|Recognised by Sport England as the Governing Body for Pool in England|
INTERLEAGUE KNOCKOUT CUP 2003
When the doors open to the main hall at 8:45 at Vauxhall holiday park you can feel the tension as the players make their way to the table they have been allocated. The spectators rush to get the best view of the team they have come to support. At 9:00 the room noise level drops a notch or two as the captains are busy filling out their team sheets and the players look on eagerly trying to see where they are in the team line up.
Or in some cases it’s the bitter disappointment of not seeing they have not been selected in opening set of nine players. Once that moment has passed it’s time to do battle. Last years winner’s Morley, had on the face of it, a tough start to the defence of their crown by drawing Rugby Town. Morley’s task was made even tougher when Ian Jones and Carl Heaton put Rugby 2 up.
Morley pulled one back before Mark Winham gave Rugby a 3-1 lead then things started to swing Morley’s way as captain Ralph Winfield and then Darren Appleton won to level the match. At the turn round point Morley had managed to put themselves up 5-4. from that point on it was Morley all the way as Rugby Town only won one more frame before Morley won the match 12 6.
Sutton only had to avoid defeat to secure a last 32 spot
which they did with frames to spare against Beverley A beating them
9-7 and forcing Brighton A to become the weekends first big name casualty.
Penwith from Cornwall lived up to their billing as a top team when they took out South Yorkshire’s Sheffield I.P.L. 11-7. Sheffield can point to a middle order collapse for their demise. They may even say that being a player short was the telling factor. It’s hard enough to win with a full strength team. Sheffield ware robbed of some players by varying factors beyond their control. They still managed to take 3 of the opening 5 frames. That’s where it all went wrong as Penwith took 6 of the next seven frames to lead 8-3. At this level there is no way back from that kind of onslaught. Daniel Darlington’s Penwith went on to win 11-7. But Paul Craig can be proud of his team. They refused to roll over and kept fighting until it was over.
Sheffield’s next opponents were Leicester & District who lost 4 of the opening five frames. It took two frames from Gaz Bowkett and Charlene Gibson to steady Leicester’s ship. Sheffield managed to hang on to their lead when the score was 7-6 but that’s where the happy times ended for Sheffield as Leicester took the next 5 frames on the spin to win 11-7.
Penwith made short work of Leicester as they piled up the frames and eventually won the match and group with a 10-3 win
Ipswich made amends in the next match as they took Nottinghamshire’s Gainsborough apart 12-6 but even that kind of performance only serves to remind you that despite a good win like that your chances of making progress rest on someone else’s result. In this case Ipswich had to pin their hopes on Gainsborough beating Imperial 2. to Gainsborough’s credit they gave it a go and held Imperial 2 to a narrow win of 9-8. but in the end Imperial went through.
As if that wasn’t bad enough for the Prince of Wales, Godalming from Surrey hit the West Yorkshire’s big time. Godalming were 11-3 up before Prince of Wales knew what had hit them and by then the Prince of Wales knew their Yarmouth was over for another year.
This set up a Leicester V Godalming group decider the match swung one way then the other until the mid way point with the Surrey side one frame to the good. Leicester killed off Godalming with a five frame blitz at the start of the second half that took them to a 9-5 lead. Godalming did take two more frames but Leicester finished of the group by winning the match 10-7
The Wisbech, Cambridgeshire and Brighton P match was a lot closer with neither team being able to show the other a clean pair of heels. The only time a decisive surge was made was made right at the end when Wisbech took the last three frames to win the match 10-8.
That set up the Ollerton, Wisbech Match Ollerton set about Wisbech from the start and took 7 of the first 9 frames that killed of all Wisbech’s fight so Ollerton qualified for the last 32 without getting out of first gear
In the second match Sun Valley, Nottinghamshire hit Worthing harder than Radcliffe did as they took 9 of the first 11 frames, this time there was no fight back from Worthing. That’s hardly surprising as Sun Valley are one of England’s top Interleague teams. They can, like so many teams, call on the services of so many quality players like Current England International Bayden Jackson. Plus Liam Stanley and Jim I’Anson. Worthing had no real answer as Radcliffe won 11-7.
In the group decider Sun Valley took first blood winning the first three frames only to see Radcliffe take the next four. They went even further ahead when both Jim I’Anson and Bayden Jackson both went down.. it was only when Lee Howitt, Liam Stanley, Neil Jones and Stonley all hit top gear that Sun Valley survived the group stage reaching the six frames they needed to progress.
That set a fat clash between Dawley A and Wigan to see who was going for the early bath. Dawley set the pace early on but Wigan slowly clawed their way back in to the match but every time they did so Dawley responded. It took a four frame run from Wigan to put a stop to Dawley’s hopes as Wigan won the match by 9-6. Dawley were the second of the big name teams to fail at the group stage. But to be honest which ever of the two went out a big team was going to go.
In a way this sent out a challenge to Hyndburn, Lancashire to at least match their score against Station all Blacks anything less and Canterbury would only need to draw in their match to qualify for the next stage. Hyndburn took a three frame lead and thought that they would have no problems clocking up a big win. By the time the turn round arrived the score was only 5-4 to Hyndburn.
Hyndburn made amends for any mistakes by taking the first five frames of the second half to kill off Station all Blacks spirited revival and set up their 12-6 win to ensure that their head to head with Canterbury would be off levels.
Canterbury started well by winning the first three frames but took their foot of the accelerator as Hyndburn took 5 of the next 6 to lead 5-4 by the half way point. Any fears Hyndburn may have had were laid to rest as they continued their form into the second half and five frames from the opening 6 to crush Canterbury and go to the knock out section
Next up was Sheppey A who were in no mood to take easy on Country Club B and raced to a 6-3 lead at half time. They did even better in the second half as they took 8 from nine frames to make Wolverhampton Wednesday think they were going to have to scrap for the group winners spot.
That is more or less what happened as Wolverhampton Wednesday were always in front of Sheppey A in their group decider they were never far enough in front to be comfortable and Sheppey A eventually drew level at 8-8. Steve Davenport and Phil Ward made sure it was Wolverhampton Wednesday progressing by winning the final two frames.
Leicester City faced going out of the event if they failed to beat Thurrock, London and that is what happened, try as they might, Leicester just could not break free from Thurrock’s claws. Leicester despite being on the brink of survival dropped three frames on the trot towards the end of the match and found themselves 9-8 down as a result. Leicester took the final frame but by then it was too late for Leicester.
With Rugby taking on Thurrock for the right to join the ranks of the last 32 things were really tight with frames being traded on a more or less one for one basis until Rugby got themselves 8-7 in front. Rugby won the next frame to book their passage in to the last 32.
As with the above match Luton’s hopes were pinned on beating their opponents Sheppey C; Kent. Luton as they had in the previous match, started well taking the first four frames without reply. Sheppey then posted their first two frames followed by Luton restoring their four frame lead. At one point Luton were leading 7-4 and looking good for the win. Sheppey for some reason started to play and forced themselves back into the match with a final frame that gave them the draw and Luton the knowledge that their Interleague was over.
The group was decided when after a tight first half in which Sheppey C got the better of Lowestoft at 5-4. any hopes that Sheppey might have had of springing a surprise result were quashed when Lowestoft through Steven Lish, Trevor Cook, Shawn Godfrey, Sam Bemment & Jamie Clark turned the match round their way with a 10-6 win
North Wolds was really up against it when they took on Lye & Stourbridge the West Midlands outfit. Lye & Stourbridge did what St Albans Saints had done and took a 7-2 lead at the half way point. Funnily enough North Wold did the same thing as well in that they got the score back to 11-7 before bowing out of the event. Adrian Walton must have been wondering why his team had to be so far behind before they started to play.
St Albans Saints drams of being one of the very few teams
to win a group at their first visit to the finals were crushed when
Lye & Stourbridge clocked up a half time lead of 6-3 after losing
the first two frames. Things got even worse after the re-start when
Lye & Stourbridge added another three frames to their tally
A1 Telecom now had to beat Harlow, Essex; if they were to stay in the event but thing soon went wrong as Harlow won four of the first five frames. From then on the frames were traded and although Malcom M’cVean won both his frames his team still went down 10-8
This left Harlow to slug it out it out with and add the rest of the story
P.J.'s Stourbridge had obviously softened up Phoenix because Gravesham A hit Phoenix hard as well 10-4 in fact. It is as far as I can tell the worst ever Yarmouth performance from barking.
Still that was of no concern of P.J.'s Stourbridge or Gravesham A when they met to decide who was going to go through to the knock out. P.J.'s Stourbridge never turn up with a weak team. Gravesham had to make sure that P.J.'s Stourbridge never got a head of steam up. This they did and consider themselves unlucky not to have forced a play off. P.J.'s Stourbridge won 9-7
There is also the added pressure of just being a last 16 side no one who hasn’t been there will quite understand it players do miss what would, at any other time, be dolly finishes. Then there is also the 9:00am start on Sunday morning. How many players are there that are at the top of their games at that time in the morning? The only thing that can be said about that is it’s the same for both teams.
Lowestoft took a 2-1 lead over Ollerton only to see it evaporate over the next few frames. Lowestoft recovered enough to reach the half way point 5-4 up. After the turn round Lowestoft added another through Sean Godfrey. Looking pretty Lowestoft hit the wall or perhaps Ollerton found another gear.
Whatever the reason Ollerton blitzed Lowestoft and took 6 frames without reply through Andy Wilson, Kev Seaman, Gary McCloud, Scott Higgins, Chris Rigby, Steve Overton and Andy Bingham to win the match 10-6.
The Leeds P.J.'s Stourbridge match went a similar way to the one above as Leeds went 3-1 up. Leeds could only watch on as Paul Shakespeare, Paul Dunkey, Jarrod Griffiths, Bedford & Clark all won without reply. When a team like P.J.'s Stourbridge gets a lead they are all but impossible to pull back. Although the next five frames were traded one for one the net result was that P.J.'s Stourbridge needed only two from the last four frames. Shakespeare & Clark wrapped up the match wining their frames to give P.J.'s Stourbridge a 10-6 win
Sun Valley went into their last 16 match against East Herts knowing the last time the teams met it was Sun Valley who came out on top. East Herts took the early initiative but eventually Sun Valley clawed their way back into the match. They then took the lead and it was East Herts who then had to play catch up. The farther the match went on the tighter it became. So tight in fact it took a play off to separate the two teams.
As the play started with six players (three from each team) playing across three tables. Sun Valley broke on two of the three tables and looked good in all three frames. East Herts slowly turned all the frames round and won the play off 2-0 through the experience Neil Toms and Tony Vickers have gained whist playing at the highest level to gain revenge for the previous defeat and send Sun Valley out of the event.
The match of the round beyond question was the clash between Morley Int & Alloa’s this really was a heavyweight clash. Morley would normally expect to win a match like this. Funnily enough the Alloa’s from Lancashire would also think pretty much the same thing, knowing it would be tough but the Alloa’s are a tough team.
Chris Melling opened Morley’s score card but the Alloa’s hit back with two from Lee Clough and Andy Sudworth. Nick Wollerton leveled the scores. One of the big moments in the match came when Alloa’s Carl Bromley beat Darren Appleton to put the Lancashire outfit 1 up again. Adi Ibbitson restored parity by taking out Dave Chalmers. Then Morley Skipper Ralph Winfield lost out to Matt Morris.
Rob Gale then pulled to two sides back again. In the final frame of the first half Alloa’s Nathan Bridges put his team ahead again and when Lee Clough Took out Morley’s Karl Milner the writing looked to be on the wall.
However, Chris Melling had other ideas and cut Alloa’s lead back to a single frame. Damien Milnes kept his nerve to put the Alloa’s two in front again before Darren Appleton gained sweet revenge for his earlier defeat by Carl Bromley by returning the compliment.
By now the atmosphere around the tables they were playing on was electric as Morley struggled to get back in the match and the Alloa’s were equally determined not to let their advantage slip. With a team like Morley if you take your foot off the gas at any stage before you cross the winning line you are quite likely find they have crossed it before you.
The Alloa’s really turned the screw when Russell McGrady and then Dave Chalmers won their frames to lead 9-6. Rob Gale won for Morley to keep them in it. Nathan Bridges gave the Alloa’s victory when he beat Vikki Layton.
Trent Trophies B and Rugby A had a real slug it out type when they meet. Rugby’s Andy Barnett gave his team the lead when he took the opening frame. Trent Trophies won the next two. Rugby captain Paul Evans leveled the scores and then it went win one lose one until the half way point when Trent Trophies put on a bit of a spurt and won four frames on the bounce. Despite the lead they couldn’t make it count and had to watch Rugby claw their way back in to it and forced the play off. As is so often the case, the team with the momentum when the match reached the end of the scheduled frames carries the form into the play off. This match was no different as Rugby won the play off 2-1
Another match that went to a play off was the one between Imperial and Leicester. Leicester was trying to emulate last year’s performance and get back to the final. Imperial were looking to live up to their reputation as one off the most fancied teams in the event.
Leicester must have thought they had died and gone to heaven as they won the first three frames through Mark Selby, Shawn Payne and Tom ford. Then it was a touch of being served up their own medicine as J.J. Faul, Ben Clements, John Wylie, Darren Suchley and Brian Evans turned the match round.
Leicester’s Dave Wileman steadied the rocking Leicester boat when he won so that Leicester went in at the turn around trailing 4-5. Imperial’s Dean Wisher added another for the London team. Mark Selby kept Leicester in touch when he won his second of the match.
Leicester got what can only be described as a second wind as they hit Imperial for four frames through Tom Ford, Steve Morris, Lee Ross and Dave Wileman. This was Imperial’s moment of truth there wasn't anywhere to hide only two wins from the final two frames would keep their dreams alive. Fortunately Imperial had Brian Evans and John Triani to call on and both won to force the tie break.
Imperial used Dean Wisher, JJ Faul and Andy Breen whilst Leicester called on Mark Selby, Dave Wileman and Shawn Payne. Mark Selby won for Leicester but JJ Faul and Andy Breen did the same for imperial to win 11-10.
This would have been the match of the tournament a few years ago, in some ways it still was as Trent Trophies A took on Wolverhampton Wednesday. These two teams have between them won the events so many times its hard to keep count.
Whilst Trent Trophies have become stronger with the addition of Carl Morris to their already impressive squad. Wolverhampton Wednesday on the other hand have become a little weaker by their own standards that is, they are still an awesome team by most other’s standards.
Trent Trophies took the initiative when Gaz Potts and Adam Davis won the first two frames. Wolverhampton Wednesday’s Carl Jones posted Wolverhampton Wednesday’s first frame. Then daz Henshall and Mark Blackshaw gave Trent Trophies a 4-1 lead. Wolverhampton Wednesday hit back with two frames of their own through Neil Raybone and Sunjay Pudden. Off went Trent Trophies again this time Adam Davis, Phil Condliffe and Lee Kendall combined to lead 9-4. Who do you think sealed the match for Trent Trophies yep, Carl Morris sealed Trent Trophies’s emphatic 10-4 win.
The Rugby A v Trent Trophies A tie always looked a tough match for Rugby and so it proved. Andy Barnett came up with the goods for Rugby but Adam Davis wiped the lead out. Pete Evans then restored Rugby’s lead with a win. Lee Kendall, mark Blackshaw and Carl Morris responded with wins to capture the lead. Gary Cox pulled it all together again. That was as close as Rugby were going to get as Trent Trophies rattled of the next for frames to really put the pressure on Rugby. All credit to Rugby as they battled on knowing only a miracle would save them as they got the score back to 5-8. Trent Trophies finally killed them off when they won the next two.
Yet anther cracker of a match was the one contested by Ollerton and P.J.'s Stourbridge. What a match it was too both teams hail from region three and both team are no strangers as they are both always in at the business end of the event.
Ollerton started like a team possessed after Kev seaman lost the first frame to Ben Swinnerton with back to back wins for Andy Wilson, Gary McLeod, Sean Higgins and Chris Rigby to lead 4-1. Captain Paul Dunkey and Rob Clark made the score respectable when they won their frames for P.J.'s Stourbridge. Bill Rigby added another for Ollerton but P.J.'s Stourbridge’s Kev Jordan cancelled it out.
Ex England international Kev Seaman atoned for his earlier defeat by beating Rob Chilton, no mean feat given Chilton’s recent form, that signalled the turning point of the match as Jarrod Griffiths, Pat Ward, Rob Clark and Paul Dunkey all combined to lock Ollerton out of the match. Andy Bingham and Bill Rigby added two frames to Ollerton’s side of the scoreboard but the match was won by Ben Swinnerton and Bedford doing likewise for P.J.'s Stourbridge as they won 10-8 to reach the semi finals.
Alloa’s must have thought that the hard work was done when they beat Morley in the quarters but they came up against an East Herts side that were starting to bubble. The Alloa’s took the first two courtesy of Lee Clough and Andy Sudworth. But East Herts hit back with a three frames of their own through Neil Toms, Andy Collett and Alan Robinson. Alloa’s brought the scores back together again at 3-3. East Herts then tried to show the Alloa’s a clean pair of heals with a four frame salvo thanks to Jimmy Stoole, Tony Vickers, Dave Langham and Mark Thrussell. Whilst that might have crushed the spirit of lesser teams the Alloa’s called on their experience to show East Herts that they were not to be messed with as they won the next for to level the match. At 7-7. The relief in the Alloa’s at drawing level was self evident. East Herts took that chance to kill the match of when Jimmy Stoole, Andy Collett and Dave Langham won their frames to book a semi final spot.
P.J.'s Stourbridge on the other hand used their superior experience to glide past East Herts.
When you consider all that a team has to go through to get to the final and the quality of the teams that have not made it to this point it is no real surprise that you are going to get a final boasting the best teams over the course of the week end.
For all that this was a special final because it was being contested by two teams who had not won the event before. Over the past 7-8 years the event has been hogged by two or three teams. It was refreshing to know that whatever happened a new name was going to go on the cup this year.
This looked like being a close final mainly because it was new to both teams and both teams had trashed their semi final opponents 10-2. Although you would have to say Imperial’s was the harder task with Trent Trophies as their opponents.
The final is played across three tables with the first three frames starting simultaneously. After that the next player goes on as soon as a table finishes. It makes a real spectacle of the event as a team came be 3-0 up or down within seconds. And there is never a dull moment as there will be an interesting situation developing on one or more of the tables.
Imperial were the first to draw blood as dean Wisher beat Mark Ash closely followed by Andy Breen and Ramesh Gokhul. Rob Chilton got P.J.'s Stourbridge scoring underway when he won the fourth frame. When Ben Clements and John Wylie won to put Imperial 5-1 up it looked like it was all over but suddenly P.J.'s Stourbridge kicked into overdrive and won the next five frames without reply through Jarrod Griffiths, Wayne Bedford, Kevin Jordan, Mark ash and Rob Chilton to lead 6-5.
Then the wheels fell off, from P.J.'s Stourbridge’s point of view, Ramesh Gokhul, JJ Faul, Ben Clements and John Wylie all won for Imperial to put the Londoners up 9-5 and guarantee them the play off. Paul Shakespeare won for P.J.'s Stourbridge but ant hopes of forcing the play off were crushed Brian Evans wrapped up the match for Imperial.