Gretton Summer Darts League 2009
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Five-a-Side Charity Knockout:
Special award for the youngest player in the league:
Hats off to The Odd Bods, a motley crew of Gretton darters led by Mike "The Powell" Powell, who have boldly stepped in to take the place of The Blue Bell and fulfil their remaining fixtures for the season. The Blue Bell has now withdrawn from this year's league.
In their first match, "The Powell", Colin Hall, Keith Wheatley and Martin Wright managed to get their first point on the board in an 8-1 defeat to The Talbot.
The other match, which also took place at the club, was a tense 4-4 draw fought out between The Sports Club and The Hatton.
Talbot Inn 8-1 Hatton Arms
The Talbot overcame The Hatton to secure an unassailable lead at the top of the table with only one match to go.
Allan "Catto" Catto set the tone for the evening sending The Talbot into an early lead which rarely looked like being overturned.
Mark Handford, 6'4", spent much of his 3-0 win studiously avoiding the low-hanging overhead lighting before finally 'feeling the filament' as he leaned over to shake hands with his victim, Shaun "The Chef" Williams.
Bev Jones provided a glimmer of hope for the away team with a 3-0 trouncing of Mart "The Dart" Polley, despite untimely tourettic interjections from Hatton skipper, Andy "The Councillor" Royle.
But Kaye resumed normal service winning the final singles before the two Talbot pairings cleaned up — Jim "Grandad" Milligan plunging the final double, partnered by his grandson and upcoming star, the boy simply known as JJ.
Odd Bods 4-4 Sports Club
Mike "The Powell" Powell's Odd Bods continued their seamless integration into the league with a creditable 4-4 (9-9 in legs) draw with The Sports Club on the away board at the club.
Lee Wright and Keith Wheatley provided the heroics dishing out tungsten tutorials to Sports Club stalwarts, Mark "Mac" McIntyre and Taffy, taking The Odd Bods to the verge of an unlikely victory.
The away team appeared tired despite only having to make a 7 metre (approx) journey to the match from their usual board. But the Club's final pairing of Mark "Mac" McIntyre and Taffy set aside their fatigue to redeem themselves and turn around a 1-0 deficit to square a thrilling encounter at the death.
Hatton Arms 7-2 Talbot Inn
Glen "The Drill" McGill gave an inspired performance to propel The Hatton to an unexpected win over The Talbot and secure a second place finish in the league. McGill, whose nickname reflects the power with which his darts pierce the board, blasted his way to a 2-1 victory over Kaye before teaming up with Andy "The Councillor" Royle to obliterate Jim "Grandad" Milligan and JJ Shannon in the final pairs rubber.
In truth, the foundations were laid by Bev Jones and Eammon "Brit" Britnell in the opening singles encounters. Jones, the reigning Oundle & District Darts League Woman of the Year, lived up to her elevated status with a shock 2-1 toppling of Talbot talisman, Allan "Catto" Catto. "Brit" extended the Hatton's advantage by hammering Mart "The Dart" Polley 3-0, peaking with a 150 to open the second leg.
Mind games practitioner extraordinaire, Andy "The Councillor" Royle, tried all the tricks in the book in a vain attempt to win his tie with Mark Handford. A disarmingly quick warm-up, the old-as-the-hills "I'll let you go first" line and timely witticisms at the oche were preceded by his 'pièce de résistance': The deployment of wife, Alison "Princess" Royle, to weave her not-inconsiderable charms and beg the tall Talbotite to let "The Councillor" win. Royle lost 3-0 and The Talbot were back in the match. But not for long...
So began the McGill show — "The Drill" pummelling a succession of healthy scores and explosive finishes, rocking the very foundations of Northamptonshire's self-appointed second oldest pub, to guide The Hatton to victory. Young supporters poured into the band room to celebrate with their heroes over a selection of Shilene "The Queen" Prati's finest haslet and cheese sandwiches (served on a bed of lettuce). Meanwhile, The Talbot team could be seen scuttling away quietly into the night, tails between their legs.
Sports Club 8-1 Odd Bods
The Odd Bods' honeymoon period in the summer league ended abruptly as The Sports Club boys led a series of light-missile launching lessons last night. Mike "The Powell" Powell, in altruistically omitting himself from the Odd Bods line-up, inadvertently delegated his deputies to darting doom in the most one-sided contest of the league season.
Mark "Mac" McIntyre, Taffy, "Young" John Clark and Keith Wheatley put The Sports Club out of sight in the four singles games, dropping one solitary leg between them. The match was effectively over before the pairs even toed the oche.
But every cloud has a nickel tungsten lining. This particular one was provided by Odd Bods, John "Rodders" Fursdon and Colin Hall, who picked up a 2-1 win in the final doubles game, thus restoring a modicum of pride to their team of itinerant athletes.
The heats of the summer league knockout competitions saw Gretton Sports & Social Club awash with amateur arrowsmiths vying for the coveted singles and pairs titles.
The singles draw was made using the innovative dual-phase pentadartic method. Rarely seen on these shores, this complicated approach involves a main draw in which the field is eventually whittled down to five players. Following a period of confusion during which everyone questions why there are five players in the semi-finals, said fortunate five then go back into the hat for a second draw to play off for the final two places.
After three and a half hours of thrills and spills, twenty-four matches and a multitude of missed doubles, the field of twenty darters was eventually reduced to five who made it through to finals night.
In the singles, the last men standing are Sam Powell and Mark Handford (who narrowly averted an all-Powell final, defeating Mike "The Powell" Powell in the latter stages).
Handford then teamed up with Allan "Catto" Catto to complete his invincible evening. He may not have lost a match, but he did manage to lose his set of darts! (Now found! Thanks to Mark "Mac" McIntyre for returning them). On the other half of the draw, Taffy and "Young" John Clark of the Sports Club waltzed their way past two pairs of Odd Bods to reach the final.
Thanks to Jess and Keith for organising everything (including the sandwiches), the Sports Club for hosting the evening, and to Paul "The Call" O'Leary . Unable to play due to a shoulder injury sustained in a gruesome encounter with an electric gate, Paul entertained and annoyed the bewildered players in equal measures with his Vegas-style calling.
In an astonishing turn of events at The Sports Club, The Hatton Arms (yes, that's The Hatton Arms) won their first darts competition in living memory, lifting the charity five-a-side title.
In knocking out their rivals from The Sports Club, Andy "The Councillor" Royle's travelling troupe of tungsten tossers vindicated their second place finish in the summer league, before going on to clinch the attractive 3-D trophy with moving parts in a closely fought final against The Talbot.
Having displayed prowess on some of the less conventional trebles on the board throughout the match, it was apt that Royle himself sunk the winning double, prompting at least five people to launch into an intensity of celebration previously unknown in Gretton's darting history.
A few egg sandwiches later (thanks to Jess Wheatley for the spread), and the winning quintet were out on the street in a victory parade back down to Arnhill Road. On their triumphant return, a surprised — but nonetheless appreciative — assembly of punters welcomed them home.
Other highlights of the night included Kaye from the Talbot's reaction to a moth circling the oche (you had to be there) and Alison "Princess" Royle's first ever competitive dart landing in the treble-twenty. To protect her reputation, the final destination of her second dart will not be recorded here.
The proceeds of the evening were donated to The Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance (WNAA). Margaret Wilson, who had spent the day tin-shaking in the local town centre, was present on behalf of WNAA to accept the £136 raised.
Congratulations to everyone involved for making this such an enjoyable and successful evening.
Approximately 600 years after Gretton's oldest pub opened its doors, The Hatton Arms finally wins at darts. Left to right: Glen "The Drill" McGill, Shaun "The Chef" Williams, Andy "The Councillor" Royle, Bev Jones, Eammon "Brit" Britnell.
Finals night at The Sports Club produced a jittery jamboree of close contests and classic comebacks as another successful season for Gretton darts drew to a close.
First up was the pairs final: the first of three decisive matches between representatives from The Talbot and The Sports Club. Allan "Catto" Catto and Mark Handford (Talbot) edged a tight first leg but once Taffy (Sports Club) hit his stride in the second, the match was all-square in a flash. The Talbot boys turned the tables in the decider opening up a 200-point lead as they closed in on the title. But there was still time for one last twist. Catto and Handford came down with a crippling case of double-trouble allowing last year's singles champion, "Young" John Clark, to sneak in on the rails and hit the winning double-nine for The Sports Club pairing.
A few minutes later, Handford was back on the oche for the singles final with Sam Powell. Both players missed chances in the first leg, but it was Powell who came through to take the advantage. With a 120 start in the second leg, Powell looked to be in total control. But, after trading sub-standard scores, Handford bounced back from the precipice with a 118 to leave double-top, converted at his next visit. The final leg was more tense than Glastonbury: Powell had the edge all the way down, and there were copious chances for both players to win before Handford finally snatched the match with double-two.
In The Captains Cup final, Allan "Catto" Catto and Keith Wheatley fought out the last match of the evening. Again, a deciding leg tested the nerves of both players. Wheatley appeared to be on course for victory as he got down his double first. Meanwhile, Catto was in uncharacteristically poor form posting successive single-digit scores. But Wheatley repeatedly failed to convert his opportunities and it was Catto who emerged victorious.
With the darts over for another year, Alan and Ian Carr proceeded to rock the house in a voluntary style with their mobile disco. To the relief of the night's revellers, the ceiling at The Sports Club remained intact. The same could not be said for Jess Wheatley's sandwiches which were devoured by hungry darters, eager to redress their carbohydrate, body-fat and glucose levels after a draining night of competitive action.
Who says darts is not a serious sport...
Clockwise from top: Mark Handford ponders a visit to his Zurich safety deposit box, "Young" John Clark & Taffy celebrate their pairs victory, Sam Powell - singles runner-up, and a shifty looking Talbot Inn team are league champions again. L-R: Bill Fraser, JJ Shannon, Mart "The Dart" Polley, Jim "Grandad" Milligan, Allan "Catto" Catto, Mark Handford.
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