It’s a Cracker

In the week when the world of comedy mourned the passing of the great Frank Carson one could not help feeling that his famous catchphrase was apt for the latest instalment of annual Darts Match.

Played over a marathon two and a half hours the match saw all manner of drama with a nail-biting finish.

As is now tradition, the annual tussle between the Ebor Players and a Parish Council Select Team began with the ladies doubles with Julia Sykes & Diane Curran representing the Players and Chris ‘Philby’ Gajewicz (didn’t she appear in Panto) and Jo Bewley playing for the  Council. After what seemed like an age and when most of the men had grown beards, the match had to be settled on a first nearest the bull decider resulting in first blood to the Ebor Players.

Next up men’s doubles, and following the fashion of last year the ‘dream team’ of Paul Brook and captain Liam Godfrey failed miserably again, to maintain their 100% record. This time losing to debutant Ben Jemison and Michael Dale. It’s now 0.4 for Godfrey in all matches, how long can he keep his place? honestly he must have connections.

The first of many mixed double matches of the night saw husband and wife partnership of Steve & Tracey Patrick get the better of the new partnership of Malcolm Higgins and Gillian Clifton, after a closely fought match. This despite much barracking from Patrick Mrs to Patrick Mr who apparently can do something right after all.

Match four saw the first of the nights singles with Steve Poulter coming out (no not in that way) victorious against Parish Council Chair Stewart Harrison and making a convincing pitch for the Andrew Dunn trophy with lowest score of 5 with three darts.

Ladies singles saw the clash of the Lisa’s with Thornton (Parish Council) successfully defending her unbeaten record against Beadle (Ebor Players.)

At the interval the match was delicately poised; Ebor Players 3 Parish Council 2

Into the second half and for the Players it’s previously unbeaten pair David Rose & Bev Linfoot against Tom ‘Blunt’ Davis and Cath Bruce. Their record stayed intact as Rose made it 4.0 in his matches in the series and Linfoot building a 3.0 record.

4.2 Ebor Players with the first to 5 it surely was in the bag for them?

Captain Liam Godfrey scenting victory decided to make a few tactical changes putting debutant Martin Flook along with Julia Sykes up against Ian Jemison and Council captain Cayley Godfrey. A close game resulted in victory for the Council to keep them in the match.

Next up was another husband and wife pair Graham & Sonya Gillespie up against village favourite Nick Smith representing Maynews and Jo Bewley aiming to win a match for a change. Despite leading for much of the game team Gillespie lost in a close finish. 4 points each and all depending on the final match.

Players captain Godfrey remained confident that all would be well, as representing them was hero for the Parish Council from last year Dave King who had been through a rigorous eligibility check and as he had read last years’ Panto programme was found to be okay, partnered by new girl Stella Jackson. Up against them were Tom ‘Blunt’ Davis and unbeaten Lisa ‘Casement’ Thornton.

The Council raced into an early lead as Jackson struggled to find her length and King’s form deserted him, the crowd were on the edge of their seats as it all came down to the final darts after more than two and a half hours play, this was the Ebor’s own Black Ball Final. Then it was all over as Davis needing 12 to finish duly obliged to give the Council a seemingly improbable victory by 5 matches to 4.

The future of Godfrey’s captaincy must now be in doubt as he like Captain Schettino contrived to steer his team from clear water onto the rocks and without a blonde on the bridge for company.

In the awards ceremony which matched the Oscars for longevity, awards were given to:-

Andrew Dunn Trophy for lowest 3 dart score; Steve Poulter

MVP Male; Ben Jemison

MVP Female; Lisa Thornton

Winning Captain; Cayley Godfrey






Freedom of Entry – York Normandy Veterans

In 2009 Robin Rowbotham wrote a fascinating article for, describing his visit to Normandy with D Day veterans including his father Roy, who lives in Keble Park South.

Robin has written a further account of his travels with the York Normandy Veterans Association, and  the recent honour of ‘Freedom of Entry’ that the Association has received.

Normandy_1Further to my previous account from a couple of years ago about the York Normandy Veterans Association (NVA) trip to the 65th Anniversary of D Day I thought an update might be of interest.

Since the last report I have been fortunate to be able to attend two further visits to WWII battle sites with the gang, acting as official helper for my Dad – well, he’s not as sprightly these days as he was in ’44!

Normandy_2Our second trip back to Normandy in 2010 took us to further D Day battle sites such as the Longues-sur-Mere battery and the village of St Mere Eglise, familiar to those who have seen the ‘Band of Brothers’ TV series. However, one must appreciate that D-Day was not the end of the war, just the beginning of the end, and so 2011 saw the Vets remember at a different dimension of their experiences – the Market Garden operation and the final push in to Germany.

We travelled through Belgium and Holland traversing the Market Garden route, crossing all the famous bridges that linked Montgomery’s plan for an early finish to the war. The 1977 film ‘A Bridge Too Far’ depicts the struggles fought on these bridges, although this does not compare to hearing a first-hand account from someone so heavily involved. Indeed, one of the most memorable moments of the trip for me was as we stopped at Graave Bridge and made our way to the exact spot my Dad parked and shot his Bofors field gun during the Market Garden dash. The moment was made even more memorable as my eldest son was with us and his Granddad was able to graphically describe the events of the day and the feelings and emotions of the time. My son has a keen interest in modern history, due in no small part to hearing his Granddad’s stories as a child, and is currently studying the subject at UEA. Another personal highlight was the snatched hour spent drinking beer in the lovely German town of Kleve (or Cleves, as in ‘Anne of’). Three generations of Rowbotham savouring a cold beer on a hot day, chatting over events of the near and distant past.

Normandy_3This year, I am proud to report that a great honour has been bestowed on the York NVA. On the 25th of January the vets gathered at the magnificent Guildhall to receive the Freedom of Entry to the city of York.  Personally it was great to see the gang all back together again, spirits high and the atmosphere jovial, proudly displaying their hard won medals and looking as smart as always. The ceremony started in grand style with a procession of notable York dignitaries, amongst them the Lord Mayor and Mayoress, the Sheriff and the Sheriff’s Lady and the Town Clerk, accompanied by our flag bearer proudly flying the NVA standard.


The Lord Mayor began by addressing the congregation; then the full honours were explained by the Town Clerk before the Lord Mayor presented the Freedom scroll to the NVA Chairman, Cyril Howarth. Cyril accepted the scrolls on behalf of the Association and then gave one of his typically stirring speeches to the entertainment of the audience.

Normandy_4Each Vet then received their own scrolls, personally presented by the Lord Mayor and Sheriff, every one accompanied by a round of applause from the gathered crowd. The whole ceremony was a very moving occasion and the pride of all the family and friends was evident around the room. We then all retired to the Mansion House for a sandwich lunch and a series of toasts and speeches praising and recognising the Vets for their contributions through the war years and beyond. It was particularly pleasing to see Branch President, Major General Cordingly, make the journey up from London and the obvious pride he displayed as he toasted the group was evident to all.


Finally, I’d just like to thank York City Council for bestowing this deserved honour. It was a brilliant day for all involved and I felt so proud knowing my Dad was being acknowledged for his sacrifices and bravery over half a decade ago. Special thanks must go to Brian Watson, Honourable Member and Ex-Lord Mayor, for providing the impetus and drive to make it all happen.

Normandy_5As for my Dad, he is truly honoured to have received Freedom of Entry citation but is a little disappointed it doesn’t give him the power to herd his sheep through the City of York!