THE SCENE : the Albert Street Co-operative Ballroom, transformed for the evening into a table tennis arena. The time : 9-45 on Tuesday evening. Nelsonians having seen their local trio wilt and wither before the all-conquering might of Manchester’s three internationals, were resigning themselves to a dull anti-climax of expectation and preparing to go home. The Mancunians, already assured of further fields to conquer in their quest for the “Wilmott” Cup, plum of the English table tennis world, had won 14 games with comparative ease, and were leading by seven sets to nil. Then with just two sets to go, came (as far as Nelson followers were concerned) the highlight of the evening.
The game was between Neslon’s number one, Zdenek Kabrna and Mancunian Ronnie Allcock. Previously, against Ronnie Baker and Benny Casofsky, “Kab’s” usually reliable attack had failed to take toll and time and again, having been forced on the defensive, he had failed to follow up an advantage through faulty counter-attacking. Here, however, he returned to his best form and the second game of this set ( the only set to go the full distance) made the evening worth while.
In the first game “Kab”, as had his team-mates before him, suffered under the powerful back-hand flick of the left-handed Allcock. The Mancunians jet-propelled returns repeatedly found the Nelsonian out of position. “Kab” went down 10-21.
But in the second game, showing much more force in attack and better positional instinct, Kabrna took an early lead and, forcing the Manchester man back from the table, built up the points to lead 12-7 at one stage. But here a series of slips by the Nelsonian allowed his opponent to come within two points at 12-10. Then “Kab” laid on tremendous pressure with full body swings from the side of the table, forced the international into outer regions again, and, to thunderous encouragement from an awakened audience, swept his opponent off the table to win the first gane for Nelson 21-15.
“Kab” continued in aggressive mood in the third game and with Alcock away from the table again and countering well, a ding-dong struggle saw the two players level at 10 points, and again at 12, 13 , 14, and 16. Here, however, over-eagerness by the Nelsonian allowed the Manchester to take the upper hand and claim the game and set with a 21-18 victory.
IT was the nearest Nelson ever came to a set victory, but, though they ultimately conceded zone semi-final honours by nine sets to nil, they were never completely disgraced. To appreciate this, Manchester’s might must be considered. As a team they have had the “Wilmott” Cup in their possession for five seasons out of the last eight. And, individually? Veteran Benny Casofsky is an international who was a member of the England “Swaythling” Cup trio (one of the highest T.T. honours in the world) in 1947; Ronnie Allcock has represented his country in games against Scotland, Irish Free State and Wales; and Ronnie Baker, the youngest of the trio, was a junior international against Wales in season 1948 - 1949 and was awarded a county badge last term
"May I have your autograph please?" Diminutive Ruth Greenwood puts the question to Manchester's table tennis international, Benny Casofsky, smilingly complies. Looking on, from left to right are Nelson T.T. players Z. Kabrna, R. H. Carradice and R. Pickles, and Manchester players R. Allcock and R. Baker
Scores at a glance were:
lost to R. Baker 18-21, 18-21
lost to B. Casofsky 13-21, 19-21
lost to R. Allcock 10-21, 21-15, 18-21
lost to Allcock 15-21, 12-21
lost to Baker 11-21, 14-21
lost to Casofsky 13-21, 12-21
R. H. Carradice
lost to Casofsky 15-21, 17-21
lost to Allcock 7-21, 7-21
lost to Baker 14-21, 19-21