The weekend in Gloucester at the always excellent South West Snooker Academy saw three more players added to the Final 16 with a further player guaranteeing himself a spot by virtue of his Order of Merit status, leaving the race for the second place on that list wide open.
Saturday’s Winner Daniel Wells
Saturday saw a win for Welshman and former tour professional Daniel Wells, a first time entrant to the Classic who also managed to set the standard for the tournament highest break in the process.
Daniel went into the day as most people’s favourite to progress and indeed it was clear from the off that he wasn’t there to mess around, knocking in a 133 in his first match having received a bye in the first round. Putting him firmly in line to nab the £500 John Parrott Cuesports Highest Break prize at the end of the event, he was later to add a point for good luck, by compiling a 134 in his semi-final against Brett Miller, a match that Brett led 3-1 before being pegged back and beaten in a decider.
Last year’s Grand Finalist Callum Lloyd, another Welshman, in the meantime was progressing nicely through the top half of the draw, with wins over Phil O’Kane, Matt Glasby and Zack Richardson to progress to a final against his fellow countryman. The final was a rather one-sided affair and Callum never really got going as Daniel coasted to victory at the first time of asking, a trend that has been a common trait of the past 3 SB Classic champions and he I’m sure will be bang up for it on April 5th.
His 134 was also to remain the highest break of the weekend and won him the £100 prize generously donated by SBAT.com.
Off the table, there was the usual light-hearted chatter and snooker talk. Phil O’Kane again providing the entertainment along with his long suffering girlfriend Amy. Indeed the snooker wives and girlfriends are becoming a more regular feature at the SB Classic with a lot of the boys deciding to bring along their other halves. And you know what? I think it really adds to the event as a whole and I hope it continues, maybe Mrs SB’s feminine touch is encouraging the SWAG’s to come along, let’s hope so.
Anyway, Daniel left with a wide smile on his face and it was great to meet him. He’s a great lad and I’m sure he’ll be full of confidence come Grand Finals Day.
All Saturday’s results can be found here.
Reanne has qualified for the Grand Finals for the first time
Sunday saw a busier, more bustling vibe in Gloucester courtesy of the 32 player field (as well as the SWAG’s) and it was Reanne Evans, the Ladies World Champion for the past 100 or so years and last season’s semi-finalist and current English Amateur Champion Ben Harrison who booked their places in the Grand Finals on Easter Sunday.
Reanne received a bye in the first round because Aaron Cook had been taken ill and Mrs SB and I both wish him a speedy recovery, I’m sure his dad Rob will look after him. After this she was to gain revenge on Zack Richardson, who had beaten her on Saturday before overcoming Phil O’Kane, the newly crowned Kent Amateur Champion, a title of which he is most proud, who’d lost in the ‘Last 16′ the previous day….before coming up against that man Brett Miller again, Reanne producing a fabulous clearance when it looked for all the world like Brett was about to force a decider, to win 4-2.
Reanne is obviously a great addition to the Grand Finals line up and it’s great to see her there having got so close in the past. When she’s on her game she is a match for any of the top boys and despite nursing a sore leg throughout the day, she finally did what she’s been threatening to do for the past 3 years. She’s also won something that doubtless her very cute daughter Lauren, who spent hours entertaining us on Saturday, will write all over when she gets it home.
Ben battled away to make his second Grand Finals Day
In the other half of the draw it was Ben Harrison who landed the spoils with wins over Alan Harvey, Tom Barton, Mike Rogers and Dan Ward. Denying finalist Dan the chance to join his partner Reanne on Grand Finals Day.
Ben is the current English Amateur Champion but hasn’t been in a position to give snooker his full attention recently and is now working full time, making his achievement on Sunday all the more impressive as he hasn’t been putting in the hours that he would like to. His SWAG Charlotte looked on as Ben did his thing, again proving the old adage that behind every good man is a good SWAG. Just ask Mrs SB.
I think Ben would be the first to admit that he wasn’t exactly ‘flying’ but sometimes you have to just bide your time, not get frustrated and play solid match snooker to win and Ben showed that he is a very mature match player these days by getting the right results when not at his best, a great quality to have as a player. That gives him plenty to build on for Grand Finals Day and it’s clear the win meant a lot to him and was a massive confidence boost.
Off the table, myself and Mrs SB were being entertained with tales of the old East End by none other than Joe Lazarus, a legend in the snooker world who’s rubbed shoulders with and probably broken a few shoulders of, snooker’s great and not-so-good.
Joe, now in his seventies though looking exactly how I remember him in the late 1980’s, recounted tales involving red-hot pokers, Bulgarian’s not behaving themselves to his high standards in hospital car parks, hiding up trees and lots of other stuff I dare not write about on here as he has my phone number, while we sat transfixed at the life he has led and experiences he has had.
He also revealed that he holds the award of Basildon’s ‘Unsung Hero’ having raised thousands for children’s charities, as he joked that he has a bit of making up to do now he’s getting a bit older. He’s clearly very proud of this and rightly so, he’s a real character and an old school gent when it comes to the ladies, apologising unreservedly when he let a profanity slip within earshot of Mrs SB. But I like to think that even this softer version of the hard man I remember probably still chews chunks of granite when he’s feeling peckish, 75 or not, you’d want him on your side if you got cornered, trust me.
Mrs SB however, could not resist telling Joe that she expected him to be ‘a good boy’ from now on and to ‘stop being naughty or you’ll have me to answer to’ and I think this might have sunk in, it’s the first time I’ve seen the man who eats nails for breakfast and could knock down a tower block with a right hook have a slight look of fear in his eyes, Mrs SB’s glares can do that. Again, trust me.
Anyway, the day was rounded off with a trip to Gloucester Quays with some bloke called Craig who keeps following me around for a bite to eat and a bit of wine. Oddly on leaving we bumped into another Grand Finalist Eden Sharav and gave him a lift home, Gloucester is a small place…
It’s Derby next on March 8th before Liverpool on 14th then it’s the Last Chance Saloon back in Gloucester on 29th, that is the only event now with any spare places available and you can enter by clicking here and scrolling down to the Paypal link.
All Sunday’s results can be found here.
A big thanks to all at the SWSA and to referees Nick Harry and Clive Brown.
ORDER OF MERIT LATEST
Following the weekend, it is now mathematically impossible for Brett Miller to be caught in the Order of Merit so Brett will also be joining the qualifiers at Grand Finals Day. He will not be entering any more qualifiers.
There remains however one more place on this list up for grabs and it is currently headed by Zack Richardson on 26, with Jason Tart (not in any further events), Josh Mulholland (entered Liverpool) Ryan Causton and Matthew Day all in the 20’s with lots of others within touching distance, including Paul Davison who is in both Derby and Liverpool.
Last season the last place went down to the last frame of the last qualifier. I wonder if this year we’ll see a similarly tense finish?
The latest standings can be found here.