First time lucky for the Devils on day of delight for South Devon
SOUTH Devon triumphed in the Blackthorn British Skittles Championships at the weekend, after tense finals in which family members found themselves on opposing teams.
Teams from Totnes and Torbay claimed one championship and three runner-up trophies in the most successful silverware haul for South Devon in the Blackthorn's nine year history.
The Lucky Devils from Totnes were crowned champions in the mixed team competition in an emotional ceremony at Torquay's Riviera International Conference Centre.
It was the first time the team, which plays at Meadowbrook Social Club, had entered the competition, bagging the trophy and a cheque for £1,200.
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They found themselves facing local rivals the Misalots from Torbay in the grand final. The Misalots of Kirkham Street Sports and Social Club were defending their title and were favourites to win, cruising comfortably through earlier rounds.
The Lucky Devils had a tougher journey, only making the finals by two points in their victory over Dave's Battlers from Wiltshire. The final was equally close with Lucky Devils living up to their name with a six point victory.
Meanwhile the Mixers men's team from Torbay who won the British title two years ago, showed great form in the early rounds, but couldn't match the Highwaymen from Worcester in the grand final, who clinched victory by 420-399 points.
Similarly the Dolly Mixers from Totnes couldn't topple the Everhopefuls from Pensilva in Cornwall, who took the women's title and went into the history books with their third Blackthorn championship victory.
Totnes's High Flyers playing in their first Blackthorn finals, reached the semi-finals, falling to the Misalots in a hard fought battle, losing 337 – 354.
Even in the Plate competition, South Devon made its mark. Men's team Shellach Mactire from Paignton Anglers Club were runners up to Dorchester's Skimmers, losing by just nine points.
Unluckiest man in the competition was Barry Sharland, who was runner up in no less than four competition. He was a key player in the Mixers and Misalots teams as well as being runner up in the Shoot Out Club mixed pairs and men's pairs.
Unperturbed Barry from Paignton said he didn't mind a bit. And he'll be back next year along with the rest of his family. In the mixed finals, he found himself playing in opposing teams to his wife Mandy, daughter Leah and son Lee.
Shoot Out Club of Torquay organises the annual championships which saw an initial entry of 150 teams whittled down to 64 in Saturday's finals. Commenting on South Devon's success, Shoot Out's co-director Rachel Bourke, said: "They just went for it and congratulations to all of them. Maybe it was something to do with playing on home territory but it was an amazing night for South Devon."
Blackthorn which has been sponsoring the competition ever since its inception nine years ago, praised the standard of skittles and sportsmanship witnessed on Saturday.
Bob Chaplin, Blackthorn's Fruit and Orcharding manager, said: "We're proud to support sport in the South wWest and skittles is an essential part of community life here. It's great to see entries continuing to rise. This competition has a truly unique atmosphere."
Blackthorn, which put up a total of £6,000 in prize money, also supports Bristol City and Bristol Rovers football teams, Bristol rugby and a range of smaller localised competitions.