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Tournament Description
Will your team win the Interleague 2004?

Well the first thing to say is you’ve got to be in it to win it so if your Interleague team failed to qualify for this year’s event then the answer is simply………. NO

But what if your team is one of the lucky 96 who will battle it out over the weekend of the 17th & 18th of April. No one will be going to lose but the reality is that 80 of the 96 teams that start the event will be out by Saturday evening. The odds of your team being one of the 16 still in the event are slim. However, you can tell with a high degree of accuracy the teams that will be still be in there fighting. Why is this possible to do this?

The 96 teams that compete in this event can, with considerable justification, claim to be the top 96 Interleague teams in the country. There are around 400 registered Interleague teams playing a full set of fixtures throughout the year with only one aim- to win their Interleague or if that proves beyond their grasp then to finish high enough in their counties Interleague to get an automatic invitation to the Interleague finals and in most cases that means a top three finish.

It doesn’t take much to realise that when you are good enough to finish in the top three of a counties Interleague you are a pretty strong team. When 96 of these top three teams come together in one national competition you would to be pretty hard nosed not to concede that the best Interleague teams in the country will be there.

Contained in those teams are some of the cream of this nations pool players. It’s alright saying that but just who are these players who are so great, well just about every team has at least one professional or top county A player in their line up. You have the top professionals like Darren Appleton, Chris Melling, (Triangle), then come the UK Tour players Paul Dunkey & Rob Chilton (P.J.’s Stourbridge), Ian Hubbard & Ian Kettell (Rochester), lee Kendall, Gaz Potts & Carl Morris (Trent Trophies) Mexborough will have Alistair Bailie & Martin Hazell, Brighton have Morray Dolan & Darren Welfare.

There will be a host of current England Internationals such as Andy Barnett (Rugby), Lee Clough (All’oas), Andy Breen (Imperial 1), Lee Howitt & Bayden Jackson (Sun Valley) & Karl Boyce. Interestingly enough virtually the entire current England team will be there representing their teams. Then there is a whole host of ex England Internationals Such as Bob Love & Graham Berrutto (Kettering). Then there are the County players as well as the best of England’s local league players.

That little lot is just the tip of the iceberg believe me, for every one named above there is a whole raft of players that could have been named.

Going back to the original question of what are a team’s chances winning the event, on the face of it the best odds you can quote are 96-1 against but that argument can’t be used when you talk about teams like Trent Trophies A, Imperial 1 & Triangle (ex Morley) because they are real contenders and are more likely than not to make their way to the semi finals at the very least.

They way to work out a team’s chances of winning the event is not to look too deeply at who the players in a team are, it’s better to look at a team’s overall consistency. Of course it’s the players that win the frames but teams evolve over time with the players coming and going. In a one off event you would look at the players as the main determining factor in a team’s likelihood of doing well. But when it comers to teams that do well year on year it has to be more to than just the players. Just think how many times your team has not been able to field its strongest line up or been missing key players due holidays family events or just a reluctance to play in a fixture.

This is where the teams show their class by still doing well despite the loss of key players and this is what gives teams their mantle of invincibility. There is in my view four distinct phases to a teams progression from being no hopers to title contenders and each of the phases takes time to achieve for 99.9% of teams. There are no short cuts to winning ways in the Interleague. It’s a bit like an apprenticeship that has to be served before you can go on to bigger and better things.

So what are these phases? The first phase to becoming Interleague winners is to qualify to go to Yarmouth on a regular basis. Obvious as it may seem, just think about it, it is a major milestone in any team’s progress to know that your team is good enough to regularly do well enough in the county’s Interleague. The reward for this consistency is to be part of the Interleague finals more times than not. This in turn means that if you do well in the Interleague It becomes the “norm” to qualify and anything less is seen as a failure and qualifying gives the team a feeling of achievement.

Once you are in Yarmouth your team is in with 95 other teams that have also won their way through to the finals and this is where phase two kicks in. Its one thing to qualify to play in the national finals of the Interleague, however it’s quite another thing to be the team that wins the group and progress to the last 32. Yes, lots of first timers do win their group but they rarely make it any farther into the event. In addition, you can only be first timers once. Once your team has played enough times at Yarmouth and won its group a few times the team starts to believe that is good enough to expect to win the group stage by right. That increase in expectation feeds its way through the team and players raise their game and the team moves on to phase three.

Once a team has moved on to phase three, phase three is when a team expects to play in the last thirty two as a matter of course. Once your team has attained phase three, your team has reached a position where it is now capable of giving the top teams a fight.
Teams that reach the last thirty two or last sixteen are usually the teams with the experience of being there before and knowing what to expect. It may seem hard to believe to teams that struggle to get out of the group stage but there is a vast difference in the standard of play from the group stage and the knock out section. In order for a team to be able to compete at this level they will have had to suffer the unpleasant felling of being dumped out of the event by teams with a similar skill level to theirs but who have more experience than them at this level. This will happen a few times before any team gains the experience needed to move from being a team that loses at this stage to one that starts to believe that their team can compete and win at this level on a regular basis. Once a team has reached this phase it can be considered a “top sixteen” team, Moving from a last 32 to a last 16 team is not as great as the shift from group winners to last 32 but it does mean your team will have to move up a gear or two.

The fourth and final stage is to become a “top eight” team this means that your team has reached a stage where it has everything required to win the event. All the teams that have attained this status are quite capable of beating each other and have spent years building a team their team to this level.

Once your team is “top eight” the only thing that stands between your team and winning the event is luck, yes luck, no matter how good your team is when you play at a standard where every team can beat the other the only real difference between them is which of the teams gets the all important “rub of the green”.

All of the teams and players in these teams historically are well used to playing under the kind of pressure that the later stages of a major event produces. Of course every person on this planet can play at this level. What is meant by the word 'play' in this instance is to play well at this level and not let the nerves get to you.

There you have it you can, using the above, gauge what your realistic chances are of winning the event are. There are not that many teams who can pass all the tests mentioned but there are more than the eight that will reach the quarter finals.

Since I have spouted on about a theory I guess I ought to put it under public scrutiny and pick some teams that I believe have what it takes to reach the last eight of this event. In a months time we can see close I get.

The one thing I have not mentioned in all this prattle about consistency is the fact there is always the chance that although any team might not be able to compete in the consistancy stakes if your team’s name is on the cup consistency counts for nothing at all.

So here are my tips to reach the last eight, yes, I know there are more than eight listed but that just goes to show how many good teams there are going to be at Yarmouth, there are another 12 teams I could have listed.

Trent Trophies A
Imperial I
Triangle (ex Morley)
Sun Valley
P.J’s Stourbridge
Wolverhampton Wednesday
East Herts

Tom Fahy
Tournament Director

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