Last April saw Trent Trophies 'A' hang on to the title they
won the previous year but yet again their opponents Brighton 'A' forced them
to do it the hard way. Via a play off just like the Alloa's did the
previous year. Brighton took an early two frame lead through Skipper Morray
Dolan & Damien Campsey only to see Trent Trophies 'A' hit back through
Mark Blackshaw & Adam Davis. Mark Proto give Brighton a one frame lead
which was wiped out when Carl Morris, Daz Henshall & Nick Weller combined
to put Trent Trophies 'A' two frames to the good. Paul Bailey, Darren Welfare & Morray
Dolan hit Trent Trophies 'A' for three frames. Adam Davis then levelled the
score at 6-6 Damien Campsey again gave Brighton the edge only to see Carl
Morris level the match again. The tension was beginning to mount as Sean
Southen put Brighton one up again. Back came Trent Trophies 'A' through Nick
Weller. Brighton got to the winning line first when John Cairns Snr won
for his team. Daz Lightfoot pulled Trent Trophies 'A' out of the fire when
he levelled the match and set up the now familiar three frame simultaneous
play off decider.
Lee Kendal is one of Trent Trophies 'A’s play off players but he
was not there this time so they called on Carl Morris, Gaz Potts & Daz
Henshall to do the business for them. Brighton opted for Morray Dolan,
Darren Welfare & Damien Campsey to do their bidding. As an aside, just
look at the names in that line up. On the face of it Trent Trophies 'A' have
the more familiar names but the Brighton three were all “ Tour” level
experienced players and more than capable of ripping any team apart
As happened in the previous years final Trent Trophies 'A' greater “pressure
play off” experience came through again as they won the play off
this time without the need to complete the third frame winning 2-0
That as they say was then and this is now so what can we expect from this
years edition? Trent Trophies will be going for yet another win and will
be the team to beat, whilst the “god how close were we to knocking
out Trent Trophies 'A' brigade will be back to have another go. The
teams to watch out for will, of course, be teams like Triangle, Imperial,
Sun Valley, Ollerton, Dawley 'A', Brighton 'A', Alloa's, Leicester, P.J.’s
Stourbridge, Wolverhampton Wednesday, Brierley Hill, East Herts & Rochester
to name but a few.
If the draw did not pair any of the big boys together last year in the
group section the same can not be said this time round as there are some
meaty clashes in store, the one that stands out like a sore thumb is the
clash between Rochester, Sun Valley and Worcester Hotshots. What a group
that that is going to be. There is also Trent Trophies 'A' and Cambridge
in the same group. I think Cambridge are well capable of pushing Trent
Trophies 'A' all the way.
Like all the other years this wonderful event has been contested, by the
time the final black is potted there will be another rich chapter written
and one team will be the best team in England bar none, with the exception
of our national team. Although it would be interesting to see how the winning
team would fare against our national team.
Where better to start the overview on the draw than on Table One where
it is traditional that the winners open their defence of their title.
Trent Trophies (Staffordshire)
will be looking to make it three times on the spin when they open up their
campaign this time round. They have
now won 14 matches unbeaten in the national finals and if they do win it
for a third time it will take their tally to 21 unbeaten matches. When
you look at the Trent Trophies line up of Nick Weller, Lee Kendall, Gaz
Potts, Daz Henshall, Steve Bridgewood, Darren Lightfoot, Mark Blackshaw,
Adam Davis, Phil Condliffe and Carl Morris. You can understand why they
are so hard to beat. The first team to chance to spoil Trent Trophies 'A’s
day will be Cambridge. They too have a fair team and will be calling on
players of the calibre of Phil Harrison, Mick Conlon, Simon Rivers, Micky
Lambert and Andy Lindsay. With a line up like that this is going to be
a great match to watch and I think Cambridge will just fall short of a
memorable win. That said if Trent Trophies 'A' are a bit sluggish then with
the break dish power within the Cambridge team they could be out of sight
before Trent Trophies 'A' realise they are in trouble.
The third team in the group is Cumbria’s Ulverston led by Ian McMurdo,
they have been here before so will be under no illusions about how tough
it will be to get out of this group. Not only do you get the reigning champions
but a team in Cambridge that has the players to beat them in the same group
as you. For Ulverston’s players like Mark McMurdo, Phil Dixon and
Carl Ashley and the rest of the boys it will be the chance to play against
some of the best players in the country. How well they do will depend on
the nerves of their players when they actually have to face these big name
players across the table.
As much as I would like Cambridge or Ulverston to win this group just
because it would be great to see another team get a chance to progress
in a group that contains Trent Trophies 'A'. I can’t see any further
than Trent Trophies 'A' winning the group and Cambridge finishing second
Group Two’s opening tussle will be between one of the Interleague’s
grand old teams Surrey’s Tolworth and a new team to the Interleague
Lincolnshire’s Regency. Dave Coults Regency team will have to perform
well to get any change from Tolworth whilst not at the level they were
a few years ago do have some big guns to call on. Players like Jason Norris,
Cliff Eastwood, Andy Sutherland and Frank Strivens. Regency will have trouble
hanging on to Tolworth although Regency should have enough to give Tolworth
a match but ultimately I believe that Tolworth will come through this match.
Third team in this group is Durham’s Crook led by Leslie Scott,
who will probably face a demoralised Regency team, that said I feel that
Regency will just about have enough left in their tanks to negotiate the
Crook resistance. But they will need good performances from their backbone
players’ Graham Burroughs and Graham Miller to do so.
The result of this match will make it easier for Tolworth to qualify as
they will only need to avoid defeat to win the group.
For Darren Tinkler and Cliff Owens of Crook the option will be to retire
to the bar and enjoy some commiseration juice.
Worcester Dream Team from unsurprisingly Worcestershire with Des Johnston,
Mark Stevenson and Darrell Barham in their line up have to take on Ollerton
(Nottinghamshire). Ollerton are packed with big guns like Kev Seaman Ex
England International, Gary McLeod, Nick Jones and Scott Higgins.
Ollerton have a long and well established history in the event and always
put in a steady performance that will usually see them to at least the
quarter finals and as good as Worcester Dream Team might be the greater
experience of Ollerton will keep the exuberance of Worcester Dream Team
in check and will win the opening match with ease.
This will mean Howden (East Yorkshire) with Darren Malcolmson, Garry Wilson
and Dean Logan will have a good chance to set up a group decider with Ollerton.
This will depend more on Worcester Dream Team reaction to being beaten
in the opening match. If they are felling sorry for themselves then I think
that Howden will pounce, if Worcester Dream Team keep going then I think
they will beat Howden.
Worcester Dream Team should in reality have too much for Howden to cope
with and so hand Ollerton the group whilst finishing second themselves.
Group Three see St Albans Saints
(Hertfordshire) take on Afford Elite (Staffordshire) this will be good
match because last time out the Saints
got through the group stage with what is essentially a very young team.
They have England U21 player Brendan Colyer as well as new tour player
Karl Beatie. Afford Elite by contrast have vast experience in their ranks
with players like Adrian Gomm and Darren Shone. This one hangs on the “no
fear“ style of play of St Albans Saints contrasting with the more
sedate style of play from Afford Elite. When it comes down to it Afford
Elite will secure the win on the back of errors in dishing made by St Albans
Milton Keynes 'A' await the losers of match one and since I believe that
will be St Albans Saints it will be another tussle of no fear verses conservatism.
Milton Keynes have Adam Marlow, Paul Sedman & Scott Willers in their
line up and how well St Albans Saints do will depend on the performances
these three put in. St Albans Saints just won’t in the end have what
it takes to edge out Milton Keynes but they will entertain any onlookers.
This means a head to head clash for the group between Milton Keynes and
Afford Elite this is a real tough one to predict as the sides are very
evenly matched but since I have to go for one of them I would plumb for
Milton Keynes to win the group possibly after a play off with Afford Elite
being the runners up in the group.
This group is tough one to predict because
it has three teams with different attributes Mexborough (South Yorkshire)
take on Croydon (Surrey). Last
year I tipped them to beat Trent Trophies 'A' in the group stage but they
never really got close, this time the draw is a little kinder to them. With
players like Tommy Farrelly, John Astil, Alistair Bailey, Terry Hunt, Glyn
Khan, Gavin Preskey, John Waller and Daz Ward you have to have this team
down as one of the pre event favourites. That said they have yet to put
in a performance, as a team, that does justice to the players in the team.
It will be interesting to see just how Croydon cope with playing players
with the track record of some of the Mexborough players. However they cope
as individuals I can’t see Croydon coming away from the tie with
Having lost the first match Croydon will face Gareth Hibbott’s Preston
(Lancashire) and Preston too has some big match players in the shape of
Neil Davey and John Rimmer. I think that Croydon will lose this match too.
Leaving a winner takes all showdown between Preston & Mexborough. What
a pressure match this will be both teams will feel that they should go
through, but only one can. When it comes down to it I feel that Mexborough
with Terry Hunt, Daz Ward and Gavin Preskey will have the power to just
get past a spirited Preston. For Mexborough it will be the chance to make
amends for the performance they put in last year.
Leicester (Leicestershire) will start their 2005 assault on this event
with a tough opener against Harlow (Essex) Leicester are past masters at
getting past most obstacles that the Interleague can throw at them. This
is down to the quality of players at their disposal. Steve Robertshaw Mark
Selby and Dave Wileman would make the starting line up in most teams. Harlow
has their fair share of experience in their line up too. Players like Adrian
Parsons, Gary Plowman and Trieve Rolfe.
Getting anything out of this match will be tough for Harlow because although
they do have the big match players to give Leicester a tough match I don’t
think they have enough of them to overhaul Leicester over 18 frames.
Harlow will then take on Romney Marsh (Kent) led by Debbie Johnson, one
of our current batch of quality lady players. However, it will take more
than just Debbie Johnson to beat Harlow so if they are to get anything
out of this match they will need top drawer performances from their regular
players like Guy Ruddy and Bob Woolcombe. In the end, I feel that Harlow
just have the edge in the big player stakes and will beat Romney Marsh.
This will leave Romney Marsh with the undesirable task of taking out Leicester
if they are going to get out of this group. Romney Marsh will give Leicester
a game but will run out of steam towards the end of the match just as it
reaches to point of no return. Romney Marsh will have used their match
winners to get to the point where they can win but Leicester will have
kept some of their big boys in reserve for just this occasion and will
run out winners of this match and the group.
The world famous Alloa's (Lancashire) start another campaign with
a match against Worthing A (Sussex) I don’t know too much about Worthing
but I know a lot about the Alloa's, as does anyone connected with the Interleague,
Worthing will have to play their “A” game to have any chance
of winning this match. That is not meant as derogatory to Worthing it’s
an indication of how powerful the Alloa's are. There aren’t too many
teams with the all round fire power of the Lancashire outfit.
The Alloa's undisputed top dog and all round nuisance is Lee Clough but
beneath this they have a porn star brat in Dave Chalmers. They also have
Karl Boyes and Matty Morris to name but a few.
Try as I might I can’t see Worthing having what it take to oust
the Alloa's. That said, John Webb and Martin Lavender as captain can be
the undoing of the Alloa's but if they do achieve that it will be one of
the all time great Interleague performances.
Leicester County will be waiting for the losers of the above match and
if I am right they will be playing Worthing. This will be a much more even
tussle for the teams involved Leicester has Neil Bassford and Charlene
Gibson in their line up. So although I believe this will be an even match
Leicester should still come out on top and set up the group decider.
Leicester has been here many times before and will know all about the
Alloa's track record. With all their experience I don’t think they
will have what it takes to beat the Alloa's but although they will not
qualify they will be in runners up spot.
Grantham (Lincolnshire) had a dream start to
their Interleague life when they reached the semi finals losing out to
Brighton. This is now the time
to consolidate on what was built last year to make them it one of the top
Interleague teams not just a one hit wonder. They start this year against
Folkestone (Kent) who will be doing their best to get through to the knock
out stage at Grantham’s expense. Grantham with Captain Craig Moore,
Matt Goodale and Shane Balding being available should really have a bit
too much fire power for Folkestone.
Folkestone will then have to take on and beat Penrith (Cumbria) if they
are to have any chance of getting out of the group. Penrith however know
what it’s all about as they have been here many times before and
whilst they have yet to set the event on fire they are no push overs. This
will be an interesting tussle as John Elliott tries to steer his team past
Folkestone so they can have a real pop at Grantham. Whilst Folkestone will
not just roll over they will however find getting the better of Penrith
a frame or two too much.
When Penrith take on Grantham it will be to see which of the two will
get to fight again in the group stage and which of them will go out. Whilst
Penrith will give it a real go I can’t see Grantham letting go to
easily. By the time this match gets to the half way stage Grantham will
almost be there
Chalk Farm (London) kick this
group off when they take on Goole (East Yorkshire) Caesar Contri’s
team which has Frankie Gillen, Alan Boltwood and Matt Francois. Goole
will attempt to counter this threat with Geoff
Rankin, Darren Copperwheat and Paul Fox. Both these teams are more than
capable of beating the other so it is going to be a real ding dong battle.
But I feel that Chalk Farm will just edge out Goole.
When Goole take on Dawley B (Shropshire) they will find that life at this
level is really tough as Dawley B show that are more than a handful and
win the match with relative ease and set up a group decider with Chalk
Like the opener this will be a real see saw battle with neither team being
able to land the knockout punch but obviously some one will be victorious
and I think it will be Dawley B
On the very next table will be Dawley A so both
Shropshire teams can support each other or send across friendly banter
as the case may be. Dawley A
is a team that expect to do well in this event and history will not deny
that that is usually the case. Kendal (Cumbria) will have their hands full
trying to fight off the advance of Shropshire’s finest. Ian Preston
will have to pick his team with care is they are going to keep up with
the pace that Dawley will set. In the end though I feel that Dawley will
prove too strong for Kendal.
Thurrock (London) will no doubt have witnessed the power of Dawley A and
will be really up for the fight but first they will have to get past the
losing team of the opener Kendal. The match between Kendal and Thurrock
will not be easy for either team to win but the prize of having a pop at
Dawley might prove to be the spur that lifts to make the big effort needed.
When Dawley take on Thurrock it will be with calm expectancy from Dawley
and it will up to Thurrock to ruffle their feathers. If Thurrock doesn’t
set their stall out from the very beginning of this match then Dawley will
use the fire power of Dale & David Blagborough as well as Craig Reynolds
and Simon Yates to blast their way past Thurrock. So that means that if
they are to avoid this battering Ricky Rhead, Jason Webb and Ricky Lazarus
will have to perform to their potential. But my feelings go with the greater
experience of Dawley to come through.
Grove Elite (West Yorkshire)
take on Ely (Cambridgeshire) on the first match in this group as I understand
it Grove Elite will not be fielding
a full strength team and so will be at a disadvantage from the start. Ely
will be no push over even for full strength Grove Elite. I can see Grove
Elite putting up a spirited performance but Ely with Dale Parson, Iian
Aldous & Josh Barker should make the advantage count in their favour.
Once Grove Elite have been beaten by Ely I think that P.J.'s Stourbridge
(West Midlands) will put the final nail in Grove Elite’s coffin.
P.J.'s Stourbridge can call on the services of Paul Dunkey, Pat Ward, Rob
Chilton, Neil Raybone and Ritchie Foxall to name but a few. With all due
respect to Grove Elite it’s difficult to see how they will compete
with P.J.'s Stourbridge. At full strength they have a chance but weakened
it’s the bar or town for Grove Elite once this match is finished.
When P.J.'s Stourbridge take on Ely it will be much the same as it was
with Grove Elite a spirited battle but spirit alone won’t be enough
to take our P.J.'s Stourbridge so it’s P.J.'s Stourbridge to win
this group at a canter.
One of the grand old teams of the Interleague, Wigan (Lancashire) takes
on take on one of the newest in Aylesbury (Buckinghamshire). Wigan has
Ian Davenport, Geoff Harrison, Shaun Dawber and Lee Bridge. Aylesbury have
the ever present Larry Barker and Jamie Whittaker. Wigan have a long history
of getting out of the group stage, indeed a few years ago they were one
of the top teams, so I think that Wigan will have too much for Aylesbury
to cope with and will set up a group win with this win over Aylesbury.
In a twist of fate when Aylesbury take on Bedford (Bedfordshire) in the
second match of this group it’s about as close to a local derby that
you can get in the group section there is only about 20 miles between the
two teams so the chances are that a few of the players will probably know
each other. The reason that is so rare for teams this close (geographically)
together to play each other is that teams from the same county are not
allowed to play each other in the group stage. But this is one of those
rare occasions that two local teams are in different neighbouring counties.
Darren Reese’s Luton along with Mark Kempston and Paul Cox will
be another tough match for Aylesbury but in this match I think they will
have what it will take to beat Luton but it will only be by the odd frame.
Wigan will secure their passage to the knockout section by beating Luton
or if not beating them amass enough frames to ensure they can’t be
beaten in the group.
Wolverhampton Wednesday (West Midlands) will take on Lowestoft Elite (Suffolk)
in the opening match in this group and Shaun Eaton Lees will have a point
to prove this time round as they were not happy with their exit last year.
With players like Kev Cresswell, and Sunjay Pudden in their line up it
will be tough for any team to get the better of them. Lowestoft Elite have
one or two handy players as well in Stephen Lish and Sam Bemment and if
skipper Phil Dyer uses them properly they will give Wolverhampton Wednesday
a great game. I still think that Wolverhampton Wednesday will come through
in the end but it will be close.
Watching on with eager anticipation will be Oldham (G.M.C.) who if I am
right will be taking on Lowestoft Elite which should be a tight match with
Lowestoft Elite trying to salvage their chances of making progress whilst
for Oldham it will be the chance to have a meaningful clash with Wolverhampton
Wednesday. Lowestoft Elite will not give in easily but I think that the
prize of having a head to head match with one of the all time greats in
Wolverhampton Wednesday will be enough to guide them to victory.
Oldham have a steady squad with players like Paul Wood and Glen Shaw but
Wolverhampton Wednesday have the experience having been there and done
that so I think that Wolverhampton Wednesday will have enough in reserve
to get through this group with comfort.
Surrey Warriors (Surrey) take
on St Neots and although St Neots are a good side I think that Surrey Warriors
with their greater experience here
will have enough to take out the Cambridgeshire side. Captain Rob McGowern
can call on Martin & Richard Lambert to steady the ship if the going
St Neots will then be taking on another team with a long history in the
event in Lye & Stourbridge (West Midlands). Lye & Stourbridge have
their own version of French & Saunders but I doubt that St Neots will
get any comedy sketches out of them because they are a team who expects
to reach the knockout stage and they will take a step closer to doing it
again when they beat St Neots.
This will mean a fight to the death for Lye & Stourbridge & Surrey
Warriors to see who is going on to earn some money and who will be going
away to plan next year’s assault on the Interleague. It’s going
to be a close call as both teams will be expecting to beat the other. When
it comes down to who will be the stronger over the eighteen frames then
my feelings go for Lye & Stourbridge because of their track record.
Wolverhampton Wednesday B (West
Midlands) start their campaign against Barking Phoenix (Essex). I once
made the mistake of writing off Barking
Phoenix, they then went on to reach the quarter finals. Their leader, the
illustrious Capt Zed, has reminded me of this error in judgement on a number
of occasions, it’s impossible to be right every time. All I say to
him is I get it right more than I get it wrong. Back to the match Wolverhampton
Wednesday B and Barking Phoenix are two teams that have for years been
under the shadow of more powerful “A” teams but are pretty
good in their own right. My feelings on this one are that Barking Phoenix
will be too strong for Wolverhampton Wednesday B.
This will leave Wolverhampton Wednesday B in a precarious position. They
will have to take on beat Kettering (Northamptonshire) if they are not
to go home. This is going to be a tall order because Kettering has some
quality players in their line up such as Graham Berruto and Bob Love. Kettering
are beatable but Wolverhampton Wednesday skipper Fred Banister will need
to call on all his experience of selecting teams to come up with the correct
mixture to pull this one off.
In the end I think that Kettering will win the match and then have to
take on Barking Phoenix for the group and at the risk of upsetting Zed
again I am going for Kettering. Kettering will have to be wary of players
like James Shademher and Steve Adams otherwise it will be Barking Phoenix
Trent Trophies 'B' (Staffordshire)
take on relative new team Dinnington (South Yorkshire) Trent Trophies have
so much experience at this level
it’s hard to see Dinnington coming through this one. Trent Trophies
'A' have Kev Lane, Chris Barrs and Tim Lawton and that to me means they should
be too strong for Dinnington.
It won’t get any easier for Dinnington either as they will then
be taking on Bedford 'A' (Bedfordshire) Bedford have James Griffin, Paul
Frith, Mark Francis, Trevor Simms & Terry Tievens all of whom have
around the pool scene for years so again, I can’t see Dinnington
getting too much out of this match either.
The group will be decided with a top clash between Bedford 'A' and Trent
Trophies 'B'. these two teams are very evenly balanced so it’s difficult
to pick a winner but I will go for Bedford 'A' but not with ant real confidence.
E.H.P.L. (Hertfordshire) take on Wantage (Oxfordshire) in the opening
match of this group and it should be a tough one for either team to win.
Wantage has Tim Williamson and Tom Weeks who have plenty of experience.
E.H.P.L. has a quality line up with players like Matt Humphrey, Kenny Barraclough
and Ashley Seeley but a tendency to under achieve. This time however I
think the balance of the side is better and will give Wantage a real fight
and eventually get the better of them
Wantage will then be taking on Renegade 'B' (Berkshire) and being a newish
team to this event it is going to be tough for them to get very much out
of Wantage so I think Wantage will take this opportunity to show E.H.P.L
that it’s not all over.
When Renegade takes on E.H.P.L it should be a formality for E.H.P.L because
all they will have to do is avoid defeat. This takes away an enormous amount
of pressure from teams when they know they don’t have to win the
match to go through. They basically get two chances whilst Wantage will
only have one and it won’t be in their hands.
Holderness (East Yorkshire) take on Brierly Hill (West Midlands) and Peter
Everington .will need to get his team selection right as Brierly Hill led
by Dave Preece are a quality line up and usually can be found still playing
on Sunday. If Holderness play to their top game then I can see them running
Brierly Hill to the wire before losing out.
Holderness will then take on Ipswich Independent (Suffolk) and with much
the same result Ipswich Independent with Paul & Mark Keeble, Alan Mower,
Ned Acton, Richard Twomey, Matt Purnell and of course “Punchy” a
man with a thought for every occasion and an eye for the beautiful sights
of the Interleague.
The group decider between Ipswich Independent and Brierly Hill will not
be a classic and I think one of the few matches in this year’s draw
that stands out as Play Off material. If it does do to a Play Off that
will be just as close at I think the match will be but with Brierly Hill
winning by the odd frame.
Maidstone (Kent) will face Coventry 'A'
in the opening match of this group and Coventry 'A' will start as strong
favourites to win this match and with
Tim Singh and Surrender Singh, Steve Mullan to call on why wouldn’t
they? Paul Cox skipper of Maidstone doesn’t have that kind of player
to call on but they do have a solid line up. But I still feel Coventry 'A'
won’t be making any slip ups in this match.
That means that Leek (Staffordshire) will be taking on Maidstone and although
Leek are not as strong as Coventry 'A'. However, they are a strong enough
team to give most teams a real match. Nick Burton knows how to pick winning
teams and I think he will pick a winning team this time round too.
So it’s Coventry 'A' v Leek for the group and although
Leek is a good
team I can’t see them having what it will take to kick Coventry 'A'
out of the event. Especially since Coventry 'A' have a history of qualifying
from the group and doing well in the knockout section as well
Village Pool League (Northamptonshire) takes on Gosport (Hampshire) in
what appears to be an evenly matched tie. Village Pool League has Ant Floyer
to lead them and has the services of Ritchie Mathews and Mark Oliver. Steve
Parker captain of Gosport has Alan Overy, Neal Privet and Peter Scott.
This one looks like it will go the distance and may even end up being a
draw. But for the purposes of this write up I will go for Gosport.
This will mean that Village Pool League will be talking on Shrewsbury
(Shropshire) and this will not be an easy match for Village Pool League
as Shrewsbury are a very good team indeed. They have in their line up Kevin
Jackson, Malcolm McVean and Richard Morris.
I think that Shrewsbury will have a bit too much for Village Pool League
to handle so it will set up the group decided between Shrewsbury and Gosport
and unfortunately for Gosport it will go the same way as the Village Pool
League v Shrewsbury match. That is to say that although Gosport will keep
pace with Shrewsbury for most of the match but when it get towards the
end the better strength in depth of Shrewsbury will come into play and
will win the group for them.
Table Twenty One
This Group’s opening match involves a team that is one of the doyens
of the Interleague Barking Elite (Essex). They face City Of Coventry (Warwickshire),
Steve Shelton has a good team in his City Of Coventry but Barking Elite
are a team that historically do well and I see no reason to think this
year will be any different with Gary Parsons, Keith Hannon, Steve Benjafield
and Rob Gould in Elite’s line up they would expect to do well too
Andover Swallows (Hampshire) are the third team in this group led by Rob
Rasey. They have had a few good runs in this event in their time and I
would expect them to get past City Of Coventry to set up a winner takes
all head to head with Barking Elite
As with a lot of other clashes in the group section by the time you get
to the final match it’s very hard to call but I feel that Barking
Elite will just about have enough to get past Andover Swallows and book
themselves a spot in the last 32
Table Twenty Two
This group has three teams
that could be described as old timers, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are all old it means all three have
a long history in the event. In terms of which of the three is best equipped
to qualify Radstock (Somerset) would appear to be best placed. Friar Tuck
(Nottinghamshire) will have a big say in whether I am right or not as they
take them first. We also have Medway (Kent). Leon Hills’ Friar Tuck
boys will have to perform well to take out Radstock but it is not an impossible
task. The task of providing the backbone to the team effort will be Leon
Hill, James Hill and Gavin Johnson being the ever present players in qualifying
That said, I still feel that it is more likely that Radstock will run
out the winners so that will mean that Medway take on Friar Tuck and like
the opening match there is no real favourite in this one but for what its
worth I think that Friar Tuck will run out the winners in this one but
they will have to wait until the final section before the victory is confirmed.
That will mean that Radstock will only need the draw to qualify when they
play Medway and as stated earlier it’s a lot easier to be yourself
when you only need a draw rather than having to plan to ensure the win.
Or in simple terms you get two chances to go through instead of just one
which is why it is so important to win your first match. If you don’t
you will be up against it as I believe Medway will be.
Table Twenty Three
This group is another that is not too easy to predict but Ilkeston (Derbyshire)
take on Thursday Club League (Northamptonshire) in the opener and this
is where the group will be won or lost not necessarily in this match but
the winner will be in a strong position and I thinks that Ilkeston will
be the winners because they are relative new boys on the National Interleague
scene and will have a point to prove. Whether Ilkeston win or not will
fall on the shoulders of Captain Mark Goacher, Davis and Cauwood as the
players who did not miss a match in the qualifying matches.
Terry Billingham’s team Thursday Club League are a team that play
on this stage with some regularity but as yet have yet to make their mark
on the event and that is the main reason for going for Ilkeston in this
match. If Thursday Club League are to win this match then their ever presents
Terry Billingham, Marc Brown & Andy Northfield will be the instigators.
Gosport 'B' is also well capable of winning this group and if they beat
the losers of the first match then I think they will have set the ground
work to win the group.
I expect that it will be Gosport 'B' and Ilkeston who fight it out for the
right of passage to the knock out section. Gosport will rely on Skipper
Dean Winter, Matt Overy, Dave Ginn & Chrystal Sedman to do their bidding.
This one will be interesting to watch as its going to be close and may
well come down to who holds their nerve best when the mistakes start to
creep in. I am going to go for Ilkeston to win the group there.
Table Twenty Four
In all draws there tends
to be what people call the group of death, this for this event can safely
lay claim to being the one. The opening match
is going to be a blood bath as two of the mightiest teams in the event
lock horns. Sun Valley (Nottinghamshire) take on Rochester (Kent) and no
one would argue if this match was a final as both teams are top eight material.
Rochester has Willie Anderson, Martin Prime, Jamie Kitchen, Neil Ward,
Ian Hubbard, Jordan Church and Ian Kettel. This will be countered by the
strike force of Sun Valley containing Jim I’Anson, Bayden Jackson,
Lee Howitt, Liam Stanley Nick McEvoy and Clint I’Anson.
If you are in the main hall at 9am and have nothing else to do take a
stroll over to table 24 and be entertained by these two teams as they go
head to head one thing is for sure one of them is not going to make to
the knockout section. On paper Rochester would seem to be the favourites
to win but Sun Valley are resilient and beaten many a team by sheer determination.
Also on recent form Sun Valley have a better track record so Imperial I
going to say that Sun Valley will win this match and give Rochester a real
problem in the process.
Rochester will then take on Worcester Hot Shots (Worcestershire) knowing
that they will have to batter Worcester Hot Shots and hope that Worcester
Hot Shots then go to beat Sun Valley. Nice plan but Worcester Hot Shots
aren’t exactly no hopers so Rochester may well find that although
they win the mach against Worcester Hot Shots it will not be enough to
stop the match between Sun Valley and Worcester Hot Shots being a mere
formality for Sun Valley.
Having said all that the quality in all three teams is such that the permutations
for this group are endless all three could win the group and all three
could finish bottom it will be that tight and that will make it a great
group to watch if you are neutral.
Table Twenty Five
Lowestoft Town Select (Suffolk)
take on Finchley (London) Lowestoft Town Select led by Keith Peck are not
a team known for getting through the group
stages at the same time Finchley have not got much of a Interleague history
so this will be a close one. Finchley with Stephen Wallace as a tour player
along with Ian Clarke, Nick Pellatt and Simon Fusedale certainly have the
players to win this tussle and despite Lowestoft Town Select having Dave
Arnold in their line up I can’t see Lowestoft Town Select having
the strength in depth to overcome Finchley.
Lowestoft Town Select should have a bit more joy when they take on Leicester
Foxes (Leicestershire) but it will be close with Dave Arnold’s three
wins being the difference between the two teams.
From there it should be relatively easy for Finchley to make it through
to the next phase of the tournament.
Table Twenty Six
On the next table to Finchley will be
stable mates from London the majestic Imperial I. this group is a lot easier
to predict as Clacton led by James
Hazelton will not be able to handle the awesome fire power of Imperial.
Clacton will need top drawer performances from the Davies clan Adam, Alex & Russell
as well as Roy Aldis if they are to get any change from Imperial who have
Dean Wisher, Andy Breen, Ramesh Gokhul, J.J. Faul, John Wylie, Ben Clements,
Darren Suchley, Brian Evans, John Traini and Sean Halligan. If that line
up doesn’t scare the c***p out of you then you know nothing about
Clacton and Nuneaton (Warwickshire) tie will be a much more even affair
but sadly for Clacton I think that Nuneaton will be too strong for them
there won’t be quite the class difference there was in the Imperial
! Match enough to say that it will be Nuneaton and Imperial I for the group
Nuneaton will be stiffer opposition for Imperial I but even with Matt
Cooke in their line up I can’t see any other team but Imperial I
winning this group.
Table Twenty Seven
This table kicks of with
Rugby (Warwickshire) taking on Long Eaton (Derbyshire) Rugby are one of
the older teams in the Interleague whilst Long Eaton are
one of the newer ones. Rugby has Pete Evens, Andy Barnett, Roger Hunt and
Johnny Webb in their line up whilst for Long Eaton it will be a team performance
that will get them to where they want to go. Even with the exuberance of
the Long Eaton team I can’t see the experience at Rugby’s disposal
letting them down.
If Rugby was a bridge to far for Long Eaton their next opponents are somewhere
in the distance just out of sight. That’s because their opponents
are Triangle (West Yorkshire) for Long Eaton it will be an exercise in
seeing how many frames they can take of Triangle before the West Yorkshire
boys reach and pass the winning line. This is not meant as a derogatory
comment about Long Eaton as the result would be pretty much the same regardless
of who was playing them.
Darren Appleton, on the day skipper of Triangle, has Shane Appleton, Chris
Melling, Mick Hill, Ben Finch, Rob Wilson as well as Andy Richardson to
choose from although they will be without the services of Eric Docherty
who will be unavailable for selection. Even with him missing Triangle will
be a force to be reckoned with.
Once Long Eaton has been despatched it will be the turn of Rugby to be
the sacrificial lambs. Rugby should be able to give Triangle a bloody nose
but when it comes down to it the Triangle heavy weights will eventually
land the knock out blow to Rugby
Table Twenty Eight
Leicester Lions (Leicestershire) start their campaign with a tough match
against Crawley 'B' (Sussex) the Lions have the Leicestershire ladies team
engine room as part of their team so they will not be push overs for any
team. Carolyn Bowkett has the delightful Charlene Gibson, as well as Chris
Kirk and Stephanie Kirk to call on. Crawley will counter this threat with
John Davidson, Glen Jackson and Mark Jacob. All in all this will be a close
match with Crawley coming out just on top leaving Leicester Lions to take
on Milton Keynes 'B'.
Milton Keynes 'B' ((Buckinghamshire) will be a much tougher challenge for
Leicester Lions than Crawley 'B' were and I can see Milton Keynes taking
control of this match from the word go leaving Leicester Lions knowing
that their 2005 campaign in a somewhat distressed position. Milton Keynes
should then go on to fight Crawley for the group. Crawley having struggled
to beat Leicester Lions will have to up their game if they are to get anywhere
close to Milton Keynes 'B'. personally I don’t think they will up their
game enough to overcome Milton Keynes 'B' with John Clavey, Alex Shennan
and Tony Haggerty all combining to block out Crawley
Table Twenty Nine
East Herts (Hertfordshire)
take on Renegade 'A' (Berkshire) in the opening match of this group and it
should be a tough one for either team to win.
Renegade 'A' has Robert Uzell and Scott Yardley who have plenty of experience.
East Herts have been getting stronger and stronger over the past few years
and are now well on the way to being one of the top Interleague teams in
the country. East Herts probably have more I.P.A. tour players in their
line up than any other team. They have Neil Toms, Mark Thrussell, Danny
Miller, Dave Langham, Andy Collett, Tony Vickers & Mick Darragh on
top of that they have Rob Southey an England U21 player. Looking at that
lot I have to go for East Herts to win the match but not as easily as it
may look on paper.
Renegade 'A' will then be taking on Taunton L.V.A (Somerset) and being a
newish team to this event it is going to be tough for them to get very
much out of Tuanton having already lost to East Herts so I think Taunton
will take this opportunity to show East Herts that it’s far from
When Taunton take on East Herts it should be a battle for East Herts to
get to the winning line because Taunton will up their game and do all they
can to avoid defeat. When it comes down to it though East Herts should
still be strong enough at the back to secure the win and a place in the
Crawley 'A' (Sussex) start their campaign against Bicester (Oxfordshire)
which appears to be another of the evenly balanced matches and tough to
call. Crawley 'A' with Del Barnes, John Cairns Jr and Mark Peters will feel
they have a good chance of going through. At the same Bicester with Dave
Crawford, Gaul and Hines will feel that they too have a good chance of
winning the group. I feel of the two teams Crawley are just the stronger
and would expect them to win this match but the advantage is slim so any
mistakes from Crawley will result in Bicester winning.
Of the three teams in this group the one with the best pedigree is Chesterfield
(Nottinghamshire) who has successfully navigated the stormy waters of winning
the group a few times before. Their first match will be against, if my
prediction is correct, will be against Bicester and this is where Bicester
will find the going tough and I think that Chesterfield with their greater
experience as well as Andy Marples and Rob Snell will prove too strong
for Bicester. That means that Crawley and Chesterfield to fight it out
and I believe they will get the same treatment as Bicester did. It’s
not a forgone conclusion by any means but that is how I see it panning
Table Thirty One
This group for me at least
is an easy group to predict as Derby (Derbyshire) take on Godalming led
by Steve Brooker whilst Derby are here for the first
time and no matter how good they are as a team when you come up against
a team that has so much experience in the Interleague as well as being
a quality act it would take a miracle for Derby to win. That is not to
say Derby have no chance they do but it has been proven so many times in
the past when newbies come up against seasoned campaigners it’s the
seasoned campaigners that come out on top nine times out of ten.
Derby’s best chance of making a mark will come when they play Evesham
who themselves are here for the first time. That makes this a difficult
tie to predict but having lost the first match Derby will be chomping at
the bit. What happens will be down to how well Evesham cope with the initial
onslaught from Derby. If they give as good as they get then it will go
all the way. If they are stunned by it then Derby will run away with it.
I personally think that Evesham will give as good as they get and this
one will go all the way with Derby winning the all important winning frame.
All of that of course will be music to Godalming ears as that would leave
the relatively easy task of just needing to avoid defeat to go through.
They won’t however need the safety net option as they will beat Evesham
Table Thirty Two
The last group in this round
is another that if all goes to plan will be easy to predict as Brighton
(Sussex) take on Witney (Oxfordshire) and
whilst Witney have Ricky and Chris Jones as well as Grayson Fisher but
when it comes to a pound for pound match up it’s a bit one sided.
Brighton has Pete Ashman, Morray Dolan, Dean Torode, Damian Campsey, Darren
Welfare and Mark Proto. And if you are still reading this from the top
down you are very sad. Anyway, as the beaten finalists from last year Brighton
will be keen to repeat the success.
Sorry to say but even though I have seen some ropey performances in the
past from Brighton they now appear to have put that behind them and starting
to play to their full potential.
Witney will get their win when they play Bedford 'B' as I thank that Witney
will be too good for Bedford 'B' to cope with. But the win will be a hollow
one as both these teams will be planning their night’s entertainment
whilst Brighton is playing in the knock out section.
Phew that was hard work, to all the teams I have written off nothing would
give me more pleasure to be proven wrong. Because it would add credence
to my many and often made statements about me believing that Interleague
teams are the best teams in the country. This overview is just my view
and you should not take any of it to heart .
Finally, here are my teams to reach the last sixteen obviously with the
draw for the last 32 is done live on the Saturday any or all of these teams
could draw each other at any stage.
Trent Trophies 'A'