The last match in the Winter League 2018-19 was the final of the Team Handicap KO Cup which, as the name indicates, allocates a handicap to each individual player. This allows players from lower divisions to play against the stronger higher placed teams with a points start which enabling closer games.
Thirty-eight teams entered with the first matches being played in October 2018. All told there were six rounds with the final being played, at a neutral venue, between Prudhoe and District United Services Club and Cramlington Trojans on the last day of March 2019.
The route to the final for Prudhoe was 6-3 against Ouston A; 5-1 against Brandon Bravehearts; 5-4 against Cramlington Cobras and 5-4 against Cramlington Falcons.
The Trojans advance was through a 6-3 win over Cramlington Dragons; 5-4 against Ouston B; 7-2 against Cramlington Jaguars and 5-4 against Mount B.
In the Final Prudhoe’s team was Andrew Firth, Maurice Cheek and Mark O’Connor. Jack Cairns, Alastair Johnson and Israel Shodeinde made up the Trojans.
Match 1 saw Andrew Firth giving a 7 point start to Alastair Johnson which he overcome to take the first game for Prudhoe.
Match 2 followed with Mark O’Connor giving 10 points to Jack Cairns. O’Connor found the rapidly improving Cairns too much and lost in 2 ends to make the match score one all.
The following 2 matches saw Maurice Cheek loose to Israel Shodeinde and O’Connor loose to Johnson both in 2 ends.
Match 5 between Firth and Shodeinde was the first 3 ender when Firth overcome the 8 start of Shodeinde to win 21-12; 11-21 and 21-18.
In match 6 Cheek lost against Cairns.
Match 7 again showed Firth overcoming an 8 point start when he beat Shodeinde 21-19; 21-19 to bring the score to 3 points for Prudhoe and 4 points to Trojans. The next match was going to be crucial.
Match 8 saw Cheek play Johnson with Johnson having a 4 point start. Never the less Johnson found Cheek’s pimples a little difficult and lost the first end to Cheek 21-12. In end 2 Johnson recovered to take the end 18-12. The last was again tight. At the half way turnover Johnson seemed to have the game in hand but Cheek stepped up to make it 19-16 to him. Johnson reacted and drew back the score to 20 all. In a nail biting finish Johnson then took the last 2 points to make it 20-22 to Trojans thus winning the overall match 5-3.
Firth and Cairns had both won their 2 matches and though the match was won it was good to see them playing in a ding dong match in which Firth was narrowly beaten, 21-17; 16-21 and 18-21.
The KO Cup and runner up and trophies from winter league and closed tournament will be presented at Goals Newcastle, High Gosforth Park, Newcastle, NE3 5HP on Friday 10 May.
With the last of the winter matches finalised players can now enjoy the Summer League which begins on Monday 13 May.