Hello and welcome to the write up of the 10th Annual Balleggs Trophy, and what a shocker we have for you today. So sit back, grab a fosters, call your mum a bitch, and enjoy the ride!
Historically, any Balleggs ending in a zero should be played abroad or in international waters, somewhere shit like Wales or Holland, but unfortunately due to growing fear of travelling within the EU amongst the players, this tradition was shelved and the tournament was agreed to proceed on home soil.
Fortunately the ancient spells protecting against rain on Balleggs day worked, and the sun rose to occupy a cloudless sky over the rolling hills of south central England. Spirits were high amongst the competitors and the crowd started to gather around the shed before dragging the sofas and indoor furniture out onto the lawn to make the place look like a Florida wedding.
The time of 12.57 was rapidly approaching as the prep work finally started to cease. Not only was this time of day the worst time to kill dragons, it also marked the commencement of the sacred toot off, and thus signalling battle stations for competitors to ready for the opening ceremony.
The ceremony itself was largely filled with the regular H&S speeches as well as a recorded message from last season champion who sadly couldn’t make it because he was playing netball in Portugal or something. After a slightly mis-judged anthem involving a bit more anus than normal, the draw was taken and the yell’n’hurt meant game on… the time for silliness was over, the time of game head had begun.
The bollocks rounds
Match 1: H Cox-Hynd vs J George
Match 2: A Davies vs M Barber
The record turnouts of previous events couldn't be replicated, but still a healthy amount of 10 challengers meant that two matches must be played in the preliminary rounds of 16. Considered by some to be a nice warm up, but by most as a tiring interlude until home time, this round pitched tournament hopeful A. Davies against Poolman M. Barber on one side, and the Knob-of-the-Year specialist H.Cox-Hynd against runner up J. George at the top.
First out the of the blocks like a wet pair of rabbits were Cox-Hynd and George, with Cox-Hynd looking to take an early victory. Whilst it would be irritating to keep typing his name more, because of the hyphen and what not if he went further into the tournament, the crowd would have liked Cox-Hynd to better his usual last place. He got off to a good start by taking the toss, the world was in his hands and George was at his mercy. Cox-Hynd for some reason elected for his slightly weaker pool first. George wasn't fazed, he stood up straight and faced the challenge chin first. George took the pool match and slid over to the dart board, an arena he had a good track record on. It was a simple open and shut case, George took the darts, adding to his 60% darts win rate, and sent Cox-Hynd spinning off in a nose dive into the black abyss of the Elliot.
Cut flip to the other end of the tournament and Barber was hoping to jam his mucky stick into the spokes of the Davies winning machine. Barber was well aware of the imperious 80% darts record of Davies, so after using all his magic to win the toss, he obviously felt his only hope was going for pool first and winning both games with an essentially forfeited darts match in between. Davies wasn't to be beaten easily, and the match quickly turned into a scuffle which developed further into a stramash, and nearly reached the heights of a brouhaha. When the dust had settled on the table, Barber emerged victorious, he had taken first blood and his silly plan was working, could this be Davies going out in the first round. The darts was over as quickly as expected and both moved back to play the deciding pool match. This was it, this was Barbers chance to etch his name into the ancient stones of the Balleggs. He tried, you could see on his face that he really tried, but it wasn't to be. Davies took the pool and marched into the second round, starting to make a name for himself as the tournament baddy.
The Quarter Finals
This was it, the real interesting parts, the meaty thick end of the tournament when the rest of the noblets join and the real scrap begins.
Match 1: J George vs W Manson
Match 2: R Jones vs D Taylor
Match 3: J Bowden vs J Manson
Match 4: A Bournat vs A Davies
Already underway in the background of the bollocks rounds was Match 2 and 3. R Jones was reaching for his broom in an attempt to shoo Taylor out of the room, whilst Bowden was prepping his lips for a good old fashioned rodgering at the hands of J. Manson in match 3. Jones Was up first and tactically lost the coin toss giving Taylor the upper hand, both men had a point to prove and very little to lose so this was going to be tight. They’d met 4 times before with the overall stats drawn 2-2. Taylor, with the upper hand decided on the Pool table to be the opening clash. Both competitors struggling with their angles eventually saw Jones take the pool, and with it, the hopes and dreams of Taylor. Pool, his most experienced event, was his only hope. The darts match sealed the fate of Taylor as his opponent slotted his double, and Jones advanced into the Semis rubbing his face in excitement, would this be a tournament best for Jones who came a solid last in the previous Balleggs.
Bowden vs Manson was a matched that had happened 4 times before, with Manson winning all of them. He’d never lost to anyone outside the big three and this match was to be over quicker than you could say thank you. A nice little warm up for Manson before the tournament got properly underway. To make it even easier, Manson won the toss, and although his Pool stats were higher, the difference in the dart board performance seemed to make sense to opt for that first, so they’d start with darts. A decision that now on hindsight has been regarded as one of the worst ever decisions made, just behind when the Trojans let the wooden horse in, and also when Luke Skywalker tried to tackle Darth Vadar when he wasn’t ready, and look what happened them. Manson stepped up to the darts board and started throwing his darts, they were sloppy, but it didn’t matter, it was just a formality. Bowden without any prior warning, which some felt was very rude, started finding some form and some large numbers began appearing under his name. Nobody knew what was happening until suddenly, unbeknownst to even himself, he sliced his third dart into the double 12 on the third attempt, and took the first darts game. Manson looked curious and realised the game was over, he knew this competitor needed more respect if he was to advance any further. So Manson fought back valiantly on the Pool table and levelled the match 1-1, he felt the first darts match was a one off as he relaxed back into the third and final game of the match. But there, in that little shed of horrors on that sunny summers day, was where one of the greatest Balleggs upsets was about to unfold. Manson’s form failed to improve and Bowden reached darting heights that few can dream of. Yet again, come crunch time, Bowden was the only one to find the target, thus knocking Manson out in the first round and rocking the tournament to the core. (Editors note. Readers will notice a longer paragraph here than any other quarter final section, that is not because it was more interesting, but actually due to the authors inflated sense of self-worth).
Well, over to match 4, Bournat was sizing up his opponent Davies across the table. This was Bournats first round, but Davies’ second. Was fatigue going to play a part in this head to head, or would the first round warm up prove beneficial. Bournat did what he needed to early on and won the toss, and not wanting to go straight into the Davies dart game, elected for pool first. He held his cue well, but not well enough it seemed, and Bournat’s fight fell were it had begun. Davies took the pool and with it, the match, as the darts was a sullen affair. He trundled on to the semi 2-0.
Match 1 was to be a tighter affair, George with a stronger dart game on paper, against W Manson, who’s strengths lied in pool, as well as equations and dogs genitalia. It would probably rest on the toss. Manson won and obviously went to pool, George made that “waaah” noise he occasionally makes and handed himself a cue. Whatever ritual he followed, something overcame George and he played alright actually, ultimately surprising Manson by winning the first pool match. All George had to do was to close out on the darts, which was widely expected, and he’d be through to his 2nd semi in two appearances. Manson had never really had any significant achievements on the dart board before this match, with only 3 (possibly accidental) dart victories to his name. But this was the Balleggs, where upsets happen every day, and that’s exactly what unfolded. Everyone was shocked, no more than himself, when Manson actually hit the double he was aiming for and levelled the match 1-1. It was back to the pool table with all to play for. After breaking, and making some more self-goading noises, George could not live up to his first round performance and Manson comfortably won the game and the match advancing on to the semi finals with a single bead of sweat hovering on his top lip.
Match 1: W Manson vs R Jones
Match 2: J Bowden vs A Davies
Fresh off the back of his close call with J. George, W. Manson was looking to keep his momentum going by slinging all 7st of his weight into the chest of R. Jones in the first semi final. Jones had been here before, and had even made the final once, but he also came last in the previous season so who knew what would happen. I think everyone was just happy to still be alive at this point. The match got underway with the usual lack of excitement, Manson won the toss again and rightly went for his stronger pool first. Despite winning his 4th ever darts game on the match before, this was proven to be the right decision as Manson picked up the win and swanned over to the dart board with a look of fear in his face. Could he beat his career best and win 4 games in a row? Him and Jones picked up their darts, and with a war cry of “Maths!” Manson unleashed a storm of arrows to net himself a cool 37 score. Jones smashed back with wicked 29, this was going to be close. And slow. This game went on like this until the deadlock was broken, Manson had secured his 4th victory on the bounce taking the match to 2-0. Jones was all but broken and he slouched over pool table to receive his killing blow. But he wasn’t quite ready to die yet, he symbolically rolled forward off his knees and threw himself nob first at the Manson pool game, netting himself a win and keeping his dreams alive. Manson wasn’t having any of it, he had to refuse to let Jones get back into this match, but had to perform on the dart board to do it, not quite his forte. With one swift flick of the wrist, Manson released his lucky dart, and although no one was around to see, they say he got 501 straight off the bat with that fortunate arrow, quite extraordinary. Manson had done it, he’d beaten the R. Jones meister, a man with a famous habit of crashing violently from good performance to poor from one year to the next. Manson was through to his first ever Balleggs final. It was a summer miracle, the opposite of a Christmas miracle.
As that semi finished, the other was just getting underway. This one was drawing all the crowds attention as if one thing’s true with the Balleggs, it’s that the people do love a Cinderella story, someone that comes out of nowhere to win the day, and as the seasonal cutlery wang-ing was going on outside, J. Bowden was readying to defy the odds. He’d already managed to fell one absolute beast of a player, and now he was prepping to take on a man that’s spilt more metaphorical Balleggs blood than anyone else. A man that likes to take a shit all over the dreams of others, A. Davies. Davies won the toss and for the first time in his career did not go immediately to the dart board. He’d seen Bowden decimate Manson with his darts on the round before and was cautious with repeating the same mistake. But he couldn’t deny the overwhelming darting odds in his favour, and eventually walked over to the okey. It went as planned, and although Bowden tried, Davies had found his form again when he needed it most after some shaky throwing in the opening rounds, he took the darts 1-0. Bowden wasn’t finished just yet, he knew that whilst being seriously set back, if he could win the next pool match he could reapply some pressure. That didn’t happen, and Davies won taking the score to 2-0. Was there any fight left in Bowden? Yes there was! If he was going down, he would at least make Davies bleed on the way. I wanted to get the metaphor of the Balrog fighting Gandalf in here, where the bridge collapses and the Balrog’s whip catches Gandalf’s leg and pulls him down as well, but I couldn’t quite make it work. Plus Davies no longer has a magic staff and Bowden is terrible at whipping. Anyway, on with the show… Bowden whipped his final dart across the face of Davies and hit his triple as Davies was struggling with his double 3s, Bowden took the match to 2-1 and made Davies think “what the what”. Davies wasn’t having it, he strapped on his pool cue to his good arm and slashed straight back at Bowden, dashing the dreams of the player and the crowd. Davies ended the fairy-tale ending before the story had really begun, he’d defeated Bowden 3-1 and walked on to his rightful place in the final.
What becomes of the broken-hearted. Who had love that's now departed? I know I've got to find some kind of peace of mind maybe.
The Final final
W Manson vs A Davies
In the 1930’s, Italy invaded Ethiopia. The Italians had heavy artillery, automatic weaponry and fighter planes. The Ethiopians had spears and cow-hide shields, as you can imagine it was a massacre. Whilst reading about this final, it would be easy to confuse it with that one sided conflict, but bear in mind that it wasn’t. This was W Manson vs Davies, and although his cow-hide shield was actually a maths paper, Manson was looking to add his name in to the story books alongside some of the greatest underdog victories of all time.
The odds weren’t pretty, which were lengthened even further when Davies won the toss, Manson was now praying to Ryan, the god of luck, and the only thing that could help him now. Davies of course went for darts first, and Manson was trying to trip up the 3 time winner any way possible with the hope that perhaps he could win every pool match and make this close. It wasn’t successful, Davies ruthlessly won the first darts match whilst Manson still flapping around the 300 mark, whilst Davies walked over to the pool to break before anyone could say Buckminster Fuller. This was Manson’s first shot at slowing the inevitable, perhaps he was exhausted from all the semi action, or maybe the excitement of the final overcame him, for he lost that fight also. Davies went up 2-0, and walked through his darts routine once more to make it 3-0. Manson had one last chance to bite back before becoming a footnote in the annexes of Balleggs history. The balls flew around the table as you’d expect and this last, potentially deciding match actually became exciting in parts. Manson was putting on one final display on his preferred game format, determined to go down in a blaze of glory.
Davies had the momentum, and after winning 4 games in arrow you start to forgot what losing feels like. He collapsed over the finish line after fighting back against Manson’s resurgence with the pool cue, a 4-0 victory for Davies and a massacre for the ages. The nice thing about it was everyone got to go home early.
And that’s all she wrote. One of the tournament favourites, and front runner from the start, A. Davies had secured his 4th Balleggs victory. He fought against Barbers, Italians, Gamekeepers and Mathematicians and beat them all. Well done young man!
Nobody said that closing ceremonies had to be nice, but that doesn’t stop the Balleggs competitors trying. They had a lovely little final display, everyone congratulated each other merrily and drank some things they didn’t like. There was even a little snake in a bottle that got smashed out and had it’s head cut off, so that’s nice isn’t it. The tournament was over for another year, everyone could return back to their caves to swing their arms around until the tournament of the next solstice.
J. Bowden defied the odds to advance through the first round putting on a fine display on the dart board, even beating the eventual winner of the tournament in one game. For this he was awarded the Players Player.
A. Bournat secured yet another coaching award, cementing his prowess as a hard nosed trainer, spending time with his player to talk through the darkest of troubles. For this he was awarded Coaches Coach.
Very impressively W. Manson twice peaked on the high scores on the dart board, with no one overtaking his score of 127, something he assured was accidental. For this he was awarded the Schmiechal.
Winner (1st): A. Davies
Close but no Cigar (2nd): W. Manson
Mahatma Balleggs (3rd): R. Jones
Eilliot Balleggs: J. Manson
Cordelia II All England Champion 1837 Award: J. George
Players Player: J. Bowden
Coach of the Year: D. Taylor
Coaches Coach: A. Bournat
Schmiechal: W. Manson
Black Spoon: D. Taylor
Knob of the year: D. Taylor