A Look Back In Time - 1st June 2008
Never mind North, South or even East 2007-08 has come up trumps three times for the “WEST”. West Midlands gained promotion from division two to division one and the men’s ‘A’ side won their division going through the season undefeated with six wins and three draws.
In their final fixture Norfolk were the visitors to Gilberts Bar, Willenhall, a team, like West Midlands still in with a real shout for promotion so the match was expected to be an absolute tension packed nail biter from start to finish.
Norfolk’s Linda Simmons chalked up the first win of the day as she in the ladies ‘B’ opener beat Jayne Stubbs in three straight legs. Claire Ford was quick to cancel out the away teams lead, her 17.68 average and her lady of the match performance enough to beat Diane Bartrum 3-0. Chris Banks gave the hosts the lead for the first time when she beat Thelma Gosling 3-2 after going 1-0 down. Another five legs affair saw the home team increase their lead to 3-1 when Sarah Robbins, who twice had to come from behind against Vikki Swann ran out the 3-2 winner.
Norfolk were kept in the match when in the penultimate encounter between Lisa Astbury (West Midlands) and Lisa Garman the latter won 3-0 to leave the result hinging on the final game. It was a game that could easily have gone either way, but as is usually the case missed doubles proved to be very costly. Sue Brittain (Norfolk) won the first leg, Kim Fellows the second. Brittain went ahead once more in the third only to see Fellows fight back again to make it two each. In the final leg both players had more than enough darts at a finishing double to clinch the game, but nerves appeared to be the biggest winner until Brittain found the all important double four to clinch her 3-2 win and earn a share of the spoils for her team in a 3-3 draw.
With four wins and two draws from their previous eight fixtures the men’s ‘B’ had had a good season and obviously wanted to finish it on a high. Viv Gould opened West Midlands account with a 3-1 win against Steve Connor. However, a 3-0 win by Mark Allen over Greg Parkes levelled the score at one each. Avtar Singh restored the home team’s advantage with a 3-1 success against Dave Olley and with a man of the match performance from Mark Lloyd (28.90) his 3-0 win over Julian Ray increased the lead to 3-1.
Game number five saw Norfolk record their second winner, Martin Sheldon after being pegged back to 1-1 by Darren Williams went on to win 3-1. Nevertheless, the two games advantage was restored when to close the first half Matt Dicken beat Ady Siddle 3-0 to put the running score at 4-2 in the home side’s favour.
The second half continued where the first had finished Paul Price after going one down to Stuart Wellman’s 150 game shot bounced back to win 3-1 and with a 3-0 win from Dave Arnold against William Walpole a draw was the least the West Midlands could get out of the match as they moved the scoreline along to 6-2.
A 3-0 win from Paul Carr against Jack Routledge reduced the arrears to 6-3 and with a further 3-1 beating of Mick James by Paul Errington, Norfolk were back in the game at 6-4.
With the away fans encouraged by their teams fight back West Midlands now required a return to winning ways to guarantee the win and they got it in the form of Richard Foster. Richard opened his account against James Hubbard with a 14 darts leg hitting 97-180-100 and 99 and checked out on 22. He then went two up in 21 darts and wrapped up a sweet 3-0 win with an 18 darts leg, his opponent having been unable to reach a double in any of the three legs. Richard’s win put the result beyond Norfolk’s reach at 7-4. The final game of the day went to the away team, Ian King went 2-0 down to Colin Wood, but hung on in there and went on to win 3-2 to give a final scoreline of 7-5 to the West Midlands.
With an overall lead of 10-8 Sunday’s games began well as Claire Hobbes 3-1 win over Ruth Katra was followed by a 3-2 win from Leanne Jennings against Mary Jolly. Leanne’s 22.54 average earned her the match award making it a total of seven out of nine for the season a great achievement, well done Leanne.
Diane Tolley used all of her skill and experience to twice come from behind against Amanda Abbott, but unfortunately it was not enough as she ended up on the wrong side of the 3-2 result. Dawn Standley squared the match at two each when she fought off the challenge of Julie Aston and won 3-1. Fresh from her lady of the match win in the previous outing against Derbyshire Sara Jukes made short work of her game against Janice Butters , winning 3-0 and assuring her team mates of at least a draw as she took the score along to 3-2.
The final game saw Norfolk’s Steph Potter win the first leg, West Midlands Kath Jenkins the next two. Potter then took the game to a fifth and final leg when she won the fourth. The decider was nip and tuck with both players having throws at finishing doubles, but it was the Norfolk player who got it first to win 3-2 and draw the match at three each.
So 13-11 to the West Midlands and only the men’s ‘A’ to play. It was as early as the second game and Norfolk had drawn level. Vic Hubbard won the first against Steve Farmer 3-2 despite Farmer having gone within an ace of victory when he won the first two legs. Hamish Varnon doubled the visitors lead when he kicked off his game with Stuart Kendrick with a 144 game shot and then went on to win 3-0.
Long time servant to the West Midlands Ian Jones invariably the man you would want on the oche if ever a win was required was on at number three. Two 40 outshots in 19 and 18 darts gave him a 2-0 lead over Andy Mallett. Mallett pulled one back in 16 darts only to see Jones produce a fourteen dart winner with scores of 100-100-140 and 82 then check out on 79 for a 29.98 average and a vital 3-1 win to stop the rot.
Another West Midlands player of long standing Lol Frazer was next to the line, he won the first against Gary King, but King took the next two. Frazer levelled in the fourth but missed out in the decider and King won 3-2 to open up a two game lead for the away side once more.
3-1 down but at the halfway stage it was all square at 3-3 as Martin Angell won 3-0 against Peter Taylor and Mark Rollinson rounded off the half with a similar 3-0 success over Jason Mold
Just six games to go and both side’s were still playing for a place in division one next season. Norfolk got their noses in front again when Richard Palmer beat Chris Plumpton 3-2. Mark Jones (West Midlands) then followed up with a straight three legs win over Vinnie Mudd, only to see the visitors take the lead again when Gary Butcher beat Peter Wyse 3-0.
Sitting on the wrong side of a 5-4 score and only three remaining games were the men’s ‘A’ heading for their first and only defeat of the season? The answer to that was an emphatic NO! Richard Foster followed up his win from the previous day with a convincing 3-1 win against Michael Kemp, Foster beginning his game with a 120 outshot and a 15 darts leg. Next on Jamie Hughes, who was in terrific form. The first leg against Phil Carter saw Hughes win in 18 darts. He then went on to win the second in 17 darts and completed his 3-0 win with a tremendous THIRTEEN darts leg, the best of the day hitting 140-85-50-180 and clinched the game with double eighteen for a match award winning average of 31.31.
5-4 down to 6-5 up and one to play. Everything was now down to anchor man Chris Hickman who faced up to Kevin Walpole. The first leg was a bit of a nervy affair with Hickman taking the leg in 23 darts, Walpole left on double sixteen. The next was undoubtedly Hickman’s as he checked out on 52 in 18 darts with his opponent way back on 201. 2x140’s and a ton gave Hickman the lead and time required for first throw at a finishing double and he made sure of his 3-0 win with a 14 game shot in 20 darts leaving Walpole without a throw at double twenty. A great 3-0 win to give the men’s ‘A’ a fabulous 7-5 victory and the West Midlands a promotional 20-16 overall win.
Well done to all the West Midlands players, officials and supporters on a tremendous season. Let’s see more of the same next season when I believe a few new names will be appearing including a welcome return to the West Midlands for Tom Aldridge.
Congratulations also go to Derbyshire who won the division title with 173 points, three more than the West Midlands. Best of luck to both teams next season.
Incidentally my third “West” success was the promotion to the Premier Division for WEST BROMWICH ALBION.
In the final week of division one league fixtures for the Four Oaks and District League champions Midland Red must be have pleased the campaign had finished as in their final fixture they lost 5-4 to Sportsmans Rest who after a disappointing start to the season got their act together to race up the table and finish as runners up just two points behind the Red’s. Who knows if there had been a few more games to play what might have happened.
An array of cup finals brought the curtain down on the league’s season. First the singles knockout for the Dereck Masters Trophy, which saw Midland Red provide both finalists in the shape of R.Hawker and M.Harris, the 2-0 result going in favour of R.Hawker.
The Richard Winslow pairs competition was a straight 2-0 win for Sportsmans Rest duo A.Stainfield and J.Dunn who beat Boot Flights representatives C.Millward and D.Jarvis jnr in the final.
League champions Midland Red added the Brian Goodman Cup to their silverware cabinet with a 6-3 win over league runners up Sportsmans Rest.
The Ken Rust Cup title went to Hill Social who with another 6-3 result beat Boldmere Sports. Hill Social were on the mark again in the Norman Day Cup final coming from 7-5 down against Anvil Nomads to snatch an 8-7 win. Consolation for Anvil Nomads was that they gained a close 4-3 win over Cross Keys PPA in the final of the Second Division Trophy.
Smethwick Labour Club completed their fixtures in division one of the Harborne and District Winter League with a close 5-4 win at Quinton Members Club to secure the runners up spot behind the Pheasant who were four points ahead of Smethwick. Woodpecker have won the division two title with 22 points, Quinborne finished second with four points fewer.
In the League Cup there were 5-4 wins for Pheasant and Quinton Members Club against Midland Red and Bartley Green F.C., while in the Plate Quinborne beat Hillyfields 6-3 and Stonehouse with a 5-4 margin took out Pheasant Flights.
During my darts playing days, Tim Porter, Managing Director of Hollybush at Shareshill, near Wolverhampton, one of the country’s largest garden centres sponsored me for in excess of ten years. Unfortunately due to the fact that a couple of guys conned me into putting money into what turned out to be a business that failed I could no longer afford to play and had to go into early retirement form the sport I had loved for some forty plus years. As a result I have lost my job, car and am currently in the process of having to sell my family home to pay off the company debts and when that happens I will then have lost everything I have ever worked for.
In addition to the numerous problems I have encountered over the past few years whereby everything that can go wrong has gone wrong and everything that cannot has also gone wrong I had the pump on the pond installed by Tim and Hollybush some years ago decide to give up the ghost. Despite not playing now Tim yet again came up trumps and replaced the pump for me.
Many thanks Tim and Hollybush for the sponsorship you gave me in the good years and again coming to my help in my hour of need, I will always relate some of my darts success to you.
It’s encouraging to know there are still a few GOOD guys out there.