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Finals Report

The 2004 edition of the Interleague has now been played out with all the usual suspects competing for the title of the greatest of the great. Triangle from West Yorkshire, All’oas from Lancashire, Taunton from Somerset, Didcot from Oxfordshire, Sheppey from Kent, Sun Valley from Nottinghamshire and Brighton from Sussex were among the 96 teams that joined battle at 9:00am on the Saturday morning. By 7:00pm 86 teams dreams had been shattered by defeat.

The Interleague finals attract teams from all over the country because when you are good the only way you can test your beliefs is doing it against teams with a similar notion that they are one of the best teams around. The only place you can get that level of competition is at the National Interleague Finals.

Every team goes to Vauxhall Holiday Park Great Yarmouth doing their best to be “the one”. Each year brings with it the highs and lows of trying to win a national title. All but one team eventually feel the ultimate low at some stage. The intensity of the low is determined by the stage at which tour team realise that the competition is over for another year and nothing you can do will change it.

Trent Trophies A (Staffordshire) started their defence of the title with what seemed on paper to be a real tricky one against Mexborough from (South Yorkshire). Martin Hazel gave Mexborough the perfect when He beat Steve Bridgewood in the opening frame. Then Trent Trophies A hit Mexborough with a ten frame blitz that killed the match stone dead as a contest. It wasn’t until John Waller beat Daz Lightfoot that Mexborough had something to cheer. Closely followed by Gavin Preskey and John Astill. The final score of the match was 14-4 to Trent Trophies A and the fact that Mexborough won 3 of the final 7 frames indicates that Trent Trophies A took their foot of the gas.

Mexborough will be bitterly disappointed at their performance but only Trent Trophies A could dish out such a comprehensive battering to such a good team. Mexborough knew their Interleague was over before it got started but they still had to pick themselves up to play Daventry (Northants) next.

Mexborough hit Daventry for 7 of the first 9 frames to show that despite their poor showing against Trent Trophies they were a force to be reckoned with. Daventry could not mount any form of a rear guard action to save the defeat and eventually lost by 12-6.

For Daventry stung by the mauling handed to them by Mexborough facing Trent Trophies A as your next opponents is a bit like going 18 rounds with Frank Bruno and surviving badly battered but alive, only to find, it’s straight back in the ring against Lennox Lewis for another 18 rounds. Daventry were always onto a hiding to nothing with the two other teams in their group but there was no mercy shown from Trent Trophies A as they clocked up frame after frame, although for one brief moment with the score at 2-0 to Trent Trophies A Daventry hit back with a frame from Lee Smith, to reach the 10 frames they needed to win the group and show everyone just how hard it is to get anything out of this team.

On the next table Leicester (Leicestershire) who lost to Trent Trophies A in a previous final started their run with a tough match against Brighton B (Sussex). Leicester killed this match of with a five frame run, after losing the frame, that left Brighton always playing catch up. Leicester got to the winning line before Brighton decided they wanted to be part of the match or perhaps Leicester took their eye off the ball.

Whatever the reason Brighton clawed their way back to a respectable score line by winning 4 of the final five frames to lose 11-7.

The match between Bicester (Oxfordshire) and Brighton was a lot closer with Brighton winning a frame only to it wiped out by the end of the next frame. It wasn’t until in frame seven that Brighton got clear water by winning two back to back frames. Back came Bicester with a run of their own that eventually saw them take the lead at 8-7.

Brighton got of to winning way as they took the final three frames to win the match 10-8. The result was the best that Brighton could hope for it kept them in with a chance of winning the group. For Bicester it was a disaster they now had to go into the final match having to beat Leicester with a large frame difference if they were to go through. That is a big ask for most teams

. And so it proved for Bicester. Try as they might, they couldn’t shake of Leicester and at the halfway point Leicester trailed 4-5. But leveled it immediately after the re-start. Bicester then took three frames on the spin to threaten to dump Leicester out of the event but a late revival with wins from Steve Robertshaw, Adam Phipps & Dave Alwinkle allowed Leicester to take the group on count back from Brighton B. it has to be said though that without Mark Selby’s 100% record in the group Leicester would have fallen at the first hurdle.

On table four one of the Interleague big Boys Ollerton (Nottinghamshire) took on Bedford A (Bedfordshire) and right from the start they knew they were in for a match as Bedford took the first two frames through Mark Francis and Clinton Johnson. Gary McLeod and Shaun Higgins pulled Ollerton level when they won the next two. Bedford retook the initiative through Cleveland Thompson. Ollerton fired back with two frames from Andy Bingham & Neil Jones to take the lead for the first time in the match.

Back came Bedford with two frames of their own through Adam Barnet and Paul Frith to lead 5-4 at the half way point. After the re-start Andy Wilson, Kev Seaman and Gary McLeod all combined to give Ollerton a two frame lead. If Ollerton thought they were now on their way to the win they were sadly mistaken as Bedford hit back with a four frame blitz through Mark Seaman, Cleveland Thompson, Matt Barcock &Dave Herbert to go 9-7 up. Ollerton needed the wins from Shane Overton and Dave Buckley to avoid a shock defeat and keep their hopes of winning the group alive.

Nuneaton (Warwickshire) then entered the fray against Ollerton, this time it was Ollerton who opened up a two frame lead at the start of the match. Andy west put his team’s first win on the board as he cut Ollerton’s lead to a single frame. From then on every time Ollerton clocked up a frame Nuneaton responded with a frame or two of their own to close the gap but never enough to look like they were going to pull it all back together. Nuneaton did manage to close the match down to a single frame deficit by the final frame but Dave Buckley kept it all tighter and won the match 10-8. That left Ollerton hoping that Nuneaton would get at least 8 frames of Bedford, anything less and Bedford would win the group.

Bedford won the first frame through Mark Francis but then Nuneaton hit back through Bill Brown, Nigel Griffiths & Karl Knight to lead 3-1. To Ollerton’s horror Bedford fought back with a three frame run to re-take the lead. Steve Tedds then won for Nuneaton before Paul Frith gave Bedford a 5-4 lead at the half way mark. Bedford then turned the screw by taking 5 of the next seven frames to win the match. It was now a question of how many frames Nuneaton would take of Bedford. To their credit Nuneaton fought as hard as they could but Bedford eventually won their 11th and group winning frame but Nuneaton forced them the wait until the final frame of the match.

Ollerton failing to win the group was the first big shock of the competition that doesn’t take away anything from Bedford but Ollerton are one of the teams you always pencil in for the knock out section of the event.

Rochester (Kent) must be wondering if they have done something wrong in a previous life. They have a team of what can only be described as superstars but they keep finding teams that show them just how hard life can be in the Interleague. This time they were up against Brierly Hill (West Midlands) Rochester’s Rob Hill a PPPO professional gave Rochester a winning start but Brierly Hill’s Rod banister, Lee Hazelhurst, Carl Rose & Dave Preece gave Rochester something to think about as they took the next four frames to lead 4-1.Mark Hewitson & Dean Cole steadied Rochester’s ship by taking the next two frames.

Mat Shiells and Dave Bridgewater sent the West midlands boys in to a 6-3 lead at half time. If it was Rochester’s plan to have a team talk and sort out what it was that was going wrong that went awry as Rod Bannister added to his first half win when he took out Rob Hill in the opening frame of the second half to extend their lead to 7-3. Ian Hubbard and Darren Collison made amends for their earlier defeats to close the gap but immediately after that Brierly Hill’s Dave Preece ensured that the worst that Brierly hill would get was a draw as clinched the ninth frame.

Lee Hazelhurst and Matt Shiells clinched the match for Brierly Hill with their two wins. Ian Kettel added a seventh frame for Rochester but with a team that has Rob Hill PPO Professional, Ian Hubbard (England international) Ian Kettel (I.P.A. Professional) Darren Collison (I.P.A. Professional) and Mark Hewitson (I.P.A. Tour Player) this was a performance they as a team will not be proud of.

Brierly Hill on the other hand has added another big scalp to their ever growing collection and more importantly put themselves in pole position to win the group.

Rochester had to go back on again and try to put in a performance that would at least make Brierly Hill have to fight to win the group. Milton Keynes A on the other hand had to emulate Brierly Hill’s performance to set a head to head with them in the third match of the group.

Rob Hill gave Rochester the perfect start as he won but three frames from Milton Keynes A took the wind out of Rochester’s sails. Rochester recovered to hit Milton Keynes for three frames through Martin Prime, Darren Collison & Neil Ward. Milton Keynes Adam Marlow pulled the whole thing back together again as he beat Ian Kettel. Ian Hubbard gave Rochester a 5-4 half time lead but must have realised that without a vast improvement in the win/loss Column for the second half they would be on their way home.

Things got even worse for Rochester as Paul Sedman & Scott Willers gave Milton Keynes the lead for the second time in the match. Rochester’s Martin Prime, Darren Collison, Neil Ward, Ian kettle & Ian Hubbard all posted wins to secure the match 11-7 but it seemed that it was going to be a case of too little too late for Rochester.

Brierly Hill gave Rochester the worst news they could have as the took four out of the opening five frames of the third match through Matt Sheills and Rod Banister, Liam Driver & Andy Watts and from that moment on Brierly Hill knew that all they had to do to win the group was keep their heads clear. Milton Keynes did hit back to bring the score back to a single frame deficit by the turn around point. With wins for Ian Wakeman, Mark McGauley and Adam Marlow. After the re-start Brierly Hill took three of the opening five frames to send Milton Keynes and Rochester in for the proverbial early bath.

Godalming (Surrey) took on Crook (East Yorkshire) and battered them in to submission taking 7 of the first 9 frames through Darren Dodds, Dean Reeve, Billy Stewart, Michael Cook, Max Brooker and Steve Johnson. The only hero’s that Crook had available were Neil Campbell and Steven Hayes. After the re-start Cook found something from somewhere and took four of the first five frames through Michael Burke, Steve Liddle, Doug Bowey and Aaron Cowen to make the score a respectable 8-6. But that was as close as Godalming allowed them to get and rattled of the final four frames of the match thanks to Carl O’Rourke, Michael Cook, Steve Johnson and Max Brooker. It should be said that this was Crook’s first visit to the Interleague for a number of years so they can be forgiven for their first half performance. They were just unlucky that Godalming were in no mood to offer any help to the new boys.

If Crook were battered by Godalming worse was to come from Yeovil (Somerset). Things started brightly enough when Michael Burke & Neil Campbell put the East Yorkshire outfit two frames to the good. Yeovil hit back by taking six of the next seven frames through Oly Bale, Pete Cottrell, Tom Clothier, Russell Neal and Shan Sartin.

Jimmy Singlewood posted Crook’s third frame before Yeovil went on the rampage again as they took eight of the back nine frames to win 14-4. This must have depressed Godalming no end as it sunk in that they had almost assured themselves of the group win with a win of 12-6 in their first match only to see Yeovil post a 14-4 win. What that meant was that they had to beat Yeovil by three frames to win the group or two clear frames just to force a play off.

The two teams traded frames on a one for one basis and at the turn round point Godalming were 5-4 up. They got the three frame cushion they needed when Lee Hudson & Jon Skinner took the opening two frames of the second half it was now just a question of keeping it. That proved easier said than done as Yeovil took the next two frames through Steve Whatley & Pete Cottrell. Mark Moult took the next for Godalming then, as far as Godalming were concerned, the wheels fell off as Yeovil through Shaun Sartin, Mark Rose & Tom Clothier all won their frames to dump Godalming out of the Interleague because Yeovil reached their goal before Godalming.

London’s Imperial, fielding the majority of team members who represented London in last month’s National Intercounty finals championship winning side, as well as the Knockout Cup winners last October with such style were keen to make it three events undefeated. First up to try and do the almost impossible were Braintree (Essex). Imperial’s skipper Dean Wisher and England’s newest team member Andy Breen gave Imperial a 2-0 lead but Jed Thompson of Braintree beat Ramesh Gokhul to cut the lead. Imperial put on a bit of a spurt as J.J Faul, Ben Clements, John Wylie and Darren Sutchley all posted wins for the London outfit. Braintree got another frame through the efforts of A Bridge but Imperil closed the first half with another win to closed the half 7-2 up. If Braintree had any thoughts about making a better impression on the second half Imperial showed them absolutely no mercy as they rattled of frame after frame as John Traini, Andy Breen, Ramesh Gokhul, J.J. Faul, Ben Clements, John Wylie, Darren Suchley, Brian Evans and finally, Dean Wisher, completed a second half rout of the Essex team as they denied them even a consolation frame in their 16-2 win

Chesterfield (Nottinghamshire) was Braintree’s next opponents and they started brightly as they took three of the first four frames through Darren Ciniglio, Digby & Bridge. Chesterfield then went into overdrive and won the next six frames in a row to knock Braintree’s hopes. Braintree could only manage 2 frames of the next eight frames to lose 13-5. After such a good start Braintree must feel they outclassed by the other two teams but if give these teams a chance they will take them and it is very easy to end up on the wrong side of battering as Braintree found out.

When three good teams find themselves in the same group it usually ends up in a real scrap, this group lived up to that reputation as Tolworth (Surrey) took on Afford B ((Staffordshire) in the first match. Jason Norris got the Surrey boys of to a good start as he took the first frame. Afford leveled the match by taking the second frame the two teams traded frames on a tot for tat basis until the sixth frame. Tolworth then, through Richard Teasdale, Dave Hall, Andy Sutherland, Jason Norris, Matt Cooke and Terry Doke all won to go from 3-3 to 9-3 to the good. That killed off Afford’s chances of winning the match and the only player from Afford to clock up a frame was Andy Critchley who made it 9-4 but that was it for the Staffordshire outfit as Tolworth took the match 14-4.

Looking on were the All’oas who must have realised the difficulty of the task Tolworth had set them. Things did not start too well either as Darren Shone took the opening frame for Afford B. unsurprisingly the ever reliable Lee Clough put the All'oas back on level terms. Cummings re-took the lead for Afford but then the All'oas went into overdrive as Karl Boyes, Jason Hill, Matt Morris, Damien Milnes, Dave Chalmers & Lee Clough (again) all combined to take the next six from seven frames to lead 7-3. Just as the All'oas looked like they were in with a shout of emulating Tolworth’s feat. Afford destroyed any chance of that happening as Shone, Pinneley & Philips took the next three for Afford to trail 7-6 and kill off any hopes that the All'oas had of matching Tolworth. All'oas did take the next three through the combined efforts of Russell McGrady, Jason hill, Dave Chalmers and Nathan Bridges to lead 11-6. The final frame of the match went to Afford as a consolation prize. Afford will be disappointed at their showing because they are a good team they were just unfortunate to come up against two very good sides who produced the goods when it was asked.

In the Tolworth verses All'oas group decider Tolworth were definitely the favourites to win the group all they had to do was avoid defeat. For the All'oas nothing but a win would see them through. This scenario set up a real hum dinger of a match and one that make the group system the best way to keep all teams interest alive for as long as possible. As you might expect the match started with both teams not prepared to cede any ground easily. All'oas took the opening two frames through Damien Milnes and Lee Clough. Tolworth hit back by taking the next two through matt Cooke and Frank Strivens. Andy Sudworth, Dave Chalmers and Nathan Bridges took the next three to give the Lancashire the advantage. Dave Hall stopped the rot for Tolworth but Jason Hill restored it. Terry Doke then added another for Tolworth. Jason Hill again came up with the goods for the All'oas. Frank Strivens and Matt Cooke again combined to keep Tolworth within striking distance of the All'oas at 6-7 down. Dave Chalmers restored the All'oas two frame advantage only to see Cliff Eastwood cut it down again. The match was sealed when Matt Morris and Andy Sudworth won back to back frames to win the match for the All'oas at 11-7. It must have been so frustrating for Tolworth who only had to avoid defeat to go through to find that the All'oas were too hot for them to handle especially since their recent record at Yarmouth has not been up to the level you would expect from Tolworth and desperately wanted to get out of the group to prove they can still mix it. For the All'oas it was business as usual.

On table 32 was another of the great tussles between two teams with vast experience against relative newcomers. The experience came in the shape of Essex’s Barking Phoenix and Lancashire’s Hyndburn. The new kids on the block were Goole from East Yorkshire.

The two experienced teams went head to head first and as was expected the teams traded frames. First blood went to Hyndburn as James Brooking & Darren Wareing won their frames. Steve Adams & Wayne Parden levelled for Barking Phoenix only to see Paul Frazer re-take the lead for Hyndburn. Barking Phoenix then took the imitative through Kevin McDonnell and Laura Llewellyn. Hyndburn responded with two frames of their own through Johnny Dean and skipper John Chapman to go into the second half 5-4 to the good.

Andy Holland levelled once again for Barking Phoenix only to see James Brookens win for Hyndburn. At this point Barking Phoenix became possessed as they hit Hyndburn for seven frames on the spin through Steve Adams, Wayne Pardon, Scott Fuller, Kevin McDonnell, Laura Llewellyn, Tony pointer and John Rungen to take the match 12-6. It’s amazing to think that two teams who were so close in the first half could produce two contrasting performances in the second half it’s almost like they were two totally different teams playing in each half.

Hyndburn were regarded as the most likely to come through the group so it would have been a real shock after losing to Barking Phoenix to find, suddenly, that Goole were also prepared to mix it with them so much so Hyndburn find themselves 4-0 down thanks to Goole’s Gary Duffy, Jason Raspin, Darren Copperwheat and Kevin Harrison. Hyndburn pulled 2 frames back through John Dady and Stuart Flemming. Goole added two more frames to their haul when Gary Yates and Geoff Rankin both won to lead 6-3 at the half way point.

At the start of the second half Hyndburn came out with all guns blazing as James Brookens, John Dady, Stu Fleming and Ian Ingham all won to turn the 6-3 negative score line into a 7-6 positive one. The Hyndburn Juggernaut was halted as Colin Masteman & Kevin Harrison added two more frames for Goole.

Paul Frazer narrowed the gap to a single frame as he won for Hyndburn. Goole’s Lee Smart took the new boys to the brink of an historic win when he put his team 9-8 up with one frame to play. Hyndburn’s Grant Smith became the hero of the hour as he notched up his frame and level the match. Hyndburn will be pleased they got the draw after losing the first four frames. Goole will be wondering how they managed to let such a good lead go. But for both teams it was not the result that they needed especially for Hyndburn because it meant they were out of the event.

All the above carnage meant that both teams knew what had to be done to qualify for Barking Phoenix it was to avoid defeat whilst for Goole they had to win or they would be out, Andy Holland got them on the road to being the group winners when he won his frame. Jason Raspin levelled for Goole. Steve Adams &Wayne Pardon gave Barking Phoenix another two frames but Gary Yates kept Goole in touch when he took the next frame. Kevin McDonnell and Laura Llewellyn really turned the screw when they both won for Barking Phoenix to lead 5-2. Back came Goole when Gary Duffy, Geoff Rankin and Jason Raspin hit form to level the match at 5-5. Then Barking Phoenix took the next two frames through Gary Parsons and Steve Adams which looked like being the decisive break but Goole had other ideas and came back with another three frame salvo through Geoff Rankin, Gary Duffy & Gary Yates. It was Barking Phoenix’s young guns Laura Llewellyn and Tony Pointer who clinched their team’s progress when their frames gave Barking Phoenix the 9 frames they needed to make sure the best that Goole could do was draw.

Once the group stage ends its straight into the knock out section, where there is no hiding place, any weakness in a team is exploited to the full. It’s a dog eat dog scenario where you either win or you go home. The draw for the last 32 is done “live” on the Saturday morning around 11 am by drawing the table numbers rather than teams so when the draw is made no one knows who they will be playing only that they will be playing the winners of a particular table.

Without doubt the biggest match in the last 32 was the clash between Triangle and P.J.'s Stourbridge. Both these teams are potential winners so to draw each other straight out the group stage robbed the event of a team that would expect to be at the latter stages of the event

In days gone by P.J.'s Stourbridge would be second favourites in a match of this stature but over recent years P.J.'s Stourbridge have strengthened their squad and are now more competitive than ever. Triangle on the other hand have had a bad run of events lately in so much as they seem to get drawn against very strong sides and get knocked out much sooner than their ability would suggest.

P.J.'s Stourbridge took the first frame through Ian Priest but Triangle struck back through Chris Melling and Andy Ibbotson. Rob Chilton levelled for P.J.'s Stourbridge. Triangle re-took the lead through Wright. P.J.'s Stourbridge then went on the rampage as skipper Paul Dunkey, Paul Shakespeare, Wayne Bedford & Jarrod Griffiths all won their frames to lead 6-3. Shane Appleton made amends for his earlier defeat by winning the opening frame of the second half. The writing was on the wall when P.J.'s Stourbridge’s Ian Priest beat Chris Melling. This was a massive frame, if Triangle won then they were back on course, if P.J.'s Stourbridge won it then they were on the brink. Although Nick Wollarton and Darren Appleton both won their frames which kept Triangle’s interest alive. However, they still trailed by the odd frame. P.J.'s Stourbridge killed the match off when Paul Dunkey, Paul Swinnerton & Paul Shakespeare took three of the next four to win the match 10-7.

Triangle are one of the biggest teams in the Interleague and to go out at this stage of the event is very sad both for them and the event but it does underline the fact that this tournament has the biggest concentration of top notch teams in the U.K. in it and no team can expect to win for every team there are five or six teams who can beat you.

In the last 16 P.J.'s Stourbridge gave us a classic example of peaking too soon as they crashed out in the last sixteen to Hornden. They did it with “style” as well as they won 3 of the first four frames but then completely lost their way as Hornden took five frames without reply to lead 6-3. P.J.'s Stourbridge tried to fight back with wins for Pat Ward, Rob Chilton & Paul Shakespeare to trail by the odd frame. Hornden then dispatched P.J.'s Stourbridge cleanly thanks to a three frame run through Saun Williams, Steve Wylie & Paul Hickman.

In the quarter finals Trent Trophies A had their usual head to head with Wolverhampton Wednesday. This match has been played out at just about every stage of this event, except the group stage for a few years it was usually the final. This match went they most of them have. The matches between these two are historically close affairs and this was no different. Wolverhampton Wednesday could be forgiven for thinking; here we go again, as Trent Trophies A took the first three frames through Steve Bridgewood, Gareth Potts & Mark Blackshaw. Neil Raybone & Chris Morgan kept P.J.'s Stourbridge within striking distance. Carl Morris added another frame to Trent Trophies A collection. Pat Ward did his bit to keep Wolverhampton Wednesday in the match. Darren Henshall & Darren Lightfoot combined to send Trent Trophies A in at half time 6-3 up. At the start of the second half Wolverhampton Wednesday hit back by winning four of the first five frames through Neil Raybone, Pat Ward, Chris Morgan & Sean Eaton Lees to lead 7-6. Any thoughts of a win were dashed when Carl Morris, Nick Weller & Darren Henshall all won to win the match 10-7. And yet again consign Wolverhampton Wednesday to another year where it all went wrong.

Barking Phoenix’s incredible run came to an end at the hands of Brighton A over the past few years Brighton have so under performed in this event that Barking Phoenix must have though this would be a stroll in the park. Unfortunately for Barking Phoenix, Brighton for once was playing somewhere near the talent in their team would suggest. Moray Dolan got Brighton off to a good start as he won his frame. Gary Parsons took the next for Barking Phoenix. Damien Campsey added another frame for Brighton. Barking Phoenix took the lead for the first time when Wayne Pardon & John Ruglen won their frames. Brighton ended the first half 5-4 up.

Barking Phoenix got the better of Brighton over the next few frames and eventually clawed their way back to square the match at 7-7. Brighton killed the match off with a three frame run thanks to Sanders, Paul Ashman, Saun Southen and Paul Bailey combined to end Barking Phoenix bid to get to the semi-final.

All'oas did to Hornden what they had done to P.J.'s Stourbridge as the battered them in to submission. Horden started of like they meant business as they took the first two frames. From that point onwards though there was only one team in this match as Lancashire’s finest ripped in to Horden as they took 10 of the next 11 frames to leave Horden in no doubt at all about how good the best teams in the Interleague really are.

The biggest shock of the quarter finals was the exit of Imperial 1 when everyone assumed that they would make it to another final. Grantham had other ideas but they did it the hard way. They lost the first four frames as Dean Wisher, Andy Breen, Ramesh Gokhul & J.J. faul set about keeping the Imperial steam roller in tune. Amazingly the unthinkable happened as Grantham took four of the next five thanks to Neil Davey, Paul Gwyther, Bren McGarvey & Nigel Dexter combined to de-rail Imperial’s majestic flow. Dean Wisher added to Imperial’s lead. Grantham again came back at Imperial through Matt Goodale, Paul Gwyther and Shane Balding. In a last ditch attempt to stamp their authority on these impudent upstarts Ben Clements and John Wylie re-took the lead for Imperial to lead 8-7. Grantham had other ideas though as they took the next three frames to win the match 10-8 and dump one of the pre event favourites out of the event.

It really is funny how this events has gone most of the “big” teams had been knocked out of the event by teams that they would normally expect to beat then in the very next round the giant killers how themselves gone out and usually in big style.

That is exactly how the semi final between Grantham and Brighton went as Brighton piled on the frames. Brighton was 3-0 up before Grantham got of the mark. Despite the brief interlude of Grantham winning the odd frame it was all one way traffic in favour of Brighton who eventually ran out 10-4 winners.

The other semi final was a real clash of the titans as Trent Trophies A found the All'oas blocking their way through to the final. These two teams have clashed a few times in the past and there has been the odd flare up as well all this just adds to the spice when this teams meet and it never a forgone conclusion who will win even if history favours Trent Trophies A.

Karl Boyes took the first frame for All'oas only to see Gareth Potts, Mark Blackshaw and Adam Davis take the initiative for Trent Trophies A. Dave Chalmers cut Trent Trophies’s lead when he won. Immediately afterwards Carl Morris restored the cushion for Trent Trophies’ Lee Clough then won his frame to cut the deficit yet again.

Darren Heshall, Darren Lightfoot & Gareth Potts then gave Trent Trophies’ a 7-3 lead which proved to be the crucial break as it gave Trent Trophies’ a four frame cushion. From that position it’s almost impossible to come back from and so it proved for the All'oas as they crashed out 10-5.

Over the past five years or so we have been blessed with finals that have had everything you would expect from a final and all in one match. This final was no different and all those present watched captivated as the fortunes of the combatants ebbed and flowed. The final is traditionally played across three tables so the action come thick and fast you can be three nil up one minute and six three down the next it really can be just a few minutes between the frames.

Brighton drew first blood when Moray Dolan and Damien Campsey beat Steve Bridgewood and Gareth Potts respectively. Trent Trophies came back with Mark Blackshaw and Adam Davis to level the match. Mark Proto gave Brighton the lead once again when he beat Phil Condliffe. Trent Trophies hit back once again this time through Carl Morris, Nick Weller and Daz Henshall beating Pete Ashman, Darren Welfare and Shaun Southen.

Just at the point when it looked like Trent Trophies had weathered the Brighton storm up popped Paul Bailey for Brighton his win over Darren Lightfoot brought the first half to a close with the score at 5-4 to Trent Trophies.

Brighton started the second half in the same way they did the first half as Darren Welfare & Moray Dolan beat Gareth Potts and Steve Bridgewood. Adam Davis drew Trent Trophies level again when he beat Paul McNeil. Damien Campsey again put Brighton one up as he beat Mark Blackshaw. Trent Trophies drew level again when Carl Morris beat Mark Proto.

Again Brighton went ahead as Shaun Southern took out Phil Condliffe. Yet again Trent Trophies closed the gap as Nick Weller beat Pete Ashman. By now things were on a knife edge as once more Brighton went ahead when John Cains Snr beat Daz Henshall to go one up again, this time is was for the last time in regular play as the score now stood at 9-8 to Brighton. All eyes turned to the final frame between Daz Lightfoot and Paul Bailey. Everyone knew the importance of the frame if Bailey won then Brighton were Interleague champions. If it went to Trent Trophies then a play off was going to be needed. The frame went to Trent Trophies and so the stage was set for yet another play off to decide the fate of both teams.

The three players chosen for Trent Trophies A were Carl Morris, Gareth Potts and Daz Henshall. Brighton chose Moray Dolan, Darren Welfare and Damien Campsey. In terms of play off this was a real heavy weight clash as it contained Ex World Champions, England internationals an a sprinkling of IPA tour players.

Trent Trophies are past masters at play off situations having won the trophy themselves by winning play offs so it was no real surprise that Trent Trophies had too much for Brighton to handle as they won the play off 2-0 to retain the trophy they won last year.

Like so many before them, Brighton had to suffer being so close to beating Trent Trophies but falling over at the last hurdle. But on the positive side they have finally laid to rest the millstone of being the Interleague’s greatest under performers. For Trent Trophies it was the end of yet another successful campaign where they had to overcome all the obstacles every team who crossed their path thrown at them. To do it so often is no matter of luck Trent Trophies A are quiet simply the best Interleague team England has ever produced and most likely ever will.

Tom Fahy
Tournament Director