Sunday saw the annual Champion’s Cup return to the Magna Centre in Rotherham, where 37 Men’s team and 31 Ladies’ team battle it out to be crowned Champions of Champions.
Teams were drawn into eight groups, where they participated in the round robin stages, with one winner from each team progressing into the knock-out quarter final stages.
MEN’S CHAMPIONS CUP:
Group one saw Walsham safely through to the knockout stages, winning all four or their games over Speke (Merseyside), Welshpool A (Montgomery and Radnor), White House (Northumberland) and Hunters A (Lincolnshire) and topping the group eight points clear. They would play Group Two winners Carterton A (Oxfordshire) who narrowly edged out Easington Colliery Men (County Durham); both teams finished on 25 points, with three wins each, but won through on leg difference, which also knocked out Bar 501 (West of England), Foelas A (Gwynedd) and Debbie Boys (Berkshire).
Clwyd’s Shamrock Men, despite losing one match, moved into the quarterfinals, one point clear of Rye Abbey (Hertfordshire) in Group Three. Kepston Con Club (Bedfordshire), Bishopsgate Men (Warwickshire) and Batchley Club (Worcestershire) each won two group games. Group Four saw Surrey’s Walton Working Men take all four round robin matches to secure a last eight place, beating North Ormesby Working Men (Cleveland), Brightlingsea (Essex), Shoulder of Mutton (Staffordshire) and Norwich (Norfolk).
Reigning Champions Castle Bar, in a group of four following the late withdrawal of Cwm Rhondda (Glamorgan), secured wins against Aberdeen C (Grampian), Stranraer A (Ayrshire) and Pontnewwydd Cons (Gwent) to move into the knockout stages. There they met Group Six winners Coppenhall A (Cheshire) who pipped Southampton (Hampshire) to top spot by three points. Bath and Bristol (Somerset), Mill Hill (Middlesex) and Dorchester (Dorset) won nil, one and two stage games respectively.
The final two groups, consisting of four teams, saw Rochdale Borough (Lancashire) and Welling A (London) secure the final two quart-final spots. Both teams won all three of their group matches, with Rochdale Borough beating Whitwick (Leicestershire), Pinxton (Derbyshire) and Fordham (Cambridgeshire) and Welling A seeing off Worthing (Sussex), Muff Boyz (Devon) and Arnold (Nottinghamshire).
The first quarterfinal matches saw Walsham defeated by Carterton A 7-2, whilst a tight match between Shamrock and Walton Working Men’s saw the Welsh side edge out their opponents 5-4.
Castle Bar, despite having just eight men, progressed into the semi-finals with a 5-4 win over Coppenhall A, where they would face close rivals Rochdale Borough, who beat Welling A by the same 5-4 scoreline.
Shamrock once again produced another 5-4 win, this time over Oxfordshire’s Carterton A, whilst Rochdale Borough got the better of Castle Bar 5-4 to move into the final.
The final match saw team Shamrock, consisting of Dave Harold, Pete Watkins, Tony Martin, Michael Warburton, Mark Pritchard, Dafydd Edwards, Paul Dulson, Simon Roberts and Terry Tweedle face Rochdale Borough’s James Marcroft, Dave Rawstron, Chris O’Connor, Pete Harper, Carl Sneyd, Gary Jackson, Rob Rickwood, Ben Fairley and Nathan Care. Rochdale Borough, captained by Dave Marcroft, reached the required 5 legs before all matches had finished to take the 2019 title of Champions of Champions.
LADIES CHAMPIONS CUP:
It was the aptly named Victory Vixens from Nottinghamshire who narrowly edged out both Cubbington (Warwickshire) and Levy (Devon) by one point to move into the quart-finals, with all three team beating Whitstable (Kent) to face Lancashire’s Bolton Ladies who sailed through Group Two with three wins over Jammie Doughnuts (Bedfordshire), Chillington (West Midlands) and Radstock (Somerset).
Group Three and Four also produced clear winners, with reigning champions The Flyers (Cambridgeshire) taking group three, beating Lytchett (Dorset), Wymondham (Norfolk) and Chelmsford (Essex) and Civil Defence A (Lincolnshire) sealing strong wins over Knighton (Montgomery and Radnor), Watford (Hertfordshire) and Hillingdon (Middlesex).
Derbyshire’s Newhall Ladies, following wins over Batchley Club (Worcestershire), Grove’s B (Clwyd) and Billingham B (Cleveland) topped group five, where they would progress to meet Riley’s (Cheshire), who also took a clean sweep of group stage victories over Grey Horse (Northumberland), The Bradley Ladies (Staffordshire) and Legends (Gwent).
Groups Seven saw a close group finish between Eccleshill VC (Yorkshire) and Dolly Mixtures (Berkshire), who both beat Upper Afan Valley (Glamorgan) and Dingle Ladies (Merseyside), saw the Yorkshire throwers through to the last eight. Group Eight, which consisted of just three team, saw Surrey’s Fruitloops through to face the eventual champions with wins over Stowmarket Queens (Suffolk) and Eastbourne Ladies (Sussex).
With the quarterfinals a race to three, there were understandably some close matches. Bolton Ladies were first through to the semi-finals, beating Victory Vixens 4-1. They would face Civil Defence A, when at 2-2, it was a battle between the two captains for the win, they edged out the 2018 Champions.
Newhall were 4-1 casualties to Cheshire’s Rileys Ladies, whilst another close match between Surrey’s Fruitloops and Yorkshire’s Eccleshill VC saw the latter move into the semi finals with a 3-2 win.
Bolton Ladies came out the right side of a 3-2 battle over Civil Defence A to move into the final, where they would face their close BICC rivals Eccleshill VC after they defeated Rileys 4-1.
Dee Bateman, Linda Moorhouse, Emma Lockwood, Michelle Binns and Giffy Khaosoi, with support from team members Jayne Conboy and Leah Wiltshire, stepped up in the final match for Eccleshill VC to play against Anne-Marie Millership, Dawn Shaw, Gina Jones, Ally Smith and Ellen Fletcher from Bolton. Wins for Bateman, Lockwood and Khaosoi saw the Yorkshire side win this ‘battle of the roses’ and crowned 2019 Champions Cup winners.
Photos - Dean Coe