March 31, 2016

Snookerbacker Classic 2016: Meet the Grand Finalists

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 6:56 pm

It won’t be long until we know who joins the list of Martin O’Donnell, David Gray, Ant Parsons and Brett Miller as the next Snookerbacker Classic Champion. I’ve had a chat to all the Grand Finalists ahead of Sunday and this is what they each had to say. 

Brian is the first player into this season's Grand Finals in Gloucester.

Name: Brian Robertson

Qualified from: Liverpool Heat 1.

Previous Best SBC: Qualifying Finalist.

Current Odds: 40/1

Brian is a very solid match player who came through a tough first heat in Liverpool against the odds. He is playing in the Grand Finals for the first time having previously lost narrowly to Mitchell Mann in a qualifying final at Scotties.

‘I’m as confident as I can be going into the Grand Finals, I was so pleased to qualify and I’m really looking forward to it. I don’t really play a lot outside of Merseyside, so with the exception of Kishan Hirani I have never played any of the players there so it will be interesting for me to see what level I am at compared to them. I know I have a solid game and although I haven’t practiced as much as I would have liked I feel ready. I’ll travel to Gloucester early on Saturday and have a knock at the Academy, so hopefully I’ll be ready for Sunday’


Marc with prizeName: Marc Davis

Qualified from: Glasgow Heat 1.

Previous Best SBC: First time entrant.

Current Odds: 14/1

Marc is a first time finalist, a familiar face on the EPTC circuit, he took advantage of our first venture into Scotland to qualify for the Grand Finals:

‘As it’s my first time playing in the SB Classic I’m really excited about playing in the Grand Finals, I’ve just put a new tip on my cue and hopefully it will be worn in by Sunday. I’ve taken a lot of confidence from my recent match against Shaun Murphy which I probably should have won but considering I don’t practice as much as some because of my work commitments I can’t complain. I play Jamie Bodle who I know to be a good player so I’ll need to be sharp, I’m just excited to be playing so we’ll see what happens’


Elliot without his prize because referee Rob Spencer forgot it.

Name: Elliot Slessor

Qualified from: Derby

Previous Best SBC: Grand Finals Quarter Finalist

Current Odds: 15/2

Former professional Elliot came through the heat in Derby, a quality, attacking player, he must stand a big chance of taking the title on Sunday:

‘I’m always confident going into big tournaments and this is no exception. I am playing quite well in practice and although I have one of the more difficult first round draws I’m not too bothered about that. I’m friends with Leo so it’s a shame we have drawn each other so early but snooker is dog eat dog and I will be able to put that out of my mind when I get there. I’d also like to say a big thanks to SB and Mrs SB for putting on a great tournament that is coming on in leaps and bounds, all well deserved, I’m also looking forward to picking up my qualifying prize as the referee forgot it in Derby!’ 


AntPName: Ant Parsons

Qualified from: Leeds Heat 1.

Previous Best SBC: Champion 2013.

Current Odds: 6/1

Ant has been there and done that, the champion of 2013 is back for his fourth consecutive Grand Finals and knows what it takes to win: 

‘I’m playing really well and I am well prepared for Sunday, which is the highlight of the snooker season for me and the biggest amateur tournament there is bar none. The SB Classic brings out the best in me and I know that you just have to play to win, you don’t have to play brilliantly all day, it’s just about stepping up when you need to. This is the strongest Grand Finals field that there has been and I want my title back, I play James Brown first and I know how good he is so won’t be taking it lightly. I plan my entire season around this tournament and if I don’t end up as champion it won’t be through lack of preparation. I am really looking forward to Sunday’



Steve and prizeName: Stephen Croft

Qualified from: Preston.

Previous Best SBC: First time entrant.

Current Odds: 12/1 from 50/1

Stephen, or ‘Crofty’ is a former professional who returned to the game after a decade away just two weeks before qualifying from Preston. Since then he’s been putting the hours in and is the subject of a huge gamble:

‘Lots of my mates have backed me to win on Sunday and I have to say that I am quite confident. I am hitting the ball well and I’m playing a lot more now than I was when I qualified. I’ve been practising with Craig Steadman and have been taking sets off him so I know my game is in good shape. I don’t really know Jamie Clarke, my first opponent, as he was probably only starting out when I packed it all in to start a family. I’ve heard he’s a good player so I’m going to have to be sharp. I’m going all out to win the title on Sunday as preparation for Q-School’ 


Leo with frameName: Leo Fernandez

Qualified from: Gloucester Heat 1.

Previous Best SBC: First time entrant.

Current Odds: 13/2

Leo has already secured his professional tour spot for next season, but can he enter the pro circuit with the SB Classic title under his belt? 

I’m really looking forward to the whole experience on Sunday, I entered because so many people told me how well run it was and they were right, it’s an excellent tournament and feels like a proper competition. I think I am in the harder section of the draw but I don’t really mind as that means I will need to be sharp from the off. I’ve never played Elliot before but I know he is a very good player and I’ve been practising with Mark Davis and Jimmy Robertson recently to get my game as sharp as I can. I hope to do well on Sunday but it’s just nice to be involved’



Sam with frameName: Sam Craigie

Qualified from: Gloucester Heat 1.

Previous Best SBC: Qualifying Second Round.

Current Odds: 13/2

Sam is a very talented player from the North East who impressed when qualifying from a tough heat in Gloucester, he is lots of people’s idea of the winner:

I’m looking forward to Sunday but I wouldn’t say that I am over-confident in my chances. If I play well I have got a chance but I really only played one good match to qualify and in this field that won’t be good enough. There are I think a handful in this field who can win it and I have to be in the right place from the off to be one of them. I’ve found myself getting a bit annoyed lately when not playing well which is something I never used to do so I have to work on that. But it all depends what happens on the day and if I turn up I have a chance. We’ll see’



Ryan with frameName: Ryan Causton

Qualified from: Gloucester Heat 2.

Previous Best SBC: Grand Finals Last 16.

Current Odds: 14/1

Ryan ‘The Eagle’ makes his second Grand Finals after an impressive qualification from Gloucester. He’s been supporting the SB Classic since the start and has improved year on year: 

‘Since the PTC event in Poland I have been really confident about my game and I will carry that confidence into Sunday. I beat two top 20 players and that has given me such a boost and made me believe in myself more, I feel that I can win this on Sunday and it would mean the world to me if I did. I played last week in the memorial tournament for Billy O’Connor and lost in the semi-finals in a very high standard match to Hammad Miah, I hit three centuries during the day and felt great. If I can bring this form here I feel I am in with a big chance. I play a practice partner of mine Charlie Walters first, I don’t really like playing friends but that’s just snooker. I’m really looking forward to Sunday, it will be a great day’


James with frameName: James Brown

Qualified from: Gloucester Heat 2.

Previous Best SBC: Grand Finals Last 16.

Current Odds: 40/1

James makes his second consecutive Grand Finals Day after a final victory over Reanne Evans in Gloucester. Very fast and attacking with bags of experience, he’s a handful for anyone:

‘I don’t get much time to practice these days but I’ll have a knock before Sunday to get ready, I should be ok. I played Ant Parsons in a comp a couple of weeks ago and we joked that we’d probably draw each other in this and we have, I think that’s a really tough draw for me and the Grand Finals field for this year is very very good, much better than last year. It’s a higher standard than you’d see at most amateur events if not all and I think there are about 7 players there that can win it. If I play well I am one of them but I won’t know until I start if I’m in the mood or not. But I’ll have to hit the ground running as if I don’t I know Ant will take full advantage and I’ll be heading home’ 


MichaelName: Michael Rhodes

Qualified from: Liverpool Heat 2.

Previous Best SBC: Qualifying Second Round. 

Current Odds: 12/1

Michael is the current English Amateur Champion and played superbly in the second Liverpool heat with some heavy scoring, he looks ahead to Sunday: 

‘I will know after a few shots on Sunday whether I have a chance or not, I am very up and down in terms of form and I was delighted with the way I played in Liverpool to qualify. If I feel confident on the day I think I have a great chance, if not I have no chance. I’ve never played Kishan before but will treat him with the utmost respect as everyone who is playing on Sunday is there because they have proved themselves worthy. It’s very much on the day with me and I’m just looking forward to competing and hopefully going home with a trophy and a very nice cheque!’



GaryName: Gary Thomson 

Qualified from: Glasgow Heat 2. 

Previous Best SBC: First time entrant

Current Odds: 16/1

Gary, another former professional, came through the second Scottish heat and has been spending the last few weeks preparing for the Classic:

‘It’s a real buzz to be involved with this tournament at last, I have followed it since the start and decided to play this year as I’m giving snooker another go for a few months to see how it goes. I’m playing full time and this week I’ve played Michael Rhodes, Gaz Allen and Jamie Clarke at their turfs, I’ve been doing a lot of driving! I’m going to Gloucester on Friday to practice with Eden Sharav so that I am fully prepared for it. I’m not playing as well as I used to but I’ll give it a go, I had a look at the odds and couldn’t believe the price on Stevie Croft when the book opened, no wonder he’s been backed. I haven’t backed myself but I think I have a chance, I’m just looking forward to the occasion’


Jamie C with prizeName: Jamie Clarke

Qualified from: Gloucester Heat 3

Previous Best SBC: Grand Finals Semi-Finalist.

Current Odds: 7/2 Favourite

Jamie has been entering the SB Classic from the very first year and is looking to lift the title in his fourth successive Grand Finals:

‘There are a lot of quality players in the mix on Sunday and I’m happy to have got through to compete with them. This is a great tournament and we are very lucky to have it and we are always very well looked after by Mr and Mrs SB. It kicks off a busy period for me with the World Championship and the EBSA qualifiers to come, so to win would be a great confidence boost for me and would mean so much. I’m playing every day and enjoying the game more than ever, so I’ll be giving myself every chance going into Sunday’ 



Charlie with prizeName: Charlie Walters

Qualified from: Gloucester Heat 3

Previous Best SBC: Qualifying Second Round.

Current Odds: 16/1

Charlie beat defending champion Brett Miller to qualify last week in Gloucester and the Grove resident faces his practice partner Ryan Causton in the opener: 

‘As I only qualified last week I think that gives me a bit of an edge over some of the other players here. I’m really looking forward to Sunday and I play my practice partner from The Grove, Ryan Causton. We played in a tournament a couple of weeks back and I beat him 3-1 so I will take that with me to the table. I don’t really play in much but I have put the hours in for Sunday and for the last month have played more than for the entire rest of the season and my results are showing that I am putting the work in. I am confident going into Sunday and would really like to use this as a springboard to Q-School’



Kishan with prizeName: Kishan Hirani

Qualified from: Gloucester Heat 4.

Previous Best SBC: Grand Finals Quarter Finalist.

Current Odds: 18/1

Kishan is back in the Grand Finals again after a couple of deciders saw him get through in Gloucester last weekend, the Cardiff based player is looking to improve on previous years on Sunday: 

‘I’ve been preparing for Sunday after last weekend by practising with Duane Jones and I feel that my game is in really good shape. I have a tough draw but there isn’t really anything else once you get to this stage is there? I was chuffed last week to win a decider against Adam Bobat, I’d somehow managed to let Phil O’Kane take three frames off me in the semi-final, I don’t know how that happened, but obviously I knew that I needed to improve a lot in the final to stand a chance and that is exactly what I did. This tournament is great preparation for what lies ahead for us amateurs at the sharp end of the season and I’d love to win it, as I need the money!’


Jamie B with prizeName: Jamie Bodle

Qualified from: Gloucester Heat 4.

Previous Best SBC: Grand Finals Last 16.

Current Odds: 18/1

Jamie also came through in Gloucester and will no doubt use his bags of experience on Sunday to try and carve out the results:

‘I have the English Amateur Final coming up as well as this so I have been practising more than usual lately, I try to play most days when time allows. I’ll let you know on Sunday night how confident I am! I really don’t think like that, I just get on with it and play whoever is in front of me, or hopefully behind me. I’ve seen that I play Marc Davis first who I am familiar with but to be honest it could have been any of them as they are all there on merit and there isn’t an easy draw in the hat. If I bring my A game I have a good chance, but I’m going to use the old cliche that I will take one match at a time, because that is exactly what I will do’



Tom with prizeName: Tom Barton

Qualified from: Order of Merit List.

Previous Best SBC: Grand Finals Last 16.

Current Odds: 28/1

Tom came close twice to qualifying automatically but in the end comfortably topped the Order of Merit List. Brett Miller did just that last year and ended up champion, so can Tom do the same? 

‘There are so many good players there on Sunday I’d say I had a ‘punters chance’. I’ve used this tournament to improve my game and my matchplay and it has certainly done that throughout the season. I’ll be putting some long hours in with my coach Joe Lazarus before Sunday and no doubt he’ll tell me what I am doing wrong until I fix it to his liking! This is a great tournament and that’s why it’s really the only one I enter, until this I just played with my mates down at the club and I didn’t know how good I was. I hope to put up a good performance and if I win my first match who knows what could happen, after all Brett did it last year. I am match sharp from last weekend so hopefully that will be to my advantage’

The Snookerbacker Classic 2016 Grand Finals Day takes place this Sunday, 3rd April, at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester. Spectators are more than welcome to come and enjoy the snooker for free. More details about the day are here.

As well as outright odds Boyles also have betting on the highest break of the day and a 147 being made here. Match betting can be found here.

We will be live streaming Table 1 from Gloucester here. Live scoring will be done on each match and that can be found here

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