West Midlands began life in the top flight of darts in the premier division of the BDO Inter County Championships last season with an 18-18 draw at Devon and although they lost the second fixture 19-17 to neighbouring Warwickshire then won the next two. Unfortunately after that it all went downhill as they lost all five of their remaining games. They opened up their new campaign with a home tie against newly promoted Northamptonshire and with home advantage plus their opponents coming up from a lower division a win was certainly expected by most.
The opening honours for the ladies ‘B’ game all went to Northamptonshire as opener Jacky White, despite being pegged back to level terms twice by Shellbie Simmons, went on to win 3-2 and then doubling the visitors lead was Heather Thompson who lost the first two legs to Elizabeth Arnold and won the next three for a second 3-2 win for the guests.
It took a lady of the match win from Shannon Hall to stop the away team’s charge, Shannon beating Sandra Simmons 3-1 and taking the award for her top average of 21.33.
On at number four and making her debut for the West Midlands after her spell with Shropshire was Kat McLean who opened her account with an encouraging straight 3-0 win over Faye Mason to level the score at 2-2, looks like quite an acquisition for the West Midlands.
Gail Fullthorpe (Northamptonshire) took the match to the sixth game to sort a result as she beat Jacqueline Maiden 3-0 in the fifth and on at number six for West Midlands was Heather Wright who earned her team mates a 3-3 draw when she beat Amy Chappell 3-1.
As with the ladies ‘B’ the men’s ‘B’ also lost the opening two games as Adam Bull and Mark Stanley in turn won 4-2 against Ash Khayatt and Paul Wells.
An impressive 4-0 win from Trevor Brennon stopped the visitor’s charge, Brennon beating Stuart Gilmore before Neil Pointon levelled the match at two each in the fourth when he added his 4-2 win over Paul Shepherd to the home team’s score. Then with a further 4-2 win from Matthew Dicken against Graham Roberts the hosts had turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead but only to see the score level once again at the break as David Pallet beat Shane Price 4-2.
The first four games of the second half all went in favour of the first throw advantage with Northamptonshire going ahead through Phil Coward’s 4-1 win over Martin Greenwood and the game levelled thanks to a 4-1 win from West Midlands Robert Smith against Colin Gray. Smith was in tremendous form going 3-0 up against Gray in 16, 14 and 15 darts and although Gray won the fourth in 18 Smith wrapped up his win in the fifth with another 15 darts leg to give him an award winning average of 32.09 the best BDO ‘B’ side average of the weekend.
For a third time the away team took the lead when in the ninth John Regan won 4-2 against Mark Rollinson giving them a narrow 5-4 advantage.
The last three players for the West Midlands all had 23 plus averages, Avtar Singh (23.23) winning 4-1 against Jason Lovell to level the game, Kevin Bambrick (23.91) beating Chuck Scott 4-2 to put West Midlands in front and anchor man Jonathan Platt (23.03) adding his straight 4-0 win over Shane Prowse to give the West Midlands ‘B’ team a 7-5 win.
The ladies ‘A’ team finished last season with six defeats, the last five of them being 5-1 and unfortunately that was the score in this season’s first curtain raiser.
Rebecca Barrow won the first game against Cheryl Alcock 3-0 and although Lisa Badger trailed 1-0 and then opened a 2-1 lead over Jo Johnson she went down 3-2. Gemma Barrett was another player to lose 3-0 as she played Shanon Tompkins and with a further 3-1 win from Angela Barrow over Kath Jenkins the game was won in the first four games by Northamptonshire.
Sarah Roberts, winner of many match awards for the West Midlands once again recorded an impressive 22.68 average but it was not enough to beat an in form Rebecca Rose who took the away team’s award with her 25.33 average.
The last game of the ladies ‘B’ went the full five legs distance with Debbie Loon (West Midlands) having her lead cancelled out twice by Sara Rose before sealing a 3-2 win to take the hosts match award with a 16.40 average and putting the final score at 5-1.
Another player to join West Midlands from Shropshire this season was Kevin Harris who opened the men’s ‘A’ match playing against Liam Fox whose magnificent 36.44 average saw him win 4-0 against Harris. The second game went the full distance West Midlands Glen McGrandle turning in a fine performance to win 4-3 against Chris Jones, both players averaging over 25.00.
Mark Craddock went 1-0 and 3-2 up against Ben Goodger but it was Goodger who got the 4-3 result to put the visitor’s noses in front once again.
Nick Fullwell was West Midlands second winner when at number four he accounted for Luke Smith with a 4-2 result including three sixteen darts legs for Fullwell plus a 151 game shot to win the game.
By the midway point of the match Northamptonshire had opened up a 4-2 lead as Ricky Evans beat Adam Edgar 4-3 after Edgar had gone 2-0 up and Martin Biggs won 4-2 against Liam Kelly.
The second half began with a man of the match performance from West Midlands man Gavin Baker who amazingly went within one leg of defeat as he trailed 3-0 to Tony Littleton. Despite the huge deficit Baker clawed his way back to level terms with winning legs of 14, 15 and 17 darts and then rounded off a great win with another 15 darts leg to give him a superb 29.65 average.
The close 4-3 running total didn’t last long as Northamptonshire strung together four win’s in a row. Stephen Tompkins beat Ian Jones 4-1, Dave Walker won 4-0 against Alfie Jacques and chalking up the magical seventh win for the away team was Andy Tee who was taken to a seventh leg by Matthew Dicken before winning 4-3. The fourth winner and making 8-3 was Dan Wheatley with his 4-2 success against Scott Baker before Dan Nicholls made the final score a little more respectable for the hosts when he won 4-3 against Chris Shipley after he had trailed 3-1.
Full Results:Premier Division:West Midlands v Northamptonshire (15-21)🙁West Midlands names first):Men’s ‘A’:- Kevin Harris 0 Liam Fox 4, Glen McGrandle 4 Chris Jones 3, Mark Craddock 3 Ben Goodger 4, Nick Fullwell 4 Luke Smith 2, Adam Edgar 3 Ricky Evans 4, Liam Kelly 2 Martin Biggs 4, Gavin Baker 4 Tony Littleton 3, Ian Jones 1 Stephen Tompkins 4, Alfie Jacques 0 Dave Walker 4, Matthew Dicken 3 Andy Tee 4, Scott Baker 2 Dan Wheatley 4, Dan Nicholls 4 Chris Shipley 3, Men’s ‘B’:- Ash Khayatt 2 Adam Bull 4, Paul Wells 2 Mark Stanley 4, Trevor Brennon 4 Stuart Gilmore 0, Neil Pointon 4 Paul Shepherd 2, Matthew Dicken 4 Graham Roberts 2, Shane Price 2 David Pallett 4, Martin Greenwood 1 Phil Coward 4, Robert Smith 4 Colin Gray 1, Mark Rollinson 2 John Regan 4, Avtar Singh 4 Jason Lovell 1, Kevin Bambrick 4 Chuck Scott 2, Jonathan Platt 4 Shane Prowse 0, Women’s ‘A’:- Cheryl Alcock 0 Rebecca Barrow 3, Lisa Badger 2 Jo Johnson 3, Gemma Barrett 0 Sharon Tompkins 3, Kath Jenkins 1 Angela Barrow 3, Sarah Roberts 2 Rebecca Rose 3, Debbi Loon 3 Sara Rose 2, Women’s ‘B’:- Shellbie Simmons 2 Jacky White 3, Elizabeth Arnold 2 Heather Thompson 3, Shannon Hall 3 Sandra Simmons 1, Kat McLean 3 Faye Mason 0, Jacqueline Maiden 0 Gail Fullthorpe 3, Heather Wright 3 Amy Chappell 1.