League mourns popular player

Star Paving Services North Norfolk Table Tennis LeagueTHE league is in shock following the death of Backhanders player Steve Thomson, who died at home, aged 57 following an infection and heart attack.

Star Paving Services North Norfolk Table Tennis League

THE league is in shock following the death of Backhanders player Steve Thomson, who died at home, aged 57 following an infection and heart attack.

Steve made his debut in the league on September 26, 2005, with a maximum against Delta, and with an average of 81 per cent that season he helped his team achieve promotion to the first division.

A highlight came last year when Backhanders defeated Deltas 5-3 in a memorable Handicap Doubles Cup final with Steve hitting the final two winners of the night to win the cup - a trophy the team were due to start the defence of this very week.

Again this season the Backhanders team of Steve and his team-mates Teucer Wilson and Rod Goffin were a force to be reckoned with - Steve was involved in a famous win over Alpha and the Backhanders team had a chance of finishing as runners-up in the league championship.

Steve's last match was against Cobras on January 14 where he took a maximum, winning his last singles in five against James Baldock-Yaxley.

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Teucer hopes to keep the team running in Steve's memory - it will be difficult as the team are down to two men and it will be a hard gap to fill.

Steve was one of the great characters of the league who will be missed and he leaves behind a large family to whom the league's condolences and sympathy are sent.

Three Handicap Doubles Cup first-round fixtures were played this week with two going right down to the wire - both North Walsham versus Trunch fixtures being decided on the deciding set of the deciding match.

At Walsham Sports Centre, Deltas Tom Baldock-Yaxley, Stan Baldock and Jay Gardner took on Sharks regular Nigel Hayward-Surry and his cup-tied teammates Mike Toye and John Barron. In all of the nine contests the Delta duos had starts of nine, 10 or 11 points and they raced into a 3-0 lead without dropping a set.

However, Sharks then made an astonishing comeback to take the next four battles - three of which went to a deciding set, including a 21-20 sudden death finish for Hayward-Surry and Toye over Baldock-Yaxley and Gardner.

The latter duo then won the eighth contest in straight to set up the deciding match between Baldock-Yaxley and Baldock (+11) and Hayward-Surry and Barron.

The visitors won 19-21 21-16 21-19 - from 0-3 down in the tie.

Meanwhile at Trunch, Dolphins Scott Wallace, Steve and Matthew Hudson hosted the same Cobras trio of Alex Spragg, James Baldock-Yaxley and Adam Brown that had knocked them out of the Handicap Singles Cup.

Cobras attacked well with Brown involved in all four of their wins but Dolphins were winning vital games.

The battles were won alternatively all the way up to the decisive ninth where the two unbeaten duos of Wallace and Matthew Hudson (+2) and Baldock-Yaxley and Brown took each other on.

It was a fantastic finale with the Dolphins taking the initiative - it was a shame that a net cord concluded the Dolphins' 17-21 21-17 21-18 win.

The Seals trio of Ray Amo, Chris Marshall and Ron Millett concluded a good week for Seaflames as they defeated Hunnybell 5-0 - just the one three-setter in that one.

Two quarter-final line-ups are now known - Specials will host Beta (who both had byes) and Seaflames are guaranteed to feature in the semis with Seals taking on Dolphins.