Here goes, Dave. Sorry it’s later than planned. Been on Jury Service in Preston so out of my normal pattern!
1) I see that you (age 61) are currently 67% win percentage and your son, Benjamin (age 20) 81%. What qualities would you say each of you bring to the table?
I’ll leave that one really………it’s only our second season and apart from a desire to improve and to learn from our mistakes and win as many games as possible I don’t think that there is anything – maybe in a couple of seasons???
2) Farnworth Social Circle ‘D’ are currently 3rd in the table. How do you rate your chance for a top two spot & promotion?
I have to say that we are in with a shout. It’s not just how well we play against the Hilton teams who are above us, it’s whether we can pick up more points against the other teams than the Hilton Teams manage
3) Are there any players in this division whose skills you admire?
Personally, Jawad Nazir who plays for Hilton H – everything I sent over to him, he sent back with a bit more besides – I recall he did the same to me in the Warburton Cup!!! Agata Sankiewicz (White Eagle) is another player who both Ben and I admire – I notice that she has also turned out in Division 3 where she has given a great account of herself. Our Dave Rogers too. He is so steady and given that he has stood in for our Division 3 side he has much to offer to Ben and me in how we conduct ourselves in matches
4) How did the father and son team come about?
Basically, about 4 years ago Ben challenged me to a game (said he’d batter me) which I won and following on from that we got to play together whenever we could – the intention for Ben was to beat me and for me was to ensure that he didn’t. Eventually we found Salford TT Club and after a while Geoff Rushton asked me if I would like to set up a team – how could I refuse. The team, of course, included me and Ben
5) I see that this is only your 2nd season in the Bolton League. What association / history do you have with the sport?
Absolutely nothing. I played tt at school on a very informal basis and when I started work (at 16) there were 2 tables which were utilised to a great extent. I played against league players but didn’t bother to take things further myself and when I discovered girls and beer (around 18) I stopped playing – apart from holidays I didn’t pick up a bat until around 4 years ago!
6) The teams above you have special players in Jawad Nazir (81%), George Brown (77%) for Hilton H & Jason Hill (83%), Robert Shaw (70%) for Hilton I. How did you feel pitting your wits against these improving players?
Since the very first match of last season, I have never felt overawed before a game and after each game, like most I suppose, I replay the matches in my mind and come up with I could’ve or I should’ve. I will be looking forward to playing everyone again in the return fixtures when I will be looking to improve on previous scores.
7) I notice that your win %age last season was 60% and Benjamin’s was 47%. A nice leap for yourself and a phenomenal jump for Ben. What do you put each improvement down to? Consistent play, more time at the table, coaching or observing others etc?
Neither of us have been coached – although players in the Farnworth SC teams do offer suggestions on how we could improve our games. It has to be down to table time and playing better/different players on a regular basis. We both had something of a lay off over the summer months and we both noticed a fall off in performance at the start of the season compared to how we finished last season.
8) What is life like in the Farnworth Social Circle stable? Personally, I know John Rothwell who is a nice chap. Do you hang around the cricket club at all?
We play for the club which is run by Jeff Rushton who runs the Salford Table Tennis club on a Friday night at Beesley Green in Roe Green, Worsley. All of the team practice their on a Friday night and play for FSC on league matches. The club itself is very friendly and the local members make us feel welcome and always stay for a drink after the home games. One of our team plays against FSC Cricket team each year and so knows a lot of the players down there
9) Do you and Ben have ambitions in this game? Would you like to play in a higher division?
At 61 I don’t have great ambitions in the game although I would like to gain promotion and see how well (or otherwise) I could do in the next division. Ben is much the same although he wants more than one promotion.
10) What satisfaction do you both take from the sport?
From winning…………..the drive home from a win is totally more satisfying than when we’ve lost when we might not say more than a couple of sentences to each other.
11) Could you live without table tennis?
Definitely. I managed for the best part of 57 years without it. Now if you took my fishing rods away from me or stopped me watching Liverpool FC…………………… Ben has a lot going on in his life at the moment – he is an aspiring football referee with an England U15 international and an international tournament in Dallas, Texas coming up soon…………….so he could live without it too.
12) Has there been a particular evening this season which you took great enjoyment from and why?
The Warburton Cup game against Hilton H…………..a real team effort where we were all counting the points scored and egging each other on to get one more point. We won by half a point (well done to the handicapper) and I recall George Brown (?) losing a point for putting his hand on the table……………….ultimately you could say that was the winning/losing point. The 3 of us were buzzing after that match!
13) There is a Polish lady in your division still on 100% (Agata Sankiewicz). What was it like playing her from yours and Ben’s perspective? She cleaned your team out in 3-sets/games each time, but I notice some of the sets were close. Has she any obvious weaknesses? And what are her strengths?
She is a very steady player who has the unpleasant knack of returning everything that you throw at her! She could probably do a job in division 3 and maybe even 2 or 1
14) You and Ben both played Keane Mills last season who is now 100% in Division having been promoted. How did you both find that experience? Better player than Agata or different skill set?
Keane is clearly a very good player. We both found that we made the other two players fight for points but Keane almost just had to stand at the other end of the table to win his – so laid back about it but completely unassuming. Probably a better player than Agata but we would love to see them play each other!
15) Did Benjamin have a natural liking for table tennis or are other sports attractive to him? Same question to you as well please.
I didn’t know that Ben had a liking for tt at all until he said that he was second best at school. He played a bit of tennis also but he definitely liked football and played a couple of seasons for Deans when he was 13 or 14. He has moved on to refereeing now and this takes first place in his sporting life. I picked up a table tennis bat when I was around 8 or 9 years of age……………then when I was 11 or 12 I could play the game but I preferred football and then I got into cycling – racing in local events and training with some of the stars of the time – I still organise cycling events for the Civil Service Sports Council.
16) Which papers do you read in relation to sport in general and are there any writers either of you have massive respect for? I, for example, enjoy reading Robert Ecksel (my sports editor at Boxing.com), Jon Colman (News & Star, Cumbria / Regional Sportswriter of the Year), Jon Howe (Leeds fanzine/journalist) and Kevin Garside (Independent) who, I find, are quite insightful, unafraid and original.
Ben doesn’t bother and I only take the Telegraph on a Saturday for football and/or cycling although I do check the Mirror for Liverpool reports, news and gossip. I have read any number of cycling books which have been written by journalists – Matt Rendell, Paul Kimmage and (of course) David Walsh who have all done their bit to highlight the drugs issue in cycling.
17) Which sportsmen and women do you each of you admire and/or respect? Why?
I admire Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins for making it big in a continental sport and doing it clean – if it is ever shown to be otherwise I would be devastated – Lance Armstrong was up there for me for 7 years but wow just how the mighty are fallen. The man I admire the most is Kenny Dalglish…………for what he did as a player, manager and how he conducted himself following Hillsborough. Ben admires Roger Federer and Raphael Nadal for what they have done and in the main continue to do in tennis.
18) Do you think there are any characters in the Bolton League? If so, who and why?
We don’t really know many people in the Bolton League but the one who sticks in our mind the most is Richard Reading of Hilton H? Not only did he acknowledge and encourage us when we played him but he get’s around the table aided by the use of a crutch and it honestly took me into his game against Ben before I realised that he was a leftie!
19) Do you envisage your win %age and Ben’s getting higher each season or could you have plateaued? What do you need to work on to get to the next level?
This depends greatly on what transpires at the end of the season but I am reasonably safe in saying that our averages should increase if we miss out on promotion. If we do get promoted, it will be another learning curve starting from a much lower base than where we finish at the end of the season. I need to work on my patience which I can do on my own but I also need to work on my back hand for which maybe I will look at getting some coaching. Ben’s all round game has improved immensely over the year and a half that we have been playing and I suspect that he will continue to improve regardless of what division we play in next season. He too is talking about some coaching .The biggest improvement in Ben’s game is his movement – last season he hardly moved his feet, this season, if he doesn’t watch out he will wear his trainers out!!!
20) Your 8-1 loss to Polonia on 1st April 2015 was significant not because of the heaviness of the defeat but because you ended up having a say in the Div4 title race (2014/15). Your own victory over Robert Chmurzynski that night (11-8, 11-7, 11-7) not only cost Polonia the title (on ‘matches won’ would you believe / same points as Harper Brass in the end) but also meant Harper – who thought they’d blown it the previous evening – edged over the line very, very marginally. Did you realise the significance of your match that night (how did it feel if so)? Perhaps the result from the previous evening hadn’t even been posted by then or communicated in any way.
We didn’t know what the actual scores were from the previous night but from what the Polonia players told us, Harper Brass were already champions so it didn’t matter what the score was. I saw the final league table maybe a night or 2 later when I realised that my win had robbed Polonia of the title. I had no real feelings after the match other than I was the only one of our team to win which, of course, I was very pleased about………………I do wonder though from time to time just how Robert felt!