|Recognised by Sport England as the Governing Body for Pool in England|
INTERLEAGUE KNOCKOUT CUP 2005
We have now come to the end of another hugely successful National Knock Out Cup competition and although I have said it before, I have to say it again here. The standard of pool available to watch at the Interleague events is just going through the roof.
Teams that once believed they would get through to the last 16 before meeting any serious opposition are a thing of the past just look at these few examples, if this had been the draw a few years ago people would have said the draw was fixed. It would be unthinkable that teams with this kind of quality could be drawn against each other in the group stage.
Group 4 saw Ipswich, McCluskey’s and the All’oas slug it out, who before the event would have said that McCluskey’s would be the group winners with Ipswich and the All’oas in their group?
Group six saw first timers Preston city came through the group stages undefeated and that was with New Barnet and Friar Tuck in their group. It mat not seem strange to you but it very rare that a new team gets to the last 32 on their first attempt
Group fifteen saw the once all conquering Wolverhampton Wednesday A fail to negotiate the group stage for the first time in living memory. This defeat marks the end of a dynasty in Interleague terms with Wolverhampton Wednesday now set to drop right back into the pack when they lose their 2001 winners points next year.
Then we had the group of death match up with Andover saints, Worcester Hotshots and Trent Trophies A all in the same group. Whist Trent Trophies A would be expected to be the group winners. In just about any other group so would the other two
On the very next table we had M.H.D.P.L A, Coventry and Small heath (under different names bar Coventry) all ranked in the top 16 of all time Interleague teams over the past five years fight it out for the one spot available to add to their impressive haul of points.
Group twenty three saw Croydon, Barking Phoenix and Trent Trophies B in the same group. God alone knows how many times these three have appeared in the national finals
This has been a funny year for the group stage with classic head to head clashes all over the place that usually take place much later on in the event.
Then if you take a look at the last 32 draw you will see it is one of the most vicious the Interleague has ever seen with Triangle having the fight of their lives on if they wanted to retain the trophy they won here this time last year.
To the 64 teams that failed to get out of the group you can console yourselves in the fact that you were privileged to take part in one of the strongest fields ever assembled for the national finals.
To those that did come out of the group but ultimately fell over at some point before winning the event. Come back again next year and try again because the difference between all of you is shrinking all the time and that means that the future of the Interleague and more importantly, Pool in general is safe in your hands.
The group stage started with Triangle taking on St John’s and
with the awesome fire power available to Triangle you’d be forgiven
for thinking this match would be a stroll in the park but St John’s
had other ideas. It’s fair to say that Triangle were never really
in danger for the first 9 frames St John’s tried their hardest
to keep up with them and got to the half way stage only trailing 6 – 3.
After the turn round Triangle moved up a gear as Chris Melling, Dave
Bagg, Mick Hill, Ralph Winfield, Shane Appleton and Mark Johnson all
combined to rattle of the next 6 frames even Lamb’s defeat of Darren
Appleton in the second set whilst giving St John’s something to
smile about made absolutely not difference to the inevitability for Ben
Flinch to seal the win. The final result was 13-5 to Triangle….no
In the next match it was like lambs to the slaughter as Melling, Bagg, Hill, Wilson, Darren Appleton all won the secure the safe passage to the last 32 for Triangle. Your feelings have to got out to Folkestone who were unfortunate enough to get drawn with Trent Trophies A last year and got the same treatment despite receiving an abysmal draw for two years on the trot their Captain Mark Wynn brought me a drink to show there wasn’t any hard feelings! Next year Folkestone could look forward to meeting P.J.'s Stourbridge in their group!!
Group Four turned out to be a battle royal with all three teams battling
to the death. In the first match Ipswich who should have been favourites
to beat McCluskey's found them selves on the wrong side of a 5-4 score
line at the half way stage and thing didn’t get any better as McCluskey's
repeated the feat in the second 9 frames to win the all important match
10-8 and in doing so set the stage for a blood bath for the three teams
in the group.
The stage was set for the All'oas to clinch their qualification against
Interleague new boys McCluskey's. However McCluskey's didn’t read
the script and took a 2-0 lead which took Matt Barcock and Andy Sudworth
to bring the teams level again. It took Ed Key and Kevin McGuire to restore
McCluskey's two frame advantage, Craig Bousfield added another to McCluskey's
haul to make the first half score 5-4 to Derbyshire. The second half
McCluskey's add another frame before Lee Clough claimed one for the All'oas,
Jamie Pegg took out matt Barcock to keep McCluskey's just in front then
a three frame blast from All’oas Nathan Bridges, Andy Sudworth
and Dave Chalmers but All'oas in the driving seat. McCluskey's Dean Simpson
and Mick Ruane kept their nerve and put McCluskey's 9-8 up; the All'oas
forced the play off through Del Redmond.
The play off was a real tense affair with Jamie Pegg taking on Dave Chalmers, Craig Bousfield against Andy Sudworth and Kev McGuire faced Lee Clough. As it turned out an uncharacteristic mistake from Lee Clough allowed Kev McGuire to take the first frame quickly followed by Craig Bousfield dispatching Andy Sudworth to produce the first real shock of the event by knocking the All'oas out in the group stage, which is as rare as Rocking Horse excrement!
On table six Friar Tuck hit New Barnet completely unawares as they as
they hit eight past them in the first 9 frames. There are only a few
teams that can recover from such a disastrous start and New Barnet isn’t
one of them. Friar Tuck compounded New Barnet’s misery by beating
them 5-4 in the second half to run out easy winners 13-5.
The group decides between Friar Tuck and Preston City was a much closer affair with Preston never being behind but never being far enough in front to be comfortable. Friar Tuck was constantly snapping at Preston’s heals; Preston eventually won the group by taking the final two frames through Nike Whitelaw and Alex Shaw.
Group Fifteen saw Andover Swallows take on Colchester C, the Swallows
took the first five frames before Colchester realised they were in a
match and by the time the match had reached the half way point Colchester
were 7-2 down. Colchester was never going to threaten Andover Swallows’s
big lead and the Swallows ran out winners, 13-5. Andover Swallows skipper
Rob Rasey must have drilled it into his players to not make any mistake
in the battle they have booked with the mighty Wolverhampton Wednesday
Wolverhampton Wednesday A over the past few years have fallen from being
the most feared team in the Interleague to one that can be beaten. Most
of the players from the great Wolverhampton Wednesday side are still
there but for some reason the team as a whole doesn’t perform to
the level it set a few years back.
What should have been a massive match for Andover Swallows playing the might Wolverhampton Wednesday A turned out to be nothing more than a sad show of what can happen to a team if it doesn’t progress as Wolverhampton Wednesday A didn’t even put up a fight until they were 5 frames down, even then it was only a token resistance and Andover Swallows clinched the group by winning the seventh frame they needed just after the half way point.
Nuneaton A managed to get past Luton Elite in their opening match but
it was a bit of a struggle a Luton Elite refused to give in. The turning
point of the match came where Steptoe, Martin and Tedds all won to give
Nuneaton a 6-3 leave at the half way point. Doherty kept Elite in the
hunt when he won the opening frame of the second half but they never
quite recovered from the three frame salvo that Nuneaton fired earlier
in the match and eventually lost 10-8.
This meant that Luton Elite faced previous semi-finalist Brighton A on
top of that had to win if they were to continue in this year Knockout
Cup. Luton took a 3-1 lead as the Brighton big guns failed to fire; it
took skipper Paul McNeil to show what being a skipper is all about by
leading from the front. Once McNeil had claimed his frame normal service
was resumed as Darren Welfare, Dean Torode, Gillard, Bailey and Damian
Campsey all won to put Brighton 7-3 up. Luton Elite did win four frames
in the second half to fight back and trail by the odd frame, the match
was killed off when Gillard, Welfare and Bailey all won to put Brighton
past the winning post.
This set up a straight head to head clash between Nuneaton and Brighton, Nuneaton drew first blood through Martin and Knight; Brighton came back through Steve Ringsell, Morray Dolan and Dean Torode. Although some teams might have given in when they saw Brighton fight back but not Nuneaton as Steptoe, Tedds, Griffiths and Richardson set Nuneaton into the second half with a 6-3 lead. Brighton levelled the score though Morray Dolan, Damian Campsey and Dean Torode. Any thought that Brighton might have had of turning that match around would dashed when Nuneaton won the last four frames to send Brighton crashing out of the event to prove you can be a semi finalist and not even negotiate the group the next.
With the quality that’s now on show at every Interleague competition
it get harder and harder for any team to get what could be termed an
easy draw in the group stage. It’s much more likely to find two
top quality teams fighting it out to be the group winner. However group
20 contained three teams who have each in the past reached the semi final.
They may have done it under different names but are still basically the
same players in the teams. M.H.D.P.L A took on Coventry in the first
match and on paper it should have been a really tight match, unfortunately
for M.H.D.P.L A they are known the be slow starters and Coventry took
full advantage by taking the first three frames. From then on M.H.D.P.L
A were always going to struggle you can’t give a team like Coventry
a three frame start and realistically expect to win. M.H.D.P.L A had
pulled the match back to 5-4 with wins from David Barbrook, Des Smith,
Mick Darragh and Neil Toms. If M.H.D.P.L thought they were back into
it at the half way point Coventry through Steve Mullen, Chris McDermott,
Michael White, Kevin Farrelly, Surinder Singh, Liam Farrell and Martin
Kirby sealed M.H.D.P.L fate by winning the next 7 out of 8 frames to
leave Mercury with no where to go other than to batter their next opponents
and hope. M.H.D.P.L A’s next opponents are a quality outfit and
it just goes to show the strength of this group means that any of the
teams is more than capably of battering the others as Coventry proved.
M.H.D.P.L A showed that once they wake up they can produce results as
they took 11 of the first 12 frames to give themselves a slim chance
of progressing. That hope was dashed when Small Heath took the final
six frames to all but dump M.H.D.P.L A out of the event and give themselves
of just beating Coventry when the two teams met.
With the group stages completed the event moves on to the knockout stages. Sometimes lady luck could show how mischievous she wants to be, you only have to look at the head to head clashed that the draw for this years last 32.
First up were Ilkeston and Andover Swallows. Ilkeston got to the half way point leading by five frames to four, leaving Andover Swallows knowing they had to produce a second half performance if they were going to go through. They started off well enough taking 3 of the next 5 to draw the match level at 7-7. Ilkeston killed the match off when Chris Cauldwood, Steve Grey and Lee Clarke all won to give Ilkeston the win at 10-7.
Kettering despatched Renegade A with out them getting out of first gear and that despite having Eddie Barker, Videsh and Vikas Sabharwal Kettering just battered Renegade with the final score being 10-2.
In a battle of War of the Roses, West Yorkshire’s Prince of Wales took of Lancashire’s Wigan this time round the White Rose of Yorkshire saw of the challenge of the Red Rose. Prince of Wales took six of the first nine and then followed it up by taking four of the next six to run out easy winners 10-5, despite Glen Cahir winning his two for Wigan.
In a wonderfully poetic way, Weston took on Preston! Preston took Weston to the cleaners. This was achieved with a first half performance that saw Preston take six of the opening nine frames and although Weston did come back to make is 7-7 at one point, Preston claimed the match by winning 3 of the last 4 frames.
McCluskey's as a new team and some what surprisingly group winner showed Leicester that they didn’t win the group by fluke. Leicester, previous finalists, found themselves trailing 7-2 at the half way point. Although Leicester were missing their snooker stars they still had a quality side with included Tommy Donlon, the first half battering proved to much for Leicester to recover from as McCluskey's reached the winning line with 10 frames before Leicester had clocked up four.
Rochester bid to turn the clock back to their glory days had Trent Trophies B blocking their path. The Trent side had taken care of some very big names in the past to show that them too are capable of reaching the business end of any tournament, but when Rochester took a 6-3 lead Trent Trophies B would have still believed they could recover. Heightened with Liam While and Ryan Cope reducing the deficit to just one frame it looked like Rochester had a fight on their hands. Ian Kettel, Jamie Kitchen, Jordan Church and Steve Jepson killed off any hopes Trent Trophies B had of coming back when they took the four required frames to put Rochester through to the last 16.
Godalming A are fast becoming one of the Interleague’s top sides. Reigate B took a 3-0 lead but Godalming hit back by winning 5 of the next 6 frames to lead 5-4 at the half way point. Godalming then turned up the pressure and reached the ten required frames at the same time restricting Reigate B to two, leaving the final result 10-6.
Ollerton took on Nuneaton A showing Nuneaton why they continually appear at the latter end of any competition but coming back from 2-1 to lead at the end of 9 frames 5-4. The second half proved just a hard as the first for Nuneaton as every time they closed the gap Ollerton re-opened it with the very next frame and eventually clocked up a 10-6 win.
Preston City’s reward for as first timers winning their group was a match which any team would give anything to avoid. The mere mention that you are playing against Trent Trophies A is enough to break any team’s spirit. Trent Trophies A have had a rough time recently through unforeseen events but rarely has Interleague seen a gulf between two teams as big a this with Trent Trophies A winning the first 10 frames without response. Preston City’s run in the Interleague came to an end and left them wondering why they had bothered turning up at all for this match.
If you were wondering what I meant my Lady Luck being mischievous earlier on you only have to look at the last 32 clash that she produced and there was not bigger and more mischievous than the one between Imperial I and Triangle. For this match to be a last 32 match is ridiculous, in a seeded event they probably wouldn’t meet until the final. Imperial I were trailing Triangle by the odd one after nine frames which meant the Imperial I’s big guns were going to have to fire if they were to overcome the lead. As it turned out Dean Wisher, Brian Evans and Andy Breen all won their frames to bring the match all square at 7-7. Triangle’s Darren Appleton, Ralph Winfield and Mark Johnson kept Triangle on course for a second successive appearance in the final.
Imperial 2 took on Coventry who in the beginning was struggling to keep pace with the London outfit as they stormed to a 6-3 lead at the half way point. Paul McHale made it 7-3 when he beat Tm Singh and it looked like the end of the road for Coventry. Then Steve Mullen, Mark White, Chris McDermott, Liam Farrell, Surinder Singh, Daz Lee and Martin Kirby all won their frames to steal the match from under Imperial 2 noses, 10-8.
Tolworth got Ely on the back foot from the start of this match by winning three of the first four frames, through Frank Striven’s defeat of Phil Harrison, Steve Petty’s win over Iain Aldous and Jason Norris’s win over Richard Wharton. Ely found it hard to come to terms with their all those big players loosing and eventually succumbed 10-5 and the only mark the Cambridge’s team left in Yarmouth was the six sacs of Cambridge’s finest potatoes left by skipper Dale Parson which were distributed amongst the tournament officials. Thank You Very Much!
Another match where Lady Luck was having a bit of a laugh at the expense of two top quality teams was the one between P.J.'s Stourbridge and Sun Valley. This is another clash that really shouldn’t be taking place in the last 32 but in an open draw this can happen and for everyone bar the two teams involved two top teams going head to head meant one space up for grabs in the last sixteen. First blood went to P.J.'s Stourbridge through Pat Ward and Hiten Patel, Bayden Jackson replied for Sun Valley, Rob Chilton restored the gap only to see Clint I’ Anson close it again. The break through came when Paul Dunkey and Ritchie Foxall both won and despite Neil Jones and Dave Atherley bringing the difference back to a single frame the advantage was restored in P.J.'s Stourbridge’s favour when Hiten Patel and Neil Raybone restored P.J.'s Stourbridge’s cushion. Sun Valley then came back at P.J.'s Stourbridge with wins for Jackson, Johnson and I’ Anson to make it 7-7. Any thoughts of it going to a tie break were squashed when Ritchie Foxall, Jarrod Griffiths and Pat Ward put the match to bed at 10-7.
The City of Coventry, cock a hoop with winning their group, would have looked forward to playing whoever they drew in the last 32. Unfortunately for them they drew a rampant Worcester Dream Team and although the match sheet shows a 10-1 win for Worcester Dream Team the actual match score was 10-0. and that was as they say was a good night from Coventry and let’s now go to the bar and start the weekend.
The match between Dawley and Mexborough was a strange match in so much that Dawley fell victim to Mexborough's final match in the group section which took nearly four and a half hours to complete. This meant that Dawley were sitting around waiting and getting cold and cold in these terms means not playing matches. When this match actually started it was put onto three tables simply because of the time that Mexborough had taken to win their group. The score went 1-1 but that’s when the wheels feel off as far as Dawley were concerned and Mexborough clocked up five unanswered frames. When Dawley posted their second frame the writing was on the wall and Mexborough through Martin Hazel, Terry Hunt and John Waller put an end to Daley’s impressive run of reaching two consecutive finals.
All this left Dawley crying foul over the length of time they had to wait to play the match and although they said Mexborough won fair and square they were left with a feeling that the match would have been different if they hadn’t been left waiting for over four hours waiting for Mexborough to win their group .
The only last 32 match that needed a play off to separate the two teams was they match between the two teams from Kent which were Romney Marsh and Medway and as you would expect with two team that know each other well, the match was nip and tuck. The playoff was a tense affair with Barbara Taylor clinching Medway’s place in the last 16 after coming back from the dead to clinch her frame. Romney Marsh will be kicking themselves at not reaching that last 16 themselves because the chances were there for both teams it’s just that Medway made the most of theirs.
Kettering in their match with Ilkeston took a 3-0 lead through Graham Berrutto, Grey and Smith any thoughts that Kettering were going to cruise through to the last 8 were shattered when Ilkeston’s Lee Clarke, Wayne Appleyard, Chris Cauldwood and Steve Grey all won their frames to give Ilkeston a one frame advantage and they maintained their lead by taking two of the next four. This spurred Kettering to produce a five frame winning run of their own and in doing so secured a 10-7 win.
Preston but an end to the Prince of Wales’s good run as they compiled frame after frame with very little response from the Prince of Wales even the normally reliable Andy Grice failed to perform to a level that would allow the Prince of Wales to compete and the eventually lost 10-4.
McCluskey's fine run in the competition was brought to an end by a rampant Rochester side that was determined to turn the clock back to the glory days of a few years ago when they consistently reached quarter finals and semi finals. Ian Hubbard, Ian Kettel, Jamie Kitchen, Jordan Church, Steve Jepson and Martin Prime all won to give Rochester a 6-3 lead at the half way stage. From that point onwards McCluskey's could sense that it was the end of their run in the Interleague for this year as Rochester quickly clocked up the four frames they needed to take the match 10-6.
The match between Godalming A and Ollerton was a classic match between the up and coming stars and the old school in the shape of Ollerton. Matches of this nature usually end up with the up and coming team keeping pace with the established team but eventually in the end loosing out to the greater experience of the past masters. This is what happened here, at the half way point Godalming were trailing 5-4 but just couldn’t resist then depth and strength of the Ollerton squad who went on to win the match 10-8.
The match between Trent Trophies A and Triangle definitely qualifies as the Clash of the Titans! Both teams are the most successful Interleague teams of the modern era by a long way. This match would have been a joy for anyone to watch if they wanted to watch pool at the highest level, both teams just ooze quality. Triangle started the strongest of the two team with wins for Dave Bagg, Shane Appleton, Mark Johnson, Mick Hill and Ben Finch but Trent Trophies A responded with wins for Jamie Croxton, Adam Davis, Carl Morris and Daz Lightfoot which made the score 5-4 at the half way point. So when Chris Melling and Darren Appleton joined the previous list of winners it just proved too much for the Staffordshire side. Although Triangle won 10-6 making it look easy, on paper the reality of it was that Trent Trophies A could have won by the same score.
The Coventry / Tolworth clash was between two teams steeped with Interleague history. Both teams have players that play to a nation standard, for Coventry you have got Steve Mullen, Liam Farrell and Surinder Singh whilst Tolworth can boast Frank Strivens, Jason Norris and Andy Sutherland. Tolworth were out of the blocks the fastest taking 6 of the first 9 frames to leave Coventry with no place to hide. Coventry made a bit of a come back by winning the second half 5-4 but that still wasn’t enough to stop Tolworth taking the match 10-8.
P.J.'s Stourbridge made the Worcester Dream Team look fairly ordinary and although P.J.'s Stourbridge won 10-3 the Worcester Dream Team must be ruined after the chances they threw away. But at this level is you don’t take your chances you’ll pay the price and the Worcester Dream Team certainly did this time round.
Mexborough with Martin Hazel, John Waller, Gavin Preskey, Terry Hunt, Phil Cartwright, Lee Smith, John Astill, Glyn Khan and Alistair Bailey are a true all start line up team and with all due respect to Medway apart from Barbara Taylor they do not have anybody close to the standard of Mexborough’s. Mexborough won 10-2 and never looked like loosing control of the match.
Kettering’s amazing run continued and the experience of the experienced Preston side. Despite giving away the first three frames to Wayne Jerram, Jason Rimmer and Neil Davey Kettering eventually came back to trail by the end of the first half 5-4. Preston again threatened to take the match with Jason Rimmer and Gareth Hibbott adding to Preston’s lead the turning point in the match came in the final three frames when Preston were 8-7 to the good with three to play and only needed one more frame to secure the playoff but they lost all three and the star of the show for Kettering was Bob Love who secured the 10-8 score line. This despite the fact that until the final three frames Kettering was never in the lead which again proves how tough this game can be at times.
Rochester’s fine run of form continued with the annihilation of Ollerton who only managed two of the first nine frames, it was a clear case of all the big names with Ollerton not performing to known abilities collectively. In the second half Ollerton did string three frames together but by then it was all but over as Jordan Church, Steve Jepson and Neil Ward won the three frames Rochester needed to secure a 10-5 score line they needed.
Triangle who to reach this point had already taken care of Imperial I and Trent Trophies A now took on Tolworth which I’m sure to the Triangle team but have been a relief to not have to play another team like those two. Unfortunately for Tolworth no-one other than Steve Petty and Andy Sutherland had what it took to beat the Triangle players. Triangle ran out relatively comfortable winners, 10-3
The last Quarter Final match was another humdinger of a match, both on paper and in reality. The first nine frames were shared fairly evenly with P.J.'s Stourbridge just edging a 5-4 lead thanks to Pat Ward, Rob Clarke, Ritchie Foxall, Hiten Patel and Wayne Bedford. Mexborough winners were terry Hunt, Gavin Preskey, John Astill and Phil Cartwright. At this point the wheels fell off Mexborough’s cart as only Terry hunt produced a win for his team. Whilst Neil Raybone, Rob Clarke, Rob Chilton, Ritchie Foxall and Hiten Patel made it an easy 10-5 win for Mexborough but on another day that result could be reversed
Kettering’s dream of reaching a national final came to an abrupt halt when they came up against the on form Rochester. When things go against you at this level you can easily get swamped by it all and that’s what happened to Kettering they just couldn’t stop the Kent team from clocking up frames. Even though at one point the Kettering team were trailing 6-3 from that point onwards went into terminal decline for the Northants team. As Rochester through Ian Hubbard, Dean Cole, Ian Kettel and Jordan Church combined to put the final thorn into Kettering’s side.
The other semi final between Triangle and P.J.'s Stourbridge is a match we’re all used to seeing at this stage of the competition and the result always seams to be the same. P.J.'s Stourbridge batter everybody in their path until they come up against Triangle. When for some reason they just do not seem to be able to get past them. Pat Ward won the opening frame for P.J.'s Stourbridge but from them on it was all Triangle and although P.J.'s Stourbridge eventually clawed it back to only trail by one frame at 8-7 there was a air of inevitability about the result which proved to be true as Triangle took the final two frames they needed with out giving Paul Dunkey a chance to do anything for his team.
In the final Rochester took on Triangle. Ben Finch won the first frame
against Ian Hubbard to put Triangle one frame to the good. Rochester
hit back with Dean Cole, Ian Kettel, and Jamie Kitchen taking out Chris
Melling, Dave Bagg and Shane Appleton to lead 3-1. This was followed
by Rob Wilson, Mick Hill, Mark Johnson, Darren Appleton, Ralph Winfield
and Chris Melling doing the same thing to Rochester’s Jordan Church,
Steve Jepson, Neil Ward, Willie Anderson, Martin Prime and Dean Cole
to put Triangle back in front 7-3.
Our Congratulations go to Triangle and our commiserations go to the other 95 teams who took part but in consideration you were beaten by the best interleague team in the country.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Claire Goodey for sitting next to me for 15 hours (not the most exciting way to spend your fee time) whilst I ranted on and typed religiously both the pre event overview and this the blow by blow account of the finals. It would have taken weeks with out her help!!