West Midlands began life in the premier division of the BDO Inter County Championships with an away tie against Devon and the ladies ‘B’ side got off to a cracking start when Heather Wright, after going 1-0 down to Cat Callard stormed back to win 3-1 with a 19 darts winner in the fourth leg. Heather not only won her game but also the lady of the match award for her 21.66 average.

After such a fine start it was then pretty much downhill as Devon rattled off three successive wins when Karen Matthews beat Shellbie Simmons 3-2 after Shellbie had gone from one down to 2-1 up, Jodie Hawton won 3-1 against Claire Hobbs and Kelly Gabriel defeated Elizabeth Arnold with a 3-2 scoreline after Arnold had taken 1-0 and 2-1 leads.

The penultimate game saw West Midlands register their second winner in the shape of Shannon Hall who accounted for her opponent Sarah Brown with a 3-1 result.

It appeared that after going 3-1 down West Midlands were going to snatch a draw in the final game as Jacqueline Maiden after losing the first leg to Tracy Ware went 2-1 up but unfortunately finishing doubles eluded her in the last two legs and she finished on the wrong side of the 3-2 scoreline putting the 4-2 result in favour of the hosts.

Robert Smith got the ball rolling for the men’s ‘B’ team, a  fine 4-3 win after trailing 3-1 to Gary Phillips to put West Midlands 1-0 up. Darren Collis erased the visitors lead when he beat Christopher Williams 4-1, Williams having won the opening leg. The home team then took the lead when Neil White won 4-0 against Mark Rollinson but the host’s cheers were short lived as Paul Price squared the game at 2-2 with his 4-2 win over Ross Godfrey. Martin Horn gave Devon the lead for a second time in the fifth with a 4-2 win over Danny Coyle but it was all square at three each by the midway point as Sam Guest added his 4-3 win against Andrew Denning to West Midlands tally.

Matthew Dicken looked all set to give the away side a 4-3 advantage when he opened up a 3-0 lead over Phil Goodwin but Goodwin fought back with winning legs of 19,20 and 17 darts to draw level and then in the deciding leg both players had chances to win the game but it was Goodwin who got the vital finishing double for his 4-3 win.

All square once more in the eighth thanks to a 4-1 win by Paul Wells against Jason Pinkerton, Wells beginning his game with a superb 13 darts leg and followed that with another winner in 19 darts, he lost the third in 18 darts but went on to claim his win with further legs of 15 and 21 darts giving him an award winning average of 29.06.

For a fourth time Devon went ahead this time through a 4-2 win from Daniel Belsten over Mark Hampton and then went on to confirm their team win when Mark Shears beat Jamie Rollinson 4-1 and Lee Alderman added his 4-2 win against Neil Pointon taking the score to 7-4.

Michael Baker (West Midlands) fell behind three times against David Matthews but stuck to his task and went on to win his game 4-3 to give a final result of 7-5 to the home team.

Gemma Barrett (West Midlands) gave the ladies ‘A’ the perfect start when she accounted for her Devon opponent Lisa Hughes with a 3-1 result. Maria O’Brien cancelled out the Barrett’s lead when she won 3-0 against Debbie Loon.

Sarah Roberts, winner of numerous ‘A’ team match awards for the West Midlands began her season with yet another award as she won in three legs against Michelle Andrews with three 21 darts legs giving her a tremendous 23.86 average.

By game number four the visitors had guaranteed themselves of at least a share of the spoils, Sophie Singh’s 3-2 win against Hayley Brant moving the score along to 3-1 in their favour.

Devon reduced the deficit when Merryl Dennis beat Kath Jenkins 3-0 to leave the outcome of the game all dependant on the final encounter. Anna Johnson (Devon) had her lead wiped out twice by Lisa Badger before she actually won the tie in the fifth to give a result of 3-3.

First throw proved to be invaluable for the first five players in the men’s ‘A’ game as Nick Fullwell, Glen McGrandle and Dean Mills were winners in games one, three and five at the expense of Paul Milford, David Witt and Mike Pearce, while Glyn Wells and Ben Chamberlain had replied for Devon.

The sequence was broken in the sixth when Jonathan Platt won 4-2 against Mark Vellacott to put West Midlands into a 4-2 lead at the halfway stage.

The lead was extended to 5-2 when Daniel Nicholls won his tie with Phil Stewart 4-1 but momentarily reduced as Mark Shears with a 30.78 average took his second match award of the weekend handing out a rare defeat to Ian Jones in the process.

Scott Baker put West Midlands back on the winning trail when he won 4-1 against Shaun Dring before Liam Kelly put up the match winning strike in style. Kelly lost the first leg to Thom Humphrey in 15 darts but then drew level in 13. He then went on to seal a magnificent 4-1 win with further legs of 15,15 and 17 darts giving him a well deserved match award average of 31.85.

Ash Khayatt came from 2-0 and 3-1 down against Mark Turner before romping home to a 4-1 win with winning legs of 13,15 and 19 darts. The last game of the weekend saw Matthew Dickinson beat Shaun Carroll 4-1 to give a result of 8-4 to West Midlands and an encouraging opening 18-18 draw for the newcomers.

Full Results:Devon v West Midlands (18-18)🙁Devon names first):Men’s ‘A’:- Paul Milford 3 Nick Fullwell 4, Glyn Wells 4 Gavin Baker 3, David Witt 2 Glen McGrandle 4, Ben Chamberlain 4 Mark Craddock 2, Mike Pearce 2 Dean Mills 4, Mark Vellacott 2 Jonathan Platt 4, Phil Stewart 1 Daniel Nicholls 4, Mark Shears 4 Ian Jones 2, Shaun Dring 1 Scott Baker 4, Thom Humphrey 1 Liam Kelly 4, Mark Turner 3 Ash Khayatt 4, Matthew Dickinson 4 Shaun Carroll 1, Men’s ‘B’:- Gary Phillips 3 Robert Smith 4, Darren Collis 4 Christopher Williams 1, Neil White 4 Mark Rollinson 0, Ross Godfrey 2 Paul Price 4, Martin Horn 4 Danny Coyle 2, Andrew Denning 3 Sam Guest 4, Phil Goodwin 4 Matthew Dicken 3, Jason Pinkerton 1 Paul Wells 4, Daniel Belsten 4 Mark Hampton 2, Mark Shears 4 Jamei Rollinson 1, Lee alderman 4 Neil Pointon 2, David Matthews 3 Michael Baker 4, Women’s ‘A’:- Lisa Hughes 1 Gemma Barrett 3, Maria O’Brien 3 Debbie Loon 0, Michelle Andrews 0 Sarah Roberts 3, Hayley Brant 2 Sophie Singh 3, Merryl Dennis 3 Kath Jenkins 0, Anna Johnson 3 Lisa Badger 2, Women’s ‘B’:- Cat Callard 1 Heather Wright 3, Karen Matthews 3 Shellbie Simmons 2, Jodie Hawton 3 Claire Hobbs 1, Kelly Gabriel 3 Elizabeth Arnold 2, Sarah Brown 1 Shannon Hall 3, Tracy Ware 3 Jacqueline Maiden 2.

After their inspiring draw with Devon, West Midlands took on Hampshire in early October, the team that won promotion with them from division one as champions.

The first three games of the ladies ‘B’ match saw Hampshire twice take the lead, Clare Cheney was first on and won 3-0 against Kelly Dolman and although Shannon Hall cancelled out Cheney’s win when she won 3-0 against Maxine Cadwallader the visitors were back in front in the third when Dawn Simmonds won against Claire Hobbs, again the score was 3-0.

Shellbie Simmons lost the opener to Kelly Palmer but went on to win the tie 3-1 before West Midlands went ahead for the first time in game number four when Jacqueline Maiden defeated Sue Thompson 3-1 and took the lady of the match award for her 18.57 average.

Abi Jurd won the last game against Elizabeth Arnold 3-0 to put the final score all level at three each, an improvement on last season’s result when they lost 4-2.

The men’s ‘B’ team didn’t have the best of starts Richard Platt lost 4-1 to Paul Winter, Jamie Rollinson went down 4-3 to David Bonnett and Paul, Price finished on the wrong side of a 4-0 whitewash to Mick Savvery.

Sam Guest lost his first leg to Michael Street but went on to record West Midlands first win of the game 4-1.

Hampshire went 4-1 up in the fifth when Jamie Kelling added his 4-2 win over Adam Edgar to their count.

By the end of the first half the arrears were reduced as Matthew Dicken beat Steve Jannaway 4-2 and were then reduced even further to 4-3 with a straight 4-0 win from Robert Smith at the expense of Mike Gillet. Smith was in top form kicking off with a 13 darts leg and following up with 18,20 and 19 darts legs to earn him the match award for his 28.63 average.

Michael Baker began well going 3-0 up against Mark Thorne but it was Thorne who got the 4-3 verdict with further 18,18,19 and 18 darts legs.

Christopher Williams handed out a 4-0 whitewash to his opponent Dave Coffin and with a 4-1 win from Paul Wells over Graham Chalk West Midands had drawn level at 5-5.

Aaron Monk gave Hampshire the advantage and a huge opportunity to win the game when he beat Alfie Jacques 4-1 in the penultimate encounter and Andy Newcombe looked all set to take the applause when he opened up 1-0 and 3-1 leads over Neil Poimton, however Pointon was in no mood to lose and with  20, 22 and 20 darts legs he wrapped up a personal 4-3 win and gave the West Midlands men’s ‘B’ side  a well earned 6-6 draw, again an improvement on the same fixture last season when Hampshire won 7-5.

There was something of a shock at the beginning of the ladies ‘A’ tie as West Midlands star Sarah Roberts lost the opening game 3-1 to Tara Power-Gillet, a very rare defeat for Sarah who last season in the same fixture was the only winner in what was a 5- 1 defeat. Nevertheless the game was levelled in style as Heather Wright in 20,19 and 21 darts beat Nikki Stevens 3-1 and at the end of the day she lifted the match award for her 22.57 average.

Hampshire got their noses in front again in the third when Wendy Reinstadtler won 3-1 against Kath Jenkins and any thoughts of a repeat performance of last season’s result were erased in the fourth when Debbie Loon beat Jane Monaghan 3-1 after Monaghan had won the first leg.

Sophie Singh was pegged back twice by Joanne Senior before recording her 3-2 win and then in the final game a draw appeared to be on the cards as Sue Lowther (Hampshire) took the first two legs off Gemma Barrett. Although the pressure was now on Barrett she held her nerve and with wins in the next three legs won her game 3-2 and the match 4-2.

As in the game against Devon Nick Fullwell once again gave the men’s ‘A’ team a winning start as he accounted for James Nicholson in double quick time with a 4-0 result and an award winning average of 29.91 after chalking up winning legs of 16,18,17 and 16 darts. Although Shaun Carroll then lost 4-2 to Gary Stafford Scott Baker with a 4-2 win against Chas Barstow and Liam Kelly with a 4-1 success over Robin Hathaway took the Midlanders lead to 3-1.

Despite the best efforts of Ash Khayatt who had a lead of 2-1 over Sam Rooney and then drew level at 3-3 he eventually lost 4-3. After the first six games it was all level at three each when Steve Musson added his 4-3 win against Jonathan Platt to the Hampshire score.

Trailing 3-0 to Paul Winter, Glen McGrandle pulled back to 3-3 before losing the decider. All square again in the eighth as Gavin Baker beat Luke Getty 4-1. The pressure was relentless from the visitors who once again took the lead this time through Charlie Jackson who won 4-1 against Ian Jones giving Hampshire a 5-4 lead with three to play.

Dean Mills (West Midlands) with a 4-1 success against Steve Phipps restored parity before, for a third time in the game the hosts went ahead as Daniel Nicholls with two ton plus finishes beat Andy Mitchell 4-3 and with another 4-3 win in the final game of the weekend from Mark Craddock whose game with Mike Symes saw him lead 3-0 level at 3-3 and win the final leg in 15 darts with his opponent way back on 228.

So the men’s ‘A’ won 7-5 to give an overall win of 20-16 reversing the result from the same fixture in division one last season and putting West Midlands top of the premier division table with 42 points although they have played one game more than the majority of teams in the division, but it’s an excellent start which hopefully will continue.

Full Results:West Midlands v Hampshire (20-16)🙁West Midlands names first):Men’s ‘A’:- Nick Fullwell 4 James Nicholson 0, Shaun Carroll 2 Gary Stanford 4, Scott Baker 4 Chas Barstow 2, Liam Kelly 4 Robin Hathaway 1, Ash Khayatt 3 Sam Rooney 4, Jonathan Platt 3 Steve Musson 4, Glen McGrandle 3 Paul Winter 4, Gavin Baker 4 Luke Getty 1, Ian Jones 1 Charlie Jackson 4, Dean Mills 4 Steve Phipps 1, Daniel Nicholls 4 Andy Mitchell 3, Mark Craddock 4 Mike Symes 3, Men’s ‘B’:- Richard Platt 1 Paul Winter 4, Jamie Rollinson 3 David Bonnett 4, Paul Price 0 Mick Savvery 4, Sam Guest 4 Michael Street 1, Adam Edgar 2 Jamie Kelling 4, Matthew Dicken 4 Steve Jannaway 2, Robert Smith 4 Mike Gillet 0 Michael Baker 3 Mark Thorne 4, Christopher Williams 4 Dave Coffin 0, Paul Wells 4 Graham Chalk 1, Alfie Jacques 1 Arron Monk 4, Neil Pointon 4 Andy Newcombe 3, Women’s ‘A’:- Sarah Roberts 1 Tara Power-Gillet 3, Heather Wright 3 Nikki Stevens 1, Kath Jenkins 1 Wendy Reinstadtler 3, Debbie Loon 3 Jane Monaggan 1, Sophie Singh 3 Joanne Senior 2, Gemma Barrett 3 Sue Lowther 2, Women’s ‘B’:- Kelly Dolman 0 Clare Cheney 3, Shannon Hall 3 Maxine Cadwallader 0, Claire Hobbs 0 Dawn Simmonds 3, Shellbie Simmons 3 Kelly Palmer 1, Jacqueline Maiden 3 Sue Thompson 1, Elizabeth Arnold 0 Abi Jurd 3.