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Article: Alan Towe's The Line Archive

Alan Towe's The Line Archive

In their penultimate encounter of the season in division two of the BDO Inter Counties Championship, West Midlands played hosts to fellow relegation strugglers Humberside. Points were of a premium to both teams in their efforts to avoid the big drop and with home board advantage West Midlands had to be favourites to take the points. But was that how it turned out?

The ladies, who are firmly rooted at the foot of their table, began Saturday’s games. Sylvia Boynton (Humberside) claimed the first encounter when she beat Sue Smith in three straight legs. Finishing doubles let Brenda Phillips down, she won the opening leg against Janice Wilcock, only to see the Humberside player level in convincing style, Brenda way back on 282. Wilcock then forged ahead with the home representative again unable to reach a finishing double. The fourth leg could have gone either way when both players had throws at a double. But it was the West Midlands that won the leg and force a fifth and final leg. Yet again it was neck and neck all the way, Wilcock winning the game on a 56 checkout with Phillips left without a throw at double top.

It was the old story of finishing doubles, or more to the point the lack of them that saw Jean Denton lose 3-0 to Susan Jackson putting the visitors into a commanding 3-0 lead. A break through looked to be on the cards in game four. Rose Sanders lost the first leg to Ivy Borrill but bounced back with two in a row to go 2-1 up. She then missed her opportunity to win the tie and allowed Borrill to level with a 5 outshot. 120 and 100 gave the Humberside lady the edge and ultimately the vital throw at a finish. She clinically checked out on 48 to seal a 3-2 win and put the result beyond West Midlands grasp at 4-0.

Rose Mycock won her first leg against Wendy Dearing only to see Dearing respond with three consecutive wins to win 3-1. Then in the final game Audrey Lamming required only three legs to defeat Val Arnold and give the away team an overwhelming 6-0 victory.

Both of the men’s ‘B’ teams were in the bottom half of the table, but the hosts had a slight advantage on their opponents and so a West Midlands win looked a good bet.

Joe Biggs got the ball rolling with a 3-1 success against Steve Sutherby. The applause was short lived however as Graham Russell beat Martin Tibbetts 3-1, Tibbetts unable to reach a double in his losing legs and then Gary Stead accounted for Peter Hadley woth a 3-0 scoreline. Steve Brindley squared the match when he recorded a fine 3-0 win over Richard Plummer. Unfortunately Humberside again chalked up two in a row when first Ian Swales won 3-0 against Frank Johnson and then Kev Mooney, with a similar result took out Steve Penwright giving the away side a 4-2 lead at the halfway stage.

Humberside extended their lead in the second half, Mick Lowthorpe, after trailing 2-0 to Alan Bradburn, fought back to snatch a 3-2 win and then with a 3-0 win over Vic Lloyd, Derek Rhodes (Humberside) a 6-2 lead and at the worst a draw. Jonathon Platt (West Midlands) won the opener against Rob Kerrison. Kerrison then won the following two legs to go 2-1 up. Platt drew level with a seventeen darter and push the game to a decider. It was Platt all the way. Against the darts he gained a comfortable lead and with further scores of 100 and 135 got down to 70. Kerrison hit 45 to leave himself on 243, Platt calmly stepped up to the oche and with just two darts finished the leg and the game, winning 3-2 and handing his team mates a lifeline.

Geoff Beckett (Humberside) looked all set to chalk up the winning game for his team when he won the first two legs against Ron Johnson. Ol stager Ron drew on all of his years of experience and clawed himself back into the game with winning 20 and 17 darts legs. The fifth and final leg was nip and tuck, Beckett had darts advantage and was first to throw at a finish. His failure gave johnson the chance he required, he wrapped up the issue with a 32 exit and further reduced the arrears to 6-4. Ron’s efforts and 25.24 average earned him the man of the match award.

The penultimate encounter was a close one. Nick Walters (West Midlands) won the first leg in 16 darts. Maurice Schofield, in 15 darts, with a 120 game shot claimed the second, Walters left without a throw for a 76 finish. Schofield then won the third in eighteen darts, Walters had again left an outshot, this time 170. The fourth leg went to Walters, Schofield missed the bull off 92 to clinch the game and Walters stepped up hitting double top first dart.

Both Players hit a 140 in the last leg and both of them had darts at a finishing double. Eventually it was double ten from Schofield that won the game, the match and the day as he put up the 7-4 margin which was beyond the Midlanders reach. The final game of the day went to Mark Wellings. He had a 3-0 win against Peter Marshall, making the score a little more respectable at 7-5 to Humberside, but their overall tally for the day, 13-5, was something of a mountain to climb for the West Midlands the following day.

As in the ‘B’ teams league, both ladies ‘A’ teams were nearer the foot rather than the top of the table. Humberside moved another step nearer overall victory when Maxine Joyce beat Frances Allen 3-1. Then came the home side’s best run of the weekend. Diane Tolley with a 19.17 average laid on a match award performance when she came from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2. Dawn Holdcroft returned a 3-1 success against Maureen Herrington and assuring at least a share of the spoils, Gill Cook after twice taking the lead against Janet Stocks won 3-2 for a 3-1 lead.

Christine Redhead on three occasions shot out on 16 and in the process beat Angie Perry 3-0 and took her teams award with a 19.52 average. With everything hinging on the final game the pressure was on both players. Janet Ake with a two darts finish off 48 raised Humberside’s hopes of a draw. Claire Downing won the second, but it proved to be just a minor setback to Ake who won the next two legs and the game 3-1. The result all square at three each. However, Humberside were now within just three points f an overall victory.

Although Ian Jones rattled off scores of 4x140,5x100 and 121 he was still on the wrong side of a 3-2 scoreline as Paul Burr won the first, third and fifth with 118,68 and 60 checkouts. Jones won the fourth in fourteen darts hitting 140,97,121,98 and finishing in two darts on 45. Steve Parkes opened West Midlands account with a 3-1 win over Martin Turner, but it was Mick Lowthorpe, with a 3-0 success against Paul Johnson who restored the away teams lead.

It took three attempts from Adrian Arnold to overcome the challenge of Steve Rhodes once again cancelling the visitors advantage. The fifth game was a vital one for Humberside as Mick Lidgett secured not only a 3-0 win over Gary Taylor but also an overall win for his team mates. Although now West Midlands could not win the fixture the men’s ‘A’ had their pole position to maintain and knew also that every single point was a point towards saving their division two status.

Rounding off the first half was Tony Walker who for the third time wiped out Humberside’s advantage as he beat Syd Smaller 3-2 in a very close affair. Carrying on the good work was Avtar Singh. Singh lost his opening leg against Pete Leake then roared back with winning legs in 17,16 and 19 darts, giving the home team the lead for the first time in the match. As the match had progressed so far, with neither side going more than one game in front, the pattern continued. Mick Nixon (31.31) the visitors man of the Match, needed just three legs to erase the Midlanders lead as he beat Mick James. It was now the turn of the West Midlands to set the pace and Colin Davies was the man to put them in front again with his 3-1 win against Glen Godfrey. Tom Aldridge (West Midlands) went one up against Barry Noble, but then for the second successive match lost out as Noble romped to a 3-1 win in 18,15 and 19 darts.

Two to play and the score standing at five each, both teams still had everything to play for. West Midlands could not have asked for a better man to play in the penultimate game than Dave Robbins, he was in superb form. Opening up with shots of 100,180,100 and 97 he followed that with double twelve for a thirteen darts leg. He could have gone one better in the next leg as he threw for the bull with his twelfth darts, narrowly missed, but wrapped it up with two more darts on his next visit to the oche. Dave’s opponent Dave Brookes responded in the third leg with scores of 103,41,100,140 and a 97 game shot to reduce the arrears in 14 darts, Robbins in a dozen darts on 181. Robbins with the winning post in front of him hit another maximum in the fourth leg plus a couple of tons and with a two darts finish on 8 won the leg and the game in 17 darts.

With the score standing at 6-5 in West Midlands favour another in form man stepped up to the board, Dave Platt. 180,140,138,125 and 100 was enough top shots to give him a relatively comfortable 3-0 win over John Ingram in 20,20 and 17 darts and a great 7-5 victory for his team to keep them in pole position in the men’s ‘A’ table.

Sadly a 24-15 defeat but nevertheless West Midlands stay out of the bottom two, seven points ahead of Somerset and fourteen more than local rivals Worcestershire who are at the foot of the table. So one fixture remains in which the two bottom teams will play each other at the Worcestershire venue. That could be a close game. West Midlands meanwhile will travel north to take on Cumbria who are 14 points ahead of them, a close result there or even a win would guarantee second division survival and who knows promotion next season?

On the local league front the Sheldon and District League have played their Singles Knockout at the Lea Hall RBL. Taking the honours was Three Horse Shoes representative Wayne Mathews, who was in top form throughout the competition. In the quarter finals Wayne took on Niall McCrave from the Dovecote and won 2-0. He then faced Steve Harding (St Annes) and again won in two straight legs. The final was against John Rudd (Mackadown Social) who in the previous two rounds had beaten Nigel Hickey (Small Heath Gardeners) and Craig Hall (Three Horse Shoes). Rudd won the first leg following a 100 break. Mathews reply was immediate breaking with 142 and then hitting 137. Wayne went on to win the leg and sealed his victory by winning the third leg.

The Acocks Green Doubles Knockout was played at Shirley Legion and it was the hosts who provided the winning duo Craig Johnson and Tony Daly. They won the final against Tom Kelly and Dennis Stokes (Tyseley WMC) by two games to one. Losing semi finalists were Steve Parry and Ian Spencer (TyseleyWMC), who lost to the champions and Mathew O’Donnell and Jim Leadbitter from the Brewers Arms.

The singles crown went to Steve Dwyer (Tyseley WMC) , he won the opening leg after his opponent Peter Botherton (Bewers Arms) failed on his finishing double. Brotherton then stormed ahead with a 160 break and levelled the match. In the decing leg Brotherton struggled to break and Dwyer went on to win. Dwyer had taken out Adam Stuart (Robin Hood) in the semi’s while Tony Daly from Shirley Legion lost to Brotherton.

Congratulations also go to Joyce Webster who successfully defended her South Wets Birmingham Clubs Winter League Singles title. Runner up was Sharon Darragh. In addition to the singles title Joyce also won the doubles last season, this time round it was not to be. Teaming up with Angie Bourne Joyce had to be satisfied with the runners up spot as she and her partner lost in the final to Brenda Bullock and Barbara Andrews.

In an effort to raise not only the profile of their league but also keep up with the times and give their members up to date information, the Small Heath League Treasurer John Young has constructed a web site. Anyone wishing to visit the site and find out up to the minute news and results for the league, can find it on

For the second consecutive month I finish my column on a sad note. Doug Isherwood, a long time friend, team mate and sometimes opponent has sadly passed away following a long illness. Doug was a well known and very popular figure throughout the West Midlands, playing in numerous leagues and super leagues in the area. He was never one to argue, criticise or complain he would always have a smile on his face and forever a friendly word for everyone. Whenever we met his welcoming words would be “Hello Gaffer”, don’t ask me why because to this day I don’t know myself.

Dougie Isherwood was a true sportsman, always first to praise a worthy winner, but at the same time a keen competitor, he like everyone else liked to win. Whenever we were on opposing teams it was guaranteed I would play Doug. No matter how well I was playing at the time, I would always bring the best out of him and more often than not he would beat me. I could not have lost to a better man, a man who truly loved the sport of darts, a great character, he will be sadly missed.

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