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News Release - BSMTTC News 173
Dateline: 13 April 2024

What a week!

What a week it has been in the semi-final round of the Liverpool League Frank Murphy Veterans Handicap Cup competition. There have been two very high quality matches and both featuring a team from the club!


Cup Holders

Let's start with the current holders of the cup! Colin Turner, who lifted the trophy last season and was also a player in the winning BSM team the season before, was again in action leading his team to an encounter with Merseyside Police 1. For this match Colin was again joined by Matt Wilson - who was also part of last season's winning team, but found himself without his teammate, Lawrence Kenwright, who has been a rock in their division 1 side all season. Colin was however able to bring in a division 1 standard player as a replacement in the form of Dermot Tierney, who has himself lifted this trophy. A strong side. But they faced an equally strong Police side. Top division 1 player Neil Pickard headed the Police line up, and he was joined by the very experienced Paul Gittins - who has a very strong track record in this competition, especially against BSM sides! And, for this match, Jon Dyson replaced Tom Purcell who has featured for this team in previous rounds. With such high quality players on display for both sides and very little separating the teams on handicap - just 19 points in favour of the Police side - the scene was set for a top quality match. The match started well for the BSM team, taking the first two sets, and moving them into a small points lead. But then Neil Pickard came to the table! Police were back in front. This pattern would be repeated 3 times, well almost! Two more sets went to BSM, before Neil again pulled the Police back into it. Sets 7 and 8 once again went to BSM leaving the visitors 29 points ahead. But with 42 points available in the last set it was still possible for Neil to turn the match around again. But what a fight Matty put up in the final set, restricting Neil to an advantage of just 12 points. It wasn't quite enough, so after a top class match the BSM boys finished just ahead by 17 points. There was no doubt that Neil was the man-of-the-match but despite his top quality performance it was the BSM team who move on to challenge the final once again.  


Above the two teams. On the left, Merseyside Police 1 - Neil Pickard, Jon Dyson and Paul Gittins. It was Paul's birthday - but no celebrations this time! Paul did however provide the teams with some excellent cakes, maybe it was the cake that inspired Dermot's performance?

On the right, the BSM 4 team, Matthew Wilson, Colin Turner & Dermot Tierney.
Opposite the score card, and below Dermot preparing for the match!


Would be winner!

Team Captain, Andrew Armstrong, has been so close to lifting this trophy himself more than once! His BSM 5 team were once again in the semi-final with a tasty draw at home to Maghull 4. On paper Andy had slightly more than home advantage, but facing last minute enforced changes to his line-up and a significant handicap disadvantage which underrated the skill and levels of the opponents it was going to be tough to get through. In earlier rounds, Steve Green had joined Keith Williams and Julian Quirk in the BSM 5 line-up, but with Steve away in Germany, Clare Peers was brought in as a very good replacement. However, on the day Clare was forced to pull out, as she was unwell. So, captain Andrew himself, stepped in! The surprise after this enforced change was that it still gave the visitors, a mixture of division 2 and 4 standard players, an 81 point advantage. This would take some recovering. Things didn't start too well for the BSM team with Keith Williams surprisingly dropping a game in the first set to Alan Chan. Julian Quirk however steadied the ship, and continued in the same vein through the match to take the Man-of-the-Match award. Keith equally came good in his second and third sets, but with the visitors taking points off Andrew in his first two sets by the time the final set arrived the visitors were just 13 points behind with their No.1 left to play Andrew. Then when Alan Chan knocked off 11 points in the first game it seemed the writing was on the wall for BSM. But what a fight Andrew put up in the final game of the night, against the odds winning the game and thereby winning the match for BSM by just 5 points. What a finish! There is great coverage of this match on the Liverpool League Facebook page. Do take a look. A fabulous night of table tennis.


Above left, the Maghull 4 team of Phil O'Mullane, Dave Britton & Alan Chan.
Above right, the BSM 5 team of Julian Quirk, Andrew Armstrong & Keith Williams. And to the left the match score card, showing just how close this match was.  

Pictures courtesy of the Ray Hibbs photographic studio.

And in conclusion.......

There is no doubt this was a Thursday night when it was better to watch competitive table tennis at its best than watch LFC in the Europa Cup! A great night of table tennis, two excellent hard fought matches both played in the best spirit. We now look forward to the Final, which once again will be an all Bath Street affair. The match will be on Wednesday 24 April at Marine - and spectators will be most welcome. Who will be lifting this trophy this year? 

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