SIMPLY THE BEST: First division champions Diamond Inn. From left John Williams, Mark Humble, Gary Close (captain), Dale Brydon, and James Teasdale. Not pictured are Scott Parkin, Tom Stobart and Paul Dunn
SIMPLY THE BEST: First division champions Diamond Inn. From left John Williams, Mark Humble, Gary Close (captain), Dale Brydon, and James Teasdale. Not pictured are Scott Parkin, Tom Stobart and Paul Dunn

Teesdale Winter Pool League

THE finals and presentation night of Teesdale Pool League, sponsored by Colin Watson PVCU Windows, was held at Barnard Castle Workingmen’s Club and was a fitting conclusion to another successful season.

The race for the division one championship was the most competitive it has been for a number of years, with four teams in the hunt for the majority of the season.

It was only in the closing stages that last season’s runners up, the Diamond Inn, Butterknowle, began to emerge as favourites and duly went on to take the title.

The Diamond Inn dedicated their victory to their team mate Les Wilkinson, who sadly passed away recently.

Finishing just two points behind in the runners-up spot were Bowes Workingmen’s Club B, who produced a consistent display all season to record their best league finish for 16 years.

A further two points behind were the defending champions, the Royal Oak Inn A, Butterknowle, who by their high standards had a disappointing season finishing in third place.

The division two championship was expected to be, and was, a one horse race, due to league debutants Barnard Castle Golf Club consisting mainly of established first division players.

The team went through the season undefeated to finish ten points clear of their nearest rivals.

The runners-up spot was taken by Barnard Castle Workingmen’s Club, who moved into second spot just after the half way point of the season, and kept their foot on the gas to eventually finish four points clear of the chasing pack.

The best of the rest were early league leaders Smallways Inn B, Newsham, who recovered from a mid-season slump to clinch third place only by virtue of frame difference.

The doubles knock-out final was an all Royal Oak Inn A, contest between three-time previous champions Martin Walton and Alan Stobart, and two-time champions Peter Todd and Mark Little.

Both pairs had chances to take the first frame, however, it was Martin and Alan who were the more clinical to take the early lead.

Old Well

Peter and Mark then hit back to level the match following some fine safety play to claim the second frame, before moving into the lead following an open third frame in which Mark took out a seven ball clearance.

The next frame was a tactical battle until an error let Peter and Mark in to clinch victory 3-1, and claim the title for the third time in the last four seasons.

The singles knock-out final was an open, entertaining encounter between previous runner-up James Teasdale, of the Diamond Inn, and previous champion and doubles winner Mark Little.

It was Mark who was quickest out of the blocks to take the early lead following missed chances by both players in the first frame.

By now Mark had his eye in and proceeded to win the next frame to extend his lead as he punished any small errors made by James. The tone of the match had now been set and there was to be no magical comeback by James, as Mark took out a clearance to wrap up a 3-0 win, and claim the title for the second time in the last four seasons.

The team knock-out final was an evenly contested affair between Barnard Castle Cricket Club and Barnard Castle Golf Club in which all the frames could have gone either way.

It was the Golf Club who got their noses in front with a win by Craig Hamilton over Josh Bousfield, before being pegged back to 1-1 by the Cricket Club with a win by Charles Walton over Phil Weldon.

The Golf Club then restored their lead when Geoff Lamb defeated Adam Smith, before extending the advantage to 3-1 to put themselves within one frame of victory with a win by their captain Andy Hall over Tom Hutchinson.

In the fifth frame, Chris Wheel, of the Cricket Club, was handed a lifeline as the Golf Club’s Andrew Sugden committed a foul when he was well set.

However Chris wasn’t able to capitalise on the mistake. Andrew recovered to eventually edge out his opponent and claim the title for his team, before John Raine added a consolation for the Cricket Club with a win over Colin MacLeod to make the final score 4-2 to the Golf Club.

A new trophy was introduced this season for the most league wins in division one. This was won by Mark Humble, of the Diamond Inn, who won 14 out of 16 of his singles matches.

Two further trophies were also presented for the most sporting teams in each division. These were awarded to the Cross Keys, Gainford, for division one, and the Moorcock Inn A, Eggleston, for division two.

Geoff Lamb