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Article: Alan Towe - A Look Back In Time - 1st November 2003

Alan Towe - A Look Back In Time - 1st November 2003

For the West Midlands, newly promoted to division three of the BDO Inter Counties Championships, life in division two did not get off to a very good start. However, having said that, in their defence they were playing away and could not have begun their programme with a tougher fixture, that against County Durham, who the previous season were in division two.

The hosts began the weekend’s fixture in fine style with the ladies ‘B’ chalking up a convincing 5-1 victory. Dawn Winn set the pattern with her 3-1 win over Debi Hackett. Making it 2-0 in favour of Durham was Anita Dawson. Anita turned on a lady of the match performance against Janet Hubbard, beating her in three straight legs with a 20.04 average, leaving her opponent without a throw at a finish in any of the games. Marion Hesp followed the lead of her two previous team mates moving the scoreline along to 3-0 when she accounted for Ann Jones, despite being taken to a fifth and final leg.

Teresa Johnson provided a ray of hope for the West Midlands when she took out Bryanna Glennie with a 3-0 result. Teresa’s 16.70 average turned out to be an award winning average, not only that she finished up as the visitors only winner as Sara Jukes went down 3-1 to Karol Dagga and in the final encounter Teresa Johnston lost 3-0 to Sharon Storey to give the home side their comfortable 5-1 win. Something of a shock to the system after the ladies ‘B’ performed so well last season finishing as runners up in the table.

The men’s ‘B’ were promoted as champions of their division without losing a game all season and were hoping to carry on where they left off. The way they started gave them no reason to believe they would not be able to emulate last season’s performances.

Alan Cockayne got the ball rolling with a 3-2 win over Paul Wilson, after Wilson had won the opening two legs. Jamie Parsons proved to be too good for John Heathcote as he stormed to a 3-1 victory with an award winning 25.92 average. David Crawley (County Durham) looked all set to open Durham’s account when he opened up a two legs lead over Lea Jones, but Jones again it was the West Midlands player who got the verdict, Jones taking the last three legs for a 3-2 success and a 3-0 lead for his team.

Stephen Knight stopped the rot for the home team. Knight took the lead twice against Fred Parsons before he finally wrapped up the issue in the fifth and deciding leg. Lol Frazer (West Midlands) was another player to be taken the full distance, Dave Blenkarne the Durham man to push Frazer all the way before he recorded his 3-2 win. The last game of the first half went to the hosts. David Prins defeated Frank Johnson 3-1 to keep his team in the hunt although they trailed 4-2.

It was a different story in the second half. Stewart Ireland and Ray Scott both won in straight legs against respective players Mervyn Field and former ‘A’ player Ade Arnold to level the running total at four each. Eddie Price made a welcome return to county darts when he restored West Midlands lead with a timely 3-1 win over Tony Nixon. The cheers were short lived as Gerry Grieve levelled the match with a 3-2 win against Bill Hadley and when Jimmy Ashett beat Joe Biggs 3-0 in the penultimate game, Durham, for the first time in the match went into the lead at 6-5.

Avtar Singh looked as though he would save the day when he went within an ace of victory over Neil Robson when he won the first two legs. However, it was not to be that easy as Robson came back with two seventeen dart legs to draw level and force a decider. With a couple of tons plus 96 and 80 Singh gave himself enough breathing space to allow first throw at a finishing double, which he promptly put away to win 3-2 and give West Midlands a share of the spoils and extend their unbeaten run to ten games.

Angie Perry got the ladies ‘A’ side’s season underway and in the best possible style. Taking on Liz Tait, Angie lost the first leg but responded magnificently to come back and win the tussle 3-1. In addition to winning the game Angie also took the lady of the match award with her 19.05 average. The lead lasted for just the opening game as Sharon Haywood erased the lead with her 3-1 win over Kath Jenkins and with Shirley Bowden beating Janet Hubbard 3-1 County Durham went 2-1 up.

See Smith got the away team back into winning ways with a 3-1 success against Pauline Kerrigan and from there on in it was all West Midlands. Claire Downing won 3-2 against Margaret Stewart and with a similar 3-2 win Claire Hobbs accounted for Sandra Cairns to give the ‘A’ team a 4-2 win, their first since December 2001, when they won by the same scoreline playing away to local rivals Worcestershire.

An 8-4 victory was what was now required by the West Midlands men’s ‘A’ team to ensure an overall win, and that was the final scoreline, unfortunately not for the Midlanders.

County Durham, in the shape of Paul Knighton took the honours in the first game. Knighton required just three legs to beat Richard Foster, but a man of the match show from Paddy Johnson wiped out the home side’s lead. Johnson twice had to come from behind against John Lyons, but sticking to the task, Johnson came out on top to claim the 3-2 win. The ever reliable Ian Jones put West Midlands nose’s in front when he beat Keith Elmore in straight legs. Nevertheless, despite a 2-1 lead the Midlands outfit found themselves in a 4-2 reversal by the halfway break. Roy Brown started the home team’s revival when he won 3-1 against Martin Tibbetts. Gary Taylor was another casualty and another 3-1 loser as he lost to Doug McCarthy. Finishing the first half was Jeff Sneath who kicked off with a 116 outshot against Mick James and then went on to win 3-0 and put Durham 4-2 up.

The second half was a similar story with the same result. Ian Hartland reduced the arrears for the visitors when he beat Paul Barnborough 3-2. Then the home team moved up a gear, Eddie Ashman, Neil Maughan and Phil Nixon all recorded straight 3-0 wins against respective opponents Viv Gould, Peter Wise and David Evans putting the result beyond West Midlands reach as Durham raced into an unassailable 7-3 position.

In the penultimate game John Pountney made the scoreline a little more respectable, beating Paddy Lenagh 3-2, but the result was finally 8-4 in favour of County Durham with a further win from Jimmy Ashett in the last game of the weekend against Darren Williams. Ashett’s 3-1 win giving not only a win for the men’s ‘A’ but also an overall 21-15 win for County Durham.

So a defeat in the opening fixture but all is not lost as there are another eight fixtures to play and with plenty of points in those games to be won promotion could well be on the cards for a second successive season.

The Longwood League has been involved in their divisional singles, league doubles and ladies singles knockouts. Taking the division one title was Queens ‘A’ representative I.Turner with T.Goodwin from the Gate Inn runner up. T Statham (Two Gates Club) won the second division knockout beating M.Starling from the Jolly Sailor in the final.

The doubles title went to the Gate Inn pairing of T.Goodwin and A.Hanslow, while the Royal Oak supplied the losing finalists M.Fowler and R.Fowler.

With a 134 game shot Lyn Butler claimed the ladies singles crown, with Dawn Hanslow losing out to Lyn in the final. Losing semi finalists were Janet Starling and Jane Tarbuck and making their exit in the quarter finals were Tina Turner, Val Gammage, Sharon Johnson and Claire Dicken.

The popular Belgrave Social Individual League has got underway again and once more Coors Brewery is sponsoring the league. In addition thanks also go to Russ Gibson of Madewell Products who are sponsoring this season’s least darts, highest finish, most tons and maximums. Very encouraging to see that darts can still attract sponsors, even for relatively local league’s.

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