Andover’s pool team defied expectations and an elite field of opposition to finish runners-up at one of the country’s most prestigious tournaments.
After qualifying as Hampshire champions, a team of 9 players travelled to Great Yarmouth for a weekend competing in the Interleague finals.
Led by captain Richard Swaffield they got off to a fast start and took their opening group game by 10 frames to 2 against Great Yarmouth B. Six-times champions Trent Trophies were up next and their International experience showed with England Captain Lee Kendall’s break and finish helping to beat Andover 10-5.
That left a must win third match where Sean Curtis potted the winning black to secure a place in the knock out stages.
With confidence growing and the in-form Swaffield, Colin Harris, John Heredge and Paul Hughes consistently giving Andover an early advantage they comfortably saw off Lancaster A to progress to day two and a place in the last 32.
A sluggish start to Sunday morning saw them find themselves 4-0 down to Lake District side Kendall B but crucial frames from Wolversdene Club players Craig Rees and Andy Churchill started a comeback which ended in a 10-6 win.
They took that momentum into the last 16 and soon opened up an impressive 8-1 lead against Peterborough A. Despite signs of a revival from Peterborough, keys frames from Heredge and the impressive Brett Carter soon confirmed a 10-6 win.
A quarter-final against a side from Northampton followed and the good form continued. Three quick wins on the three-table format soon gave Andover a lead. Wayne Noon calmly added another two frames to his name before another match winning clearance from Carter.
The Semi-final saw Andover get a second chance at beating Trent Trophies. The confidence gained since playing them the day before clearly showed as Andover’s players produced some excellent finishes to move towards a huge upset. With fellow Hampshire team Mermaid A now adding to the support there was a loud cheer in the arena when the score reached 10-5.
There was no time to reflect as it was straight onto the final. Unfortunately for Andover their incredible run was put to an end by Mickey Flynns from Cambridgeshire who were led by former World Champion Phil Harrison and ran out deserved 10-5 winners.
Despite the loss the spirit amongst the Andover team was one of great achievement and pride for reaching the final.