Barnard Castle and District 5s & 3s League








Dominoes from Frank Watson


DENNIS SOWERBY PROPERTIES “A” DIVISION IT is very much a case of business as usual for Royal Oak, who have started the New Year in awesome fashion as they continue their relentless surge towards the championship. Whilst this league has proved notorious for many dramatic quirks of fate over the years, which have often seen championships snatched from the jaws of death, it is still hard to envisage the Butterknowle mean machine being halted in its unremitting march towards the crown. They went into the Christmas break on the back of a hard fought victory at the Montalbo Hotel. However, they came out of the traps like greyhounds to start 2001 in sensational style with a barnstorming 8 -1 walloping over Taffy Wheeler’s not-so-merry men. Titch Little and Alan Elstob, and John Robinson and Keith Allinson, all recorded 3-0 victories. This takes them to a total of 80 points, with one fixture short of the halfway mark. Some indication of the Royal Oak’s achievement can be taken from the record of current champions, Middleton WMC, at this stage last season when they were on 68 points with seven victories, five points adrift of leaders White Swan. However, although things look rosy for Oak, stalwart captain Brian Peart will make sure that there is no resting on their laurels. Edge Hotel, Royal Oak’s neighbours and nearest challengers, suffered an unexpected setback when they slithered to a 6-3 hiding at the hands of basement side Workingmen’s Club. Unfortunately, the club men were unable to capitalise on this as they slipped to a 5-4 defeat in the return, when Igor Foster and Colin Best recorded a 3-0 victory. Edge retain second place, but they have seen the gap between themselves and the leaders widen to seven points. Third placed Beaconsfield also lost ground when crashing at home to struggling George & Dragon, who were guided to a welcome 6-3 victory by a neat 3-0 effort by Ruby and Charlie Johnson. Sadly, the Boldron bandwagon ran out of steam in a 6-3 home defeat, with Lionel Grancourt and Michael Elliott chipping in with a full house. This keeps the victors in third slot, but their 68 points leaves them with much to do. A hard fought 6-3, 5-4 double by Royal Star over Cricketer’s Arms B keeps them in a respectable fourth spot with 66 points, but in all reality with little hope of troubling the leaders. Mick Manningoff, captain of champions Middleton WMC, will no doubt also have given up hope of retaining their crown following a double whammy at the hands of struggling Cricket Club. The victors were guided home at the little house on the prairie by a fine 3-0 from Ken Robinson and Trevor Joel. Cricket Club then overcame the trauma of a breakdown of travel arrangements when they were nudged home to a single point victory with a full house from Pokey Wood and that man again, Ken Robinson. Nevertheless, Middleton still occupy a respectable fifth place with 65 points. Old Well continued their revival, which has seen them steadily climb up the table, when they saw off Glaxo Sports & Social Club by 5-4 and 6-3. Howard Davidson and Valerie Howe recorded a maximum in the away leg to guide the team into joint fifth place on 65 points. Joy for DLI Club spelt gloom for harassed Red Lion skipper Dynamo Dent when Eddie Tinkler marched his phalanx into action to record a 7-2 salvo, with Paula Vitty and George Chrystal contributing a 3-0. Lion fared slightly better the following week, but lacking the ballast of anchor man Grassy Green they faltered by the odd point. The damage was inflicted by Bob Henderson and Paula Vitty, much to the dismay of Jeff Butterfield and partner Mint Cake Bainbridge. This keeps DLI in seventh place on 65 points, two ahead of Cricketer’s Arms B. Cricketers Arms A just edged through by the odd point at White Swan, with Derek Borrowdale and Malcolm Nixon’s full house cancelling out that of Don Nichol and yours truly. The return, however, was not so closely matched when Malcolm Nixon and Dirk Borrowdale led the way to a 7-2 Crick’s new year celebration. Workingmen’s Club’s 48 points keeps them rooted at the foot of the tree, with George & Dragon just a point better off. The third relegation slot is currently being disputed by White Swan and Montalbo Hotel on 60 points, with Cricket Club teetering on 61.

ROBERT OLIVER SPORTS “B” DIVISION Glaxo Sports & Social “B” came back well from their surprise double defeat at the hands of Bridge Inn when they recorded a double over Blacksmith’s Arms. A solid team display saw them record a 6-3 home victory over the Smiths. However, they found things more difficult on their visit to Mickleton when captain Jolly Jack Robinson urged his team to greater efforts in the home leg. Despite some improvement the factory team edged home by the odd point to keep top place on 74 points. However, there is quite a battle now developing at the top of the table and I can see a real titanic struggle unfolding before the promotion stakes are sorted out, and I would not be surprised if playoffs were needed to settle matters. Bowes WMC’s recovery after years in the doldrums continues to keep them on course for promotion, their visit to Middleton proving fruitful when they returned with a victory by the odd point. They stepped up a gear in the home tie, with Phil Williams and J Bulmer’s 3-0 spearheading a 6-3 victory. This lifts them into second slot, two points behind the leaders. Meanwhile, up the valley, Red Lion Darts skipper Baz Watson continues to urge his men on for a quick return to the higher echelons. However, they found Red Well in a stubborn mood, and in the end were happy to finish up with a 5-4 double success which leaves them in third promotion spot with 70 points. Blue Bell refuse to go away and despite a couple of setbacks a spectacular 6-3, 8-1 double over Bridge Inn lifts them back into contention. A combined Wylie 3-0 blast in the home leg, followed by a similar effort from Sue Wylie and Sam “The Man” Walker, the following week coming in very handy. This puts the Bell in fourth place with 70 points. At last Fearless Freddy Hodgson has managed to instil a little consistency into the Montalbo B ranks, and they are now emerging as promotion contenders. They recorded an excellent 6-3 double over fellow contenders Cricket Club B to leapfrog them into fourth slot with 69 points, Captain Fearless leading from the front in the home match to claim a 3-0 victory with a little help from David Howson. High Force Hotel have adapted quickly to league competition and are now emerging as genuine promotion contenders, Ken and Brian Bainbridge’s 3-0 triumph edging them home against Three Horseshoes. But the following week found them more assured in the home leg, when they stormed to a 7-2 success with Trevor Hutchinson and Ken Bainbridge, and Brian Bainbridge and wonder woman Margaret Walton recording full houses. Their 67 point total puts them in sight of the leading pack. Cricket Club B have now slipped down to seventh on 6 6 points and need to regain their form to get back into the thick of things. Black Horse claimed their second victory of the season when a 3-0 victory by K Landin and G Reynolds helped to edge them through by the odd point at Wheatsheaf. Unfortunately they did not fare so well in the home encounter, when a 3-0 salvo by R Rickaby and C Kirby helped the ’Sheaf to a 6-3 reply. Coach & Horses have, by their own standards, been having a disastrous season but suddenly snapped out of the doldrums to heap more misery onto the sagging shoulders of woeful Willie Collinson. Considering 14th placed Coach were one place below Rose & Crown a ding-dong battle would have appeared to have been on the cards. But lo and behold, Coach stormed home in tremendous style to an 8-1 victory, with Steve Philips and Peter Stewart, and Austin Marshall and Marjorie Gibson recording 3-0 victories. However, there was a little consolation for Willie and his shellshocked troops the following week when Crown edged through by the odd leg.