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Article: Alan Towe - A Look Back In Time - 1st December 2001

Alan Towe - A Look Back In Time - 1st December 2001

Life in division three of the BDO Inter Counties Championships is currently proving to be rather taxing for the West Midlands. Having played two of their scheduled nine fixtures the Midlanders have still to record their first win.

West Midlands most recent game was a home tie against Nottinghamshire. The ladies ‘B’ have had a disastrous run which has not seen them win since March 1999. Then in their home match against Berkshire they won 4-2. They finished all square with Humberside in the following match, but since then have lost all twenty of their fixtures. So a result in this game with Nottinghamshire would certainly be another landmark in their history.

The odds did not look too good when in the opening encounter Janet Hubbard, after winning the first leg against Janette Weaver, then lost the next three to go down 3-1. Lynette Pearce was on at number two, she faced up to Julie Robinson. However, as it has been on numerous occasions the West Midlands player gets to a finishing double and fails at the final hurdle and Lynette lost in three straight legs to give Nottinghamshire a 2-0 lead.

In desperate need of a win Teresa Johnson took to the oche for the hosts, with Margaret Shipley lining up for the visitors. Teresa produced a vital lady of the match performance to beat her opponent 3-0 and keep her team in the match. Jean Tibbetts (West Midlands) trailed in the first leg to Hazel Grundy, but nevertheless stuck to her task and was eventually able to take advantage of her counterparts failure to find a finishing double and go one up. Grundy was not so generous in the second leg as she promptly found double ten to level the game. Tibbetts was the sharp shooter in the next leg, going 2-1 ahead with a one dart finish on double sixteen. She then won the game on double twenty after Grundy had missed her outshot.

From 2-0 down to 2-2 and with Ann Jones providing an invaluable 3-0 win over Karen Staton the West Midlands had turned the match on it’s heels and were ahead for the first time in the match with only one to play. What a finale, Teresa Johnston (West Midlands) and Marie Morley battled away with every dart to a nail biting fifth and final leg. The Nott’s player won the first only to see Johnston take the next two to go within a whisker of victory. Never say die Morley forced a decider when she won the fourth leg on double four and then went on to earn her team a share of the spoils when she found double two in the last leg after Johnston had had three visits to the board at finishing doubles. Despite all this it was a very encouraging and creditable result, one that can only give the team confidence to build on for future games.

The men’s ‘B’ got off to a roaring start as Paddy Johnson (27.33), for the second successive match earned himself the man of the match award. A nineteen darts game for openers left his opponent, Dave Vanderson left on 68. Johnson, with three tons then chalked up a seventeen darts leg and sealed his victory with another nineteen darts, Vanderson unable to reach a double in any of the games.

Vic Lloyd took the lead twice before beating Chris Middleton in the deciding leg, despite Middleton hitting a maximum with his first throw of the fifth leg. From 2-0 up the home side then stormed into a 4-0 lead when Martin Tibbetts, with a 3-0 result beat Wes Dean and team mate Joe Biggs accounted for Steve Miell with a similar straight legs success.

It was the fifth game before Nottinghamshire got onto the scoreboard. Steve Kirk was the man who gave the visitors their opening win as he defeated a below par Bill Hadley 3-0. Taking the match to the halfway mark Reg Barton (Nottinghamshire) came back from 2-1 down against Ron Johnson to snatch a 3-2 win and keep his team in the match at 2-4 after trailing 0-4.

Dave Bateman continued the good work for the away side as he reduced the arrears further when he beat Paul Johnson 3-0. Roger Kinsella got the Midlanders back on winning lines. Kevin Bedford, after going 2-0 down pegged Kinsella back to 2-1 with a 120 finish only to lose the fourth leg in seventeen darts and the game 3-2.

As early as the ninth game the West Midlands equalled their previous result as Peter Hadley guaranteed at least a draw with his 3-2 win against Rees Spurr. The win was not long awaited as Frank Johnson, with a 110 game shot in the first leg against Danny Crangle, went on to win 3-1 and put the Midlands side into an unassailable 7-2 lead. In the penultimate encounter Gary Wilson pulled one back for Nottinghamshire, beating Fred Parsons 3-1 and with a 3-2 win from Fred’s son, Jamie the final score was 8-4 to the West Midlands.

Angie Perry was first on for the ladies ‘A’, losing the opening leg to Sue Page-Looker, but recovering well to win the tie 3-1 and take the lady pf the match award with her 18.70 average. The advantage was short lived as Mary Latham defeated Jean Tibbetts 3-0 and the away team then went in front thanks to a 3-1 success from Louise Hathaway over Claire Downing. Seasoned campaigner Diane Tolley kept the West Midlands in the match with her hard fought 3-2 win against Shirley Trueman. However, it proved to be in vain as Sharon Beastall and Hannah Richards recorded 3-2 victories against respective opponents Claire Hobbs and Sue Smith giving Nottinghamshire a 4-2 triumph.

With the overall scoreline standing at 13-11 in favour of the home team a draw from the men’s ‘A’ would be enough to give them an overall victory. Tom Aldridge got off to a shakey start when his counterpart Paul Gallagher won the first two legs. Nevertheless Aldridge stuck to his task and bounced back t win 3-2. Darren Williams took the lead twice against Phil Kirk only to lose the decider and go down 3-2.

Gary Taylor (27.33) restored the lead for the hosts when he won a very close game with Kev Tomlinson 3-0, Tomlinson down to a finishing double in each leg. Mick James and Steve Brindley both lost their games against respective opponents Pete Wycherley and Dave McGarry to put Nottinghamshire 3-2 up, the first time in the game they had got their noses in front. Rounding off the first half was the evergreen Mangal Singh. Mangal lost the opener to a thirteen darts leg from Dave Emery. Then with eighteen and sixteen darts legs Singh forged ahead. Emery, in superb style levelled the match hitting 180,100,180 and checked out on 41 to record a tremendous eleven darts leg. Undeterred by his opponents feat Mangal then won the last leg in fourteen darts with scores of 180,85,100,100 and a 36 game shot, which earned him a great 30.24 average and the man of the match award.

With the score at three each both teams had everything to play for. However, it was the visitors who began the brighter. Dave King came from 2-1 down against Ian Hartland to win 3-2, the lead short lived as Nick Walters took out Mark Wilson in three straight legs to push the score along to 4-4.

The remainder of the match belonged to Nottinghamshire. Derek Shipley and Peter Dallman each won 3-0 in turn against Avtar Singh and Jonathon Platt. Andy Kerr trailed 1-0 to Ian Jones but replied with fifteen and seventeen darts legs to take a 2-1 lead. Jones kept his hopes alive with a seventeen darts win though it proved to be in vain as Kerr wrapped up the decision with a final nineteen darts game.

Steve Penwright (West Midlands) had a promising start when he won the first leg against Neil Birkin, but he was unable to maintain the momentum and saw his counterpart check out on 48. 70 and 58to win the game 3-1. Birkin’s win gave Nott’s men’s ‘A’ an 8-4 win and more importantly and overall 19-17 victory.

With only two of the scheduled nine fixture’s played it is probably a bit premature to talk of the West Midlands being in trouble. But one thing is for certain, with only three home fixtures in the remaining programme, a win in their next match away to Devon is much needed to relieve some of the pressure on the players to allow them to play to their full potential.

I am unhappy to report the sad and sudden death of 49 years old George Harper, a dear friend who goes back many, many years.

George who got married only three years ago, was a former Tipton and Gornal West Midlands Super League player as well as a regular in the local league’s and competitions. Not only was he a player but also a dedicated follower of the sport of darts for as many years as I can remember. A quiet person who would give credit whenever and wherever it was due. Always fair and ready to help in anyway he could. George was definitely one of the nice guys of darts.

I feel proud to have played darts with George and more so that I am able to call him a friend. I’m sure everyone who knew him will join me in expressing the sadness that his untimely death has bought about and also offer their condolences to his family at this time of such great loss.

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