Congratulations to Martin O’Donnell who yesterday became the first ever Snookerbacker Classic Champion after a 4-0 victory in the final against Ireland’s John Sutton at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester.
Martin walked away with a prize fund totaling £1400 including free entrance to this year’s World Snooker Q-School where he will attempt to join the main snooker tour for at least the next two seasons and hopefully many more.
He also left with the Snookerbacker Trophy and a bottle of vintage fizz from the vineyards of Halewood Village in Liverpool, just a stone’s throw away from the famous Orange Groves of Belle Vale.
His opponent John will be joining him and despite losing in a good-natured final left with the second free Q-School entry slot worth £1000. Well worth the trip over from Dublin and a dodgy night in a Travelodge.
The day began with Martin facing Essex qualifier Sydney Wilson in the Quarter-Finals, Sydney took the opener and had his chances but ultimately it was Martin who came through. On the non-streamed table the other qualifier from Dublin Johnny ‘The Sniper’ Williams overcame the tenacious Jamie Barrett, Johnny living up to his nickname with some fast attacking play to simply outscore the Grimsby man.
The second set of Quarter Finals produced what in my opinion was the match of the tournament between former World Number 12 David Gray and Sutton. The bookies had David as favourite to take the title but it was clear from the off that this was not going to be one way traffic. Gray took a tight opener before John edged ahead 2-1 with a 108 break in frame three, David however responded with his own contribution of 108 to level and then went ahead in a frame that John should possibly have won. But the man from Ireland produced some solid form under pressure to take the final two frames and edge into the semi-finals in a match that he was later to describe as ‘his final’.
The other quarter final saw the Assassin, Allan Taylor taking on Zak Surety, who had just two weeks earlier qualified from the Essex leg on the final black against Ryan Causton. Allan never really showed the kind of form that he produced in Leeds and Zak eventually ended up a convincing 4-1 winner.
The semi-finals were the matches that decided who would receive the Q-School entries and both ended up being rather one-sided affairs. They actually followed an almost identical pattern as O’Donnell beat Johnny Williams and Sutton beat Zak Surety, both eventual winners losing the opening frames to their more attacking opponents but eventually playing the better matchplay to win 4-1.
The Final itself saw smiles all round as the players could relax safe in the knowledge that the main prize they had come to win was in the bag. As it happened, Martin turned out a fairly comfortable winner and was visibly more relaxed than he had been in his previous two matches, John was gracious in defeat and it was jokes and congratulations all round at the end.
From a personal point of view it was a fantastic day to cap off a thoroughly enjoyable tournament, John and Martin are great guys and the afterparty (The Wizard Tour) was attended by them both, as well as Allan Taylor and the referee for the final Matthew Lowson, who himself achieved his own milestone by refereeing his first ever century break, two in fact as it was him that was picking the balls out for Sutton and Gray earlier in the day.
The messages of good luck and congratulations that myself and Mrs Snookerbacker have received have been genuinely appreciated and I’m glad that the players got the chance to compete for the prize and thoroughly welcomed us into the amateur game as ‘rookie’ tournament organisers. I’d like to think that the tournament offered something a little bit different for the players and hopefully next year we’ll make it even bigger and even better.
There are far too many people to thank for the success of the event as a whole, the hospitable venues, the officials, the generous sponsors, those who helped to ‘spread the word’ and of course the players themselves. We could not have done it without you.
It’s the tournament however that nobody wants to come back and defend and let’s hope that Martin and John do the business at the Q-School, they will have the support of the blog behind them and I’m sure they will take this the right way when I say I hope not to see their names in the draw for the Snookerbacker Classic next season.
It’s now time to take stock and for me and Mrs SB to have a think about next year’s event. We’d welcome feedback from players and anyone that has an interest in the event, we know that it wasn’t perfect but hopefully we covered any cracks with just enough cakes and goody bags so as they weren’t too noticeable. All in all it’s been a blast.
Snooker Scene have asked me to give my own personal take on the event as a whole for a forthcoming edition, so for anyone interested in what it’s been like behind the scenes getting an event off the ground from scratch, that might be worth a read.
You will all be relieved to hear that I will now stop banging on about this incessantly for a few months, but if anyone wants to give any feedback please feel free, either in the comments section on here or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can see some photos from yesterday here and I might also soon be able to post an audio file with some Scouse bloke asking Martin and John some searching questions ahead of a visit to a dodgy boozer and even more dodgy curry house in Gloucester last night courtesy of Wizard Tours……memorable if nothing else.
Photos courtesy of Monique Limbos.