Saturday and Sunday saw the opening two days qualifying for this season’s Snookerbacker Classic held at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester and I’m delighted to say that the standard of play more than lived up to my expectation throughout.
The tournament is now into it’s fourth season and judging by the popularity of it seems to continue to hit a note with the players as being both a little bit different from the norm and well worth entering, given the £7000 plus pot of prize money at the end.
Myself and Mrs SB do try and put a bit of extra woomf into the tournament and I think at the weekend our efforts paid off as we were all treated to some fantastic snooker by the amateur players that entered. Maybe it was the chocolate orange and victoria sponge cakes baked by the fair hand of Mrs SB that made the difference. Early on Saturday even Shaun Murphy was asking about entrance criteria, if anyone turns up who looks even vaguely like him I’ll be tugging at their beard to make sure it’s not a fake.
On the table, Saturday’s opener could have passed for Grand Finals Day and it was Jamie Clarke from Wales, a Grand Finalist for the past two seasons who again qualified at the first time of asking and justified the favouritism that the bookmakers placed on him before it started, beating Sean ‘The Storm’ O’Sullivan, a first time entrant 4-2 in the qualifying final.
There were some outstanding performances from both finalists and special mention must also be given to Brett Miller, who powered in two centuries in his first match, a best of 114 before losing to the eventual winner in Round 2.
It was a lively day which culminated in several of the players who stayed late, including myself, pissing ourselves laughing at the most bizarre You Tube video that had been designed for a couple having a party there, you really did have to be there….and was followed by a curry with the refs, my biggest two fans, Mrs SB and Andy Marriott, who I talked about Morrissey with all day.
A great performance from Jamie and made even more impressive by the fact that he had been forced to pull out of Sunday so needed to qualify on Day 1 in such a strong field to bag an early Grand Finals slot. I wish he took as much care with his trousers though…..careless.
To view all the results and breaks from Saturday click here.
Clarkey is something of a qualifying specialist.
Sunday began in slapstick fashion. The time was 9.24am and there was one notable absentee from the list of starters due to break off at 9.30am, one Mr Phil (aka Phillipa) O’Kane.
Knowing Phil of old and having seen him the previous evening ‘on his way out’ I decided to ask Sean O’Sullivan to make sure he was on his way, which turned out to be his wake up call at the Holiday Inn across from the venue. Somehow, from waking out of this slumber, just 5 minutes later and with the clock fast approaching him being 1-0 down, here ran O’Kane at breakneck speed in full view of all the players, applauding this outstanding effort from surely the most careless amateur ever to grace the modern game. If you think ‘Chariots of Fire’ crossed with ‘The Muppet Show’ you’d probably be about right. But somehow, against the odds, he made it in time.
Once the dust had settled and the laughter had nearly stopped it was down to business and whilst Round 1 did not pass without incident, with one match being decided away from the table with a handshake accompanied by a rather unusual take on the traditional ‘good luck in the next round’ line, we began to see that Martin O’Donnell’s defeat the previous day had fired him up. He started the day with a break of 126 and that was to end up the highest break of the weekend and nab the extra £100 prize generously donated by the guys at SBAT.com.
Martin avenged his defeat the previous day to O’Sullivan and went on to beat Ryan Causton in the final, only losing three frames all day. The M’OD of course was the first ever Snookerbacker Classic Champion back in 2012 and looks bang in the mood to put his name back on the trophy this time around.
Oh and a quick thank you to Shane Castle, who I have never met, for continuing to fund the tournament through his no-shows. He must love me as he just enters, pays his money and never turns up, that’s my kinda guy.
The MO’D wants his title back.
The bottom half of the draw saw eventual victory for Eden Sharav, the Scottish International who is now based down in Gloucester hoping that the top drawer practice facilities will bring out the best in him.
Undoubtedly the match of the round took place in this section with that man Brett Miller again banging in two centuries to edge out Jordan Church, who also helped himself to a century, 4-3. Brett doesn’t play very much, he works hard and treats snooker as a hobby. All I will say is, if he ever gets the opportunity to play full time, the others had better watch out. But he’s a lad with a great head on his shoulders, a sometimes incomprehensible accent and a great deal of talent. He’s earmarked the SB Classic this season and I have a feeling he might have a say in it.
There were also centuries on Day 2 for Syd Wilson and Sean O’Sullivan meaning that over the weekend we saw 8 centuries, 4 of which came from Miller.
Eden Sharav meanwhile had just returned from action in China and had been suffering from jetlag, he did look a little tired early on and on going 3-0 down to Miller in his semi-final seemed to be heading out, but all of a sudden China Time kicked in and he seemed to come alive, not losing another frame in completing the comeback and then beating Matthew Day 4-0 in the final.
Matthew is another favourite of ours and he spent the entire day trying to sell anything from fridge freezers to cues to anyone who would listen. We went for something to eat with him afterwards where I swear he tried to sell us a car. One day my son we’ll all be millionaires…
Eden was in a different time zone.
For all the results and breaks from Sunday click here.
Final thanks go to all at the SWSA, Andrew Norman, who remains a tireless worker and never sits still and all the staff there, even Michael Wasley popped in on Sunday to spread butter on a door….it remains, even after all the changes, the best venue in the UK for snooker and I am delighted to be going back there a few times this season. A special mention also to Aaron Cook, who helps out there and is clearly coming on as a player, taking a frame from Eden in the first round. It’s great to see him progressing.
Thanks as ever to the glovelies, this time Nick ‘Chardo’ Harry and Clive Brown kept the order and a watchful eye on the potters.
Thanks again for the £100 added prize from SBAT.com and of course ongoing thanks to sponsors Lake Creative and John Parrott Cuesports, JP’s are putting up the £500 highest break prize this season of £500 and the £1000 for a maximum. O’Donnell tops the break list with his 126 on Sunday but there is a very long way to go.
Finally thanks to My Snooker Stats for continuing to supply all the details that are essential for me to run the tournament without being sussed out for the rookie I am. You can view the top breaks and the Order of Merit List, which runs throughout the tournament here. Sean O’Sullivan tops this and at the end, the top 2 who have not qualified automatically will take their place at Grand Finals Day.
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