JW Blyden Veterans Handicap Trophy Final – Mick Coxon v Phil Fitzgerald
This year’s winner of the JW Blyden Trophy is Phil Fitzgerald of Birkdale Cons after he beat Mick Coxon of Churchtown Cons 2-1 at Les Dodd’s last Tuesday night. It is Phil’s first ever Individual Cup win and it came against a player who has made four of the last five finals, winning the cup in 2011, 2012 & 2013.
Phil, who was giving Mick a handicap start of 24, didn’t exactly see things go to plan in the opening frame as Mick pounced on each and every mistake the Birkdale player made. After potting four opening reds Phil missed four blacks to hand the initiative to Mick who made three breaks of 16 or more off these bad missed shots. Phil tried to rally some sort of comeback but Mick powered his way to a 98 points to 20 win to take the opening frame.
The second frame started slowly until Mick played a poor safety shot enabling Phil to step in. After getting the handicap back with 6 reds left, ‘Fitzy’ looked favourite to level the match up. This he did after taking the yellow, green and brown; though he miscalculated the score trying to roll the blue over the bag with what he thought was then a 19 point lead. The lead was in fact 18 and Mick could tie the frame up with the remaining three balls. Mick put the blue safe but Phil fluked the blue and potted the pink to win the frame 66-37.
The third and final frame went the way of Phil in next to no time as the ‘King of the Twenty breaks’ made his customary ‘20 break’ with three contributions of 24, 36 and 22 to take the frame and match away from Mick 88-54. Both players had large slices of luck, as well as a bit of bad run, and both players had chances to win the final frame. But it was Phil who took the prize away this year for his first Individual cup triumph, though I’m sure Mick will be back next year, trying to win the trophy back for a record fourth time. Phil still has chance of more silverware as he has a semi-final against Gareth Hibbott in the James Yates later this week.
Phil had beaten Dave Mills of Les Dodd’s in the semi-final 2-1, with a very memorable pink to black to take the final third frame. Mick beat Andy Day of Birkdale Cons 2-0 in his semi-final match, which saw both players get involved in a right royal battle of safety play.
Southport Cons beat Birkdale Cons 4-2 to stay top of the division, 1 point clear of Bretherton B, who are now their only challengers to the 3rd Division title. The win meant a win double for the Bath street side over Birkdale this year and stopped their opponents any chance of getting into any of the top two positions. Matty Pollock lost out to John Warnick in a close match 68-57 as Ste Mawdsley breezed past David Robinson by 50 points, beating him 76-24. The middle pairings went the way of the home side as Jeff Wainwright and John Blackhurst both secured good wins over Peter Wilding and Reg Dobson. Colin Paul won his 18th match of the season when beating John Stringfellow 73-39, leaving him one win away from claiming the most wins in all three divisions this year, with John Barton failing to stop Geoff Tyas beating him 56-25. Birkdale can look back on their season with a touch of ‘What if…?’ after being the run-away leaders at the start of the season they went on a run of only getting two wins out of the next nine matches from November to February. Maybe next year it will be their year. For Southport they go to 2nd placed Bretherton B this week holding a 1 point lead in a winner takes all match. When the sides met just before Christmas it ended up in a 3-3 draw, which would be enough for Southport to claim their first ever 3rd Division title. Southport’s best effort in this division is the 2nd place they managed back in 2013, making this week’s encounter at Bretherton all the more important to both sides.
Bretherton B matched the result of their league leaders when beating 5th placed Churchtown Cons D 4-2 to set up a mouth watering clash of 1st v 2nd in the league this week. William Moulton suffered only his 4th loss of the season when losing out to Dave Quinn 55-46 as Alan Venable levelled up the frames when beating Mick Pickles 61-44. The middle pairings went the way of the visitors with Simon Moulton beating Al Graham 71-10, only Al’s 2nd league defeat this year, with Phil Iddon gaining a 57-20 win over Steve Mentha. Bretherton’s Nev Marsden got his first away win of the season when defeating Russ Walsh 55-37 as Tony Wakefield fought back for the Con club by beating Ste Fiddler 68-21. Bretherton have only lost once at home all year, with Southport Cons only losing the one away match this year funnily enough to the same opponent Churchtown Cons D. Also, Bretherton, just like Southport, have not won the 3rd Division title before, they did finish runners-up back in 2010 making this week’s match all the more important for both sides.
Les Dodd’s C drew 3-3 with Birkdale Cons C to see them miss out on claiming any of the top two positions in the league being as they have now completed all of their league fixtures. They finished on 82 points from their 22 played, winning 12 times along the way, this team’s best return in the league for over four years. They could still achieve a bit of silverware yet, as they have a semi-final meeting with fellow divisional side Fleetwood Hesketh B to look forward to. Anthony Dodd suffered his first defeat of the season going down 84-49 to Phil Horan with Martin Cusack gaining his 18th win of the year when beating Phil Green 54-23. Harry Wilby beat Andy Day 57-31 with Birkdale’s Martin Calvert snatching a final black ball win off Danny Clegg in a 45-42 win. With Doddy’s turning up a player short it meant that Kevin Woodfull had to win to avoid a third defeat of the season. This he did when beating Geoff Wright in a close game 47-36.
Scarisbrick B were humbled 6-0 at home by bottom of the league Banks D, giving the visitors only their 3rd win of the year in this their debut season. Scarisbrick themselves only have two wins to their name this year, but still sit some nine points clear of their victors in the table. Banks have eventually found enough players to turn out each and every week and Captain Coakley has been rewarded for his efforts in trying to keep the team together. Scarisbrick’s Eric Stockley and Colin Rimmer lost the opening frames to Darren McDonnell and Paul Wallwork respectively, Darren making a 22 break in his match against Eric. The opening 2-0 lead was then double when Alan Wilson beat Ian Lowery 51-39 and Eric Hollin beat John Brown by a similar margin, 55-32. The full house six came after Captain Coakley led his team to a 64-38 win over Peter Simpson with Gerry Stone snatching the last frame on the black, beating John Hardisty 47-42. Scarisbrick do have something left to play for this year, a Rickerby Cup semi-final date with Bretherton A, a competition that have seen then finish runners-up on no less than three occasions before.
Waddington Cons C v Churchtown Cons C – no result or card received yet.