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Match of the Week asks is Mark Gilfillan North Devon's busiest sportsman

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: March 14, 2013

TABLE FOOTBALL: Mark Gilfillan is proving equally successful at football and pool this season. Picture: Rob Tibbles. To order this photograph call 0844 4060 269 and quote Ref: BNRT20130310A-013_C

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IS MARK GILFILLAN North Devon's busiest sportsman?

Over the next two months the Ilfracombe fish and chip restaurant worker will be feasting on an eight-course sporting challenge.

Looking tasty on the menu are three football trophies and five in pool, after the 27-year-old former Ilfracombe College student stayed on course for multiple honours.

Gilfillan, who works a 45-hour week in Maddy's from Monday to Friday, swaps frying for poaching come Saturdays and Sundays.

Goals are his business at weekends and he is one of North Devon's most prolific scorers.

He hit hat-tricks for both his teams – Boca Seniors on Saturday and Dynamo Buddy's on Sunday – yet still he had the appetite for competitive pool on Sunday evening.

Now Gilfillan faces two to three football matches a week until mid-May as Boca seek to make up their backlog of fixtures in pursuit of the North Devon League title, and he could potentially play in cup finals for both teams.

If his football schedule serves food for thought, his pool plate is a banquet.

Over the same period, in the Ilfracombe and District League, Gilfillan could carry off the league title with Twisty's Tornados, the Major Cup, the Vice-Captains' Cup, the Scotch Doubles and the Mixed Doubles.

How much longer can his sister's garage and his bedroom shelf cope?

"I've got 50-odd trophies," said Gilfillan.

"Some are up on a shelf in my room and some are in a box in my sister's garage.

"There is room on my shelf for a few more – but I haven't won them yet."

How many out of the eight would he be happy with? "Eight – I want eight," he said.

Gilfillan seems convinced he will get five out of five in pool but, for the man from the chippy, the football may prove a different kettle of fish.

However, he does have one honour in the bag already, so he could end up with nine.

Boca won the Albert Beer Memorial Shield last August when they defeated Ilfracombe Town reserves 4-0.

Lining up against his former team-mates, Gilfillan scored on his competitive debut for his new team.

Boca's 8-1 win over Chittlehampton on Saturday featured a Gilfillan treble, the first a header, the second an easy finish, the third a strike from outside the box.

The next morning he hit five as Buddy's beat Koogars 12-1 in the North Devon Sunday League.

But it looks a tall order for Boca to win the league and Buddy's will finish runners-up at best behind Athletico Borough.

However, Boca remain in the Westward Ho! Cup and Buddy's are through to their league cup final where they will be underdogs against an Athletico team packed with Boca players."So I am playing against my team-mates," said Gilfillan.

Trailing leaders Bideford reserves by 17 points, Boca would overtake them only if they won all six of their games in arrears.

Yet Bideford are not their biggest problem. Torridgeside, unbeaten in second place, have played three games more than Boca but are 11 points ahead.

"It's out of our hands, we need someone else to take points off them," said Gilfillan.

He is keeping the faith. More than any trophy this season, Gilfillan wants to win the league with Boca.

"I am definitely still thinking of winning the league," he said. "There will be some more surprise results before the end but we're confident."

After scoring his fourth hat-trick of the season at Chittlehampton, Gilfillan wasted no time moving on to his fifth at Hollands Park, Combe Martin.

Having joined Buddy's from Koogars, he now turned on his former team-mates.

It took him only 27 minutes to steer Buddy's into a 3-0 lead, which could easily have been more had he taken two other chances and had captain Joe Seldon not missed two.

Goalkeeper Elliott Moore blocked Gilfillan's first effort before the visiting striker bagged his first with a low drive from just inside the box.

Then Gilfillan fired wide despite having ample time unchallenged to set himself.

A Gilfillan pass was met by Seldon stretching for a shot that went wide, then the captain missed with a header in front of goal from a fine cross by Radley Watkins.

Gilfillan, though, was in no mood to let Koogars off again, seizing on inept defending to thump in a half volley.

A tap-in at the far post from Ray Squire's right-wing cross completed the hat-trick.

Rob Holmes touched home the fourth after Koogars failed to clear and headed the fifth unchallenged at the near post. Both came from corners, as did Seldon's header, which gave Buddy's a 6-0 lead

Squire helped himself to the seventh with a shot at the end of a well-worked move before Koogars' failings at corners returned to gift Andy Towie a tap-in.

Then Seldon forced home from a corner and completed his hat-trick with another tap-in after the home goalkeeper spilled the ball.

Gilfillan blasted in No 11 and scored his fifth, Buddy's 12th, with a header from another Squire corner.

At 12-0 down, Arran Blackmore scored a consolation penalty for Koogars.

Gilfillan has scored 33 goals for his two teams combined this season – a fine return but modest compared with his best.

"For Koogars two years ago I scored 61 in 22 games," he said.

Some seven hours later, Gilfillan was first on the pool table for Twisty's at the St George, Ilfracombe, against Bennie's No Bellys in a Major Cup fourth-round match.

His 2-0 victory over Charlie Humphries set the tone for an easy victory.

Gilfillan enjoyed his third emphatic triumph of the weekend as Twisty's won 5-0.

All five rubbers ended 2-0 as Jason Twist defeated Rob Bennelick, Anthony Yeo beat Mario Weeks, John Schiller downed Simon Fellowes and Nigel Smith overcame Bob Hoyles.

Such a demanding sporting schedule requires ample body fuel so the fish and chips must help?

After all, Alf Tupper, the Tough of the Track comic character, became a world-beating runner on the traditional English dish.

But no. "I don't eat fish and chips," said Gilfillan. "I don't know why. I think it is because I am around it all the time and it's the last thing I want."

Jacket potato, cheese and beans is his favourite dish.

It's ready in ten minutes and good for maintaining blood sugar balance.

Just the job for North Devon's busiest sportsman.

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