Bury was the venue for the third of four Northern Fours rounds and we got away with a mainly fine, dry day somehow.
Keith Oldham made his debut for the Vikings in the competition with Josh Herring unavailable. This is ample demonstration of how fragile we are as a competing team, there could well have only been 3 of us available for this - and that would have been disastrous. Our relegation after finishing fourth at Stockport saw us once again facing Sheffield and Heckmondwike in Group B and it proved another stern contest for Northumbria. Shrewd moves by Team Manager Ashie Patterson saw Keith backing up first Jason then Gavin to secure two shared heats over Sheffield while our two stars also shepherded Shane and Terry home for two 7-3s to get us underway after which the scores stayed closely locked between all three teams. Jason later let himself down losing the lead three times but he wasn't feeling at all well today.
Adam Watson and young Kielan Burton brilliantly kept Sheffield's hopes alive while lewis Foxley and Darren Kent did likewise for Heckmondwike. My old pal Frank Auffret went overboard to help his partner out of the starts but suffered on the first bend with big gaps left underneath when he'd have been better off staying tight to the line, especially after a brilliant start against Adam. As always, the lesser lights all had their moments and after those two 7-3s to the Vikings there was never more than a couple of points between all three sides in a brilliantly fought, and super-clean contest.
Northumbria eventually clinched the win and promotion to Group A for the final round at Astley & Tyldesley on 11th.
Big surprise of the day was Hull's elimination of competition leaders A&T themselves who floundered today and left themselves with unbeaten Pawel Idziorek needing to win a run-off with Hull's Andy Angell. Andy won the toss and elected to go from the outside, much to everyone's amazement, none more so than Pawel's! However, the triple British Champ was in no mood to let this opportunity slip and in an oh-so-typical and simply majestic charge around the outside, forced his way past Pawel on lap two, going on to win and subsequently costing A&T humiliating demotion to Group B in front of their home support and also their chance of overall Fours victory. Shock, horror!.