Believe it – they did it again!
Norton B avenged their defeat in the League by winning the Sentinel Cup Final for the third year in a row, but it went to the wire. Every point was played with gusto and the spectators could not have asked for better matches to watch on a great night out.
The toss was made and Norton B were declared the home team and their first player to the table was Chris Bailey against Brian Johns and it was a cracker of a match. It was nip and tuck in the first game with Chris winning 11-9. In the second, Chris was 8-2 up, but back came Brian to level at 9 all, then Chris managed another 11-9 win. Brian then took the next two sets at 11-6 and 11-5 and we were set for a grand fifth game. Chris took an early lead 5-3, went 8-4 up and then 10-5, winning 11-6 to take the first scalp.
Next up were Neil Hough and Dave Savage and Dave took the first 11-8 and then the second 11-5. Neil came back taking the third 11-7, but the fourth was level all the way 7-7, then 9-9, but Dave came out on top 12-10, putting Norton A on level terms at 1 all.
Then came Norton B’s Paul Malkin against Mark Evans. Paul took the first 11-4, but Mark took the next three 11-7, 11-8 and 11-8 to give the A team a 2-1 lead. Neil Hough then took on Brian Johns, with Brian winning by 3 sets to one and it was 3-1 for the Norton A team.
Chris Bailey and Mark Evans were next on the table and Mark took the first set 11-8. The second and third games went to Chris, but Mark came back taking the fourth by an impressive 11-4, so it was all to play for. Chris started off with a 5-1 lead, went 7-3 up, but Mark pulled it back to level at 8-8 and it was tense. Was Mark going to pull it off and take his A side to a 4-1 lead. Not as far as Chris was concerned, who finally took it with an 11-9 win.
The next match between Paul Malkin and Dave Savage was all down to Paul, but not to say that Dave didn’t play some fantastic shots with Paul winning 11-7; 11-5 and 11-1. So it was 3 all. Neil and Mark then faced each other and this turned out to be a straight 3 sets win for Mark at 11-7; 11-5 and 11-9 and the A side were 4-3 up.
The penultimate match was eagerly awaited between Paul Malkin and Brian Johns. If Brian won it would all be over and the A team would regain the Cup, but Paul wasn’t having any of it. He took the first two sets, then Brian took the next. In the fourth it seemed to be all over when Paul went 10-8 up, but Brian was serving and they drew level at 10 all and Brian then took the next two points and we had another fifth set decider. 0-4 down, 3-8 down and 3-10 down and it look to be all over for Brian, but he never ever gives up and started to haul back the deficit to 10-7 and every point kept everyone on edge, until Paul pulled it off 11-9.
4 sets all and it was all set for the decider. Up to the table came Chris Bailey and Dave Savage. Chris had lost to Dave in the league match the previous week, which had given the A team the Premier League title. Chris started well and took the first set 11-4 and eventually the second at 11-8. Chris then went 6-4, then 7-5 up in the third, but Dave came back to make it 8-8. It then went 10-9 to Chris and he was serving, but he served off giving a 10-10 score, but he then managed to take the next two points winning 12-10 to give the B side another win.
All the players gave their all and there was some superb play and lots of unbelievable shots and it took over 3 hours to play the 9 games. The Cup and individual trophies were awarded to the applause of the spectators, who went home very happily, wishing they could play at the same level as these best 6 players in the Potteries.
Chris Bailey beat Brian Johns 11-9; 11-9; 6-11; 5-11; 11-6.
Neil Hough lost to Dave Savage 8-11; 5-11; 11-7; 10-12.
Paul Malkin lost to Mark Evans 11-4; 7-11; 8-11; 8-11.
Neil Hough lost to Brian Johns 8-11; 11-7; 7-11; 6-11.
Chris Bailey beat Mark Evans 8-11; 11-8; 11-8; 4-11; 11-9.
Paul Malkin beat Dave Savage 11-7; 11-5; 11-1.
Neil Hough lost to Mark Evans 7-11; 6-11; 9-11.
Paul Malkin beat Brian Johns 11-9; 11-7; 9-11; 11-13; 11-9.
Chris Bailey beat Dave Savage 11-4; 11-8; 12-10.