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League shock at death of stalwart

PUBLISHED: 10:47 25 March 2010 | UPDATED: 10:27 13 July 2010

THE North Norfolk Table Tennis League has been shocked and saddened by the news that Cromer Aces' captain Geoff Long suffered a heart attack and died during his team's Handicap Singles Cup quarter-final match with Outlaws.

THE North Norfolk Table Tennis League has been shocked and saddened by the news that Cromer Aces' captain Geoff Long suffered a heart attack and died during his team's Handicap Singles Cup quarter-final match with Outlaws.

He was a long-time member of Cromer Lawn Tennis and Squash Club.

Fellow captain at Cromer and friend Anne Armitage, of the Crosscourts team, said: “Geoff was one of the mainstays of tennis and table tennis at Cromer and will be greatly missed.

“He always played in a competitive spirit and, despite an arm injury, continued to play for the club regularly.

“A retired teacher, he was a keen supporter of Norwich City and Manchester United, loved sport and sailing. He leaves behind two sons and many sporting friends.”

League chairman Chris Pooley also paid tribute: “Geoff was a great character who played with enthusiasm at all times and will be greatly missed.”

Press officer Philip Stone added “Playing against Geoff was never dull and his enthusiasm could be infectious at times. He will be remembered as one of the all-time great characters and life in the league will be a lot less colourful now that he is no longer with us.”

The tragic events at Cromer make the rest of the week's activity seem somewhat trivial.

Aces were leading the quarter-final 3-0 when the match was abandoned and it is of comfort that Geoff, who had not had the best of seasons, won the last game he played and was pleased with it.

Outlaws have allowed Aces to progress to the semi-finals where they will meet Specials, after Cobras conceded their quarter-final. And, while on the subject, Crosscourts have also conceded their league match with Pirates.

The following night another match took place at Cromer Tennis Club, a rearranged fixture between Crosscourt's Whil De Neve, Anne Armitage and Mike Cheek and Goblin's Peter Ward, Derek Sidway and Simeon Care. Before the match started, a minute's silence was held at the tennis courts, on behalf of the league, in respect for Geoff.

Ward took a maximum, Sidway defeated Armitage in five, Care also took a single and the latter duo took the doubles as Goblins won 6-4.

For Crosscourts De Neve hit a remarkable air smash and took a brace, as did Cheek.

The showpiece event of the week - the semi-final of the Knockout Singles Cup, took place at Cromer.

Backhanders' Teucer Wilson, Rod Goffin and Murray Shanahan hosted Specials' Martin Lawes, Jonathan Care and John Batchford.

Lawes used his spin serves well, but Wilson scraped through the opener in four. Care fought back from two down to defeat Goffin - Specials winning just one more point across the five sets as he levelled the semi-final.

A straight sets win flattered Batchford in a good clash of styles with Shanahan, the final set being the tightest at 15-13 and the more consistent Lawes made it 3-1 to Specials with a win in four against Goffin.

Backhanders bounced back to level the tie at 3-3 with two wins in four as Wilson won an entertaining affair with Batchford and Shanahan blocked Care's loop well - counter-attacking his way to a win.

Goffin led Batchford by a set and 8-2, but then dropped the second set and the momentum swung to Specials who won in four and Lawes closed proceedings with another four set win against Shanahan.

The 5-3 win puts Specials into the final against Outlaws - that match likely to be the highlight of the concluding part of the season.

One other result this week returning to the Handicap Singles Cup as the Gresham's School team of Ray Lau, Alex Lam and Chris Stadelmaier had starts between 12-16 and did not drop a set (and come to that not many points) against a strong Dolphins team, winning 6-0.


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