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INTERLEAGUE KNOCKOUT CUP 2005
Overview

For those that use the website, in today’s world that is probably the majority, I guess you will have seen the draw by now, if you haven’t then you can check it out elsewhere on the site or you can use this overview of every group and every match in any group to see what the draw is. For those that haven’t seen this before this overview has become an eagerly awaited tome of my prognostications on how the groups will turn out.

Whilst this should be taken as a tongue in cheek look at the teams involved will fare it has in the past been known to be extremely accurate but nobody really knows what is going to happen on the day, least of all me.

By the time you get to read this we will be well into the run up to this year knockout cup and all the teams, all the players, all the officials will be gearing themselves up for the festival of pool that has become known as the National Knockout cup. And for those that aren’t actually involved in the competition itself it is still an eagerly awaited event for a variety of reasons, one of which is the opportunity to witness an extremely high standard of pool over the weekend and some famous faces in the world of pool.

Where else will a pub standard pool player get the chance to watch or even play against the current world champion Gaz Potts (Trent Trophies ‘A’) , as well as the most prolific competition winner in recent history, Darren Appleton (Triangle). Adding to that you can also watch or come up against the future of pool in Under 21 internationals Wayne Gardner (U21 Captain), Dean Torode (Brighton) and Matt Barcock (All’oas).

As if that wasn’t enough you might also get to play a frame or two against the second generation of England’s future such as Jordan Church the current youth world champion (Rochester), Clint I’Anson (Sun Valley) and Liam White (Trent Trophies ‘B’).

We are just scratching the surface here the talent on show over the weekend is unbelievable. You can also see well established Interleague veterans but not quite so famous as the above in Alan Pointer (Barking Phoenix), Tom Chambers (East Northants) and Les Boddy (Medway) there will be players from every walk of life  and every playing standard imaginable.

Now we’ve set the scene for the battles that lay ahead for the 96 teams involved let’s look at the draw in more detail and where better to start than the group that the reining champions are drawn in which it traditionally Group 1 on Table 1.

Group One
Triangle start the defence of their trophy on table one and for the teams that have been drawn into this group its probably going to be a short weekend as far as pool playing goes but a great weekend at the bar or in town! Sorry, but not even skipper Shane Surridge will be able muster his troops to such an extent that they can overcome the awesome fire power that Triangle posses. If you think that’s a bit unfair how would you like to play against a team consisting of Darren Appleton, Chris Melling, Mick Hill, Rob Wilson and Shane Appleton and still be expected to win. Over the year’s not that many teams have achieved it and I can’t se St Johns doing so over the weekend either

That means that St Johns will then play Folkestone which looks like a much more realistic proposition for the Worcestershire outfit. This one should be an interesting match and close at the same time, neither of the teams has what you would call true superstars but both still have plenty of talent. St Johns providing they have recovered from the mauling they should receive from Triangle will be eager to show what they can do but they will need their top players Scott Surridge and Dave Moss to perform if they are to overcome a fresh Folkestone team lead by Mark Wynn with Tony Smith and Mark Brazier all chopping at the bit to add to St Johns misery.

The third match in this group is set up to go pretty much the same way as the first. A sure prediction will see Triangle through this group without having to testing the engines too much anyone disagree with it so far? No thought not. The only consolation I can offer to the two teams in this group who won’t make the draw for the last 32 is that someone had to draw them. I guess that I won’t be getting a pint at the bar from either of the two losing captain’s.

Group Two
The opening match in this group between Leicester City (Leicestershire) and Carlisle (Cumbria) will be a much more evenly matched contest than the opening match in Group one. On the face of it Leicester City with Captain Richard Phillips, Gaz Linch and Shaun Galghan should have just enough to edge out Carlisle despite the best efforts of Wilson, Potts and Currie for Carlisle. 

Which will mean Carlisle will be taking on Medway (Kent) for survival whether or not Carlisle will survive will depend on how Medway, with all their experience tackle this match. I would expect that with the insight of skipper Les Boddy and the abilities of Phil Waghorn and Barbara Taylor should be enough to send Carlisle a few paces to the right and in to the bar area to debate who did what wrong and set up a group decider for Medway against Leicester City.

With Carlisle out of the equation this will leave a head to head for qualification between Leicester City and Medway. This is a very tough match to call as I believe both these teams are very close on overall ability, but I am going to go with the team who have the greater pressure players like Martyn Collins and Ladies Tour 2nd ranked player Barbara Taylor to negotiate anything Leicester City can throw at them.   

Group Three
Sun Valley (Notts) are one of the Interleague’s greatest teams who despite whatever the situation they find themselves in always seem to be able to produce the goods to see them through when the pressure really gets going. Sun Valley can call on 40 year old Jim I’Anson to pick a good line-up and with calibre of players he has available, such as, son Clint I’Anson (England Youth), Jason Rimminton, Welsh International Neil Jones and England Internationals Bayden Jackson and Lee Howitt he can’t really go wrong. Therefore Holderness (East Yorkshire) will have to rely on their top players Peter Everingham, Bristow and Hughes if they are to get any change out of the well oiled and well experienced Sun Valley team. Which at the end of the day I don’t think they will have so it’s Sun Valley for me.

When Holderness take on Sheppey ‘B’ life should be a bit easier. Sheppey ‘B’ have a history of playing well in the group stage but generally fail to get through the group. For the last time Sheppey ‘B’ negotiated the group stage you have to go back to when they had Youth World Champion Kurt Morris in their line up which shows how long ago that was. Even though Holderness will loose to Sun Valley in the group decider they should have enough to see them past Sheppey ‘B’ to keep themselves in with a shout. All that  despite Chris Botting and Dave Mawhinney’s best efforts to secure a group play off spot for themselves with Sun Valley.

That result will play straight into the hands of Sun Valley who will then only have to avoid defeat by Sheppey ‘B’ to see them through the group, and as I mentioned earlier, that is what I believe will happen.

Group Four
Group four sees the first of the group of death tussles where all three teams are capable of winning the group but obviously only one of them can. The one that wins will in all honesty be the one that gets the rub of the green at the right time. Ipswich (Suffolk) take on McClusky’s (Derbyshire) lead by Jon Shapland who has players like Kev McGuire to call on. But when you consider Ipswich will have the Keeble brothers, Alan Mower, Under 21 International Matt Purnell, Richard Twomey and piss-head extraordinaire Punchy to call on. Ipswich would look the more likely to secure the win.

When McClusky’s take on the All’oas (Lancashire) their backs will be against the wall knowing that anything other than a win will see the end of the road for the Derbyshire team The All’oas on the other hand are a team that very rarely fails to negotiate the group stage, in fact you are more likely to see them in a quarter final spot on Sunday rather than at Peggoty’s in the town at 8pm on the saturday.

The All’oas are in the process of re-building having lost team guru Kevin O’Hallaran who decided to call it a day in April as well as Simon Fitsimmons and Karl Boyes. Skipper Mick Timmins despite the loss of three key individuals still has England International Lee Clough and England Under 21 player Matt Barcock to call on, this should be enough to kill off any failing hope that McClusky’s would be in with a shout of qualifying. With McClusky’s out of the way it will be a straight race to the win for both Ipswich and the All’oas. So as Big Kev would say, if he were there,  “let the shenanigans begin!”

That all means a massive head to head between Ipswich and the All’oas, this tussle would not go amiss if it was being played at a quarter final stage but here it is going to determine who gets out of the group. One thing is for sure, the Interleague will loose a possible quarter final team in the group stage. Which one it is going to be will be down to who handles the pressure better. I think this one will go down to a playoff but before that situation occurs there is going to be some really interesting clashes between the players from both teams. A lot will depend on how the individual players tackle their matches, for the All’oas players like Matt Morris, who it’s reputed has more faces than a town hall clock, and Nathan Bridges, who according to Tony Vickers’s sister is 100 times better at foot massaging than he is at playing pool!!. If they perform to their full potential then it will need a playoff between the two sides to separate them, it’s in this department that the All’oas start to show why they are so good and it’s them that I tip to just scrape through by the skin of their teeth. Leaving poor old Ipswich to plan their Saturday night’s entertainment

Group Five
Group five sees Interleague first timers Spondon ‘A’ (Derbyshire) take on past masters Bedford ‘B’ (Bedfordshire), Spondon Captain Darren Finch has no big names in their team but the same can be said for Bedford ‘B’ so which if the two finally gets the upper hand will probably depend on Bedford ‘B’ using their experience to get past Spondon ‘A’. Spondon ‘A’ on the other hand may not have any respect for the fact that Bedford have been here before and play the way they usually play which may unsettle Bedford ‘B’ but by the time we get to the nitty gritty stage of the tie with Lee Primonato and Lee Miles doing their bit for Bedford ‘B’ they should have enough to get past the Derbyshire team.

That means that City of Coventry will be playing Spondon ‘A’ again a tough one to call but the experience of City of Coventry should see them through to take on Bedford ‘B’ for the group decider.

I think Steve Shelton’s boys will have the edge over Bedford ‘B’ and come through and take the group, but they will need players like Roy Pontefract and Ian Wilkinson to be at their best for this to happen.

Group Six
This group sees New Barnet (Hertfordshire) take on Interleague perennials Friar Tuck (Notts). Friar Tuck with skipper John Brinkworth should with all their experience have enough to see off New Barnet but New Barnet are a mixture of youth and experience and when they get it right can beat anybody. I can see this mixture if it all comes together being enough to take out Friar Tuck despite their experience but it will take Scott Gaunt and Terry Hawes to play well if this is going to happen.

Friar Tuck will then take on Interleague newbies Preston City. Within Preston City, the only player with previous Yarmouth experience is skipper Nick Whitelaw. This alone probably won’t be enough to get past Friar Tuck and despite the quality of individual players within Preston City I don’t think it will be enough to get past the dogged approach of Friar Tuck.

New Barnet will then take on Preston City to win the group outright and the mixture will have to be right again if New Barnet are to continue in the event. Bit it will probably be more than enough to see them past a spirited display from Preston City but in Interleague its not enough to be spirited you need the quality in depth of your squad to back it up otherwise the truth will out.

Group Seven
Geoff Merriman’s City of Leicester (Leicestershire) take on one of the teams with the longest journey to get to Yarmouth Weston (Somerset) they are also one of the Interleague’s stronger teams. City of Leicester although having strong players do not appear to have the same strength in depth that Weston have. Weston skipper Graham Hewlett should have more than enough talent at his disposal to get past City of Leicester.

City of Leicester will then be faced with taking on Bracknell and Ascot (Berkshire), this is the first time that the Bracknell side has appeared in Yarmouth and I feel that despite having some good players the realisation of how good most of the teams really are in the Interleague will prove to much for them and City of Leicester will eventually beat them.

To add insult to injury Weston are not a team known to be forgiving and will do all they can to get past the Bracknell side with the minimum of effort and their experience should be more than enough to achieve this with ease.

Group Eight
Northants Village Pool League (Northamptonshire) will take on Alsager (Staffordshire), both these team have plenty of experience of playing at this level and both have players capable of turning a match so the winner of this match seams to be the one that handles the early part of the match best. Northants Village Pool League skipper Ant Floyer will need to get the best from Martyn Barrs and Dave Biseker if they want to get past Alsager with Phil Nixon and Ben Wood doing their best to stop it, which I believe they will.

What awaits the losers is something to tell their grandchildren, that they once played the mighty Imperial I in a competitive match. That’s about as far as it goes though, Imperial with Dean Wisher, Andy Breen, John Wylie, Ramesh Gokhul, Ben Clements, Brian Evans, Sean Halligan, Darren Suchley, Rob McKay and John Traini wouldn’t have any fear about taking on Imperial 1 themselves. Imperial should win at a canter.

The same fate will await Northants Village Pool League as Imperial should show how easy this game is when you have nine players of the standard that Imperial can call on.

Group Nine
M.H.D.P.L ‘B’ (Hertfordshire) begin their Interleague quest against Beverly (East Yorkshire). This match I believe will go frame for frame, Karl Beattie’s M.H.D.P.L ‘B’ holds some good players however youth and inexperience could be their downfall. Their more experienced players such as Tour player Ashley Sealey and Andy Sandford might not be enough to see off Rob Whiting and Paul Coats of Beverly.

That would mean M.H.D.P.L ‘B’ will have to face Leicester (Leicestershire) and win in order to stand any chance of qualification, under normal circumstances with the talent available to M.H.D.P.L ‘B’ it should be possible to give Leicester a real game. However, Leicester’s skipper Steve Robertshaw believes this Leicester team is the strongest they have brought to the Interleague and if give some of the teams that have brought to the Interleague, if this really is their strongest team then the rest of the teams in the Interleague should take note. As much as you’d like to see M.H.D.P.L ‘B’ taking out Leicester with the strength on depth of Leicester with Mark Selby, Tommy Donlon and Tom Ford it just doesn’t seem possible that M.H.D.P.L ‘B’ can pull off a win.

Much the same fate will await Beverley I believe the East Yorkshire outfit playing Leicester will be much like lambs to the slaughter.  Leicester stand head and shoulders above both the other teams in this group I cannot see any other result than that Leicester will be the group winners. However both the teams in this group do have the potential to score few frame against Leicester and could rattle a few cages before they die.

Group Ten
Buckingham (Buckinghamshire) against Ilkeston (Derbyshire) is a tie between the new and the nearly new, Ilkeston have been here before but not long enough for the experience to kick in. Buckingham have Iain Tarbuck and Joe Frampton whilst Ilkeston can call on McNicol and Appleyard. This should be a really tight match that should go just about all the way and wouldn’t surprise me if it went to 9-9. If it does it will need a toss of the coin to separate the two teams. However if a result is achieved in regular time Ilkeston’s marginally greater experience should see them through.

East Herts Pool League are a team with a wealth of experience, historically most of it at the bar or down town in the clubs but over the last few events they seam to have turned from party boys to a serious team who have discovered the will to win. The team always has had quality players but the urge to party always seamed to take over the pool side of things but now they are taking the pool side more seriously they have become a force to reckoned with. Buckingham should feel the force of that change in attitude, if things go the way they should East Herts Pool League with Kenny Barraclough and Matt Humphrey batting for them who are on their day capable of taking out anyone. Assisted by the likes of Gary Keefe, Ian Yates and Mark Beesley they should, if they manage to stay off the sauce prove to strong for Buckingham.

Having come straight off the back of a win East Herts Pool League should keep the rhythm going at the expense of Ilkeston for long enough to see them win the group if Ilkeston win the first few frames then things could be very different as East Herts Pool League are not known for their fighting spirit

Group Eleven
The first match in this group is between part of the Interleague establishment in Romney Marsh (Kent) and Leicester Dynamos (Leicestershire). This should be a real tussle between two evenly matched teams although Leicester Dynamos are a new team some of the players in the team are well established Interleague players and it is difficult to decide which one of the two will come out winners of this match but it I had to make a choice it will be Romney Marsh although it isn’t going to be a walk in the park.

Awaiting the losers of the first match will be Barnsley (South Yorkshire). Barnsley although not as strong as they have been in previous years are still a quality outfit, if you want proof of that then look no further than skipper Nick Wollerton, Adrian Thomson and Karl Milner for proof. Barnsley even under strength shouldn’t take to long to dispose of Leicester Dynamos and set up a head to head with Romney Marsh.

Sadly for Romney Marsh I can’t see them having what it takes to get the better of Barnsley. So for me it’s Barnsley for the last 32.

Group Twelve
Over the past few years Rochester (Kent) have gone from being a top performing team always likely to win the event to one that is susceptible to the killer punch. It’s hard to work out why this should be when you have Ian Kettel, Ian Hubard, Jordan Church, Martin Prime, Neil Ward and Jamie Kitchen in the line up. Why they manage to get beaten so often at an early stage is beyond me. It may be because they are having a run of bad luck and if that’s the case they haven’t turned the corner yet as their first opponents are Walsall ‘A’ (West Midlands). Walsall ‘A’ with Carl Butler and Tony Lawton will have to be on top of their game if Walsall are to keep Rochester’s run of bad luck going. Having said that I think Rochester will win the opening match but only just.

Walsall ‘A’ will have the chance to avenge their defeat on St Neot’s ‘B’. St Neot’s have Tony Bays and Michael Douglas but even with those two in the squad I can’t see St Neot’s ‘B’ having what it take to beat Walsall.

If my feelings are correct then this group should be over when Rochester clock up the nine frames they will need to secure their passage through to the last 32 at the expense of St Neots B.

Group Thirteen
As one time finalists Ollerton (Notts) will believe nothing can stand in their way between them and their place in the last 32 even though they have lost a few good players its hard to argue against their logic and with Shane Overton, Neil Jones and Dave Buckley all available for selection. Luton (Bedfordshire) will have to produce their A games if they are going to get anything out of this game. Luton (Thursday) enter this year’s interleague in a state of flux having seen 4 players defect to the newly formed Luton Elite team. However, in Rochfort, Pearce, Hattle and Smith the team have brought in four county standard replacements for the departed players.  They are more than capable of holding their own at this level. And with the old timers like Dave ‘Grandad’ Welcome and Mark Kempson, now captaining the side, the team represents a blend of youthful exuberance, battle hardened veterans and honest endeavour all of which will mean very little to Ollerton they will only be interested in one thing, winning the match.

Gosport ‘A’ (Hampshire) will then take on Luton in a do or die match for Luton. Despite Luton giving a good account of themselves I think Gosport ‘A’ with Dan Hill and Gary Moore will put an end to Luton’s Interleague for this year.

When Ollerton take on Gosport ‘A’ for the group its hard to see Gosport despite a win over Luton having what it take to get the win over Ollerton. I can’t see any other team than Ollerton winning this group.

Group Fourteen
Tolworth (Surrey) are one of the longer serving Interleague teams that in recent years have not lived up to the standard they set for themselves. That said they are still a force to be reckoned with. Their opponents Shrewsbury ‘A’ have in their time been at the business end of the Interleague reaching the last eight on at least two occasions. Pound for Pound these two teams are evenly matched and given Tolworth’s recent history I’d go for Shrewsbury to win this match.

Awaiting the losers or this match will be East Northants (Northamptonshire), Tom Chamber’s boys might be a little out of their depth when it comes to what it will require to beat Tolworth. What this will mean to Tolworth in terms of their own qualification chances is that they will need a cricket score against East Northants and then hope that Shrewsbury don’t get as many frames as they did in beating East Northants.

By the time Shrewsbury play East Northants, Shrewsbury will know what they need to do to win the group. I would fully expect Shrewsbury to produce the necessary result.

Group Fifteen
Colchester ‘C’ (Essex) will have to produce the goods if they are to get any change out of Andover Swallows (Hampshire). Rob Rasey’s boys will be looking to win this group however, Colchester with Steve Wilmot and Darren Saddler will be doing their best to keep Andover Swallows at bay. That said I think Andover Swallows will have just too much for Colchester to cope with.

When Wolverhampton Wednesday (West Midlands) enters the fray both teams should be aware of the history attached to this team. What it’s achieved in the past but in Pool like any other sport the bigger they are the harder they fall.  Although Wolverhampton Wednesday have undergone massive changes over resent years they are still a quality side. Skipper Maj Akram still has Shaun Lees, Kev Cresswell, Sunjay Pudden, Pat Ward all still available for selection so whilst Colchester will be looking to make amends for their defeat to the hands of Andover Swallows, Wolverhampton Wednesday will have their thought firmly fixed on a job ‘n’ go mission.

This will mean it will be a really interesting tussle between two top sides, history would suggest that Wolverhampton Wednesday would be the more likely to go through but Andover Swallows will not be phased by Wolverhampton Wednesday and have made through to the latter stages of the event themselves and will be keen to do so once again. . How all this pans out should be a joy to watch but when it comes to it I think Wolverhampton Wednesday’s greater experience will just give them the edge but it will only be an edge as well I~ don’t think there will be more than two frames in at the end

Group Sixteen
The Interleague bids welcome to a long lost friend in Stockport (G.M.C). Stockport haven’t been here for a few years and I think they will be in for a rude awakening when they see for themselves how much the standard has improves since their last visit. Their opponents Frazer Lineham’s Gravesham should have enough fire power at his disposal to see his team through to the winning line. That said I don’t really know that much about Stockport but when you look through the team list no one jumps out at you as a name.

If Stockport do lose they will then be sent into battle with Ely (Cambridgeshire) who have been busy strengthening their squad over the past year and now boast apart from Dale Parson and Ian Aldous, the return of Phil Harrsion along with new boys Simon Rivers and Trieve Rolfe this puts Ely up as notch or two in the Interleague pecking order.  They will be looking to come out of this group with two straight wins whilst I believe that the first of those against Stockport will be achieved Gravesham may prove a slightly tougher nut to crack but by the time it’s all over Ely should come out of the group as winners undefeated and I get my two sacks of Ely’s finest potatoes.

Group Seventeen
Nuneaton ‘A’ (Warwickshire) take on Luton Elite (Bedfordshire) in what should be a tight match. Luton Elite have Liam Doherty and Paul Cox as their big players however Nuneaton will hope to counter this with Andy West and John Martin. What it boils down to is who gets the better start and my feelings go with Nuneaton.

Brighton are the third team in this group and owe their presence in this event to one man, Paul McNeil without his efforts players such as Darren Welfare, Morray Dolan, Damian Campsey and Dean Torode wouldn’t be here. As if that wasn’t enough Paul is the unsung hero of Brighton he is probably the most successful player in terms of National Interleague performances Brighton have. Luton Elite will be hard pushed to get close to Brighton and even with Luton Elite’s top players Brighton should have enough to see them off.

whilst Nuneaton are a good team but will find that a Brighton in full flow are more than a match for them, regardless of how well Nuneaton play Brighton always have the gears to step up their performance in order to win when it’s needed

Group Eighteen
Dawley ‘A’ (Shropshire) reached last year final only to loose out to Triangle, then in April the went one better and won it. Now they will be looking to make it a hat trick of finals, included in their line-up is David Blagbrough, Dale Blagbrough and Craig Reynolds with all due respect to Reigate ‘A’ (Surrey) who in themselves are a proven top end team will struggle to make any head way with Dawley.

Reigate will show that although they lost to Dawley they are not by any stretch of the imagination a bad team and will prove it against Thursday Club League (Northants) by giving the Northants outfit a lesson.

Thursday Club League will not have recovered  from the mauling Reigate gave them before they have to take on Dawley A. for Thursday Club League this is clear case of out of the pan and into the fire. They will be aware that  they have to take on the might of Dawley ‘A’ and produce a win to stand any chance of qualification. Dawley will only have to secure a draw to progress to the last 32. I can’t see any other result other than Dawley cruising through to the next round.

Group Nineteen
Andover Saints (Hampshire) lead by John Francis take on Gary Farmiloe’s Colchester ‘A’ (Essex) this is another one of the tough to call matches with both teams being fairly equal. Colchester don’t normally make it out of the group stage at the same time neither do Andover Saints and given the third team in this group this is not the year either of them is going to break their duck! Of the two team I think Andover Saints will just have the edge over Colchester

The third team in this group is the most successful team in Interleague history. To give you a clue who they are I will just drop these few names in and see if you can work it out for yourselves. Lee Kendall, Gaz Potts, Adam Davis, Carl Morris. Yep, you’ve guessed it Trent Trophies ‘A’ and that’s all I need to write. It’s bad luck on the other two team but someone has to play them!

Group Twenty
This group could well be the group that all neutral supporters will want to watch. All three teams in it are potential quarter finalist material.  M.H.D.P.L ‘A’ (Hertfordshire) take on Coventry (Warwickshire) the two teams between them contain so many tour players that you might be forgiven for thinking you are at the Tour. In the M.H.D.P.L ‘A’ you have Neil Toms, Brendan Colyer, Danny Miller, Mark Thrussell, Dave Langham, Mick Darragh, Rob Southey and Tony Vickers. In Coventry’s line up you have Tim Singh, Surinder Singh, Liam Farrell and Steve Mullen. Given M.H.D.P.L ‘A’s sometimes slow starting coupled with the fact that this first match is a must win situation for both teams because there will be no way back for the loser I think Coventry are better suited to the early start so I feel they will just edge it.

That means that M.H.D.P.L ‘A’ will be playing Small Health (West Midlands). Small Heath have always featured at the business end of the Interleague whilst I think that M.H.D.P.L ‘A’ will have recovered enough to beat Small Health. Dave Preece’s boys knocked them out in a quarter final a few years ago and M.H.D.P.L. A will be out to avenge that defeat.

The net effect of this will mean that Coventry will only have to draw with Small Heath when they play them for qualification. Which if you weren’t aware how important winning you first match is this is the proof, loose your first match and it’s an up hill struggle all the way. Win it and your three quarters of the way there. Coventry should go through purely on the strength of winning their first match

Group Twenty One
First up in this group is the clash between Milton Keynes ‘B’ (Buckinghamshire) and Nottingham (Nottinghamshire), this should be a real tight match as both team seam to be quite evenly matched. Neither team has any big named players but are both capable of beating the other. If I’m forced to go for one, which I suppose I have to then it will be Nottingham but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this match ended up 9-9. Nottingham will be relying on Rawson and Green to do the damage for their side whilst Milton Keynes ‘B’ will be relying on skipper Peter Hallett and Stacey McConnell to inflict the damage from their side.

The losers will have to go straight into battle with Preston (Lancashire) who are beginning to make a name for themselves in Interleague circles. Preston has Gareth Hibbott, one of the top players in the country so any team that he is playing in will obviously be good. For this reason I think that Preston will make short work of Milton Keynes ‘B’ and end Milton Keynes ‘B’ involvement before it really got started.

Preston’s win should set up a straight head to head clash between themselves and Nottingham to earn their right to go into the hat for the last 32. Although Nottingham are a good side I don’t think they will have what it takes to get past Preston, however it won’t be easy for Preston but I think that when it gets down to the nitty gritty Preston’s strength in slightly more depth will prove just too much for Nottingham,

Group Twenty Two
County Club (Oxfordshire) get to play Mexborough (South Yorkshire)  in the opening match in this group and I can’t see County Club causing Mexborough too much hassle. Mexborough have the players to go all the way and I feel Mexborough will use this match to sound out their intensions to the rest of the teams who think they are in with a chance.    

After their stinging defeat by Mexborough, County Club take on Afford (Staffordshire). Unfortunately for County Club this one won’t be easy either, although Afford aren’t as strong as Mexborough they are still strong enough to see themselves pass the Oxfordshire team with relative ease.

Mexborough will then take on Afford for the rights of passage to the hallowed land of the last 32. Afford will give Mexborough a bloody nose but won’t be able to deliver the killer punch. This all means that Mexborough will find themselves as they expected, in the draw for the last 32.

Group Twenty Three
Trent Trophies ‘B’ (Staffordshire) always give a good account of themselves in the Interleague obviously their more famous stable mates’ take all the attention but this team are a quality outfit in their own right. Croydon (Surrey) are a team I don’t know much about so I might be doing them a big disservice here but I don’t see them having what it will  take to beat Trent Trophies ‘B’ with all their experience in the Interleague. Especially when you consider Trent Trophies ‘B’ have in their line up Liam White (England Youth), Tim Lawton and Jamie Latham.

This means that Croydon will be taking on another old favourite of the Interleague Barking Phoenix (Essex) lead by the bearded one, His imperial Zedness, Alan Pointer! Barking Phoenix has in their line up ex England Youth player James Shadimehr and former England trialist Steve Adams. Zed always accuses me of  writing Barking Phoenix off and they always take great delight in proving to me that they can win so just to stuff them this time round I’m going for them to win this match comfortably and in so doing set up a head to head with Trent Trophies ‘B’.

To be honest I do believe that Barking Phoenix will win their opening match and in so doing set up a real battle royal between Trent Trophies B and Barking Phoenix. Both teams will make mistakes and both teams have players capable of punishing the other teams mistakes. If ever a match was set for a 9-9 draw and a three frame play off to decide who goes through this could be it. If it does go to a playoff then I would fancy Barking Phoenix to just edge it and make it through to the last 32.

Group Twenty Four
Renegade ‘A’ (Berkshire) are still a new team as far as Interleague goes and are still finding their feet at this level. Although Renegade have tour player Robert Uzzell as their captain I think that Stafford (Staffordshire) will be two strong for Renegade ‘A’ as is usually the case the strength of a squad manifests itself towards the last few frames of any match. When Renegade ‘A’ runs out of a bit of steam Stafford will still have the players to produce the goods..

When Renegade take on Milton Keynes ‘A’ (Buckinghamshire) things will only get worse for Renegade A. on the face of it Milton Keynes ‘A’ with Adam Marlow, Paul Sedman, Scott Willers and Mark McGauley in their line up should have nothing to fear from Rengade. They appear on paper to be head and shoulders above the other two teams in this group. A lot will depend on how Renegade fare in the first few frames of this match. If they can keep hold of Milton Keynes then their is a fare chance that it will be close, if Milton Keynes get a big lead at the start then it’s all over for Renegade ‘A’

I see the decider between Milton Keynes ‘A’ and Stafford going much the same way as the previous match, although Stafford are a good side, they don’t have the class available to them that Milton Keynes ‘A’ have and having beaten Renegade, Milton Keynes ‘A’ will be aiming to get through to the next round in the least about of time possible.

Group Twenty Five
Rugby (Warwickshire) is a name synonymous with the Interleague they are here every year with out fail. Lead by Paul Evans they have players of the calibre of Andy Barnett, Pete Evans, Johnny Webb and Roger Hunt. St Neots ‘A’ (Cambridgeshire) can’t quite claim to have that type of player but they are a steady old outfit who usually perform well when they get to attend the Interleague but all when all is said and done Rugby should prove just a little too strong for St Neots ‘A’.

When Reigate ‘B’ (Surrey) takes on St Neots A life could be quiet easy for the Surrey outfit as St Neots will have been softened up by the beating they got at the hands of Rugby. This should mean that Reigate will beat St Neots with relative east but if Reigate’s squad is not performing in top gear St Neots could hit them for six!

In the group decider Rugby will be looking to consolidate their position with a big win over Reigate ‘B’ and I can only agree with them. Unless Rugby makes a school boy error and takes their eye seriously off the ball I can not see Reigate having what it takes to beat the mighty Rugby.

Group Twenty Six
Leeds (West Yorkshire) takes on Finchley (London) in the first match of this group. Finchley on paper have an extremely strong squad with players like Richard Fuller, Ian Clarke, Tom Gilvarry and Declan Casey. However Leeds has Mark Buck, Betts and Lamb to counter any treat the Finchley can offer. Whether that’s enough to stop Finchley in the opening match I don’t know, I think the Finchley boys will be just too strong for Leeds over the eighteen frames.

That means that Leeds will then have to take on Kettering (Northamptonshire) who in previous years have been one of the stronger teams in the Interleague but this year they seem to have lost a few key players. They still have Graham Berruto and Bob Love but they don’t look as strong as they have done in the past, they should still have enough to beat the demoralised Leeds though.

Finchley have the potential to severely embarrass Kettering by knocking them out in the group stage whether this happens will depend on Kettering being able to produce a result the name Kettering inspires from the players they have available. If Finchley go on a potting frenzy and don’t make too many mistakes then by feelings are that Finchley will win the group.

Group Twenty Seven
Long Eaton (Derbyshire) have the unenviable task of taking on Imperial (London), the good news for Long Eaton is that its Imperial II but they are still an awesome squad with John Kelly, Paul Mchale and Pat ‘The Chat’ O’Kane in their line up. Long Eaton will have to muster all their strength in order not to be over run by the Imperial II bulldozer but even if Long Eaton manage not to be overrun they still won’t have what it takes to beat Imperial II  .

If playing Imperial wasn’t bad enough Long Eaton then have to take on one of the Interleague most famous names in Barking Elite (Essex). Although the days when the mere mention of Barking Elite would cause fear in any team have past into the  history books now they are still a quality outfit. Barking Elite have Andy ‘The Dutch’ Holland, Darren Collison and Keith Hannan which will see off ant challenge Long Eaton have to offer.

The match between Barking Elite and Imperial II to decide the group winners wouldn’t look out of place if it was a quarter final match, one of these two great teams is going to have to loose, which one it is will depend on who gets the better start. My feelings are that Imperial II will have just what it takes to overcome a strong Barking Elite team.

Group Twenty Eight
Newbold (Notts) will take on Wigan in the opening match of this group and if Wigan performs to their known abilities then Newbold could be in for a bit of a beating. If Wigan’s Ian davenport, Geoff Harrison, Glen Cahir and Lee Bridge hit top form then I can’t see Newbold having anything to offer in defence.

Unfortunately for Newbold I see their next opponents Surrey Warriors (Surrey) doing pretty much what Wigan did in the first match and winning by a comfortable margin.

Wigan verses Surrey Warriors is another of those matches that usually take place towards the latter end of the competition but here it will be to decide the group. The two sides are fairly evenly matched and it’s quite likely to end up a slogging match but I think that when we get to the end Wigan will throw the final punch and will knock Surrey Warriors out of the event.

Group Twenty Nine
Dinnington (East Yorkshire) lead by Captain Vince Ley take on Alan Sagar’s Wareham (Dorset). This should be a fairly even match with neither team likely to show the other a clean pair of heels, by the time the match gets down to the final stages Wareham should be in the position to deal Dinnington the killer blow and force them to play again against the Worcester Dream Team.

Worcester Dream Team is a quality outfit and should have no trouble in dispatching Dinnington to the proverbial early bath. This will mean that Worcester Dream Team and Wareham will fight it out to see who will be the group winner.

Both teams will fancy their chances of winning this match but only one will. My feeling is that Worcester Dream Team will just have the edge over Wareham and will therefore qualify for the knockout stage.

Group Thirty
The opening match between Godalming ‘A’ and Lye & Stourbridge really should really  be the final match in this group not the opening one as both teams have a long establish history in the Interleague. The winner of this match will have gone a long way to giving them the best chance of coming out of this group as the winners. This is a real tough one to call and may well end up as a draw but if a winner has to be chosen then Godalming the most likely to win the match based on the recent form of the two teams in the Interleague.

This means that Mirfield (West Yorkshire) will take on Lye & Stourbridge. Lye & Stourbridge may well be so dejected after losing to Godalming that they may not treat this match with the seriousness that it deserves and that may be to Mirfields advantage. However Lye & Stourbridge will probably view the match with the idea that they are not not dead and buried if this is the case then Lye & Stourbridge should run out the winners but this will then mean that they will be relying on Mirfield to beat Godalming in order to still have a chance in winning the group but that is not likely to happen.

Godalming will only ned the draw to go through so they will probably clock up the frames needed to secure a spot in the last 32 with ease mainly because Godalming should be too strong to allow Mirfield to get anywhere near them.

Group Thirty One
James Griffin’s Bedford ‘A’ (Bedfordshire) start heir campaign against Shropshire’s Dawley ‘B’ I would expect Bedford with Mark Sedman, Terry Tievans and Trevor Simms to be a little too much for Dawley ‘B’ to handle.

This should mean that Dawley ‘B’ the take on Prince of Wales (West Yorkshire). Prince of Wales have Yuk Sun Lee, Andy Grice and P Watkins in their line up which should be enough to see them past Dawley ‘B’ and set up a group decider between themselves and Bedford ‘A’.

This should be another interesting match to watch with both teams being fairly evenly balanced. When it comes down to it I think that Bedford will have just enough to edge it over Prince of Wales but it could be another one of those matches that needs a playoff to decide who goes through.

Group Thirty Two
The final group sees P.J.'s Stourbridge take on Nuneaton first up and in my opinion there will be only one winner. With P.J.'s Stourbridge’s Rob Chilton, Neil Raybone, Paul Dunkey, Pat Ward and Richie Foxall they will out class either teams in this group.

The second match will see Waterloo take on Nuneaton, this match could go down to the wire but I think that it will be irrelevant. As the final match will see Waterloo take on P.J.'s Stourbridge and will have much the same outcome as the first mach and will see P.J.'s Stourbridge into the last 32.

Tom Fahy
Tournament Director

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