Overseeing the last bits of business before the mid-season festive pause in play

By Katie Garner

With my nosy streak present and correct, it was time to get down to business for the final league committee meeting of 2013, this time held at Dagenham Park Leisure Centre – the new home of Hunters. Huddled in the meeting room off the reception, only four of us gathered to discuss the finer details of latter day league happenings but it was still a rather productive session.

The most exciting section of the evening was undoubtedly the Challenge Cup draw, as we played lucky dip with strips of paper labelled with the various club names. The Challenge Cup is an annual handicap knockout tournament that is played amongst the clubs in the league. Each club puts forward a team of five men and five women who then have to garner enough wins to see them through to the final. This is decidedly one tournament that consistently eludes us, and we have only reached the second stage once in our entire Challenge Cup career.

This year, the opening games are to be the quarter final stage and these will be played during the last week in January. I must confess I let out a bit of a groan as I discovered we would be pitted against Redbridge 1 in an away game, although the committee meeting to discuss the handicap points has not occurred yet, so hopefully we can even the odds there. It’ll be nice to get our teeth stuck into the challenge though and I am optimistic that we can give some good games.  Emerson Eagles 1 will be playing their first match against Epping, whilst Harold Hill will be facing off against Ramgarhia. The final quarter final will be between Hunters and Emerson Eagles 2.

Trio of shuttles

The invoice has been settled for the new annual tournament to be played in May, a continuation of last season’s 70th anniversary tournament since it was such a rip roaring success. This is another handicap, knockout competition, where Gary and I played in the mixed doubles last time to reach the semi-final stage after coming first in our group. We were the only Wychelm representatives last year, and even though you do have to pay for entry, I expect to see a lot more of you guys there this time. Don’t disappoint me again!

As usual, we also received an update on the current scoring statuses of the various divisions playing in the league. Our Mixed team are currently sitting in second place in Division Two, behind Shuttlers. This is rather reassuring actually, as Shuttlers have played two more games than us, so therefore have a higher score tally for that reason. The only two matches we have played so far have been against Shuttles both times and we defeated them twice, so I’m feeling quietly optimistic about this one, although I am aware that Jess will be abroad for the latter part of the season, so this may affect our results. The Men’s squad over in Division 4 are ranked 4th at the moment, again with Shuttlers heading up this division as well. I would prefer to gloss over the Ladies Pairs – both our A and B pairs are last in their respective divisions so there is a very high possibility of some division movement next season unless we gain some drastic points after Christmas!

The league has completed its good deed of the year by making a contribution towards the cost of feather shuttlecocks to be used in the Make a Wish Foundation charity tournament, where teams of one adult and one child under 15 take on other pairs. The organisers were extremely pleased to be funded by the league for this, as we all know how expensive feathers can be.

On a more negative note, we unfortunately had to discuss an increasing re-occurring situation where some clubs are not sending a full team out to the away games, ie two pairs instead of the full three needed for a complete squad. This of course is not fair on the home team, so it is a problem to be addressed. An idea that was mentioned is a system that is currently used in the Essex league, where clubs get a point for turning up with a full team, or a point deducted if they arrive with less than the stated three duos. Apparently the club involved here has a lot of members leaving so that may be their reason for this inconvenience, but nevertheless, this is an idea that we will take forward into the next league meeting to be discussed further.

Leading on from Epping making a complaint about having to travel so far for matches on such a regular basis, an idea was put forward by one of the committee members regarding the Ladies Pairs games, where instead of only playing two pairs per evening, each pair would instead host one home night where you would play all five pairs in one hit. Obviously this has implications, as there is no way the current best of three games to 21 could continue, so this would have to be altered, maybe to best of three games to 15, or two games to 21 or maybe even one game played to 31 points. If this idea was carried ahead, it would mean less fixtures over the course of the season, which would mean less time travelling and fewer nights taken up by matches, as the current system can be occasionally viewed as time consuming. The majority of committee members liked this idea of changing the system, so this is another issue that is going to be raised in the next meeting when more members are present to fine tune how we could proceed with this idea.

The next league committee meeting isn’t until the end of January, although we have a handicap meeting early January to finalise details for the Challenge Cup. As always, I’ll keep you posted on any news and developments!