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Pre-Event Report

Well here we are back again to write another chapter in the great essay known as the National Knock out cup. This story has a new chapter written every year and usually comes up with the goods as far as the story line goes.

Last year was one of the classics with all the twist and turns of a winding country road before we finally found out who the winner was.

The shocks started in the last 32 when Rochester, yet again, found their way forward blocked block by a team that they really should have been able to take care of. That does not mean their opponents, Tolworth, were not capable of beating them, they proved they were, but Tolworth have not been firing on all cylinders for quite some time now either. Rochester definitely had a point to prove. They have been not having the best of luck in major tournaments recently and would have been looking to put it all behind them. However, Tolworth beat Rochester 10-8 to add more woes and worries to the Rochester team.

The prize for Tolworth’s victory was a quarter final tie with Imperial which was a bridge too far for them as they lost 10-7 but before it all ended Tolworth had gone some way to rebuilding the “quality team” image they had in years gone by. At the same time Rochester will be feeling that they missed out on a quarter final tie against quarter final tie against Imperial such is the expectation of the Kent Lads.

Another of the shocks was the All’oas demolition of one of the pre event favourites Morley International in the last 16. The All’oas are seasoned campaigners with a long history in the event but if you were a betting man then it would have been Morley you would have been betting your house on.

Trent Trophies A added another tick in the win box against Wolverhampton Wednesday the lads from Wolverhampton must be sick of the sight of the Staffordshire side. Every time they meet the result is the same Trent Trophies A win and then usually go on to win the event. Leaving Wolverhampton Wednesday to reminisce about the good old days when they were the undisputed kings of the interleague

East Herts showed their class as they overcame Sun Valley 11-9 to book themselves a quarter final head to head with the All’oas. The All’oas fresh from their win over Morley took their eye of the ball a little bit against East Herts and paid the ultimate price. To be fair the All’oas despite being under the cosh for most of the match did their best to make a fight of it. But East Herts were in no mood to surrender the advantage they had built up earlier in the tie and won 10-7

By the semi final stage the bottom half of the draw was looking like normal with Trent Trophies A taking on Imperial. But the top half had two teams making their debut in the semi finals East Herts and P.J.'s Stourbridge.

In the end P.J.'s Stourbridge cruised past East Herts 10-2 although the score was not a true reflection of the match it was nonetheless a graphic illustration of the awesome power the top teams have if they get a bit of run on top of their extra ordinary ability.

Of the two semi finals Imperial had the unenviable task of taking on Trent Trophies A. In case you unaware Trent Trophies are a team that has forgotten what it feels like to loose in the Interleague. Imperial had been playing like a team on fire all through the event and just blitzed Trent Trophies of the table to win the match 10-2. Trent Trophies must have wondered what the hell hit them. I can’t remember a time, I have been around for quite a while, when both the semi finals were so one sided in terms of the score lines.

This set up the rarer than a snow flake in hell event of having two teams in the final that had never won the event before. Imperial won the event in fine style keeping P.J.'s Stourbridge at arms length throughout the final and eventually won the match 10-7. In a way I suppose it would have been criminal had Imperial not won given the way they had played over the whole weekend and having dispatched Trent Trophies A. Winning the event was the only reward fitting for such an impressive display.

I doubt that P.J.'s Stourbridge will see it that way but for the average person watching Imperial were the worthy winners.

Well that’s what happened last year and now it’s time to do it all again.

Many of the teams that fell by the way side last year will be back again trying to do better and the teams that did do well will be trying to build on their success. Then there will be a sprinkling of new teams to the event who will be sure that they are going to win it this time.

The invitations have gone out to the lucky 96 teams who did well in their counties knock out cup competition. This year sees a welcome return to the fold to one of the greatest Interleague teams ever to grace the event Essex’s Barking Elite. The team disbanded a couple of seasons ago.

It is great to have them back in the event but I don’t think it will be an immediate return to their winning ways of old. The team has lost its traditional engine room so it will be a case of rebuilding the team in the interleague arena. Not the place I would choose to do it but they have enough of the old team to compete with most sides.

Hot on the heels of Buckinghamshire joining the Interleague fold we welcome two new counties this year, Derbyshire and Worcestershire. Derbyshire have been out of the EPA for quite some time now and it really is great to see them back with us. Worcestershire have been trying to get an interleague structure going for some time now so lets hope that they can build on their achievements of achieving interleague status.

Next season we hope to see Berkshire joining the Interleague family. One thing is for sure is that more and more counties are realising that the glory on offer for their teams who take part in the counties interleague then getting to Great Yarmouth for the Interleague finals is worth the all the hassle of setting up and running a county Interleague.

As the counties who play Interleague increase year on year so do the requests for spots in the National finals. This year saw counties submitting requests for 150 places but there are only 96 spots available. For the 96 invited teams there are 54 teams who will be disappointed.

For the 96 lucky ones though it’s what they have been playing for all year, the chance to play against some of England’s finest cue men. For as long as this trend continues the Interleague will get ever stronger.

Tom Fahy
Tournament Director

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