A.
The format of the competition saw both team members play singles matches and then team up for a doubles contest.
They came through a tough final against favourites and hosts Ireland 3-1 to claim the crown.
In the individuals, Scott won bronze, losing in the semi-finals to eventual winner Paul McCreery, from Ireland.
Dad Duncan, a coach at the Barrow Table Tennis Centre, where both Scott and Emily have honed their skills, said: “It’s fantastic. The whole family went to watch and it was a really fantastic weekend.
“They played really well together in the doubles, they beat Ireland 3-1 together, which was a good result.
“It’s another gold medal for Barrow, and isn’t that fantastic?”
Emily came up against players from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, the Isle of Man and Jersey in the team competition.
Her team were knocked out in the semi-finals to earn her a bronze medal, while she reached the last-eight of the individual event.
On Emily, Duncan said: “She played under-14s and she’s only 12.
“Every player at that tournament will have been ranked above, so for her to be picked is great.
“We are all chuffed to bits that she was selected to take part and she will certainly go on to play for England again. With the right guidance she will definitely keep performing at this level.”
Last year’s Barrow Junior Sportsperson of the Year Emily – who is coached by former Parkview pupil Tristran Swan at Barrow Table Tennis Centre, as well as ex-England coach Denis Neale – has also been selected to play for the North West of England in the UK School Games in Sunderland at the start of September.
She impressed while playing in the National Championships in Doncaster in the under-12s, under-13s and under-14s events, and has had trials to represent England in the Euro Mini Championship later this year in France.
As of yet the team has not been selected.
Barrow Table Tennis Club is pleased and proud to announce a new kit sponsorship for next seasons British League Teams.
The Barrow British League Teams are to be sponsored by the global and world renowned Swedish-based table tennis manufacturer Stiga. Stiga, has been a world leader and innovator in the sport of table tennis for over 60 years. Using the finest materials and maintaining the highest of standards, Stiga is particularly renowned for its blades – regarded as the world’s best.
Stiga’s sponsorship is in coordination with Stiga’s UK distributor Thornton’s Sport and Leisure. Thornton’s Sport and Leisure has a long history of supporting table tennis in the Barrow area. At the grass roots level, the table tennis retailer supports St Columba’s Primary School, recent England Schools finalists St Bernard’s Secondary School as well as sponsoring England Girls U12 No. 2 Emily Bolton and top Junior and Barrow British League player Scott Crawford. Further up the chain, Thornton’s Sport and Leisure has sponsored the Barrow Super League from its inception. The Barrow Super League features Cumbria’s best table tennis players as well as Barrow Table Tennis Club coach and former England International Denis Neale.
Further Information about Stiga:
STIGA Sports AB, a global company with partners in over 100 countries, has been a world leader in the sport of table tennis for over 60 years. For more than half a century STIGA blades have been world renowned as the best. During this time, STIGA has continued to reinforce its position as the innovative leader in table tennis blade production.
STIGA has done this by starting with the finest raw materials, maintaining the highest standard of quality, and by continuously investing in research and development of new blades and new manufacturing technologies.
Throughout the years that STIGA has been manufacturing table tennis blades, our company has accumulated an enormous amount of skill, expertise and knowledge. Through our close cooperation with several world class players and coaches, STIGA has always identified players evolving needs. With our years of experience, STIGA’s wood technicians have always been able to produce blades to meet these needs.
In the past few years alone, STIGA has introduced many new blade technologies:WRB, CR, Oversize, 13 layer Carbo,TUBE, Crystal, Nano Composite Technology etc.
The proficiency of STIGA’s R & D department, combined with state of the art manufacturing procedures, makes it possible for STIGA to constantly provide new, innovative and
unsurpassed products. The combination of the finest wood and craftsmanship make STIGA’s blades the best that nature can offer.
This past weekend (8th and 9th May 2010) Barrow played in the British League play-offs at Cippenham Table Tennis Centre, Berkshire. The award for the top two teams in the round-robin event would be a place in the coveted British League Premier Division where the top 8 British table tennis teams compete.
Like every other sports team going into a major event, Barrow had analysed the opposition and identified the dangers. On paper, it looked like three teams would be vying for the two places available: Fusion, Pavilion Brighton and Barrow (in that order).
On the Saturday, Barrow played three teams: TTK Greenhouse (London), Elgre Nottingham and Fusion (London).
On the Sunday, Barrow would play two teams: Pavilion Brighton and OLOP Impact (Reading).
Barrow I vs TTK Greenhouse I
Despite not making it onto Barrow’s pre-drawn list of threats, with England number 12 playing for them, TTK Greenhouse weren’t going to be a pushover. Indeed, Barrow knew they had a fight on their hands as they went 3-2 down.
As expected, two of TTK Greenhouse’s wins came from Herbert, the former England Number 2 who was once considered to be blessed with the ‘best serves in the world’. He beat, or should that be ‘served off’, Barrow players Jakov Krivić and Bradley Evans. TTK Greenhouse’s other win came in the form of a five-set thriller with Jide Owalabi edging out Barrow player Scott Crawford. For Barrow, the wins came from Krivić over Chris Lewis and Jonathan Crawford over Fatium Sadiku.
The next three games were straight-forward three-set affairs all going Barrow’s way. Jonathan Crawford comfortably beat Lewis to level the score. He was backed up by Evans who beat Owalabi and younger brother Scott Crawford who beat Sadiku.
Given the strength of TTK Greenhouse’s number 1 Gareth Herbert, in Barrow’s eyes this was a satisfactory result and a solid start. Each Barrow team member, without exception, played well and showed good form.
Final Score: Barrow I 5 – 3 TTK Greenhouse I
Barrow I: Jakov Krivić (1), Bradley Evans (1), Jonathan Crawford (2), Scott Crawford (1)
TTK Greenhouse I: Gareth Herbert (2), Chris Lewis (0), Jide Owalabi (1), Fatium Sadiku (0)
Barrow I vs Elgre Nottingham I
Elgre Nottingham are well known to Barrow as they are the other team from Division 1 North to make the play-offs. Indeed, they finished above Barrow. However, with world ranked Croatian Krivić on display for Barrow, Elgre Nottingham were more of a ‘banana skin’ than a real threat.
Thankfully, this ‘banana skin’ didn’t find its way under Barrow’s feet as they won comfortably 7-1. Jonathan Crawford maintained his 100% record beating Sophie Neil and David Arrowsmith. Krivić beat Arrowsmith and Chris Rogers while Scott Crawford beat Sophie Neil and Emma Vickers – a player who had been a thorn in Barrow’s side in the two teams’ last encounter. Evans on the other hand had mixed fortunes as he suffered a five-set defeat to Rogers, but beat Vickers.
Barrow’s 7-1 victory over Elgre Nottingham was deserved and pushed them to joined first place with Fusion, the team they were to face next.
Final Score: Barrow I 7 – 1 Elgre Nottingham I
Barrow I: Jakov Krivić (2), Bradley Evans (1), Jonathan Crawford (2), Scott Crawford (2)
Elgre Nottingham I: Chris Rogers (1), David Arrowsmith (0), Emma Vickers (1), Sophie Neil (0)
Barrow I vs Fusion I
This was a big match for Barrow; any points picked up would be a big bonus and put the team on track for a dream British League Premier Division place.
The danger presented by Fusion doesn’t lie with any one individual, but the strength and depth of the team. That said, the team does boast former Olympian and Nigerian International Sule Olaleye as its number 1.
For the next few games Barrow were always playing catch-up. Firstly Krivić comfortably beat Tom Cutler before Mark Smith beat Scott Crawford in an intense match to give Fusion the lead once more. Jonathan Crawford then beat John Dennison to draw the match 2-2 at the halfway point.
In a truly world class match that caught the attention and imagination of everyone in the room, Krivić faced Olaleye. After some incredible off-the-table attacking rallies interspersed with delicate touch play, it looked like Krivić was going to take the match as he led 9-7 in the deciding fifth set. However, Olaleye managed to tighten his game over the last crucial points and used his immense experience to edge out Krivić and sneak a win.
Fusion’s ever dependable Smith then went on to beat Evans to give Fusion a 4-2 lead with 2 games remaining.
It was now up to the two Crawford brother’s backed up by former England Team Coach Denis Neale and travelling supporters to pull something out of the bag and gain Barrow a valuable point. On the Barrow supporters side things were tense, but on the Fusion side there was an air of contemplation.
The first set went Scott Crawford’s way as he won game 7. This was then matched by Dennison to bring the match to 1 set apiece.
The next set was to be decisive. It was a marathon containing long attacking rallies as both players chased the ball and gave nothing away. At crucial points both players used their time-outs before the set was eventually settled 23-21 in the favour of Barrow player Scott Crawford.
Dennison found it hard to recover from the disappointment of losing the set and Scott Crawford went on to win the match taking the fourth set game 7, thus earning Barrow a valuable draw.
Going into the match, Barrow would have been delighted with a draw. However, as is so often the case, after achieving what would have been a dream result you can’t help look back and think what could have been had Krivić managed to finish off Olaleye.
At the end of day 1, Barrow had won 2 and drawn 1 against Fusion, the team they shared the top spot with in the play-off table. On top of that, Jonathan Crawford had managed to maintain a 100% record.
Final Score: Barrow I 4 – 4 Fusion I
Barrow I: Jakov Krivić (1), Bradley Evans (0), Jonathan Crawford (2), Scott Crawford (1)
Fusion I: Sule Olaleye (2), Tom Cutler (0), Mark Smith (2), John Dennison (0)
Barrow I vs Pavilion Brighton I
Beating Pavilion Brighton would guarantee Barrow promotion to the British League Premier Division with one game to spare. Barrow approached the game with respect for Pavilion Brighton and knew it would take a good performance by everyone to dispose of them.
The match started out like a dream for Barrow as they stormed ahead to a 3-0 lead. Krivić easily beat Ashley Stokes, Evans easily beat Hans Pillards finishing off with what has to be the shot of the weekend and Jonathan Crawford scraped through against Eli Baraty. Scott Crawford then lost a hugely entertaining match against fellow junior Da Shuai Zhang to leave the match 3-1 to Barrow at the halfway mark.
Going into the second half of the match Barrow were brimming with confidence, whilst with the exception of Zhang, Pavilion Brighton looked to have lost confidence and fight.
Krivić took the next game comfortably beating Pillards to guarantee Barrow at least a draw. However, to guarantee promotion, Barrow needed one more win.
Barrow didn’t have to wait long as Jonathan Crawford continued his unbeaten run beating Stokes. Evans then lost to inform Zhang before Scott Crawford beat Baraty to earn Barrow a 6-2 victory and a place in the British League Premier Division.
After 4 games, Barrow alongside Fusion had gained promotion to the British League Premier Division. However, with both teams tied on seven points and twenty two games won, there was still the honour of been champions to fight for.
Final Score: Barrow I 6 – 2 Pavilion Brighton I
Barrow I: Jakov Krivić (2), Bradley Evans (1), Jonathan Crawford (2), Scott Crawford (1)
Fusion I: Hans Pillards (0), Ashley Stokes (0), Da Shuai Zhang (2), Eli Baraty (0)
Barrow I vs OLOP Impact I
Barrow, buoyed by the morning’s performance wanted to finish the weekend on a high and win the competition out right. As Barrow were on equal points and game difference with Fusion, this meant trying to beat OLOP Impact (who sat at the foot of the table) by as big a margin as possible. At the same time, Barrow had to rely on Gareth Herbert’s TTK Greenhouse to inflict some damage on Fusion.
Maintaining the morning’s momentum, Barrow were fast out of the blocks. They steam rolled a startled OLOP Impact taking the match score to 4-0 at the halfway mark. Evans beat David Barr, Krivić beat Chris Bush, Scott Crawford beat Hari Gehlot and Jonathan Crawford beat Liam McTiernan.
Meanwhile, on the other table, Fusion had dropped a game against TTK Greenhouse, but still held a convincing 3-1 lead.
It would be nice to be able to write that there was a dramatic conclusion as to who the winners of the British League Play-Offs would be, but Barrow were simply coasting. The next four games went the same as the first four and with the exception of Brad’s very tired victory over Gehlot, each victory was easily obtained. Krivić comfortably beat Barr, Jonathan Crawford finished the weekend with a 100% record easily beating Bush and Scott Crawford proved that he could hold his own at this level by beating McTiernan.
With the final score 8–0 to Barrow and Fusion only beating TTK Greenhouse 6–2, Barrow had not only gained promotion to the British Premier League, but had done so in style by been crowned the 2010 British League Play-Off Champions. This is truly a great result and arguably the best result of any Cumbrian table tennis team ever!
Final Score: Barrow I 8 – 0 OLOP Impact I
Barrow I: Jakov Krivić (2), Bradley Evans (2), Jonathan Crawford (2), Scott Crawford (2)
Fusion I: David Barr (0), Chris Bush (0), Hari Gehlot (0), Liam McTiernan (0)
This weekend, Barrow I will compete against Elgre Nottingham, TTK Greenhouse, OLOP Impact I, Fusion I and Pavilion Brighton in the British League Play-Offs. The round-robin style event is to be played at Cippenham Table Tennis Centre and the award for the top two teams is a place in the British League Premier Division.
Barrow I qualified for last season’s British League Play-Offs and finished in fourth position. The team could have done better had then team number 1 Gavin Rumgay been available to play (Gavin was playing in the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships).
This time around, despite the loss of current team number 1 Darius Knight (Spanish League commitments), the team hopes to do better. With the addition of top Croatian Jakov Krivić to the team and Jonathan and Scott Crawford improving vastly over the last year, promotion is a strong possibility.
Over the weekend, the team will be coached by former England team coach Denis Neale.