Last weekend, Barrow II began their quest for promotion from Division 2 North of the British League. An all Barrow team consisting of Jonathan Crawford, Scott Crawford, Tristran Swan and Tom Smith supported by Garstang based Graham Coupe entered Hynburn Sports Centre in Accrington ready to face all that awaited.
Sheffield vs Barrow II
Barrow II started the weekend against long time opposition and the familiar faces of Sheffield.
Scott Crawford and brother Jonathan got the team off to a good start with a win a piece against Bill Grant and Pete Morgan. Tom Smith then entered the court, but seemed to have left his usual fighting spirit and confidence behind him as he didn’t look up for the game against Jack Grant which he lost. Tristran Swan then returned Barrow II to winning ways with a convincing win against Liam Carson to leave the match score 3-1 to Barrow at the halfway point.
Jonathan and Scott continued as they started, scoring convincing wins over Bill Grant and Jack Grant. The lower end of the team then failed to match the top order as Tristran Swan went down to Pete Morgan and Tom Smith suffered a disappointing defeat in the hands of Liam Carson.
Barrow II vs Derwent II
Barrow II’s second and final game of the first day was against Derwent II, a team that will be battling for survival this season and therefore a must win. Despite his poor display in the morning, it was decided to give Tom Smith a chance to redeem himself and turn his game around.
Barrow II got off to a storming 7 – 0 lead with Jonathan Crawford beating Mick Wilcockson and Richard Moss, Scott Crawford beating Richard Moss and Richard Breary, Tristran Swan beating Doug Bartel and Mick Wilcockson and Tom Smith beating Richard Breary. Once again, Tom Smith didn’t look his usual self and failed to crank the gear shift as he suffered a bad loss against Doug Bartel.
Final Score: Barrow II 7 – 1 Derwent II
Barrow II: Jonathan Crawford (2), Scott Crawford (2), Tristran Swan (2), Tom Smith (1)
Derwent II: Richard Moss (0), Mick Wilcockson (0), Richard Breary (0), Doug Bartel (1)
Barrow II vs Halton II
Barrow II’s second day started with the toughest fixture of the weekend and surprise package Halton II. During the close season, Halton have signed a number of players meaning one-time first team players moving down to the second team.
Barrow II couldn’t have got off to a better start as Jonathan Crawford ‘grannied’ Jake Shaw in the first set of the first game. For those unfamiliar with the term, ‘to granny’, it is to beat someone game 0. This didn’t prove to be a fluke, as Jonathan went on to win the game convincingly. Jonathan was once again backed up by brother, Scott, who scored a good win over Chris Ford. Tristran Swan once again failed to take his chances against Pawel Orzechowski and despite a fighting performance, Graham Coupe lost to strong opposition in the form of Keith Bird. At the halfway point this left the match tied 2 apiece. For Barrow II to win and keep their promotion dreams on course, they needed to win 3 out of the remaining 4 games.
Jonathan Crawford comfortably overcame Chris Ford and in a crucial game Tristran Swan beat Jake Shaw. Thankfully, Barrow II didn’t have to wait to the final game for victory to be sealed as Scott Crawford decisively beat Keith Bird. With the pressure relieved this gave the opportunity for Graham to play ‘his game’ against Pawel Orzechowski. However, on this occasion it was Pawel that enjoyed the honours.
Final Score: Barrow II 5 – 3 Halton II
Barrow II: Jonathan Crawford (2), Scott Crawford (2), Tristran Swan (1), Graham Coupe (0)
Halton II: Chris Ford (0), Jake Shaw (0), Keith Bird (1), Pawel Orzechowski (2)
Woodfield I vs Barrow II
Going into this game, a tough decision had to be made. Graham Coupe had battled hard and played well in the morning. Tom on the other hand had failed to perform and justify his selection the day before. Despite this, it was once again decided to give Tom Smith another chance to prove himself.
Barrow II started the game in uncharted territory. For the first time over the weekend, the team went behind as Scott Crawford suffered a surprise defeat in the hands of Andy Rich. A lot of credit has to go to Andy as he played sensationally. Scott simply didn’t have the power to break his solid defensive style.
Jonathan Crawford then went on to the table and scored an easy win against John Collymore. This was matched by Tom Smith as he returned to winning ways beating Leigh Hipkins. Tristran Swan extended Barrow II’s lead to 3 – 1 with a sometimes nervous win over Tom Savary.
Jonathan then faced his brother’s slayer, Andy Rich. After some incredible and intense rallies it was Andy Rich that ran out the surprise victor. As Jonathan came off the table he confessed he didn’t have a game plan and for the first time a whiff of tension drifted through the Barrow II camp.
In must win games, Scott Crawford easily beat Leigh Hipkins and a much more relaxed Tristran Swan destroyed John Collymore securing victory. Tom Smith concluded the weekend winning in deuce in a tight 5-set battle with Tom Savory.
Final Score: Woodfield 2 – 6 Barrow II
Barrow II: Jonathan Crawford (1), Scott Crawford (1), Tristran Swan (2), Tom Smith (2)
Woodfield I: Andy Rich (2), John Collymore (0), Leigh Hipkins (0), Tom Savary (0)
The clock is ticking and the opening weekend of Barrow II’s British League campaign is drawing closer.
Last season, Barrow II narrowly escaped relegation from Division 2 North after moving from the foot of the table during the final weekend of play. This season, the team aims to turn last season’s 7th position into 1st, thus winning promotion to Division 1 North.
The first British League weekend, 11th and 12th of September, is to be played at Hyndburn Sports Centre in Accrington. Barrow II’s opponents include Sheffield who were relegated from Division 1 North last season as well as Derwent II, Halton II and Woodfield I who finished 3rd last season. Sheffield and Woodfield I stand out as the weekends two tough fixtures. However, with team squads yet to be released, there could be some hidden dangers lurking.
The Barrow II team is to be an all Barrow affair consisting of Jonathan Crawford, Scott Crawford, Tristran Swan and Tom Smith. Travelling with the team will be reserve player Graham Coupe from Garstang.
British League Division 1 North Final Table
British League Division 1 North Results
British League Division 1 North Barrow Player Averages
British League Division 2 North Final Table
British League Division 2 North Results
Barrow II Player Averages
Despite the first day’s results not going Barrow I’s way with two 5-3 defeats, results elsewhere meant a play-off place was secure. With little to play for, and the distraction of the 2nd team’s battle for survival, it seemed a win for Barrow I was going to be hard to come by.
Barrow I vs Sheffield
Barrow I’s first game was against Sheffield; the division’s ‘whipping boys’ and a team that Barrow I had beaten 6-2 in the first half of the season. The match saw the return of Tristran Swan as Scott Crawford returned to play for the 2nd team in their crunch match against Elgre Nottingham II.
Barrow I got off to a fast start with wins for Jonathan Crawford over Simon Pugh (6, 5, 9) and Brad Evans over Paul Johnson (8, 7, 9). However, once again it was the teams lower end that failed to perform as Steve Dixon lost to Jack Grant (-6, 5, -9, -6) and Tristran Swan suffered a disappointing defeat to Liam Carson (-6, 2, -9, -9).
Going into the second half of the match with the score tied two a-piece, the ever dependable Brad Evans stepped up and beat Simon Pugh (9, 10, 5) and was backed up by Jonathan Crawford who comfortably beat Jack Grant (6, 9, 8). This gave Barrow I a 4-2 lead and needing only one more win to take 2 points. Next up was Tristran Swan who should have beat Paul Johnson after leading the 5th and final set 10-8, however, it wasn’t to be as he lost it game 10 (6, -6, -3, 8, -10). So, it was up to Steve Dixon to secure victory for the team as he easily beat Liam Carson (8, 7, 5).
Barrow I vs Halton I
Barrow I’s final game of the season saw them face Halton I, the closest team Barrow I have to arch-rivals and a team they beat 5-3 at the start of the season. The match saw Tom Smith stepping up into the team, making his debut, in reward for his morning’s performance for the second team.First up Brad Evans scored a comfortable three straight set victory against Chris Ford (7, 2, 6). This was followed up by a less comfortable affair as Jonathan Crawford faced the ever-entertaining Richard Lightowler. Jonathan went two sets up, but took his foot of the gas and ended up losing to the seasoned veteran in the fifth set (8, 9, -8, -9, -6). Tristran Swan then lost to Pawel Orzechowski (-8, -8, -6) before the stage was set for England Number 409 Tom Smith to face his biggest challenge of the weekend in the form of England Number 88, Michael Moir. On paper, this should have been a breeze for Michael, however, from the start he was under pressure and it wouldn’t be unfair to say that Tom never let him get into the game as he won comfortably in three straight sets (8, 10, 6).
With the matched tied two all at the halfway point, Bradley Evans faced Richard Lightowler. Given previous confrontations, it is obvious Brads scalp is one that Richard wants, but he’ll have to wait for now. Like his earlier match, Brad cruised through winning 8, 1 and 3. After a nervous start, Tristran Swan furthered Barrow I’s lead to 4-2 with a good win over higher ranked Chris Ford (-5, 7, 9, 3). Jonathan Crawford then failed to keep Mick Moir’s swinging attacking style at bay as he suffered a disappointing, but tight defeat (-12, -12, 7, 9, -10). So, with the match 4-3 in Barrow I’s favour, it was up to Tom Smith to conjure up some of the magic he’d shown over the weekend to secure a victory for Barrow I. However, it wasn’t to be as Pawel Orzechowski evaded his wizardry skills (-9, 10, -10, -10) to earn a draw for Halton I.
Final Score: Barrow I 4 – 4 Halton I
Barrow I: Brad Evans (2), Jonathan Crawford, Tristran Swan (1), Tom Smith (1)
Sheffield: Richard Lightowler (1), Chris Ford , Michael Moir (1), Pawel Orzechowski (2)
After a team meal and a good night’s sleep, Barrow II returned to Draycott and Longeaton Table Tennis Centre for the team’s day of reckoning. The team arrived early, looked a little nervous and practiced hard in preparation for their first match – the crunch game against Elgre Nottingham II.
Barrow vs Elgre Nottingham II
After the previous day’s proceedings, Elgre Nottingham II went into the match sitting 1 point ahead of Barrow II and second from bottom in the table. Both teams faced tough opposition in the final matches to be played in the afternoon. This really was the game that would decide who would go up and who would go down. For Barrow II to stay up, a win was a must, whilst Nottingham Elgre II could make do with a draw. The two clubs previous meeting in the first half of the season had resulted in a 4 all draw.
First up for Barrow II was Scott Crawford and for Elgre Nottingham II it was Craig Feargieve. Scott throughout the season has been the team’s main man for wins, but worryingly, as the game got going, he looked lethargic. Despite this, he won the first set game 7, but then lost the next game 5. Scotty then battled through to take the next ends game 4 and 10. First blood for Barrow II.Next up was Steve Temple against Chris Brewer. It seems like Steve likes to get his money’s worth and once again his match went all the way to 5 sets. The 5th set was a real battle, but Steve eventually won through taking the 5th end game 8. Barrow II now found themselves with a 2-0 lead. All was looking good, but in the grand scheme of things it was still early days.
Next on court was Graham Coupe for Barrow II and Robert Fearn for Elgre Nottingham II. The first two sets saw Graham edged out 8 and 9. Graham then pulled a set back game 5, but this was as far as his comeback would go as he lost the next set by the same margin. The score now sat at 2-1 to Barrow and the next game would see the intensity rise a notch or two as Tom Smith battled with Jimmy Brewster. Tom went 2 sets up, game 7 and game 8 before losing the next two sets game 9 and game 11. Once again, Tom found himself embroiled in a 5-set thriller which was to go all the way. Unfortunately, it was to be Jimmy Brewster’s day as he took the final set game 10.
At the halfway mark the score was 2 apiece, with nothing separating Barrow II and Elgre Nottingham II. For Barrow II, the margin for error had diminished as the team could only afford to loose 1 more match from the remaining 4 matches. It seemed that Elgre Nottingham II were now in the driving seat.The next three matches were uncharacteristically won in straight sets. First for Barrow II, Scott Crawford beat Chris Brewer (6, 11, 9) and then for Elgre Nottingham II, Craig Feargrieve beat Graham Coupe (2, 5, 11). Finally, Steve Temple breezed through beating Jimmy Brewster (7, 7, 7) leaving the match 4-3 to Barrow II and setting up a must win match for Tom Smith against Robert Fearn.
From the start, it was obvious that both players were desperate to ‘save’ their respective clubs as an exhibition of determined table tennis ensued. Such was the determination that barriers went flying as desperate bids were made to retrieve balls from all sides of the court. After one incredible rally after another, the match finally entered a 5th and final set. It doesn’t get much more dramatic than this!
As the game got started, it was Tom that had the better body language and composure. This showed as he took a comfortable lead, which he held to take the set game 4. This importantly gave Barrow II the much needed victory to take them out of the relegation spot. Well done Tom!
Final Score: Barrow II 5 – 3 Elgre Nottingham II
Barrow II: Scott Crawford (2), Steve Temple (2), Graham Coupe, Tom Smith (1)
Elgre Nottingham II: Chris Brewer, Craig Feargrieve (1), Jimmy Brewster (1), Robert Fearn (1)
Barrow II vs Derwent II
With Elgre Nottingham II facing the divisions top team Burton Uxbridge I, it looked like Barrow II was safe. However, nothing can be taken for granted and complacency can be a dangerous thing. Derwent II were 5th in the division and beat Barrow II 3-5 in the teams previous meeting. Given the form and confidence been shown by Barrow II, it looked like this match was winnable.
Indeed, it is amazing how a couple of wins can transform a team. Barring a first match hiccup which saw Steve Temple narrowly loose to Richard Moss 5, 13 and 12, the team went on to destroy Derwent II 7-1 laying to bed any relegation fears in the process. Amongst the wins for the Barrow team was one noticeable one for Graham Coupe who beat the much higher ranked Mick Wilcockson 10, 10 and 10.
Final Score: Barrow II 7 – 1 Derwent II
Barrow II: Scott Crawford (2), Steve Temple (1), Graham Coupe (2), Mark Temple (2)
Derwent II: Richard Moss (1), Mick Wilcockson, Nathan Horsley, Richard Crowther
Going into the final weekend of Division 2 North of the British League, Barrow II were languishing at the bottom of the table. They were 1 point behind Elgre Nottingham II and 5 points behind Halton II. With 4 matches to be played, a maximum of 8 points to be won and only 1 team to be relegated, leap-frogging Elgre Nottingham II seemed to be Barrow II’s only hope for survival.
Barrow II vs Chesterfield
On paper, Barrow II’s first match looked to be the toughest of the weekend as they lined up against 2nd placed Chesterfield, a team that had convincingly beat them 8-0 in the first half of the season.For Barrow II, Scott Crawford beat Andy Henry (6, 9, -5, 10) to give the team an early lead and a promising start to a long weekend campaign. Chesterfield hit back straight away however, with two successive victories over the Temple brothers, Steve and Mark. Tom tempered the storm with a strong performance beating Shaun Bibby (7, 10, -9, 8 ) and was followed by the ever reliable Scott Crawford who brushed aside Andrew Horsfield (7, 8, -11, 9). With 3 matches left and a 3-2 lead, Barrow II were in a strong position and a valuable draw was looking more than a possibility.
Next up for Barrow II was Mark Temple and for Chesterfield Andy Henry. A tough battle ensued, but it was Mark that succumbed to defeat (9, -3, -3, 5, -4). Then up stepped Steve, was he going to avenge his brother’s loss and guarantee Barrow II at least a draw? Unfortunately not, as Shaun Bibby proved to be too strong (-10. -9, 9, -6).
With one match remaining, Barrow II were now losing 3-4 to Chesterfield. With a lot at stake, the pressure was on Tom Smith to beat Warren Slaney. After four close sets, 8, -10, -9 and 10, it looked like things were going to go Barrow II’s way as Tom led 10-5 in the fifth and final set, guaranteeing himself at least 5 match points. However, he faltered, eventually loosing 13-11.
The disappointment in Tom’s face was clear and things weren’t made any better for him and the team as news came through that Elgre Nottingham II had won their match against Halton II. This meant Elgre Nottingham II were now 3 points ahead of Barrow II, with 6 points to play for.
Final Score: Barrow II 3 – 5 Chesterfield
Barrow II: Scott Crawford (2), Steve Temple, Mark Temple, Tom Smith (1)
Chesterfield: Andrew Horsfield (1), Andy Henry (1), Shaun Bibby (1), Warren Slaney (2)
Barrow II vs Drumchapel Glasgow III
Next up for Barrow II was Drumchapel Glasgow III, a team sitting 3rd in the division and a team that had inflicted a 5-3 victory over Barrow II in the first half of the season. With these facts, the morning’s loss still fresh in the players mind and the loss of No. 1 Scott Crawford (replaced by Graham Coupe) to the 1st team, victory looked unlikely.First up for Barrow II, was seasoned veteran Graham Coupe who faced Andy McFadyen. After a tough five setter, it was Graham that emerged victorious (-5, 6, -6, 6, -4) and in doing so lifted the teams spirits. Once again, the team began to believe.
This new-found belief was short lived as Steve Temple lost in another five-set thriller to Andrew Dunlop (-7, 7, -7, 5, -8). However, this proved to be nothing more than a blip as successive victories for Tom Smith, Mark Temple and Steve Temple gave Barrow II a strong 4-1 lead. A draw was therefore guaranteed, but with Elgre Nottingham II now sitting 3 points clear, a victory was a must.
Drumchapel Glasgow III weren’t prepared to make Barrow II’s life easy as they demonstrated the grit and determination associated with the Scots. They pulled two wins back with victories for Nathan Courtney over Graham Coupe (-6, -6, -10) and Andrew Dunlop over Mark Temple (-8, -5, 13, -1). With the score sitting at 4-3 in Barrow II’s favour, but the momentum going Glasgow Drumchapels IIIs way, things were looking hairy.
Once again, it was Tom Smith that found himself under the spotlight as he faced up to Connor Moran. Tom had already proven by his earlier victory over Nathan Courtney that he had pulled himself together, but were flashbacks of the morning’s loss to Warren Slaney going to come back and haunt him? Thankfully not, as Tom claimed a comfortable victory 8, 7 and 8 and in doing so sealed Barrow IIs first win of the season. Was this a first win too late though? Was it going to maintain a 3 point gap, or close the gap to Elgre Nottingham II?
Thankfully, it was the latter as Chesterfield lost to Derwent II. The day’s events had cancelled each other out and Barrow II could go back to the hotel with the knowledge that the teams destiny was still in their own hands.
Final Score: Barrow II 5 – 3 Glasgow Drumchapel III
Barrow II: Steve Temple (1), Graham Coupe (1), Mark Temple (1), Tom Smith (2)
Glasgow Drumchapel III: Andrew McFadyen, Andrew Dunlop (2), Nathan Courtney (1), Connor Moran
The team – whose home is under threat as Furness Academy looks to expand its South Site – have won back-to-back promotions in the past three seasons, rising from Division Three to Division One in the national standings.
Last season, the club made the Premiership play-offs for the first time in their history, missing out to Sycamore and Derwent.
This season has seen the creation of a second Barrow team in Division Two of the British League, while the first team has been strengthened with the acquisition of England number two and London 2012 Olympics hopeful Darius Knight, as well as Croatian number three Jakov Krivić.
Their links with some of the best players in the country have allowed the Barrow team to excel, and this weekend will see key fixtures take place.
Both teams go into the final games of their British League campaigns with everything to play for, with four matches taking place over two days, in Draycott and Long Eaton, Derbyshire.
The two sides find themselves in very different positions, with the first team able to relax as, barring mathematical improbabilities, they have all but secured a Premier Division play-off place.
Meanwhile, Barrow TTC II go into the weekend, bottom of Division Two and battling for survival.
The most important and decisive match of the weekend will come when Barrow TTC II face second-from-bottom Nottingham Elgre, who are one point ahead in the standings. It is set to be a nail-biting weekend for Barrow, whose star players have travelled to Furness to coach many of the area’s young rising stars.
If the first team do rise into the Premier Division, then the cost of running the team is set to rise.
While their home is under threat, the teams are also looking for sponsorship to help fund their progress.
Anyone interested in sponsoring the club can email email@example.com for details regarding packages available for next season.