The board was set, the pieces were moving, we came to it at last… the great battle of our time.
Day: Saturday 22nd December, 2018
Dawn broke like any other day and the twatting cockerel down the road woke the brave competitors from their slumber. Excitement was at an all on time high, for this was no ordinary daybreak, this was a Balleggs daybreak.
Against all the odds, Ball-eve festivities were largely curbed so lighter heads than normal started to gather around the hallowed ball-ground ahead of schedule. This allowed the usual wizard-sleeve style of time keeping to be discarded and a much more comfortable Nazi-Germany-esk roll call was commenced with the deep toot-beep of the broken horn at precisely 1.13pm… The draw was announced, anthems sang, salutes made, and with the customary yell’n’hurt behind them, competitors readied themselves for their first sortie into the 9th Balleggs.
A tough draw led to two previous winners, and one tourney specialist El Pee, on the same side. Whilst balleggs poster boy, 4 time champ, and crowd favourite J. Manson was staring down the barrel of a straight road to the final… or was he? Interesting? Nah I know.
The riff-raff section
First out of the blocks were the two flapping Willies, W. Manson and W. Jones. Both natural pool playing specialists, but one with a notably better dart record, the match didn’t gather much interest. But any Ballegg connoisseur would be well aware that W. Manson is capable of upset on the pool table, so few peered on with intrigue. In reality though nothing out of the ordinary happened, and favourite W. Jones blasted on nob first into the quarter finals 2-0. On the same side of the draw, G. Benbridge and D. Taylor were waving aggressively at each other, whilst Cox-Hynd was attempting to get his arms round Davies to perform his special finishing move, the DDT. Who would win here and who would get cast into the cesspit of the Elliot? Benbridge won the toss in his match and elected for his stronger darts, a game that Taylor had never won on, it should have been in the bag. But there, just 10 minutes into the tournament, was where the first miracle of the day happened. Taylor slotted a double 12 to take the first darts game, and his only ever darting victory, and went on to close out the match 2-0. Having seen a man essentially walk on water, the people were eager to see it again in the form of Cox-Hynd beating the Davies man. If past events were anything to go by, the odds were stacked against Cox-Hynd, but he got off to the best start by winning the toss and rocking Davies to the core. He immediately handed the baton straight back to him by electing to take up darts first… Davies victory, 2-0.
Now kickflip McTwisting to other side of the tournament, Crowder and Krause were locking horns. Neither had ever really made a permanent stain on the balleggs, so both were eager to leave their poo-ey mark by getting into the quarters for the first time. Krause won the toss and oddly went for pool first, a confusing diversion away from the stats. Crowder took it, but lost the proceeding darts match, it was one a piece and almost exciting. Crowder emerged from the final pool game exhausted but victorious, proud to now hear his name amongst the other balleggs elite quarter finalists. Next up, R. Jones and A. Bournat, another difficult match to call. Jones being capable of finishing absolutely anywhere in the final standings, and Bournat a famous coach specialist. But could he coach himself, along with his actual coach, to victory? The answer… yes. Bournat strode on into the quarters with a very close 2-1 victory over R. Jones, whose nosedive out of the main event ultimately led to his last place finish. The final match of this round was underway also, once friends, and now enemies, M. Barber and J. Bowden, a pool specialist against an all-rounder. What the what indeed. Barber won the toss and wisely went for pool, it was close, it was hot, it was sexy, and Bowden took it closely and sauntered his jangly nerves over to the dart board. Again, another sexy affair, but with a hunched over and muffled “Yaaaas” through gritted teeth, Bowden took the darts to win 2-0 and march onwards towards destiny.
The Quarter Finals
Time had moved slowly in the shed, it was still ten-to-five, and the quarters were just beginning. Those that had carb loaded the night before were keen to keep going, whilst others were already seeking the sweet relief of lying face down on the floor. Two professional carb loaders were up first, it was a big one, and the first of the tournament, Jones vs. Davies. Pool vs. Darts. Harold vs. Kremer. Davies won the toss and was immediately accused of cheating, tensions were high. The dartboard was the intended first field of battle and both stepped up to limp wrist their darts into the board. Jones was on his usual standard, but unusually there were a few errand darts coming from the hands of young Davo. It was put down to low choco milk reserves, but the erratic dartmanship continued and Jones broke the serve of Davies by taking the darts. Everyone was shocked, Jones possibly the most, as this was his chance to beat his nemesis, and all he had to do was to close it out on the pool table, something he’d done countless times before… pause for effect… bottled it. Davies took the pool, and by doing so slammed the emotional door of the match into Jones’ face. Jones was done, the darts was just a formality at this point, and Davies advanced into the semis 2-1 whilst Jones walked off into the dark abyss of the night.
Anyhoo… Elsewhere on the ranch L. Phillips, still fresh legged from receiving a bi in the first round, was taking on the momentum man D. Taylor. Phillips won the toss and pointed at the pool table, Taylor correctly understood this to mean let’s play pool on the pool table, so they played pool on the pool table. Phillips, the stat leader for pool win %, won the first round and things were looking good for the young man. That is until another minor miracle happened, Taylor won his second ever darts game to take the match to 1-1. The atmosphere wasn’t quite electric, but it was certainly slightly cagey, and engines were running hot as they span back the pool table for the decider. But stats never lie, Taylor, most likely exhausted from summoning all the power of the Bifrost to win a second darts, couldn’t match the Phillips pool game and graciously bowed out in defeat, 2-1 Phillips.
On the other side of the table, things were slightly less tense. The first batters to the plate on this side were J. Manson and H. Crowder. After having possibly rigged the draw and receiving a bi in the first round, Manson was fresh off the boat and ready to get his campaign underway. Crowder, a veteran of the Crowder vs. Krause clash of 2018 which occurred 10 mins before, was weary but battle hardened. Mainly in the pant region though. Crowder won the toss and went for pool, but it wouldn’t matter as Manson won it, and in victory, stared straight into the mouth of his shaking opponent in a way to say “if you don’t let me win darts, I’m going to fucking cry and you’re going to have to deal with that”. Terrified, Crowder moved over to the dart board trying to buoy his motivation. It didn’t work. The finely tuned dart throw of Manson won the darts after slotting an epic double 1 after only thirteen attempts. Manson victory 2-0.
The final quarter was another Bournat vs Bowden classic. Bournat would try again to use his superior coach powers to coach himself to victory, whilst Bowden would attempt to rely on steady form over all disciplines (pronounced dissy-plins). The toss fell to Bowden, and with it the came the first darts victory. Bowden was building steam and eyeing a possible tournament best finish, a possible Balleggs victory. Bournat attempted to come back with a vengeance on the pool table, but it wasn’t enough, the Bowden wheels were turning now with maximum torque and he comfortably took the pool to advance into the semis 2-0.
The semi finals
Two semis (not the fun kind) were set up to be belters. On one side there was two time winner Davies playing tournament hopeful Phillips, the man who impressed so much on his first outing last season. Whilst on the other was a match that had occurred thrice before… 3 time winner Manson playing the steady veteran of 9 previous Balleggs events, Bowden. Both were going to be dance.
Both Phillips and Davies were stat leaders for pool and dart win %s respectively, so breaking the serve of their top strength game was going to be difficult, this meant it was all down to the toss. Davies was favourite to take the toss as he’d somehow always win them in the past (a fact that should have absolutely no relation to future coin tosses in a normal environment, but this wasn’t a normal environment, this was the shed and ancient spells were in play). Against the odds, Philips won the toss, and became the favourite for the match. He went for pool and took the game, no surprise. Davies knew the importance of winning the darts but it was then something strange happened. The sky went purple and the everything went upside down for 10 minutes, Phillips won the darts against the head but then Davies broke straight back on the pool table, both smashing each other’s near perfect records on their chosen games. The score was 2-1 Phillips, and Davies knew if he could get it back level on the dart board he’d stand a chance with a wobbling Phillips on the table in the last. But Philips held his nerve and surprisingly broke back against Davies again on the dart board, taking the semi 3-1 and making his record 2 finals from 2 attempts. A decent display against the wiliest of competitors. Goodbye young Davo.
Meanwhile, across the plains, Bowden was readying himself against a man who’s pool and dart arm had been dubbed “the k-19 Widowmaker”, tournament strongman and handsome devil, J. Manson. The two had met thrice before, with all three going to Manson, but Bowden was back with extra vigour this time and had torn through his previous opponents with no mercy. As they say, it was on… Manson won the toss, and went for darts, a calculated tactical play and not just because the dart board was free at the time. It paid off as Manson took it, although it as closer than preferred, and Manson took the first pool game as well, taking this match in the direction of the three before. It was about to become an open and shut case on the 2nd darts match when out of nowhere Bowden hit a ton and followed it by slotting the double. It moved to 2-1 and the crowd started to wonder if this would be one of the greatest comebacks in Balleggs history. Manson moved over to the pool table shocked from the previous game, whilst Bowden ran around outside frothing from the mouth in victorious excitement. Bowden returned 30 mins later smelling of cigarettes and sporting a deathly stare in his eyes, he had smelt blood and had returned for the kill. His pool cue shaped knife got inserted further into the side of wounded Manson as Bowden kept his comeback alive by narrowly taking the pool, it was 2-2 and silence had hit the shed like a stinking butt fart. It had come to the dart board, a game like most where nervous shaking hands were the opposite of helpful, and both competitors were feeling the lukewarm heat. Shit darts were the order of the day and the 501 total was slowly eroded until both were on doubles. Miss, collect darts, imss, collect darts, bust, collect darts. It went on like this for a while until the dealock was broken. The victor emerged over the flogged body of his (or her) competitor. It was Manson, the final finalist. And with a dismissive handshake and grope the semi was over, but the final final was about to begin.
This was it, the moment they’d all been waiting for, the final. Phillips vs. Manson. One had the advantage of reach, the other reaping the benefits being naturally head height with the pool balls. Both knew what they were facing, and contrary to the popular saying, it was going to be pretty.
Phillips had the immediate gain of the prolific coach, A. Bournat, in his corner, whilst J. Manson had W. Manson (possible relation) in his - a coach who’s only confirmed allegiance was to maths. So that was that, the bell rang, and the competitors touched gloves, for the fight was on. Boyakasha!
Manson won the toss and with no hesitation opted immediately for darts, sitting slightly above Phillips in the Darts win % standings, it was back to advantage Manson. It was a sullen affair and Manson took it, the first step on the long way to Balleggs glory, and he knew the importance of getting early momentum in the first-to-four final. He had to keep it going on the pool table, a feat he managed to complete as he knocked Phillips back with massive emotional cock blow, 2-0 Manson.
Phillips was taken aside by his coach on a brief time out, both knew if they didn’t take the proceeding darts match, it was as good as lost. Whatever was said in those dark moments between coach and player will never be known, but Phillips pulled himself up from the canvas like a randy pheasant (probably a thing) ready to play darts. Manson wasn’t bothered, he had the momentum, he had the win. But in these moments in elite sporting events, it only takes a seconds lapse in concentration and all can go sideways quick, and that’s exactly what happened. The next 15 minutes were a delirious blur to Manson as he was battered on the dart board, and then thoroughly rogered on the pool table. Phillips had found his game, he’d pulled it back to 2-2 from the jaws of defeat, and the final was heating up.
They moved back over to the dart board and Manson was shocked and rocked, he was all the ocked. Phillips kept up his imperious form and as both competitors made their way down on to doubles, Phillips was first to strike with a casual double three. This was it for Manson, the do or die moment on the pool table against the form finding Phillips, who’s record on the pool table had been nothing short of great. The balls rolled in, until both had three left on the table and the game turned defensive, all balls were in play so any mistake would leave the table open. It was Phillips to crack first after attempting a long pot and Manson reaped the reward as he potted his three yellows and pushed the black into play. Phillips had to clear the table to take the Trophy or it was going to a decider. One red went in, flowed by a second, but the third rattled in the jaws and Manson put away the black to make it 3-3.
In an effort to make it a bit more of a spectacle, and in a break of tradition, Manson suggested that the final should be played on the pool table. After a brief discussion with his coach, the challenge was accepted. The final final had begun.
Manson racked and Phillips had the break, potting none and leaving a red over the pocket. Manson took the pot and continued with a second, a good start. Phillips was quick to slash back with another couple of pots in quick succession as the game rattled on towards its conclusion. Blows were traded equally as the balls disappeared, until it came down the two remaining. The single yellow of Phillips, and the black above the pocket, and it was Manson’s visit. An easy pot, but one problem… the white may go in after. After a long discussion with his coach, Manson was convinced that the white would just miss the end pocket if the black was potted in the middle, he took the shot. The black went straight in. Either way it was over, but the white kept moving. Nearer and nearer it got until bang… it dropped in as feared. Manson was quite rightly immediately blaming his stupid idiot coach who pretty much lost him the tournament, absolutely useless advice and not Manson’s fault at all. Phillips embraced his coach in gay abandon. The brave competitors shock hands as Phillips' teary eyed stare moved up to the stars.
So that was that, the Balleggs had a new name immortalised on it’s cold battle hardened steel. Lyle Phillips played the game and won, deservedly, and now could walk amongst common men knowing that for the next 6 months, he was Balleggs Champion
The closing ceremony was carried out with it’s usual lack of grandeur, there was a bit of sick, weird chanting, an applause that lasted for 13 minutes, and a lot of strained muscles. It was over until the next solstice. All could go back to their squalid dwellings from whence they came.
Goodbye and thanks for all the fish.
D. Taylor absolutely smashed his record on the darts board and put on a decent fight in the Elliot, for this feat he was awarded Players Player
H. Cox-Hynd put all his effort into coaching and pulled his player H. Crowder to new heights. For this he was awarded Coaches Coach
A. Davies achieved the semi professional dart score of 140 twice on the dart board, the highest 3 dart score of the day. For this he was awarded the Schmiechel.
Winner (1st): L. Phillips
Close but no Cigar (2nd): J. Manson
Mahatma Balleggs (3rd): J. Bowden
Eilliot Balleggs: H. Crowder
Players Player: D. Taylor
Coach of the Year: A. Bournat
Coaches Coach: H. Cox-Hynd
Schmiechal: A. Davies
Black Spoon: J. Manson
Knob of the year: R. Jones