Tuesday, 22 May 2012


PJ'z CLUB No 1 of RIPLEY - Jaeger Trophy Champion of Champions play off winners,
L-R: Andrew Gratton, John Smith, Ben Monk and Lee Whatton.
THE INAUGURAL Champion of Champions play off final for the Jaeger Trophy held at Matlock Club could not have been more dramatic or exciting as PJ'z Club No 1 of Ripley edged out Jaxx Q Club No 1 of Belper on the final black by one point in the deciding doubles frame - thanks to a remarkable and self-proclaimed fluke from Andrew Gratton off four cushions!!
The match had started much more serenely early doors with Belper's Wade Morley defiantly holding on to his handicap start against Ripley danger-man Ben Monk, with a potting and containment game-plan which worked a treat as he took the frame 78-38.

Frame two saw Andrew Gratton notch an early break of 25 to take the ascendancy but Jaxx's Alex Fisher remained unruffled even after his tip unfortunately came off with a few reds still remaining.

Using one of his team-mate's cues thereafter, he took blue and pink to force a black-ball game which ultimately Andrew potted with a superb long-shot down the cushion into the left hand black pocket to win 60-59 and level things up.

But before long Jaxx were 2-1 in front as Paul Ogden surged into the lead against veteran four times Derbyshire champion John Smith, who battled hard to gain two fruitful snookers before eventually Paul's long pot on the brown made the frame safe.

Both Belper's Steve Robinson and Ripley's Lee Whatton started nervously in the fourth frame, with the leg in the balance throughout until Steve's attempted pot on the blue into the middle pocket caught the jaw and Lee sank a mid range straight pot to go 14 up with 13 on the table and tie matters at 2-2.

And in the final doubles clash with Ben and Andrew taking on Wade and Paul, the scores were tied with just pink and black remaining, with the black awkwardly positioned almost on the cushion just about an inch down from the middle pocket.

So whether it was an advantage to pot the pink was decidedly dubious, but Paul eventually got a chance he couldn't refuse and then tried a tough long black up the cushion into the yellow pocket which rattled, leaving Ben a quarter-ball opportunity which he slightly undercut but left safe.

Wade replied with a good safety shot, but then the twist of fate arrived that saw Andrew swing the black around the table for an attempted safety reply only for it to merrily make its way into the bottom right hand pocket to screams of elation or cries of despair depending on which side you were on!

Remarkably, the final frame score was again 60-59, the exact replica of Andrew's earlier game too!

All in all, a cracking match, although the Belper lads will feel hard done by to lose in the manner they did, that takes nothing away from PJ'z No 1's efforts this year in winning the League Title, the Champion of Champions Trophy and the Six Red Cup to boot!!

Maybe it will be the grand slam next year, though a few of the other teams might have different ideas!!

Jaeger Trophy Champion of Champions Play-off Final: PJ'z Club Ripley No 1 3, Jaxx Q Club Belper No 1 2 (at Matlock Club).

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