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Over the years the interleague has been dominated by just a handful of teams, when I say dominated, I mean dominated by the sort of teams that when they come out of the hat in your group. The players in the other teams ask their captain questions like is it worth us turning up? What time does the bar open? how many frames will we win? How long will we be in the event? Where shall we go on Saturday night? How unlucky can you get?

Teams like Wolverhampton Wednesday A (west Midlands), Trent Trophies A (Staffordshire), Triangle (West Yorkshire), Imperial I (London) and Ollerton (Nottinghamshire). Are those types of teams. Of those five teams mentioned only Trent Trophies A are going to be at this years knock out cup. So will it be a stroll in the park for the boys from Staffs?

You might be forgiven for thinking so, after all Trent Trophies have players like Lee Kendall, Gaz Potts, Carl Morris, all professionals all quality players, Gareth Potts and Carl Morris have been world champions at one point or another Lee Kendall who has found that title very elusive is of a class to be able to win it. Then there is Adam Davis who has gone form being one of the games promising junior stars to one who has delivered on those expectations and is up with the elite of the game. Then you have Players of the calibre of Mark Blackshaw, Steve Bridgewood, Darren Lightfoot and Nick Weller. With a team like that you know you are going do well so it’s a question of how well.

It’s good to report that although Trent Trophies may start, as favourites to win it, there are plenty of other teams left who will give Trent Trophies a run for their money. Teams like the All’oas from Lancashire, it may well be that they are not at their strongest this time round but they will collectively raise their game to compensate. Although they will be without Lee Clough, Dave Chalmers and Matty Morris. They will still have, Nathan Bridges, Andy Sudworth, Jason Hill and Damien Milnes in the starting line up. Trent Trophies for their part would wince if they saw that the All’oas was blocking their path to progression. Memories of past bloody encounters would come flooding back to haunt them.

There have been a few occasions in the past when these two met where the air turned blue and tempers flared to say the least, at times it has needed officials to step in to calm things down to acceptable levels of behaviour.

Passion is like that, and what ever anyone says about the negative end product of passion at times, without passion we wouldn’t have much of a spectacle.

When two monsters do battle the stakes are high and emotions can spill over into the red zone, when it happens to individual members of a team in opposite camps at the same time fur can and does fly. All that said these types of eruptions are rare but it’s no use pretending that it never happens.

One of the main reasons why emotions tend to be held in check when it might seem that things are about to explode is the fact that Pool as a whole is a close knit community where everybody knows everybody else and sees each other on a fairly regular basis. That fact alone tends to stop the more, shall we say, colourful characters from going overboard.

What usually happens after one of these flare ups is the pair meet in the bar at some point in the evening and agree they were a pair of doughnuts to do what they did buy each other a drink and forget about it.

So if we have lost so many good teams who are the ones to watch now? You know, the ones you just don’t want in your group.

With out doubt the four top teams this time round who will have what it takes are Trent Trophies A, Leicester & P.J.’S Stourbridge and Dawley A. It is my belief that we will see at least one of these teams contesting the final on Sunday 8th October.

If the last 32 draw works out right for these four teams we should see two of them as a losing semi finalists and the winning two contesting the final, the opposite will be that if all get drawn in the same half then when the draw for the last 32 is made then they will have to knock each other out and obviously only one will make through to the final.

If those are the favourites who amongst the other 92 teams can make it to the final by knocking any of the above teams out? The band just beneath the elite group contains teams with the class of Mexborough, Rochester, Sun Valley, All’oas, Brighton & East Herts

Of this bunch Mexborough always put in a solid performance and will more times than not reach the last eight. They very nearly didn’t get to attend the event as their paperwork went missing thanks to the Post Office failing to deliver it, fortunately for Mexborough when it was delivered, some two weeks later, the post mark proved it was posted on time so they were allowed to stay in the event.

All that means that we will see Terry Hunt, Martin Hazell, Alistair Bailie & Gavin Preskey in action for Mexborough after all. Mexborough are a team that always take some stopping and one that you would not chose as opponents if it could be avoided. They can, with the class available to them kill a game in a very short space of time if they are all on form and hit it at the same time

Sun Valley, led by Jim I’ Anson are always a very tough nut to crack, even when they appear to be a little off their top game they still manage to force a play off with whomever they are playing. When you can call on England International Bayden Jackson, Lee Howitt and Neil Jones, to play your three play off frames you can see why Sun Valley have self belief in abundance.

The All’oas over the past few events has been struggling to keep up with the extremely high standards they have set themselves with previous results on this stage and as yet there is no real sign of a return to the glory days. However, a below par All’oas is only a slightly less dangerous animal than a fully functioning one, so it’s still going to take a mighty effort from someone to knock them out.

Rochester appears to have been in a rebuilding program ever since the departure of Carl Morris a few years ago. They experimented with “out sourcing” for one season and were dubbed “Rochester Elite” – a non-complementary reference to the team importing a number of ex Barking Elite players in to their line up when that team broke up. By enlarge the experiment didn’t really work in their favour and have returned to the true spirit of the Interleague by using their local players to do their bidding. They are now well on the way to being back where they once were - a feared opponent to all teams in the competition. Their line up will include Jordan Church, Ian Hubbard, Ian Kettel and Neil Ward. That quartet won’t be losing too many frames and they will definitely be aiming to go one better than just reaching the final this time round.

Brighton, who I dubbed a while ago as a bunch of under achievers, given the talent in their line up have forced me to eat my words in recent events as they have hit the standards where a team with their talent should be reaching consistently. They have one of the most consistent line ups in the Interleague which includes Darren Welfare, Paul McNeil, Morray Dolan, Dean Torode and Damien Campsey all of whom are available, so a top eight finish is the least I would expect from them.

East Herts have been hitting the last eight just about every time they play here and that is an amazing statistic when you consider the teams they have had to knock out to do it. They are not as strong as they would have liked, having lost the services of Neil Toms, Mark Thrussell and Rob Southey to Imperial I, however they still have Tony Vickers, Danny Miller, Ashley Seeley, Des Smith, Brendan Coyler, and the irrepressible Mick Darragh, who is on what could be his last visit to Yarmouth as he is moving to Ireland soon. If that lot can hit form at the same time then it is well within their grasp to get to the final but they will have to overcome their last eight stumbling block to do it.

Well there are my thoughts on what are traditionally the business end teams of the event, before they get there though there is the small matter of the group stage to get through first. There have been enough instances in the past where one or more of the mighty teams have failed to make it through to the knock out stages. I don’t think I would be taking too much risk if I were to say that at least one of the above mentioned teams will fail to negotiate the group stage and go for an early bath.

So how will the rest of the teams in this event fare? It’s time to give my thoughts on the group stages and rattle a few cages, burst a few bubbles and pleasantly surprise a few teams as we go through every group to see what the form book, according to me, indicate should happen. It has been said in the past that my comments about teams have been pasted to the walls of the team’s caravans to inspire the players not to allow my words to become facts. Others have been amazed to see what I said would happen, happen. But It’s all done as a bit of fun so as you read through your bit just remember that and enjoy your read.

Table One
This is the table where traditionally the defending champions begin the defence of their title however, for the first time I can remember the defending champions, in this case Triangle, won’t be here. That means that losing finalists from last year, Rochester, will take the traditional table number one to launch their bid for Interleague knock out cup glory. They take on Staffordshire’s Trent Trophies Pirates in the opening match the Staffordshire out fit will be used to playing quality teams as their county boast one of the best all time Interleague teams. In fact they have one or two ex members in the shape of Steve Prince, Daz Henshall & big Phil Condliffe so although Rochester will be aiming to clock up a few frames in this match they may find that things won’t go the way they planned. Although that won’t stop Trent Trophies Pirates from winning the match

Kettering (Northants) will then take on Trent Trophies Pirates knowing the sort of frame score they will need to clock up to keep themselves in the hunt, Kettering have a long history at this event and Dermot Lally can call on Bob Love, Graham Berruto & Leon Oakes to see them through on this one. It’s sad to say but I can’t see Trent Trophies Pirates winning a match in this group. It’s not that they are a weak team it’s more that both Kettering & Rochester are a bit warm and won’t give them the opportunity.

When Rochester take on Kettering it will be for the group and although Kettering are capable of upsetting Rochester’s apple cart I think that Rochester will be just too strong at the back for Kettering and claim their first big scalp of the weekend as they bid to get back to the final again.

Table Two
Sees Wolverhampton Wednesday B (West Midlands) take on Essex’s Barking Phoenix in the opening match in this group. Wolverhampton Wednesday are a good solid side who have been coming here for what seems forever. Barking Phoenix have a slightly less impressive attendance record but they too know their way round the Yarmouth tables and I think that this one will end up as a 9-9 draw.

This will mean that Buckingham (Buckinghamshire) have a golden opportunity to steal a march on the other two teams if they can win their first match against Wolverhampton Wednesday. Wolverhampton Wednesday with all their experience will have just too much knowledge and skill in reserve to allow Buckingham the win. That said the draw is not out of the question and if a group is going to have two draws to start with this one looks a good bet

This will mean that the group will be decided on the Buckingham v Barking Phoenix match and that is where I feel that Buckingham and Wolverhampton Wednesday will come unstuck as Barking Phoenix will have the edge in this match and win by a two frame margin and in doing so book themselves a spot in the last 32. I know Barking Phoenix skipper, Alan Pointer will see this as the kiss of death for his team as I usually predict an early bath for his team. This time I think with the experience in the Barking Phoenix team with players like Steve Adams and Tony Pointer to steady the less experienced ones Phoenix should get through.

Table Three
This should be much easier to predict as it has one of the pre tournament “fancied teams” in it but first of all Penrith (Cumbria) take on Long Eaton (Derbyshire). This should be a tight match as both teams are fairly evenly matched. Long Eaton has yet to escape from the group stages. But then neither have Penrith so it will be interesting to see who comes out on top. I think Long Eaton will just edge it.

That means that Penrith will be thrown straight in to the lion’s den as Ipswich (Suffolk) look to start their campaign with a convincing performance that they can build on. Ipswich will be looking towards Mark & Paul Keeble, Punchy, Phil Cullingford, Matt Purnell and Alan Mower to give them that edge and to be honest if Ipswich only play to half their form then I still see Penrith having to wait another year to attempt to progress beyond the group stages.

That will mean that Long Eaton will know the size of the task facing them if they are to be the group winners and I see it going much the same way as the Penrith match with Ipswich being just too strong for the boys from Derbyshire and Ipswich will win the group by administering their own version of Suffolk punch to the other two teams in this group.

Table Four
The first match in Group 4 sees Braintree A (Essex) take on Mexborough (South Yorkshire), this match is likely to be a one sided affair in favour of the Yorkshire men who are regular visitors to the later stages of the Knockout Cup. This won’t be too much of a surprise if you look at the players they have available to them, players like Terry Hunt, Martin Hazel, Alistair Bailey & Gavin Preskey to name a few

Braintree A will then face a just as, if not more, experienced side in Sun Valley, with players like Jim I’Anson and his son, England Internationals Clint I’Anson and Bayden Jackson, add to that they also have Lee Howitt, Chris Rigby & Liam Stanley in their line up. Braintree A will face the same fate as they did in the first match which will allow Mexborough and Sun Valley fight it out for a place in the last 32.

The deciding match in this group is likely to be very close and both teams are very capable of causing damage to any team. It is very possible that this match will go to the wire but if I have to call a winner, which I do…,I’m going to go will Sun Valley to progress to the next round.

Table Five
Manchester Central (G.M.C.) kick of this group with a real toughie against Buckinghamshire’s Milton Keynes A. as first timers at the event, certainly as a team, they will be very bullish about their opposition in this group, that seems to be a trait that applies to all new teams. The new teams know they are good and before the event believes they can beat every team here and usually let everyone know that this is the case. Sadly, the reality is that they just don’t realise how good all the teams are that make this far. That means it’s tough who ever they get drawn with. In this case the draw has definitely not been kind to Manchester as Milton Keynes A are, on their day a match for any team. With all the experience at their disposal Milton Keynes will give Manchester a very sobering dose of interleague reality.

I’m not saying that Milton Keynes will have it all their own way in this match, they won’t but at the same time Milton Keynes will keep Manchester at arms length and win with a healthy margin.

Any thoughts that Manchester was unlucky and Milton Keynes got all the run will be quickly dispelled as Manchester will then take on Ely (Cambridgeshire) I dare say Manchester don’t know who they are either. But they will by the end of the weekend.

Ely are every bit as good as Milton Keynes if Milton Keynes give Manchester a bit of a mauling then Ely will pick the remainder of Manchester’s bones dry.

At the time of writing Phil Harrison, Ely’s super star was not confirmed to be in the Ely Team as he has other commitments that may prevent him from attending. Even without him Iain Aldous, Dale Parson and Trieve Rolfe will be more than capable of finishing Manchester’s first foray in to the Interleague.

This will mean that Milton Keynes and Ely will go head to head to see who gets a place in the last 32 and my feeling is with Phil Harrison there it will be Ely but if he’s not then Milton Keynes will capitalise on that and just shade it.

Table Six
Worthing B (Sussex) did not take part in the Interleague last time round and in their first match the draw could have been a lot worse. East Yorkshire’s Holderness hasn’t made it out of the group stages for the last two years so this match could be a tight one. Although, as many of you will probably remember the first time at the Interleague is a daunting encounter, so for that reason I think Holderness will just edge it due to their experience.

Worthing B’s first experience of the Interleague is going to be an uphill struggle going from bad to worse. They will now have to face Worcester Dream Team (Worcestershire) who in last years K/O Cup lost in the last 16 to P.J’s which is no disgrace. Therefore Worcester Dream Team with players like Darrell Bareham, Mark Evans, Darren Selvy & Marcus Lannie in their team they should win this match with ease.

After a comfortable start Worcester Dream Team are likely to be firing on all cylinders and I’m not sure Holderness are going to have what it takes to stop them continuing their run in this year Interleague.

Table Seven
Sees Cumbria’s Carlisle take on Northamptonshire’s Pocket Rockets A. this should be an interesting tussle as Carlisle have not been here for a while and Tom Chambers Pocket Rockets don’t usually get to get out the group. That said they are a good team and if Carlisle start slowly then Pocket Rockets A may well steel a march on them. I think that this will be a tight match but that Carlisle will just pinch it at the death by the odd frame.

That will put Pocket Rockets straight back in again, this time against the might of Chesterfield. Chesterfield is a steady ream who are best placed to win this group because of their greater experience and that fact that they have one of the largest followings in the event. It always appears that the whole of Chesterfield book themselves in to Vauxhall’s for the Interleague to support their team.

With pocket Rockets out the way Carlisle will get the chance to take on Chesterfield for the title of group winners. As with the match before I think it will be close but once again the greater experience of Chesterfield. Will come to the fore and give Chesterfield anther group win and another year where the have made through to the last 32.

Table Eight
This group is going to be a tight one, it is usually the case that the last match is the one that decides who goes through, however, in this case the deciding match will be the first match that’s an indication on the strength of the two teamsinvolved in the first match.

Tolworth (Surrey) take on the All’oas (Lancashire) and with both team being vastly experienced and fielding a number of very talented players the All’oas have Damien Milnes, Jason Hill, Nathan Bridges, Del Redmond & Dave Robinson and Tolworth have will counter that line up with a few good sticks of their own like Matt Cooke, Andy Sutherland, Frank Strivens, Steve Petty and Skipper Jason Norris. It’s easy to see that with that amount fire power round one table it will be a delight to watch this match but one team will win and that team I suspect will be Tolworth.

The other team in this group have a tough task ahead of them. Leek B (Staffordshire) whom I’m afraid I do not know much about, however, I can’t imagine a new team in the Interleague will have what it take to overcome either of these teams. If I’m mistaken then where have you been, you’ve been missing out! But back to reality,
The winner of this group for me will be the Tolworth

Rumours have it that the All’oas, having lost skipper big Kev O’halloran, which in itself was a big enough blow, a while ago are now set to loose Mick Timmins after this event because he is retiring from the captaincy of the All’oas. on behalf of all the teams, players & us, the organisers we would like to say thanks to the man who made the All’oas what they are, one of the best teams ever to grace this event and given us all so many fond memories. We wish you well in whatever you chose to devote your time to in the future and hope we get to see you back hear from time to time. I would have liked to have said that the All’oas would beat Tolworth and go on one of their runs that only the best of teams can stop. Pool is not a sentimental thing and Tolworth won’t give two hoots about this being the end of an era. They will want to start their own era.

Table Nine
This group is a tough one to call, match one is Cambridge (Cambridgeshire) against Oldham (G.M.C.). In days gone by the mention of Cambridge would mean you were playing a top flight team, however, no disrespect to the current team called Cambridge but it’s not in the same league as it’s now defunct stable mates. It’s Oldham’s first appearance here since 2003 so I have no real way of knowing how good they are but I do know that Cambridge can win matches so I Will go for them in match one.

This will mean that Oldham will be taking on Nuneaton Bees (Warwickshire) to stay in the event and when only a win is good enough they are very hard to find. That coupled with the fact Nuneaton are a reasonable side I would expect Nuneaton to kill of Oldham. But it won’t be an easy win Oldham will push Nuneaton hard before finally bowing out of the knock out cup for this year.

So we should have a Nuneaton Bees V Cambridge group decider. I don’t think there is much to chose between these two teams and expect a nip and tuck match that could go to 9-9 and therefore will be decided on how many frames each of them took of Oldham. Based on that alone I tip Nuneaton Bees to come out as group winners.

Table Ten
Wareham (Dorset) starts this group off with a match against the always impressive Dawley A (Shropshire) and on a pound for pound basis I would expect Dawley A to make short work against Wareham. Dawley have Craig Reynolds, Dave and Dale Blagborough. Dawley A in their line up and was of course the 2005 winners of the Interleague. Wareham’s best chance will be the kudos that having one Keith Brewer in your line up gives you . Not too sure on this fact, but it might be the first time Keith has played in the Interleague finals. He has of course been here hundreds of time before but it’s usually as an England trialist or as a professional in the last 8 of a professional event.

Even with Keith Brewer in their line up I cant see Wareham having what it takes to beat Dawley A so Wareham will then take on G.M.C.’s Rochdale and on the face of it Rochdale seem to be a bit out of their depth in this company but it will be a great experience for whoever from their team gets to play Keith Brewer in competitive match but that will be the highlight for Rochdale.

Dawley should wrap the group up fairly quickly when they take on Rochdale in the final match of the group. Bit it’s Dawley A to make the last 32 for me

Table Eleven
This is another cracking match up between two strong teams and one newcomer one of the strong teams is Lancashire’s Preston South who’s squad has been strengthened this term by ex All’oas pair Dave Chalmers and Matty Morris, this in addition to Gareth Hibbott, whose current form is about as hot as you can get without risking spontaneous human combustion. John Rimmer and Nick Davey. So it will take one hell of an effort from the other strong team in the group Nuneaton A to keep them in check. This is going to be a real tussle but I think Preston South just have the edge and will leave Warwickshire’s Nuneaton A’s hopes hanging by a thread.

This will leave Nuneaton with no option but to beat Bracknell & Ascot B and with clear water between the two and then hope that Preston South lose to Bracknell & Ascot B. that is what losing your first match here means. You are going to need a miracle to stay in the event. Unfortunately, although I do see Nuneaton beating Bracknell & Ascot B I can’t see the getting the margin as they would need to qualify.

In the end I don’t think it will matter because I can’t see Preston South losing to Bracknell & Ascot B. of course if I am correct, the draw will be good enough for Preston South to ease themselves into the last 32.

For Bracknell & Ascot B & Nuneaton it’s off to the bar to swop tales about the frames they threw away and if they hadn’t done that it would be them and not Preston in the last 32.

Table Twelve
Has Dawley B (Shropshire) taking on Dorset’s Wessex A this is a tough one to call as I believe that these two teams a fairly even but on balance I think that the greater experience that Wessex have with Ladies England International Sue Ramsbottom and Brian Druce.

So that will means that Dawley B will be taking on Kent’s Medway who have been here a few times now and starting to produce some impressive results but they will be without Barbara Taylor as she will be in South Africa for the World cup. Having lost her services to international duty I think that Wessex will take full advantage and win the match.

When it comes down to Dawley B playing Medway I see the Shropshire team finishing of the group with out being troubled too much by what Medway throw at them.

Table Thirteen
Here we go again, another great tie in the making; Lye & Stourbridge (West Midlands) take on Buckinghamshire’s Milton Keynes Shooters in the opening match in this group which will probably be as tight as it comes with Lye & Stourbridge coming out on top, but only just.

Then Sussex’s Brighton A join the fray, for Milton Keynes Shooters It will spell the end of their involvement in the competition as Brighton A should prove to hot for Milton Keynes Shooters to handle. With Paul McNeil as the main man and Darren Welfare, Morray Dolan, Dean Torode and Damien Campsey to back him up there seems no way that Milton Keynes Shooters can win this one.

Lye & Stourbridge will prove a slightly harder nut for Brighton to crack but eventually they will find a way through the West Midlanders defences and secure their passage to the last 32.

Table Fourteen
Hertfordshire’s E.H.P.L. led by Gary Keefe take on Staffordshire’s Stafford A and the ever improving E.H.P.L. side really should have what it takes to deal with Stafford A, whilst not having the players that their stable mates East Herts have, they do have some quality players including Dave Langham, Matt Humphrey, Mark Gibson. Who are very experienced at playing at this level and for that reason I think they will win this match.

Surrey Warriors will then take on Stafford A and with pretty much the same result really the Surrey team are also well used to winning the group and progressing to the business end of the even. They will be looking for strong performances from Martin and Richard Lambert and Neil Rolfe to name three.

If the group decider between E.H.P.L. and Surrey Warriors was a few years ago it would be Surrey Warriors every time for me but E.H.P.L. have lost the lets get pissed and see what happens mentality and developed a new strong will to win and they have the players to back that up. This should mean that E.H.P.L. should end Surrey Warriors involvement in the event but it may well need a play off to separate the two teams

Table Fifteen
This grouping sees Nottinghamshire’s Riddings & District take on Kent’s Maidstone A in a match that seems to be very evenly balanced. Both teams are no strangers to the Interleague and both have good, if not exactly impressive records, but neither team has got beyond the group stage yet. But of the two I think that Maidstone looks the better bet to win this one.

Cambridgeshire’s St Neots A will take on Riddings & District. St Neots have been coming here as a team longer than the other two teams in this group but they to have yet to make it out of the group stage. I think St Neots A will prove to be just the better of the two sides and will knock Riddings & District out of the event.

When St Neots take on Maidstone A it will be for a little bit of history as one of these two teams will make it out of the group stage for the first time. Which one it will be depends on which of the two holds their nerves together best because they both will want to win so much that towards the end of the match arms will start to twitch as they get closer to virgin territory. Of the two I feel that St Neots A will be the ones who will end up as the winners of this group.

Table Sixteen
Shropshire’s Shrewsbury B as a team have not been here before, start their campaign with a tough match against Worcestershire’s St Johns, who in the two times they have been here now they have finished runners up in the group so they will be confident of improving their ranking.

I think Shrewsbury B will give them a hard game and it may well come down to who blinks fist being the loser in this duel. Which means that St John will need to call on whatever it was that got them to the runners up spot over the last two years to keep them on track for a group win. I feel that Shrewsbury B will just run out of options towards the back end of the match and that is where St John’s will take advantage and win the opening match in this group.

Kent’s Folkestone A will be next up to the plate, I remember Mark Wynn complaining (with some justification) about how nasty the draw had been to them in the past, they have had Triangle and Trent Trophies A in their group in successive years, not surprisingly they have failed to get out of the group on both occasions, well the good news boys is that this year you have not a previous event winner in the group. The bad news is there is nowhere to hide this time. This time you are going to come up with the goods. Shrewsbury B will give Folkestone some real problems but in the end I thinks that the Kent team will just about shade it and consign Shrewsbury B to the could be better group of Interleague teams.

St Johns will having seen the match between Folkestone and Shrewsbury will know what they have to do to reach the first major goal of being at the Interleague, getting to play in the last 32. One of the three teams in this group is going to make that goal a reality and of the three I think it will be St Johns.

Table Seventeen
Sees another group where none of the teams in it have ever got out of the group stages so this one will be another of the perhaps not pretty groups but one where each frame will be fought over. The group gets underway with Nottinghamshire’s Newbold taking on Sussex’s Littlehampton N. on the face of it, there can only be one winner, Newbold have so much more experience then Littlehampton N. that might be a bit harsh on Littlehampton but they didn’t set their county’s Interleague alight which is always a good indicator of how a first timer here will fare, if they batter every one on home soil then they will transfer most of their confidence here. If not then they tend to be in awe of the situation they find themselves in here. That alone means that Newbold should capitalise and win the opening match.

Oxfordshire’s Witney will then enter the battle ground against Littlehampton N who will have settled down a bit after their first match but Witney should be just a bit too strong for them because they too have greater experience as a team here.

If I am right about all this then we will have an Oxfordshire Versus Nottinghamshire group decider. I think that although Newbold have the greater experience here it will be Witney that will take the bull by the horns, set up an early lead and then do just enough to protect it while Newbold keep having play catch up with the frames running out before they get to catch up. Which means that Witney will be another of the first time last 32 qualifiers.

Table Eighteen
Not to sure what to make on this group as East Yorkshire’s North Wolds led by Adrian Walton are what we term Yarmouth Boys, no that doesn’t mean they come from Yarmouth, but they do intend to sample the various delights of the sea side town on Friday & Saturday night. It way well be that pool may get in the way of that. There is of course nothing wrong with that but if you have that intention before you get here then its hard to motivate the team to do what it has to do to win matches once here. If Suffolk’s Lowestoft T.S. think that in reading this their first opponents will be a walk over, they have misread what I was trying to say. North Wolds will give their all to get through the group and if Lowestoft T.S. fails to show North Wolds the respect they deserve they get what they derserve. Having said all that about North Wolds I am going to go for them to beat Lowestoft.

That will mean that Lowestoft will then take on Derby and having lost to North Wolds they won’t find things any easier against the Derbyshire team either. I think that Derby will set about Lowestoft to start with but once the match moves in to the mid section Lowestoft will have it back on levels. I think eventually Lowestoft will wear Derby down and beat them by frame or two.

North Wolds will know that when they take on Derby they will only have to avoid defeat to reach the last 32. Derby on the other hand will know that their task is a big one and the difference in mind sets will be what gives north Wolds the edge. It will also mean that they will have to delay their trip in to town as they will have to contest a last 32 match before heading off into town.

Table Nineteen
This Grouping has John Kelly’s J.F.K’s (London) facing Suffolk’s Ipswich B. J.F.K’s missed out in April’s Interleague so will be keen to put in a good show this time round. I can’t see Ipswich being able to do too much to stop J.F.K.’s march. By the time Ipswich realise that things are not going the way they hoped it will be too late and J.F.K’s will have won the match with ease.

Things won’t get any better for Ipswich either as they will then go in the ring against Somerset’s finest Weston. Weston have a long and generally good track record here and I really can’t see them being in any mood to be nice to Ipswich.

That will set up a new boys versus established old boys group decider. This is going to be a great match to watch because I feel the will swing one way and then the other. But I think that in the end that the greater experience of Weston will see them through to another group win and through to the last 32.

Table Twenty
Will host one of the most renowned teams in the Interleague. P.J’s Stourbridge (West Midlands) this is a team that always plans on reaching the later stages and with players like Rob Chilton, Neil Raybone, Pat Ward, Hitan Patel, Richie Foxall, Paul Dunkey, and Ben Swinnerton in the team, that feeling of invincability that they have is no real surprise when you look at those names.

First to face them in this group is Leeds (West Yorkshire) who I’m afraid are the under dogs in this group and are likely to fall at the first and second hurdles. I can’t see Mark & Paul Buck and John Betts, as good as they are, having what it will take to get a result against P.J.’s Stourbridge

After the defeat from P.J’s they will then have to face Coventry Reds led by Baz Hinde and with Surinder and Tim Singh in the Reds team I can’t see Leeds getting a result here either although the result may be a bit closer in this match but will still have the same out come, seeing Coventry Reds going in to a Head to Head with P.J’s to decided the group.

Coventry Reds will probably put up a good fight but I can’t see them having what it takes to overcome the experience and class the P.J’s possess. However stranger things have happened and if I’m going to be proved wrong, I think this might well be the group that does it.

Table Twenty One
Berkshire’s Bracknell & Ascot A and Northamptonshire’s N.V.P.L. A might as well make the most of their opening match because whoever wins it still faces almost certain elimination in the next match. Bracknell & Ascot A mark their first appearance at the K.O. Cup with a nice little opener against Northampton Village Pool League A. I think that N.V.P.L. A will have to keep their wits about them if they are not to become an established Interleague team losing to a first time here team. I feel that although N.V.P.L. A. will put up one hell of a fight to avoid it, but they going to loose out to Bracknell & Ascot A.

The prize for Bracknell & Ascot A’s win will be to see the hopelessness of their task as N.V.P.L. A, as losers of their match take on Leicestershire’s Leicester led by the Ferret, Steve Robertshaw. With the best will in the world I can’t see N.V.P.L. A making it too hard for Leicester, but when you consider that in Leicester’s line up will be current World Champion Mark Selby, Tom Ford & Tommy Donlon there aren’t too many teams that could take on Leicester and expect to win.

When Bracknell & Ascot A take on Leicester it will show the Berkshire side what they as a team should be aiming for, Leicester are a class act and they tend to go about their business in a quite and dignified manner. Some of the bigger teams in the interleague suffer from histrionics at times when things don’t go their way but in all the times I have seen Leicester play they have always been nothing less than true gentlemen and a credit to the game. It will be no disgrace for Bracknell & Ascot A & N.V.P.L. A to loose to this team.

Table Twenty Two
This table has another of the first timers here, Bramley (West Yorkshire) and they are first up against Sussex’s Brighton B who have plenty of experience here but have yet to win a group so Bramley with skipper Rob Johnson, Neil Fox & John Gillen could well cause an upset in this match. But it’s more likely that Brighton will make their experience show and eventually win the match.

Bramley will then have to take on take on East Herts (Hertfordshire). East Herts are missing three quality players this time round but they still have Captain Tony Vickers, England U21 International Danny Miller, Brendon Coyler, Mick Darragh, Ashley Sealy, Rob England, Julian Pennie and Des Smith available so you have to say that East Herts should win this one at a canter. But not knowing anything about Bramley they may be much better than I give them credit for.

This will mean that Brighton B will take on East Herts head to head for the group and this will be tight as both teams know how to win but I feel East Herts better record of winning the group stage will stand them in good stead and send Brighton back to Sussex still waiting for a group win.

Table Twenty Three
Leicestershire’s Leicester City takes on Berkshire’s Renegade B in the opening match in this group. Leicester City led by Rich Philips with Sunjay Patel and Sunny Singh should have enough to et the better of Renegade B, who’s skipper Trevor Dias will need to pick a good order if they are going to win this match.

Should Renegade B lose then they will be pitched in against Derbyshire’s Ilkeston B. Ilkeston B who’s skipper Ellie Pollard will need to make sure her players are at the top of their game if they to get anything out of this match. Although Renegade lost their first match I think they will come back and win this one.

Interestingly enough, when Ilkeston B take on Leicester City in the final I think that Ilkeston B will come back from their defeat in the last match and will win this match and set up a count back situation and that means which team will go through will be a toss up. I think that Renegade B will clock up enough frames to ensure it’s them that go through in this group.

Table Twenty Four
Now this is the kind of group I love, where all three teams are group winning material, but obviously only one can. It will be a blood bath but a great spectacle, England’s new men’s manager Robert Uzzell is also the captain of Renegade A (Berkshire) and they take on West Midlands Small Heath led by Dave Preece. Small Heath are way beyond the other two teams in terms of experience. This is head to head stuff and history has no part to play when the teams clash. Small Heath are not the best of starters, but once warmed up are proven last eight material. I think Renegade will take the early advantage but it will be eroded away by Small Heath until they get the ascendancy and once that happens Renegade A won’t catch Small Heath.

Renegade A will then have to take on Reds1 (Warwickshire) which should be an easier task than squaring up to Small Heath. I feel that Renegade will struggle in this mach because they will still feel deflated at letting their advantage slip in the previous match. This in turn will make Renegade A’s task harder. So it will be neck and neck all the way until the Reds just make it to the finishing line before Renegade A.

This will give Small heath the edge when they take on Reds 1 and although Red 1 can compete with Small Heath the narrowness of their win over Renegade A will give Small heath the option of the draw. This safety net for Small Heath will turn out to be the reason they will win this match and the group.

Table Twenty Five
This is another group with two cracking teams in it, Wigan (Lancashire) will start their campaign against Cherry Tuckers (Nottinghamshire) even with John Brinksworth, Andy Hind and Lee Boulton in their line up they can’t really compare themselves to Wigan who can call on Carl Bromley, Lee Bridge, Geoff Harrison, Shaun Dawber and of course skipper Ian Davenport. Look at that lot and you can see the size of the task facing the Cherry Tuckers. Sadly I think it’s a task that is beyond them and that Wigan will cruise to the win, sit back and watch how well the third team in the group does against them.

Bedfordshire’s Bedford A are the third team in this group so things are not going to get any better for the Cherry Tuckers. Bedford has James Griffin, Mark Seaman, Paul Frith and Terry Teivans. They all have bags of experience and that alone should be enough to see them through this match so it will be the end of the road for Cherry Tuckers, for them it’s the bar to drown their sorrows, poor little tuckers.

This will set up a group decider between two teams who are usually group winners but obviously, only one team can go through. This is going to be a close match but with Wigan being the more successful of the two teams I am going to say that Wigan will be the ones to come out of this match knowing that they will be playing again later in the day.

Table Twenty Six
This group has another of the South Yorkshire teams in it and in this case it’s Dinnington opening up the group against Hampshire’s Andover who should be a strong team so Dinnington will have to produce some quality pool if they have any notions of beating Hampshire. My thoughts are that Dinnington, skipper Vince Ley will not have access to the amount of fire power he will need to knock Andover out of the water.

Dinnington should have enough on board to show newcomers Clitheroe (Lancashire) that life is far from easy in the Interleague. Clitheroe could be forgiven for thinking that Dinnington might be a bit of a push over, having just seen them loose to Andover. However, Dinnington are a good side. Just not as good as Andover maybe. My feelings are that Dinnington will beat Clitheroe quite easily leaving Andover the luxury of only needing the draw when they play Clitheroe.

This could be one the first groups to finish on Saturday afternoon because I think that when Andover play Clitheroe, Andover will go to town on the Lancashire outfit so they can sit back and have a nice long rest before they are called on to play again in the last 32

Table Twenty Seven
If this there is a group I am confident of getting the group winner right then this is the one Staffordshire’s Trent Trophies A are a team that you just don’t want to see in your group. It’s a bit like standing in the middle of the track at an F1 race, you know that every car in the race is top notch and that eventually one of them is going to knock you over it’s just a question of when, where and how much damage they wreak in the process . The only thing that Colchester (Essex) and Sheppey (Kent) can take out of this group is a good match between themselves.

Colchester have Steve Kane in their line up and he will not be phased by whoever he has to play and would seem to be their best chance of a point against Trent Trophies. but in order to compete with the Staffordshire side Colchester would need another six Steve Kane’s, unfortunately they do not, but don’t .think I am saying they will only get a point or two , I am not, I am just saying that Steve Kane is their most likely player to get the ball rolling.

Colchester will then have to take on Mark Sheather’s Sheppey A this will be a much more even match and probably will end up as a draw. Sheppey A has Old white socks, Dave Norris and Scott Bootes in their line up.

Sheppey will then take their turn to be battered by Trent Trophies A

Table Twenty Eight
This table has two newcomers, certainly as a team, playing first which will be interesting to watch as neither ream will know what to expect from the other. I feel that of the two teams playing the first match Surrey’s Tolworth II will be the more likely to win, if only because they are the second string to Surrey’s best team over the years, Tolworth, some of the magic dust will have fallen in the direction of Tolworth II. All this may be a tad unfair on Nottinghamshire’s Hinckley, especially as I have never seen them play but 9: am Saturday morning will see whether I am right or wrong on this one.

Hinckley will then take on Bedfordshire’s Luton Elite, they have been here before but have failed to make an impression so I can’t see them doing too much damage to Hinckley but I feel they will still be good enough to beat the boys from Notts.

This will set up a group decider between Luton Elite and Tolworth II somewhat surprisingly, I think this will be a tight match as Luton Elite will up their game a couple of notches.

When it comes down to it though I don’t think Luton Elite will have enough notches to stop Tolworth II from making it through to the last 32,

Table Twenty Nine
Derbyshire’s McCluskey's led by Jon Shapland had a great run in the April event when as a largely unknown team they ruffled a few feathers and reached the last 16 before going out. Using the fact you are unknown only works once here teams soon cotton on to the fact that your team can play. London’s waterloo has been here before but has not really made that bigger impression on the event. So I can’t really see them being able to overcome a confident McCluskey's. I don’t think it will be one way traffic in favour of McCluskey's but neither do I think that Waterloo will give the Derbyshire team too much to worry about.

Next up for Waterloo if I am right will be Oxfordshire’s Bicester Select who are as far as I can tell at about the same level of development as a team so this one will be close with both teams trading frames with Waterloo just running out the winners.

When McCluskey's take on Bicester Select in the final group match McCluskey's will be aiming for getting the job done as fast as possible. Although Bicester Select will try to give them as good as they get. I fear it won’t be enough to stop McCluskey's making it through the group stage and in to the last 32 with relative ease.

Table Thirty
Godalming A (Surrey) take on Grove Elite (West Yorkshire) in the opening match in this group. Godalming captain Steve Brooker should have enough quality in the squad to over come what ever Grove Elite skipper Neil Burchall can throw at him.

Paul Paddick’s Bicester County Club (Oxfordshire) will take on the losers of match one, Grove Elite. This match should be like so many others, a nice evenly balanced contest. That said, I feel that Grove Elite have a slightly better chance of winning this tussle.

This should mean that the clash between Godalming A and Grove Elite will be for the right to move forward to the last 32. I can’t see any further then Godalming winning this match and the group.

Table Thirty One
Has West Midlands’s Walsall A, who are by far the best team in this group if you look at the ranking list. They will be playing East Yorkshire’s Beverley B. and I am sure that Beverley will not come all the way from East Yorkshire just to lose and go home. If Beverley are to do anything in this match then skipper Lee Oxley will have to do some home work and work out where he will be playing his strongest players.

Walsall A can be beaten but Beverley will have to play to their top game. All that said I can’t really see any other result than Walsall A winning.

The Beverley versus Gosport (Hampshire) match will be tough for Beverley as well because Gosport will fancy their chances against Walsall A. that being the case, Gosport will do all they can to win this match and for that reason I think Beverley will loose this match as well and bow out of this tears knock out cup.

Gosport A’s tie with Walsall A will go the same way as the opening match in this group where Gosport think they can beat Walsall and will give it a real go but Walsall will wear them down and eventually win the match and the group.

Table Thirty Two
Warwickshire’ Reds Elite take on Surrey’s Croydon in the opening match in this group. For Gary Swettenham and the rest of his Croydon team it will be a relief to be back playing here after missing out in April to post man not delivering their booking forms. That is now in the past and they will be out to make up for lost time.

They team they intend to take their frustrations out on will be Reds Elite. I think that Reds Elite will give Croydon a rude lesson on how harsh this game is at times and beat them to the punch and win the match.

This will mean the Croydon will have to try and beat Leicestershire’s City of Leicester and sadly for City of Leicester I think they will which will all but hand the group over to Reds Elite. To be honest I think that even if City of Leicester beat Croydon, Reds Elite would still have won the group, they would just have had to work a little harder.

Tom Fahy
Tournament Director

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