Badminton politics causes some serious scandal as clubs unite at the end of season annual general meeting

By Katie Garner

With club annual general meetings being held left, right and centre, it was only a matter of time before the league summoned representatives from across the local area to hear all the end of season news and results before the usual summer respite from play. This year gathering at the home of Harold Hill, the community hall room was surprisingly packed out with members, shuffling wads of meeting minutes, results tables and financial reports.

Whizzing through the formalities of the secretary’s and treasurer’s reports, it was then time to hit the part of the agenda that everyone was waiting for – the all-important results that everyone has been playing for all season. With regards to Wychelm, our final results were averagely ok – not dazzlingly fantastic but a stocky and steady performance that we shall continue to develop and build upon. Kicking off with the Mixed Division One, tearaway winners Ramgarhia stormed the season to win the top group, while we unfortunately trailed in the rear with fifth place and an undoubted drop for next season.  Our Men’s Team have been sussing out Division Four and after scandalous shenanigans  from other clubs causing rifts in the scoring, this saw our blokes drop into fourth place, with Emerson Eagles IV actually leading the group due to penalties issued to Shuttlers and Barking for bad behaviour. The Ladies Pairs had us in raptures as Wychelm secured second spot in Division One, beaten by Corinthians A in pole position. Division Two saw Harold Hill rate the highest, with our duo sliding into fifth. The Challenge Cup results were also revealed, and once again Ramgarhia had blazed on a successful run to see them defeat Emerson Eagles Two in the final of the annual knockout tournament, with spectators exclaiming over what a close and enjoyable game it was to witness.

Trio of shuttles

Leading on from this, came the normal assessment of the current committee posts. This year, it was time for a shuffle in the top spots as League Chairman Len Beech is finally retiring after numerous years holding down the fort of local badminton. Handing over the reins to his son and fellow committee regular Stephen, it was voted that the chain of command would pass down to him. Stephen will also continue on in his current role of treasurer, manning two posts. Hunters leader Michael will be carrying on in his role as assistant match secretary, but he will also be taking Stephen’s old job of league secretary making him another dual role member. All other committee roles will remain unchanged. Joining the task force is Paula, Corinthians’ go-to-girl who will be joining the team of current committee members to round the number up to six.

Speeding along nicely, the meeting then hit a road block in the form of a colossal show down between new club Shuttlers and established youth-supporting squad Emerson Eagles as allegations of cheating floated to the surface.  A rather unsavoury business, even contemplating cheating in league going-ons just tarnishes the open and honest competitive spirit that usually engulfs and bolsters the playful banter and love of the game that we all display in such abundance. Eagles brought to light their complaint about the unresolved issue of using unregistered players in league matches, which is distinctly against the long-standing rules of the competition. Apparently, clubs such as Shuttlers and on occasion Barking, have been writing down the same names on every match score card yet observant players had clocked that the players on court were completely different each time, clearly flaunting the rules. After some digging and investigative work, Eagles had uncovered that the numerous players who featured in the second match were unregistered, which was why they had kept the names the same on the score cards in an attempt to fly under the radar. Barking added another element to this by using a mix of registered players and ones playing down from the above divisions. They have since admitted to the error, although their version of events doesn’t exactly correlate with Eagles well documented account.

But the battle didn’t end there. With Shuttlers denying any wrongdoing, Eagles then went on to their next complaint against the Essex players. Apparently two days before a Shuttlers home match, they asked whether Eagles could make a new start time a whole hour before the match start time, which is not enough notice. Secondly, once Eagles arrived, it was evident that Shuttlers were suffering from some serious mismanagement, as a fixture clash resulted in the club being swamped with players. After winning the first five games, Eagles reported that Shuttlers asked them to concede the remaining games so that they could begin their next round of matches (some of which were not league games and unrelated to the fixtures).  Temperatures were rising, voices were bordering on shouting and an inconclusive round of spats soon commenced between team Eagles and team Shuttlers.

Emerson Eagles revealed that they were very keen to enforce some form of new motion so that this problem can never happen again, and they mentioned the idea of getting signatures on every score sheet sent off, ensuring a track record of which people played what games. It would provide the league with something to compare each set of results to so that if signatures didn’t add up, we would be able to investigate further and see if any form of cheating had occurred.

Shuttles and tube

Shuttlers also began pointing the finger back at Eagles, in an unsuccessful attempt using their accusation right back at them. Notorious whispers were circulating that Shuttlers were kicked out of the Essex League as well as original club Ramgarhia for similar behaviour. It was decided that Emerson Eagles would accept the wins on the matches were cheating occurred by Shuttlers, and this is how Emerson Eagles IV began the winners of Division Four. The committee will decide what action to take against Shuttlers in the next meeting, scheduled for July.

Redbridge also featured under the spotlight, as there were calls for them to be punished for conceding a vast number of their away games, and also numerous home games due to lack of organisation. This has resulted in massively affecting the final results of divisions that they play in, and this is unfair on the players who turn up dedicatedly to every fixture. The league will contact Redbridge and enforce upon them that if they cannot commit to play all the fixtures, then they will have to reduce the quantity of squads that they enter, as their lack of activity is disappointing.

On a brighter note, Corinthians came up with the idea of forming a league website that was greeted by a warm and positive murmur. It was thought that this may be a more efficient and simpler way to keep track of results mid-season as well as a good forum for recent information that is accessible for everyone. It was tentatively suggested that Corinthians take this development further.

On the whole, it was rather an exciting get together, due to the scandal of arguments that marred the middle of the meeting. Hopefully now that everyone is aware of this potential problem, we can all be more vigilant although I doubt it will make an appearance again after the whirlwind of opposition that greeted the accusations.