Messenger Premier League
|Current season, competition or edition:|
|Motto||Where Amazing Happens|
|No. of teams||16|
The Messenger Premier League (MPL) is a professional table tennis competition in Australia.
The league comprises 16 teams which play against each other in 22 rounds between late March and late August. This is followed by a four-week finals series in September which culminates in two teams playing off for the Premiership in the MPL Grand Final.
Minor round matches consist of one set, first to 21 points. In the finals and MPL Grand Final, matches consist of three sets, first to 21 points. All matches are played at Messenger Park.
MPL Grand Final week, traditionally the last week in September, kicks-off with the presentation of the Walls Medal for the best and fairest player on the Monday night. MPL Grand Final Day traditionally starts with the Farmers Grand Final Breakfast. The MPL Grand Final is then played at noon on the last Friday in September.
The MPL was established in 1951 by four founding clubs – the Hawks, Speed, Hornets and Pelicans. From humble beginnings, the league grew to eight clubs by the 1960s and 12 by 1970. The 1970s and 1980s were dominated by two clubs, the Frost and the Jazz. The fierce rivalry culminated in the 1986 MPL Grand Final, commonly referred to as The Bloodbath of '86. The league hit financial difficulties in the late 1980s, with several clubs declaring bankruptcy. But after extensive financial restructuring, the league started to recover and expand during the 1990s. The 2000s (decade) has become a golden era for the MPL, with 16 clubs and crowds regularly topping 30,000 and public interest and media coverage at record levels.
At the end of the 2008 minor round, the Hawks topped the ladder after going through the entire season undefeated. The Speed, Field Mice and Swans rounded out the top four. The Falcons narrowly missed a top-four spot in fifth, followed by the Power, Demons and Hornets. The Pelicans finished last to claim the wooden spoon. The Hornets and Demons were eliminated in the first week of the finals. In the semi-finals, the Field Mice defeated the Power and the Falcons upset the highly fancied Swans. In the Preliminary Finals, the Speed beat the Falcons in a classic contest 25–23, 17–21, 21–18. The Hawks easily accounted for the Field Mice in straight sets in the other Preliminary Final. This set up a Grand Final showdown between the Hawks and the Speed on 26 September. The Hawks defeated the Speed, two sets to one, in front of 160,000 people to complete the first undefeated season in MPL History.
The Hawks lost their first match in more than a season to bitter rivals the Falcons and also lost a minor round match to the Demons. This triggered rumours the Hawks had over indulged during the off-season. The Bunnies emerged as a new power club and finished the minor round in the top four. The Speed pulled out of the competition due to injury. The Pelicans again failed to win a match despite optimism from the fans it would win its round 13 match against the Knight Riders. The League welcomed several new clubs including the Sergeants, Tapirs and Knight Riders. C-Gas United (Formerly the Clowns) went on a dream run during the finals, including an upset semi-final win over the Field Mice in the semi-finals. C-GAS fell to the Hawks in the preliminary final. The Hawks therefore progressed to the grand final. On the other side of the draw the Bunnies steamrolled through to the decider after comfortable wins over the Sawns and Demons. The Demons later accused the Bunnies of having an unfair advantage due to superior training facilities. This set up a Hawks-Bunnies grand final. The Bunnies, using their power game, won the first set but the Hawks fought back to win a tight second set, and also a tight deciding set, to claim back-to-back flags. It was the first time a club had gone back-to-back since the Frost in 1987–88. More than 200,000 fans attended the 2009 grand final.
The League's attempt to start an S-League (division two) proved a failure. Dwindling attendances and cost blow-outs forced the abandonment of this competition mid-season. The MPL season had to be shortened due to a pay dispute but still proved to be exciting. Clubs only played 13 rounds. The Celtics entered the League and became a force, going all the way to the grand final after beating the Bunnies in a spiteful prelim final. On the other side of the draw, the Hawks again progressed to the grand final. A record 250,000 fans attended the grand final but it proved a fizzer. After consecutive three-set thrillers in 2008 and 09, the 2010 grand final was one-sided, with the Hawks winning in straight sets and never being seriously challenged. The win meant the Hawks became the first club to win three straight grand finals since WWII.
At the end of the 2010 season four clubs – the Tapirs, Bunnies, Hawks and Sergeants – broke away from the rest of the League and formed the Davis Cup League (DCL) after their demands for a better pay deal were resumed. The Hawks have since committed to returning to the MPL in 2011 after having their request for the tennancy rights at the soon-to-be-redeveloped Adelaide Oval approved by the League. The Tapirs, Sergeants and Bunnies are yet to commit to either League.
2008 – Hawks
2009 – Hawks
2010 – Hawks
2011 – Lock out season
- Bombers (defunct)
- Demons (defunct)
- Dockers (defunct)
- Falcons (defunct)
- Farmers (in voluntary administration)
- Field Mice
- Frost (defunct)
- Jazz (defunct)
- CGAS United (formerly, Klowns in administration)
- Pelicans (relocated to Hutt St)
- Speed (relocated to Port Augusta)
- Swans (retired)
- Celtics (defunct)
- Knight Riders
Other Defunct clubs
Possible future clubs
- Table tennis
- Bennett, John (1998). For the Love of the Game: The History of the MPL. Australia: MPL Publications. p. 8. Search this book on
- Smith, Charles (2001). Fifty Years of the MPL: 1951–2001. Australia: MPL Publications. p. 22. Search this book on
- Smith, Charles (2001). Fifty Years of the MPL: 1951–2001. Australia: MPL Publications. p. 78. Search this book on
- Bennett, John (2007). The Rise and Rise of the MPL. Australia: MPL Publications. p. 34. Search this book on
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