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London C bt Surrey C 23-21

Inter CountyWow! I couldn't be more pleased with the guys than I am after our tremendous comeback win yesterday. It's such a shame we can't all celebrate an overall win for London against our arch rivals but let's hope we can do that when we visit them at their place. Meanwhile, hats off to the new look C team.

It was always going to be difficult starting this season given all the changes that have taken place to the squads in the closed season. At the trials we recruited more new players than I can ever recall due to all the retirements (not by C players I should add!). Such was their commitment to the cause that yesterday even without any players down from the Bs we would have had more than we could have started with (according to my calculations 16 C team players turned up yesterday, without those in the B squad). Given that we then received a record breaking 7 B players, there was real pressure on places and I had to make some very difficult choices. Sorry if I didn't bring you in yesterday, I hope the result vindicates my omission and please rest assured that I do intend on spreading the glory as much as I can across this very large squad.

In the event of it I decided to start with the seven Bs (no choice there), who actually included two triallists, plus two continuing Cs from last season, and two newcomers. The situation didn't look good at all though as we found ourselves 7-4 behind after the first set. Tony won the opener for us (not a bad debut) but Danny and Will lost, then Alex Lawrence pulled us level but defeats for Akar, Clive, Joe and James pushed us 6-2 behind. Pat, a brilliant vice-captain and a star player, then pulled out a big win, Bruno lost, and John (the anchorman's anchorman) closed the gap to 7-4.

We really needed to tighten up in the second set but instead we let them get further ahead, with only Will winning in a sequence that included defeats for Tony, Danny, Alex Lawrence, Akar, Clive and Joe. That was 13-5 to Surrey, and a mountain to climb, but we climbed it, surely and steadily. James got the comeback started, and wins for Pat, Bruno, John, Danny, Will, Alex Lawrence, Alex Stones (brilliant on his London debut), and Andre (welcome back son!), punctuated only by a defeat for Tony, meant we were level at 14-14. The buzz at this point was remarkable. Shane was unluckly to lose his first frame and James (having absolutely no luck whatsoever) lost his so we were back to being two behind and when Pat went in off the black we were suddenly three behind (you can't take your eyes off those Surrey boys), but we kept biting away at their heels, not letting them get too far ahead - Bruno dished up, John clawed another back. It was 17-16 to Surrey going into the home straight.

Kirk made his debut and was also unlucky not to win but Danny did and this kept us one behind. Will then lost but Alex Lawrence won - this was turning into a bit of a nip and tuck session. Then another on-fire performance from Alex Stones pulled us level at 19 apiece, and although Andre lost Shane broke and dished to level it up again. Cometh the hour cometh the man, as Colin made his return to county pool after a fair few years away and made it count, using all his knowledge and temperment to take us into a 21-20 lead, and the momentum was with us. Who better than Pat to ensure we were lying dormie two, taking out a nerveless finish to put us 22-20 ahead, and guaranteed at least the draw. Now all eyes were on Bruno and John and they were shifting back and forth across the table to see which one looked the more likely win, first the one, then the other. Bruno had his chances but the game got away from him so everyone, yes, including the Fayman, gathered around John's table to see him pile on the pressure! Great stuff from John, great stuff from everyone, great support, 23-21.

Individual highlights for me include the break-dishes from Danny (quite a response to losing his previous two frames!) and Shane (in only his second frame for London), and Bruno's dish off a dry break. Alex Stones played two magnificent frames of pool. Colin only got one game but he played it pretty well perfectly. Alex Lawrence and Patrick McLaughlin both finished 3 out of 4, but the man of the match has to be John Munro, 4 out of 4 including the decisive frame.

Like I said, we had a huge turnout so I really want to give awards or at least recognition to all those who turned out and didn't get to play. Some of you helped with the timing (including a fabulous contribution from Kevin, thanks so much mate) while others cheered and screamed and made it such a great atmosphere. To all of you who came down but didn't get to play in this monster - and I will happily name you, Michael Bonney, Danny Kelliher, Mark Heston, Kevin Dempsey, Peter McCafferty, plus myself and of course Jeremy who is in the squad - you are my real men of the match for your patience and understanding. Even those of you who did play but had to wait, like Colin and Kirk who came on in the final quarter, you were there throughout and gave it 100%. Everyone will be getting their chance. The squad is so huge it will not be easy for me, especially if commitment among the As and Bs continues like it did yesterday, but I promise you I will do my best to give you games where possible and where appropriate.

Patrick has already proven to be an inspired choice for vice-captain - he led those cheers yesterday and got that team spirit kicking plus giving me some pretty solid advice on team selection. Thanks mate.

We travel to Kent next month. Nearer the time I will be in touch to find out how many of you (presuming you are making the trip) need transport and whether any of you can offer spaces. If you are unable to come naturally let me know as soon as possible as it does help with team selection, given things are already complicated.

Jeremy said after the match he couldn't remember the last time London beat Surrey in the Cs. To think we were worried, that with so many new faces we would be in for a potentially long season. After beating Surrey we might want to start thinking about winning the region, which hasn't been done at C level for a while ... But one game at a time, so bring on Kent.

Crisis in London pool? What crisis?

Yours in the spirit of the game

The Doctor


#1 | PineapplePete on February 09 2010 14:28:57
Good review Darren, totally agree with continuing commitment from the squad. Is there a practice date for our diaries that you can issue now? Thanks.
Also, can we get Jamie Fay to stand atop a cheerleaders' pyramid? Think the ceilings are high enough at Kent.
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