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Article: Alan Towe's The Line Archive

Alan Towe's The Line Archive

Another BDO Inter Counties season comes to an end and for the West Midlands what a long and arduous season it has been. Nevertheless I am always being told that every cloud has a silver lining. (Personally, after being unemployed and looking desperately for a new job for the last twelve months without success, I find this very difficult to believe). For the West Midlands this is true, as they managed to retain their division two status and that is where they will begin next seasons campaign.

In their final fixture of the season West Midlands travelled north to take on middle of the table Cumbria. It is fair to say that the ladies have had better seasons, especially the ‘B’ side who have completed their fixture card without recording a single win, not even a draw. They have had 4 x 6-0 defeats, 2 x 5-1 and 3 x 4-2. The Cumbria game saw them go down 6-0, Rachel Morrill, Laura Tweedale, Dawn Stevenson, Anita Ward, Sharon Hodgson and Judith Bell all winners for the hosts.

Mark Wellings got the men’s ‘B’ match underway, beating his counterpart Graham Sterling in three straight legs. Martin Tibbetts was unable to add to the tally when he lost 3-1 to Bill Hoskins. Restoring the West Midlands lead was man of the match Steve Penwright (26.37) who in double quick time accounted for George Moore. Adrian Hammersley and Steve Brindley increased the lead with respective wins over Keith Clark 3-2 and Graham Forrest 3-0. Alan Butler pulled one back for Cumbria with his 3-0 win against Mick Littleford to keep the home side in the hunt at 4-2 down at the halfway mark.

The second spell was a huge West Midlands success story with only one Cumbria representative managing to win more than one leg. Jonathon Platt and Frank Johnson in turn had 3-1 wins over Gary Clamp and Mike Bewes. Sean Miles (Cumbria) took Peter Hadley the full five legs distance, but it was the latter who got the all important fifth leg and in the process chalking up a match winning 7-2 margin for the away team.

Nick Walters continued the good work with his 3-1 success against Stuart Mossom and with similar wins from Ron Johnson and Vic Lloyd over Ian Muttleworth and Martyn Vaughan the final score was a resounding 10-2 victory for the West Midlands.

Sundays games opened up with the ladies. Angie Perry began the match going two legs up on Michelle Johnson. Johnson pegged Angie back to level terms but it was the Midlander who got the 3-2 result. The home team then moved up a gear and rattled off three wins in a row supplied by Barbara Lee, Ann Jenkinson and Pam Hind at the expense of Rose Mycock, Gill Cook and Sue Smith.

For the fourth time this season Diane Tolley turned on a lady of the match show. With her team trailing 3-1 a win was imperative and she came up trumps. Diane took a 2-0 lead against Chrissy Howatt only to see her opponent draw level at two each. Howatt, on her second visit to the oche notched a maximum. Undeterred Tolley stuck to her task and with scores of 140 and 100 plus a 70 checkout clinched a 3-2 win. Claire Downing was now fighting to earn a draw. She won the first leg only to see Angela Johnson storm back to win the following three legs to win 3-1 and win the match for her team mates 4-2.

The men’s ‘A’ game began with a defeat for Tony Walker. Despite a 110 game shot in the second leg Walker went down 3-1 to Peter Gale. Squaring the match was former Scottish international Steve Parkes who although pegged back to level terms after leading 2-0 won the tie when he found double eighteen with his sixteenth dart in the deciding fifth leg. Colin Davies had a similar encounter with Steve Bownett. Davies won the first two legs, Bownett the next two and Davies the decider to give the West Midlands a 2-1 lead.

Gary Simpson’s 3-1 win over Joe Biggs put the home team on level terms but their joy was short lived as Mick James recorded a 3-1 success against Peter Manley to edge West Midlands in front once more. Andy Foden took the lead twice against Adrian Arnold before eventually beating him 3-2 to level the match once more.

What better way to begin the second session than with a man of the match performance supplied by Ian Jones. Playing against Brian Stedman, the pair put on a terrific display of darts. Jones took the opening leg in 17 darts, Stedman reacted with a similar 17 darts leg and then went ahead in 11 hitting 140-180-97 and finishing on 84. He then had an opportunity to clinch the match when he threw for double nine and missed giving Jones the chance to steal which he did in 16 darts on double ten. With the first throw advantage plus a maximum in that first visit to the oche, Jones effectively got his nose in front and that is how it stayed as he secured the leg on double five in 16 darts together with game.

Avtar Singh’s 3-0 victory over Alan Sanderson put the Midlands team 5-3 up, but then the hosts turned up the heat. David Platt lost 3-1 to Steve Armstrong and Gary Taylor, was taken out in straight legs by Mark Storey to level the scoreline yet again. Cumbria looked all set to win again when in the penultimate game Richard Smith opened up a 2-0 lead over Tom Aldridge. He was well on course for the third leg after scores of 140-100-180 and 69 to leave double six. Aldridge with two tons and a 140 had got down to 76. Two darts were all he required to win the leg. Smith forged ahead again in the fourth leg and worked himself down to double sixteen. Aldridge had only managed one three figure score but more than made up for that when he

produced a magnificent 161 checkout to force a fifth leg. Once again the Cumbria player kept his nose in front all the way down to a finish. Requiring 207 he scored 100, Aldridge then put the pressure on him by hitting 139 to leave 30. Smith then muffed a 107 checkout and in stepped Aldridge with double fifteen first dart to win 3-2.

With the score at 6-5 to the West Midlands, the result now hinged on the last game between Dave Hirst (Cumbria) and Paul Johnson. Hirst got the better start going two up in 13 and 18 darts. Johnson bounced back with 13 and 19 darts leg to push the match to it’s limit’s, and then secured his and his teams win with a 20 darts leg.

The man’s ‘A’ had a great season, their win over Cumbria confirming them as champions of their division with 66 points, five more than their nearest rivals Cumbria. In their nine outings they recorded seven wins, one draw and only one defeat, away to Berkshire in March.

Let’s hope that the men can keep their act going in the forthcoming season and if the ladies can string together a few wins, who knows perhaps this time next year I will be writing about their promotion to division one.

On the agenda for the West Midlands have been the Embassy Gold Cup singles and doubles knockouts. In the men’s singles top names such as Steve Parkes, Wayne Jones, Ian Jones and Lol Frazer plus many more made their exits early in the competition. Making their way to the final were Mark Wellings and Steve James. Wellings hit 2x100 in the first leg to the 100 scored by James. Nevertheless it was James who got the all important three figure score, that of 123 which is what he checked out on to go one up. The second leg was won in twenty darts again by James with his counterpart left on 85. The title was decided when in another twenty darts game James finished on 54, Wellings on this occasion requiring 84.

Angie Perry and Gill Cook battled it out for the ladies title. The match was all centred around doubles, Angie Perry hitting them and Gill Cook missing.Both players struggled to finish the first leg Angie eventually finding double eight. Double four was Angie’s winning double in the second leg after Gill had wound up on double one. Wrapping up the crown, Perry followed up top shots of 100 and 124 with an outshot of ten, for a straight 3-0 win.

Tipton’s much fancied pairing of Steve Parkes and Tom Aldridge went out of the doubles competition in the quarter finals to Joe Biggs and Alan Bradburn. Reaching the final were Burntwood’s David and Kevin Platt who faced Avtar Singh and Mark Wellings from Bloxwich. Playing the best of seven legs each and every one went with the darts advantage. The Platt’s won the opener in 19 darts with a 40 game shot after their opponents had failed on their finish. Singh and Wellings then replied with a 15 darts leg, only to see the opposition check out on 117 to go ahead for a second time.

Scores of 180-140 and 100 helped the Bloxwich duo to the fourth leg but once again they were unable to make it two in a row as they lost to a 56 game shot. The penultimate leg went to Singh and Wellings, the final one to the two Platt’s leaving the Bloxwich pair realising how costly their missed doubles in the first leg had been.

The ladies doubles, like the singles needed just three legs. Angie Perry and Gill Cook, opponents in the singles final teamed up and took on Rose Mycock and Claire Hobbs in the doubles final. The opening leg could have gone to either of the contestants but did go to Perry and Cook. The next two legs were decisive wins again for Perry and Cook as their counterparts failed to reach a finishing double. So Angie Perry made it a tremendous double by taking both the singles and doubles title’s, Gill Cook also putting up a great show by winning the doubles and finishing runner up in the singles.

Staying with county darts, what can be said about Warwickshire’s Trina Gulliver that has not already been said. She is a fantastic player without any question or doubt. She has just completed her county season and what a season it has been. She has won all nine of her fixtures, which in itself is a great feat, but besides that she has also won all NINE of her team’s “Lady of the Match Awards” a simply outstanding performance. In fact in the last two seasons Trina has won FOURTEEN of the eighteen awards, losing out only to Tammy Montgomery (April 99), Lesley Newcombe (December 98) and Cheryl Jackson (September and October 98).

This latest season Trina has had averages ranging from 20.04 to an incredible 34.16, how many male players can boast those sort of averages for the season. Not many!!!

Trina has worked hard at her beloved sport and deserves all the fame and recognition she gets. A very well done.

The Mercury Ladies Charity team played their final exhibition of the season at the Waterside Orchard Club, Hopwood, against May’s Hoppers. After 18 years of raising cash for the Give a Child Health Fund, this could well be the teams very last game. Sponsors for the team have decided that they are now calling it a day and will not be renewing the sponsorship.

Organiser Joyce Webster is on the lookout for a new sponsor and is willing to change the teams name to suit, plus she and the team are more than willing to donate all proceeds from their games to any charity of either the opponents or sponsors choice. So if there are any would be sponsors out there contact Joyce on 0121-604-5081.

Their last game was a resounding 9-0 win for the charity team and raised a fabulous total of £255 which will go to the Give a Child Health Fund.

Word has it that England international Trina Gulliver is arranging to take on the charity team in an exhibition match. Should be quite a night. But more on that as more news breaks.

The Sheldon and District Winter League have been engaged in various end of season knockouts. The doubles knockout ended up as an all Saltley Amateur Gardeners affair between Tony Randell and Tom White taking on Bob Barley and Phil Henderson. The result was a straight 2-0 win for Randell and White. The amateur Gardeners were also in top form in the Punch Bowl. After defeating Olton RBL 6-3 in the semi final they went on to lift the trophy with a 5-4 result over Fordbridge Social

John Pears won the Jubilee final 2-0 against Bob Mason and went on to make it a double as he A.Price, P.Goldie and T.Cooke in the league’s Vice Presidents Round Robin Competition.

The Sheldon League Charity team have been on their travels again taking on challenges from the Stags Head (Stratford upon Avon) and the Tarrington Arms (Ledbury). The charity side followed up a 6-6 draw at the Stags Head with a convincing 11-4 success at the Tarrington. A magnificent total of £336 was raised from the two games which will go to the league’s chosen charities the Birmingham Children’s Hospital and the hospital Burns Unit.

Alan Mason known affectionately to his friends as “Curly” has sadly passed away. A renowned and regular member of the Small Heath and District League, Curly played for the Custard House Bar. He will be remembered and missed by all who knew him.

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