March 30, 2015

Snookerbacker Classic: Rogers and Barton Clinch Last Chance Wins, Order of Merit Concludes.

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:10 pm

Sunday in Gloucester saw the conclusion of the qualifying heats of this season’s Snookerbacker Classic with the final four names being confirmed to make up the last 16, who now return to Gloucester this Easter Sunday to fight it out for the biggest cash prize in amateur snooker.

The day was to see two players progress as of right and the final place being decided from the ongoing Order of Merit list which has again been a popular by-product of the event with players who had not made it through by winning an event outright. Uncannily, it was again to be decided on the final frame of the qualifiers, as it was last season.

Mike Rogers - bit of a brainbox.

Mike Rogers – bit of a brainbox.

The top half of the draw saw victory for Mike Rogers, who overcame Kishan Hirani in his qualifying final.  Mike has been an SB Classic regular now for a couple of seasons and had narrowly missed out before on making the Grand Finals.

This time he went one better and despite not seeming to realise when I walked up to him to congratulate him that he’d actually qualified, thinking he had another match to play, he was delighted once the realisation dawned that he’d actually won through.

All this might lead you to believe that Mike is a bit dim, well, nothing could be further from the truth. Mike is actually coming to the end of a very intense Maths degree at University and to say he can totally baffle you within seconds of talking about his passion for all things numerical is putting it mildly (as is the word baffle). I still remember him first showing me a mathematical graph (which I’m sure is a layman’s description for what it actually is) and looking rather shocked and perhaps a little disappointed when I wasn’t as intrigued by it as he was as I tried desperately to change the subject.

By all accounts, Mike is also a very laid back kind of guy, which possibly explains his sometimes lethargic looking demeanour around the table and his frequent sighs and outtakes of breath. But his competitive streak must be in there somewhere or else he’d not have made it through a very tough final draw against a player in Kishan that many had down as a live contender for this season’s title.

It’s great to see Mike finally get over the line, I just hope he leaves his graphs at home on Sunday and brings Whitney instead, she’s far more interesting.

Tom Barton: Late Night Thrills.

Tom Barton: Late Night Thrills.

 The bottom half of the draw saw victory for Tom Barton, who eventually came through a decider against Kent star Phil O’Kane to nab the last automatic spot after over 12 hours of snooker on Sunday.

Tom was as ever accompanied by legendary snooker hardman Joe Lazarus, a man that’s so hard that Chuck Norris wears a pair of Joe Lazarus pyjamas for bed. Joe was again on top storytelling form while watching his protege and he also wolfed down almost half of Mrs SB’s victoria sponge while everyone else just watched, far too terrified to ask if they could have a piece for fear of falling victim to a cake-raged upper cut.

On the table, Tom had early victories over Majid Khan and Matt Glasby before coming up against Andy Marriott, a grand finalist from last season. The two slogged away for over 3 hours before Tom eventually made it over the line in the decider.

Despite this, Tom only wanted a few minutes after the match to gather himself together to face Phil O’Kane in the final, which was to go to a decider again, Tom producing the goods in the final frame and marking himself out as a real stamina man with a very solid technique and cool head under pressure, this being no doubt engrained in him by Joe who still coaches to this day. Joe has never struck me as a man that needs a lot of sleep, in fact he’s so hard that sleep probably needs a lot of him.

Tom seems a quiet, unassuming lad and clearly enjoys a very close relationship with Joe, who is a master at stealing the limelight. It’s great to see a new name in the mix and it will be interesting to see how Tom gets on against other, perhaps better known names on the amateur circuit. Under the radar is sometimes a very nice place to be.

Kiss it - a KO for O'Kane.

Kiss it – a KO for O’Kane.

Phil O’Kane meanwhile had his own adventure on Sunday. He went into the day needing to win either 12 or 13 frames, depending on how scores went, to catch Merseyside’s Josh Mulholland and pip him to 2nd spot in the Order of Merit List, behind Brett Miller, who had qualified much earlier in the event but whose place could only be finally confirmed on Sunday (Brett, frame on the way on Sunday).

Phil did just that and tried his best in the final to try and make the blow a little less hard to swallow for Josh by winning through and getting him his place, but it wasn’t to be and Kent’s finest bowed out in the final frame as Josh received updates on Twitter.

Brett has really impressed this season and has only been beaten in each event by the eventual qualifiers, he’s been scoring heavily and I think he has a real chance of causing an upset on Sunday. His eventual winning tally in the Order or Merit speaks for itself and consistency wise he’s right up there with the best of them.

As for Phil, he was genuinely delighted on Sunday and is a big favourite with everyone on the amateur tour. He’s a natural comedian and a favourite with Mrs SB who thinks he’s ‘a bit of a charmer’. Very much like a nasty fungal infection, he’s grown on me over the years too. We’re both looking forward to seeing him again on Sunday and who knows, this could be just what he needs to make that step up?

I can’t leave you however without directly quoting Phil’s philokane-asophical insight into his change in attitude. Step aside Terry Griffiths, there’s a new mind guru in town:


Aaron Cook: ‘Phil, I don’t think I have ever seen you this focused’

Phil: ‘No Aaron, that’s just what happens sometimes when you realise you’ve made a massive fuck up of your life’ 

A big thanks as ever to all at the SWSA, all the players who have supported the event this season, my kind team of sponsors and the referees on Sunday Roycey and Chardo.

All the scores from Sunday can be found here and the final order of merit standings, grand finalists and current highest break here.

Now here is a picture of Joe Lazarus as he has just rang me while I was writing this to ask why there isn’t a picture of him anywhere. 



Snookerbacker Classic Grand Finals: DRAW LIVE ON TWITTER TONIGHT

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 3:45 pm

The draw for Grand Finals Day of this season’s Snookerbacker Classic will be tweeted from 6pm this evening. To follow this as it happens you should follow me on there by accessing this account.

In the spirit of transparency, I should say that I will actually to doing the full draw automatically using the usual software a couple of minutes before tweeting it. But I won’t post the link to the draw page until I have finished the tweets. So anyone who doesn’t like suspense and prefers to be ‘the first to know’ can I’m sure find this information if they are desperate/sad/anoraky enough to look hard for it.


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