|The prize on offer!|
Jon Ridout (14) V (9) Billy Collins
Jon Ridout is the first ever Team Picker Cup champion after defeating Billy Collins in an absorbing final game at Sophia Gardens.
Emerging as the competition’s dark horse, it was not the late show that we have come to expect from Ridout but rather a confident performance from start to finish which won him the gold. Pundits were left stunned as Collins struggled to perform despite being the player with the more convincing results throughout the campaign.
As the players lined up for the last time in this fascinating tournament, they took a glance of the prized T-shirt which awaited the victor before being picked for the final match. Although by this time the falling rain had relented and the skies were clear, the pitch itself didn’t not have enough time to fully recover. Therefore with that familiar, greasy and uneasy surface we have the weather to thank for affecting the quality of the entertainment on show. With periods of scrappy exchanges, overhit passes and slippery conditions, this match would have to be won in ugly fashion.
|Our Team Picker Cup Final shirt and sponsor.. other energy drinks are available!|
The tournament’s leading player in these conditions, Mike Pinto Castro, was evidently not 100% and started the game in defence for Team Ridout. It wasn’t long until he started to adopt a sweeper role however and teamed up with Chris Phillips and Stuart Parsons to form an effective attack partnership. Plus with the captain Ridout sitting up top too, their ability to hit on the counter was deadly throughout the whole game. Team Billy had a lot to thank their captain for he lived up to his billing as TTFE’s Number 1 shot-stopper. Collins arguably opted for a stronger defence, but he had the players who can grab the goals that matter; Gareth Jenkins was settling well into his ‘John Hartson’ role, whilst James Pugh and Paul Preece provided the backup and pace behind him the sole attacker. When it came to outfoxing each other, both sides’ formations looked almost identical. Team Ridout however took the lead at half time – a first for him in this tournament.
The second half forced Captain Billy to make a decision on whether a change was needed to win the game. Does he come out of goal to inject some life into his attack? Or does he continue with the plan and hold the fort? He opted to lead the attack and put pressure on Team Ridout. The move seemed to work at first with waves upon waves of pressure with the defence to deal with. However it felt like their luck had run out as they hit the post at least three times, whilst Team Ridout started to counter attack delivering body blows of goals to widen the gap. There was no need for the last goal winner rule here as Ridout had this sewn up well before the final whistle.
|Jon Ridout – Team Picker Cup champion 2012!|
In victory Ridout was gracious and thanked his opponent for the game. He stated: “Well I just say a massive thanks to all the boys on my team from last night! It was fantastic to win but I have to say commiserations to Billy and his team. The made the final a great spectacle for the fans! If conditions had been better I’m sure the game might have been tighter.”
He also added that he would be happy to defend his title if TTFE decide to put the tournament on again.
Ridout stated, “I for one would love to do the tournament again but we will wait on the sponsorship to see if it goes ahead! I hope we can secure the deal we want me make it happen.” At the moment the future of the Team Picker Cup is uncertain down to funding but organisers will be meeting to discuss the success of this year’s competition.
Well done to Jon Ridout – Team Picker Cup champion 2012!
|Billy’s 7th man… Ben Dover!|
|Team Billy (L-R Pugh, Paul, Gaji, Billy, Callum, Greg)|
|Team Ridout (L-R Luke, Stu, Joe, Jon, Mike, Chris)|