The last time West Midlands and neighbouring local rivals Warwickshire met in the BDO Inter County Championships was more than eight years ago when on the weekend of the 28th and 29th March 2009 when both teams were in division one the two teams squared up to each other on the West Midlands board and their opponents won somewhat convincingly 27-9, but that was not going to be the case this time round.
Once again the match was played on the West Midlands board and opening up for them in the ladies ‘B’ game was Shellbie Simmons who went 2-0 up against Angela Jones but was unable to add the all important third leg and eventually went down 3-2 as Jones turned the screw and not only win the game but also the team’s match award for her 18.94 average. Second on for the home team was Kelly Dolman who like Simmons also went ahead as she won the first against Marian Conway but yet again it was the Warwickshire player who went on to win this time 3-1.
For a third time the host player took the lead this time it was Kath Jenkins who opened up a 2-0 lead over Nina Bolt and although Bolt levelled the game at two each it was Jenkins who took the deciding leg for a 3-2 win.
The running score was level at 2-2 in the fourth when Jacqueline Maiden beat Wendy Adams 3-0, her 18.11 average giving her the lady of the match award for a second consecutive fixture.
Lisa Deslandes put Warwickshire’s noses in front again in the fifth when she accounted for Lizzy Arnold with a 3-1 scoreline to put the onus on the last two players Shannon Hall and Warwickshire’s Helen Rigg.
With the pressure on both players it was a nip and tuck affair with Hall going 1-0 up and then Rigg taking a 2-1 lead. The final two legs saw both players throw for a finishing double both going in favour of Shannon Hall to give her a 3-2 win and her team a share a 3-3 result.
Carl Green (Warwickshire) opened up leads of 1-0 and 2-1 against Paul Price in the first of the men’s ‘B’ game but in 17,18 and 19 darts Price won the next three legs for a 4-2 victory. Richard Platt and Paul Wells with straight 4-0 wins against respective opponents Mark Carter and Ian McFarlane took the home sides lead to 3-0 which was made 4-0 by Adam Edgar when he beat Tom Ryan 4-2 after Ryan had gone 2- 1 up.
Charlie Symons put Warwickshire’s first stripe on the board when in the fifth game he won 4-1 against Jamie Rollinson and by the halfway point the lead was further reduced to 4-2 when Ian Shaw won 4-0 against Neil Pointon
A man of the match performance from Robert Smith got West Midlands back on track, a 4-2 success against James Hykin in which Smith recorded winning legs of 18,21,12 and 16 darts for a 28.62 average.
The score was moved along further to 6-2 for the home team when Shane Price added his 4-1 win over Luke Kennedy to the tally.
Ashley Hykin briefly halted the West Midlands charge when he beat Christopher Williams 4-1 but a similar 4-1 win for Matthew Dicken over Richard Foster put the game beyond Warwickshire’s reach as their opponents were now in an unassailable 7-3 lead.
For a second consecutive match Matt Edgar took the match award for Warwickshire’s men’s ‘B’, after he was involved in a hard fought affair with Alfie Jacques. Edgar won the first leg in 15 darts and Jacques the second in 20. Edgar then took two in a row in 18 and 16 darts only to see Jacques reply with winning legs in 17 and 20 to take the game to a deciding leg.
After fifteen darts the West Midlands man left himself on double eight, meanwhile Edgar had left double ten which he found with his first dart to clinch a tremendous 4-3 win in 16 darts and record a 28.55 average.
The last game of the day saw Sam Guest take West Midlands to an 8-4 win when he beat Tom McGlone 4-2.
Warwickshire began the ladies ‘A’ game with real promise as they stormed into a 3-0 lead Natalie Gilbert getting the ball rolling with her award winning 3-1 win over West Midlands star Sarah Roberts, Natalie recording a super 22.34 average.
Adding to Natalie’s win were Caroline Pike and Sue Gulliver who beat respective opponents Debbie Loon and Sophie Singh 3-1.
Donna Pinch looked to be on the way to completing Warwickshire’s win when she won the first leg against Heather Wright but with both players have difficulty with finishing doubles it was Heather Wright who won the next three legs for a 3-1 win.
Lisa Badger kept hopes of a draw alive for the West Midlands when she added her 3-1 win over Chloe McKivett to their running total, Lisa with a 20.04 average taking the home team’s match award.
As in the ‘B’ team’s game the result now hinged on the final game between Gemma Barrett for the West Midlands and Melanie Jones for Warwickshire. The first three legs played were all very close with Gemma Barrett winning the first two and Melanie Jones the third. The fourth leg saw Barrett open up a lead and win the leg and the game 3-1 on double ten with her twentieth dart, Jones left nursing 99, again as in the previous day the game finished all square at 3-3.
After three of the four matches had now been played and just the men’s ‘A’ to play the overall score was 14-10 to the West Midlands leaving them requiring just five winners from the men’s ‘A’ to win the fixture.
The game began with the results going in favour of the first throw advantage with former West Midlands man Jamie Hughes giving Warwickshire the lead with an opening 4-0 win over Daniel Nicholls. Replying for West Midlands was Michael Baker who won a very tight game against Anthony Allen 4-3, Baker going 1-0 down then 2-1 up, the game then saw Allen level at 2-2 and Baker go ahead again in the fifth. With double six Allen took the game to a seventh leg which saw Baker check out on 100 for his win
Kevin Dowling was the man to give Warwickshire the lead for a second time when in the third game he won 4-3 against Jonathan Platt. Dowling won the opening lef with a 130 finish, went 2-0 up and was then pegged back to 2-2. Dowling won the fifth and Platt the six then in the deciding leg Dowling produced a spectacular twelve darts leg in which he hit 140,60,140 and then won the leg and the game with a fantastic 161 outshot.
The sequence continued when in the fourth Ash Khayat (West Midlands) won 4-2 against Ted Evetts and then another former West Midlands player Tom Aldridge beat Gavin Baker 4-0.
It was all change as the half came to an end as yet another former West Midlands man Dean Stewart won 4-2 against Ian Jones after Jones had taken a 2-1 lead.
The second half was a completely different story as Prakash Jiwa took Warwickshire’s lead to 5-2 with a 4-1 win over Mark Craddock in which Jiwa with a 118 game shot went one up in 15 darts, doubled his lead in 23 darts and then went 3-0 up with a 16 darts leg.
Craddock won the fourth leg in 17 darts but with a superb eleven darts leg in which he scored 140,140 and 125 rounded off his win with a 96 checkout and at the same time earned himself the match award for his superb 31.06 average.
Taking the score along to 6-2 to Warwickshire was Nigel Heydon who lost the first leg to Liam Kelly then stormed to a 4-1 win. Following Heydon and wrapping up the men’s ‘A’ win for the away team was Anthony West who defeated Shaun Carroll 4-3 to give Warwickshire an unbeatable 7-2 lead.
Mark Westgarth made it 8-2 when he won 4-1 against Glen McGrandle before West Midlands added their third winner from man of the match for a second consecutive game Nick Fullwell.
Fullwell lost the first leg after only twelve darts to Steve Hine but recovered quickly to go 3-1 up in 15,18 and darts. Hine with a 156 outshot reduced the arrears to 3-2 burt was left on 40 when Fullwell completed his win in 17 darts with an 80 finish. Nick Fullwell took the West Midlands match award with a 30.05 average.
The final encounter of the weekend saw Noel Grant beat Dean Mills 4-1 to seal a 9-3 win for Warwickshire’s men’s ‘A’ team and complete an incredible comeback from 14-10 down to win the fixture 19-17, but also full marks to the premier division newcomers West Midlands who gave the established Warwickshire team a little bit of a scare.
Full Results: West Midlands v Warwickshire (17-19)🙁West Midlands names first):Men’s ‘A’:- Daniel Nicholls 0 Jamie Hughes 4, Michael Baker 4 Anthony Allen 3, Jonathan Platt 3 Kevin Dowling 4, Ash Khayat 4 Ted Evetts 2, Gavin Baker 0 Tom Aldridge 4, Ian Jones 2 Dean Stewart 4, Mark Craddock 1 Prakash Jiwa 4, Liam Kelly 1 Nigel Heydon 4, Shaun Carroll 3 Antony West 4, Glen McGrandle 1 Mark Westgarth 4, Nick Fullwell 4 Steve Hune 2, Dean Mills 1 Noel Grant 4, Men’s ‘B’:- Paul Price 4 Carl Green 2, Richard Platt 4 Mark Carter 0, Paul Wells 4 Ian McFarlane 0, Adam Edgar 4 Tom Ryan 2, Jamie Rollinson 1 Charlie Symons 4, Neil Pointon 0 Ian Shaw 4, Robert Smith 4 James Hykin 2, Shane Price 4 Luke Kennedy 1, Christopher Williams 1 Ashley Hykin 4, Matthew Dicken 4 Richard Foster 1, Alfie Jacques 3 Matt Edgar 4, Sam Guest 4 Tom McGlone 2, Women’s ‘A’:- Sarah Roberts 1 Natalie Gilbert 3, Debbie Loon 1 Caroline Pike 3, Sophie Singh 1 Sue Gulliver 3, Heather Wright 3 Donna Pinch 1, Lisa Badger 3 Chloe McKivett 1, Gemma Barrett 3 Melanie Jones 1, Women’s ‘B’:- Shellbie Simmons 2 Angela Jones 3, Kelly Dolman 1 Marian Conway 3, Kath Jenkins 3 Nina Bolt 2, Jacqueline Maiden 3 Wendy Jones 0, Elizabeth Arnold 1 Lisa Deslandes 3, Shannon Hall 3 Helen Rigg 2.
On the local league front the Netherton Thursday Night League staged the final of their League Cup which brought together league champions Dudley Ex Serviceman’s Club and runners up Riddins Tavern.
As expected it was a great game played in a cracking atmosphere and in the right spirit between two excellent teams. The final score was 5-3 giving Dudley Ex Serviceman’s a fantastic league and cup double.
The Wolverhampton Tuesday Night League played the finals of their divisional cups the division one game bringing together local rivals Riley’s ‘B’ and Riley’s ‘C’. The result went in favour of the ‘B’ side beating their ‘C’ team and reigning champions 4-1.
The division two final saw the singles league leaders Dog and Partridge lose 4-1 to Woodfield Social who are fifth in the same division.
The Brierley Hill Monday Night League have completed their domestic fixtures and with a final 7-2 win away to bottom of the table Limes Club, Dudley Ex Serviceman’s Club have won the title with 50 points but it was oh so close as runners up Delph Bell also finished the campaign on 50 points after they also won their last game 7-2 at Lamp Tavern.
League secretary Jack Pearson took time out to congratulate Sue Hadley captain of Dudley Ex Serviceman’s as since the league was first formed she was the first female captain to win the title.
Taking the title in the Forest of Arden Winter League with a final 2-1 win over Simon Edwards was John Sidwell.
In the last four games Sidwell beat Bob Nixon 2-1 and with a similar result Edwards defeated Steve Whatmore.
The Camp Hill League’s presentation night saw Cotterills Lane Club collect trophies as league and cup winners with Hay Mills Social finishing as league runners up and Gulp Tribe cup runners up.
Although they won the Shadow League, and despite a 149 game shot from Nathan Prentice, Tyseley WMC had to settle for runners up to the New Inn in the Consolation Cup while Derek Rivitt and Joe Fox were joint winners of the Eddy Martin and John Young “Double 2 Finish” Trophy.
The final of their Rickuss Cup in the Hilltop Friendly Tuesday Night League saw Island Inn clinch a very close 4-3 win over Ivy Bush as they won the tie in the very last leg of the final game.
Due to a small turnout it was decided to play a “Round Robin” in the Colebatches Club’s knockout. The first of the semi finals matched Steve Gillam and Nick Fullwell which saw Gillam win 4-2. The second of the semi’s between Mark Craddock and Shane Price went the full seven legs distance with Craddock just getting the close 4-3 verdict.
The final also went to a deciding leg which saw Mark Craddock winning the seventh leg in 18 darts and taking the title with a 4-3 result. As winner Craddock received £150, runner up Steve Gillam had £80 and there was £40 each for Fullwell and Price.
The latest Royal Albrighton Knockout saw Dan Astbury take the top prize of £130 with a final 6-1 win over West Midland county player Sam Guest.
Astbury had beaten Steve Gillam 5-3 in the semis while Guest won 5-4 against Richard Hosey, both losing semi finalists received £25.
The first round losers Plate Knockout was won by Mark Smith (£30) with Stephanie Konya (£15) runner up.
I would like to thank all contributors and readers of my various columns a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year, may the New Year bring you everything you hope for.