AIPL 2016-2017 end of season review

18 June 2017 13:00:00 Posted By Felix
Last Updated: 18 June 2017 13:10:00

The Charity Shield

The competition proved a success when first run last season so was run again this season, this year held at Rivets it featured the Knock Out Cup holders New Zealand "B" (formally The Vic now playing from a new venue) versus the Plate Cup winners Shootpool Sharks.

Raising money this year for Dementia UK who offer specialist one-to-one support and expert advice for people living with dementia and who in 2015 celebrated 25 years of Admiral Nursing.

Match was very one-sided, New Zealand "B" took a 4-0 lead, before Robin Meads and Matt Stone pulled two frames back to make it 4-2 at half-time.

However it was all wrapped up in the first frame of the captains' pick's as Gerry Romano won it for New Zealand "B".

But most important aspect of the night was the charity side and the league raised a fantastic £652.57 (more than double last year).

Thanks to everyone who donated towards the cause.

Special mentions:

Shootpool Sharks donating their £80 prize money.

New Zealand "B" donating their £60 prize money.

SP Blacks donating their £50 prize money.

Top John donating their £30 prize money.

Martin Langley, David Feore, Larry Baker and James Connor for their Shootpool Monday Singles Pool League or Shootpool Blackball Singles League leagues prize money.

£45 from the AIPL committee for single visit clearances.

Amber Carter for creating and running the football cards - plus those that generously gave prizes for the cards - that raised an incredible £176.

Penny Mines for going around the venue all night and raising £121 with collection buckets.

Thank you again to everyone who donated to the cause.

Charity Shield Winners: New Zealand "B"

Division 2

So after The Charity Shield, the league campaigns begun.

Division 2 had 9 teams this year, one more than in each of the last 2 years, with the teams playing from six different venues.

This year the division featured 2 all-ladies teams – Shootpool Spitfires and Cotton Wheel Kittens.

Shootpool Blues set the early pace winning first 2 matches 11-1 and 8-4, but The Roths opened with 5 wins of 8-4, including one in week 3 over Shootpool Blues.

Wonky Weavers were the third team closely involved in title race and they ended The Roths' unbeaten start with a 7-5 win in Week 8 in late November.

The halfway stage saw Shootpool Blues 5 points clear of The Roths who in turn were 5 points clear of Wonky Weavers.

Many thought the title race over following Week 12 at the end of January which saw Shootpool Blues beat The Roths 10-2 and open up a 12 point lead at the top of the table.

But The Roths fought back and erased the gap completely in the next 2 weeks, although Shootpool Blues still had a match in hand which they won to move back 8 points ahead.

Shootpool Ringers then did their venue rivals no favours as they defeated Shootpool Blues to see the lead cut to 3 points with 2 matches left.

And with 1 match left the 2 teams were level with Shootpool Blues losing their second match in a row and The Roths again winning at home.

So the title went down to the wire, and the last night of the division provided some drama.

At 9:45pm, The Roths were 6-3 up whilst Shootpool Blues were 4-2 down, leaving The Roths 4 points clear at the top.

But then Shootpool Ringers did help their venue rivals as they fought to the end and won the last 3 frames to draw 6-6 with The Roths.

And Shootpool Blues won 5 frames in a row to mean they won the league by a single point.

Can't get much closer.

Division 2 Runners-Up: The Roths

Division 2 Winners: Shootpool Blues

Division 2 Most Wins

Last 2 seasons, only 1 player got over 20 wins, but this season 6 players won 20 or more, coming from 5 different teams with Shootpool Ringers having 2 players.

It was a repeat winner this year – Ed Knotwell - who last year won 12 of 14 in the second half of the season, improving this season by going 13 of 15 in the second half.

Fantastic achievement to win the trophy for the second year running.

Division 2 Most Wins Winner: Ed Knotwell

Division 1

This year there were 9 teams, up 2 from last year, and like Division 2 the teams were from 6 different venues.

Featured 2 strong teams from ShootpoolShootpool Snipers and Shootpool 'A' – although one quite literally didn't turn up in Week 1 and effectively played their first match on -3 points.

That was 1 of 2 matches awarded in Week 1 as the division got off to a rocky start for the second season in a row.

Pre-season favourites Shootpool Snipers saw their unbeaten start to the season end in Week 3 with defeat to Bricklayers Arms.

Bricklayers Arms themselves lasted unbeaten until Week 8 when they lost to Shootpool 'A', the result seeing Shootpool 'A' move above their opponents into second place behind Shootpool Snipers.

Halfway stage of the season saw Shootpool Snipers lead by 6 points from Bricklayers Arms with Shootpool 'A' 11 points further back.

Week 11 saw Honey Bee Stingerz put a sting in Bricklayers Arms title bid as they won 7-5 away.

And Shootpool Snipers cemented their lead at the top the next week with an 8-4 win over their title rivals Bricklayers Arms.

Shootpool 'A' produced one of the fightbacks of the season as from 4-0 down they won 7 consecutive frames to beat the table toppers Shootpool Snipers for the second time in the season and move into second place.

That set up Shootpool 'A' versus Bricklayers Arms in a penultimate week showdown for the second promotion spot and it was the Shootpool side who were victorious 9-3.

That left Bricklayers Arms needing to win 10-2 or better in their last match to move back into the Top 2 and they fell just short 7-5.

Shootpool Snipers meanwhile had wrapped up the title one week early with a dominating 10-2 home win over Aristocrat.

Second consecutive Division 1 trophies for Wayne Thorne and Ryan Englefield after they won it with Shoot 8-Ball last season.

It's also the third consecutive Division 1 title, and sixth in last seven years, for a Shootpool based team.

Division 1 Runners Up: Shootpool 'A'

Division 1 Winners: Shootpool Snipers

Division 1 Most Wins

The Top 10 was dominated by the 3 teams that finished in the Top 3 in the division - Shootpool Snipers with 4 players in the Top 7, Bricklayers Arms with 3 in the Top 9 and Shootpool 'A' with 2 in the Top 10.

Special mention goes to Michael Bailey of Weavers Warriors who was the only player not from the Top 3 teams – finishing in 8th place with 19 wins.

From second half of the season, it was a largely a 3 horse race between James Connor and Richard Ilsley (both Shootpool Snipers) and Andy Taylor from Bricklayers Arms.

Teammates James and Richard always seemed to be one ahead of Andy.

Went down to the last match where two wins for Richard coupled with two losses for James saw Richard win the trophy.

Division 1 Most Wins winner: Richard Ilsley

Premier Division

Before this season, Shoot Vetz had won 4 consecutive titles – matching the John Kennedy A side from late 90's and early 00's who won 4 in a row - but Shoot Vetz folded this year, guaranteeing a new winner.

New Zealand "B" – as The Vic – had finished as runners up in the last 3 seasons and started as favourites this season in many peoples opinion.

For the third consecutive season, the division featured 10 teams, and like the other two divisions those teams played from 6 different venues.

The teams included The The Rivets who despite finishing bottom in 2015 - 2016 were kept up in the division whilst Shootpool 'A' who finished 9th were relegated.

The Rivets were the first team to finish bottom of the Premier but stay in the division next year since Britannia 'A' in 2007 - 2008.

Swanky and New Zealand "B" set the early pace with just 2 points between them after the first 4 weeks.

That gap increased however in Week 5 with New Zealand "B" destroying their venue rivals 10-2 to increase the lead at the top to 7 points with Swanky losing 7-5 to Shoot 8-Ball.

That win saw Shoot 8-Ball move to within a single point of Swanky.

The top of the table clash in Week 8 saw Luke Butler put Swanky 1-0 up and that was incredibly the first time New Zealand "B" had trailed in a match all season.

New Zealand "B" showed their class in the match, fighting back from trailing 3 times, to win the final 5 frames for an 8-4 win that gave them a 12 point lead at the top.

Week 10 saw the gap at the top increase to 20 points and many turned their attention to second place with 4 teams separated by 6 points.

Shoot 8-Ball now occupied that second place with an 8-4 win over The Yeoman that saw them swap places in the table with their opponents.

SP Blacks had struggled at the start of the season but were finding their form into the second half after Christmas and they inflicted the first defeat on New Zealand "B" with an 8-4 away win – winning the final 4 frames for a stunning victory.

Despite the defeat, New Zealand "B" were still 16 points clear with 7 to play, and they moved past 100 points the very next week.

Swanky and Shoot 8-Ball seemed to swap second place every week but a 10-2 win for SP Blacks over bottom side The The Rivets in Week 14 saw SP Blacks go second with 4 weeks to go.

The long awaited title for the New Zealand "B" team arrived 2 games early as they thrashed Shootpool 10-2 at home to clinch a well-deserved title.

New Zealand "B" then dented Swanky's hopes of second place as despite already being champions, they didn't take their foot off the gas and their 9-3 win saw Swanky drop to third as SP Blacks went above them with one week left.

The final week could have seen any of 3 teams finish in second and they ended up separated by just 2 points, with a resounding final day 11-1 victory for Shoot 8-Ball lifting them into second place at the end of the season.

Fantastic achievement for Shoot 8-Ball after back to back division wins to reach the Premier the past 2 years.

Meanwhile, The The Rivets finished bottom for the second consecutive year.

Premier Division Runners-Up: Shoot 8-Ball

Premier Division Winners: New Zealand "B"

Premier Division Most Wins

The rankings and chase for Most Wins were dominated by one player all season.

Luke Butler won 30 of his first 32 frames to seal the trophy – incredible form in such a competitive league.

Luke lost twice in the same match just once all season, however both frame losses were to Keith Jones, whilst he won 1 and lost 1 in the same match on 3 occasions, and won twice on the night 14 times during the season!

Larry Baker finished second with 28 wins, 1 ahead of Danny Lee who both had great seasons too.

As did Keith Jones who finished 6th with just 2 losses all year – Mark Game and Ben Marshall for those who are interested.

Premier Division Most Wins winner: Luke Butler

The Pubwatch Trophy

This trophy is awarded by the Aylesbury Invitation Pool League committee members at the end of the season to the team they feel most deserving of the award throughout the past season.

And this year's winners are Cotton Wheel Kittens.

The second all-ladies team the league has seen in 15+ years with a lot of the players playing competitively for the first time.

They struggled in early matches but as they further learnt the rules and got used to playing in the league, the matches and frames became really competitive, and the team never let the results get in the way of playing or enjoying and learning the game.

5 players on the team featured in the Mixed Doubles competition this season leading to a high turnout.

The Pubwatch Trophy winners: Cotton Wheel Kittens

Knockout Cup

The competition kept the format of last year that saw byes removed and all teams drawn to play matches in a qualifying round where win and you went through to the first round of the competition, lose and you entered the Plate Cup.

Having won the cup the previous three years, New Zealand "B" were going for their 4th cup title in a row which had not been achieved in this league before.

Qualifying Round saw 8 Premier teams, 2 from Division 1 and 4 from Division 2 go through to the First Round.

2 real shocks with The White Swan beating Premier opposition Shootpool and Misfits knocking out Bricklayers Arms from the division above them.

The First Round matches saw Chris Grigson win the 9th frame to send Division 2 side Shootpool Ringers through at the expense of Premier side and last year's Plate Cup winners Shootpool Sharks.

Other First Round matches all went to form or the team from the higher division.

New Zealand "B"'s quest for a quadruple failed at the Quarter-Final stage as they were knocked out by Shoot 8-Ball.

The Yeoman ended the cup romance of Division 2 side Shootpool Ringers whilst Shootpool Snipers ensured there was 1 non-Premier side in the semi-finals when they brushed aside The Rivets.

The Yeoman then beat SP Blacks 5-2 in the semi's that meant it was the 3rd year running SP Blacks had exited this competition at the semi-final stage.

The other semi was a lot closer and fiercely fought as Mark Game missed a sitter on the black to let Shootpool Snipers off the hook at 4-2 down and certain defeat, with Snipers recovering to win twice to level the match at 4-4.

Richard Ilsley and Shelley McDermott then played a nail-biting final frame that saw Shelley prevail for Shoot 8-Ball.

The Final therefore pitted The Yeoman versus Shoot 8-Ball.

And The Yeoman started the stronger taking the first 2 frames.

David Feore and Shelley McDermott erased that deficit but a thin cut on the black from Steve Redding put The Yeoman back in front.

Lars Bjart almost increased that lead in the sixth frame but narrowly missed the black, leaving Brendon Ensoll a clearance attempt to level the match that he took superbly.

The captains made their picks for the final three frames and it was David and Shelley who rewarded their captain's faith in them with their second wins in the match to see Shoot 8-Ball lift the trophy after an exhilarating final.

Knockout Cup Runners Up: The Yeoman

Knockout Cup Winners: Shoot 8-Ball

Plate Cup

Last year's runners-up Honey Bee Stingerz buzzed out at the first hurdle this year with defeat to John F Kennedy, whilst Shootpool Spitfires recovered from 3-0 down to beat Cotton Wheel Kittens 5-4 in a clash between the 2 all-ladies teams in the First Round.

The Quarter-Finals all went with league positions as Premier sides New Zealand 'A' and Shootpool beat Division 2 sides Shootpool Spitfires and The Roths respectively.

Division 1 sides Bricklayers Arms and John F Kennedy rounded out the semi-final qualifiers.

The draw for the semi-finals saw the 2 Premier sides paired together ensuring that a lower division side would feature in the final for the second consecutive year.

New Zealand "A" won that all-Premier clash and they would face John F Kennedy in the final after they never looked back in their semi by winning the opening three frames.

The final was a one side affair however, with New Zealand 'A' winning 5-0 for the first whitewash result in 6 years.

Plate Cup Runners Up: John F Kennedy

Plate Cup Winners: New Zealand "A"

Ladies Singles

Following complaints last year of the Ladies Singles and Mixed Doubles being held on the same day, the two competitions were split onto separate weekends.

That, however, unfortunately saw the number of entrants for Ladies Singles drop to 7.

Kathryn Brennan of Cotton Wheel Kittens almost pulled off the shock of the First Round as she led 2-1 against Wenda Hooton but Wenda eventually scraped through 3-2.

Sue Latham got revenge for the 2014 - 2015 final as she beat Amber Carter 3-0 to progress into the semi-finals.

They were joined in the semi-finals by Kylie MacLean and Laura Hunter, meaning 3 of the 4 players were from Shootpool Spitfires.

Sue and Kylie went the distance before Sue prevailed in the decisive frame to reach her 4th Ladies Singles final in 7 years.

Wenda won her semi-final 3-0 to make it an all Shootpool Spitfires affair.

The final was closely fought but Wenda ensured the trophy stayed in the Hooton family for another year as she followed her Mum's victory last year with a 4-1 win.

Ladies Singles Runner-Up: Sue Latham

Ladies Singles Winner: Wenda Hooton

Mixed Doubles

The tournament saw 15 pairings enter for the second consecutive year, featuring 6 ladies from Shootpool Spitfires and 5 from Cotton Wheel Kittens.

Same pairings changed partners before the tournament begun, for better or worse, with last year's runners-up Wenda Hooton & David Feore each finding new partners – Wenda with Adam Jackow and Feore with Wenda's Mum Sonia.

And as fate would have it, the two pairings were drawn together in the First Round with a wide awake and on form Feore proving the difference as he & Sonia won 3-0 in the blink of an eye.

Last year's champions also fell at the first hurdle this year as Penny Mines & Larry Baker were beaten by Max Burgess & Millie.

And the pairing of Amber Carter & Peter Ward were the third strong favoured pair to be knocked out in the opening round as they lost to Steve Chaloner & Zenya Heap who had joined forces on the day.

The Quarter-Finals saw Kylie MacLean & Wayne Thorne deliver a knock out blow to the 2014 - 2015 runners-up's hopes of going one better in this tournament as they beat Chris Eley & Sue Latham whilst Feore continued his quest to be in a third consecutive final as he and Sonia breezed through the Quarters.

Both semi-finals finished 4-2 with Kylie & Wayne defeating Feore & Sonia whilst Steve & Zenya recovered from 2-0 down in the other to beat Max & Millie.

From 15 pairings, it was down to 2 and the final was one of a high standard going down to the wire.

Kylie clinched the title win potting 4 reds and the black to see her & Wayne home 5-4.

Mixed Doubles Runners-Up: Steve Chaloner & Zenya Heap

Mixed Doubles Winners: Wayne Thorne & Kylie MacLean

Doubles

58 pairings entered this year, the best turnout for around a decade, if not longer.

Last year's winners Brian Keeble & Martin Langley won their group of 2 to progress through to the Quarter-Finals stage – the third pairing in the group had decided watching West Ham would be more fun!

Their New Zealand "B" teammates Keith Jones & Larry Baker progressed through the First Round at the 3rd time of asking after 2 previous First Round exits as a pairing.

The quarter-finals saw 4 groups of 4, with defending champions Martin Langley & Brian Keeble and Ryan Englefield & Wayne Thorne both going through without dropping a frame.

They were joined in the semi's by the pairings of David Feore & Shelley McDermott and Keith & Larry who both won their finals 2-1.

The semi-final draw kept the 2 New Zealand "B" pairings apart and both won their respective matches to set up a teammates clash in the final.

And the final proved to be a classic, with both pairings sparring through the early stages as the score stood at 2-2 and then 4-4 with the match going down to the wire.

2 clearances from Martin in the opening 2 frames put him & Brian 2-0 up.

Keith & Larry then each won a frame with mini clearances to level the match, before another clearance from Martin restored his & Brian's lead.

But a fantastic single visit clearance of his own by Keith leveled the match once more.

A tactical frame followed, with controversy over a non-called foul in the middle, but a composed clearance from Keith put him & Larry in front for the first time and on the hill with 2 frames left.

Martin ensured the match went the distance as he turned a half-chance attempt into a superb clearance to level the match at 4-4.

The ninth and final frame looked like Keith would produce a break & dish to win it, but couldn't pot the last yellow from an awkward angle.

That left Brian the chance to tie Larry up next, but a stunning shot from Larry, potting the final yellow off the black ball having come off the cushion first with the white left him dead straight on the black.

He didn't miss and that meant he & Keith emerged victorious from an engrossing final.

This is Keith's 8th Doubles title with his 5th different partner – he won 4 with his brother Graham in the mid 2000's - and is Larry's 2nd Doubles title having won it 15 years ago with Andy Peel.

The final was Brian & Martin's first doubles defeat in 3 years in the competition.

Doubles Runners-Up: Brian Keeble & Martin Langley

Doubles Winners: Keith Jones & Larry Baker

Singles

Last competition of the season, with the final traditionally having been played on presentation evening for the last half decade, was the Singles that saw 121 players enter the competition, the most ever recorded and known for the AIPL.

Slowly whittled down to just 2 with this year's final between 8 times champion Keith Jones and the Singles winner Larry Baker in a repeat of the Singles final from 2 years ago.

With format changed 2 years ago at the AGM, the 1st and 2nd Rounds again featured all matches best of 5 and for the second year running, the longer format cut down on the First Round shocks with 28 Premier players winning their groups to be joined by 3 Division 1 players and Richard Edney of The White Swan as the lone Division 2 representative.

5 New Zealand "B" players won their 2nd Round Groups to progress into the Quarter-Finals, with 8 times winner Keith Jones needing a break & dish in the final frame to beat Daniel Wilkins 3-2.

Those 5 were joined by Premier Most Wins leader Luke Butler along with 2 SP Blacks players – Adam Jackow and Peter Ward.

With Martin Langley and Larry Baker drawn to face each other in the Quarters, it meant for the first time in 3 years both wouldn't be in the semi's, and Larry took the match 4-2 to ensure it was he that made it the semi-final stage for the third successive season.

In another all-New Zealand "B" quarter-final clash, Keith made short work of his match against Julian Lefevre as he won 4-1.

Luke Butler quickly raced past Peter Ward when he produced a break & dish in the second frame before a 1st visit clearance in the next.

And Adam Jackow won his quarter-final against Paul Kanchanlall 4-3 in style with a break & dish in the last frame.

That left the semi-final quartet as Keith, Larry, Luke and Adam.

Many expected Keith and Larry to be drawn against each other in the semi-finals as it has so often been in the past that when both are in the competition they are drawn out of the hat to face each other, but it wasn't to be this year, as for the third time in four occasions they were drawn apart at the semi-final stage.

Larry beat Luke 5-0 in a very one-sided match that many were expecting to be a mouth-watering tie between the top two players in the AIPL Premier this year.

And the other semi-final saw Keith beat Adam 5-2 to set up the final between two best mates.

As previously mentioned, tradition now has the the final played on Presentation Night and so it was the two players went head to head this past weekend.

Larry hardly put a foot wrong - he missed one shot in eight frames - as he clinched his second AIPL Singles title with a 6-2 victory.

Larry certainly had a tough route to the title with two victories over past champions – Mark Game & Martin Langley – alongside victories over numbers 1 and 3 in the Premier Most Wins rankings this season, Luke Butler and Danny Lee respectively, then topping all those by beating arguably the best player the league has ever seen in the final.

Presenation Evening

The presentation evening was held this weekend and was a good night enjoyed by all.

Some photos of the evening and presented trophies can be seen in the photo album http://apacl.net/Pool/Association/AIPL/PhotoAlbum/AIPL-Presentation-Evening-2017.

AGM

The AGM will be held on Wednesday 19th July at Shoot Pool & Snooker, where everyone is encouraged to attend as it's the forum for all to have their say on the future of the Aylesbury Invitation Pool League.