As has been the case over the past few years under LOROL, Arriva Rail London sent athletes to take part in some of the events, having had extensive success in previous years for both the 5 a side football and darts competitions (singles and doubles). A change in venue and some questionably shaky dartboards (of which complaints were made with the organisers) were just a couple of factors that may have hindered the ARL athletes progress this time around though.
Former singles & doubles runner-up Alan Jessup-Peacock (Control Shift Manager) was drawn against ARL driver Paul Spreckley, Wayne Jones (Network Rail) and Gordon Trimby (Great Western Railway) in group one. Close matches were had by all members of the group, but the experience of the elder competitors from NR & GWR won out, with Alan only winning his game against Paul, who tragically lost all three of his group games.
Drivers Aninder Chana, John Morris and Jason Pearce all suffered similar fates, with both Chana and Morris just missing out on progressing from their groups by finishing third. Pearce finished second in his group (beating Morris in the process), but fell to eventual winner Derek Ralston (Mersey Rail) in the quarter finals.
In the doubles competition Alan & John were paired together in group 1, whilst Paul and Aninder were paired in group 2. Sadly, despite some fantastic scoring (Paul Spreckley hit a tasty maximum at one point), both pairs failed to progress through their groups
The ARL 5 a side football team got off to a shaky start, not helped by the fact some late injuries led to the squad being depleted. They lost their first game 3-2 against LUR Manchester, but soon responded with a hard-fought 5-4 victory over RSSB. The same scoreline was reversed against JACOBS in the next game, with ARL losing to a last minute goal.
A win was needed in the last game to progress from the group and make the quarter finals as ARL took on (eventual winners) Irish Rail 5’s. With just minutes to go ARL had taken a 4-3 lead, but some questionable officiating decisions from the referee (at least in the minds of ARL and those of us watching, as the Darts team were able to cheer the lads on at points), saw things take a turn for the worse. A last minute equaliser and then injury time winner for the Irish Rail team saw them end the ARL challenge to retain their title.
With Rail Media behind the games, it was a much bigger spectacle this time round, but understandably there were teething problems as well. Next year the games will be back and will hopefully see the return of winning ways for the Arriva Rail London team.