Black in superb form

The Club 8-ball grand final between Lions Gold and sister team Lions Black was held in the Steel United soccer clubrooms recently. It was attended by 65 players and supporters, and while this number is down on last year’s final it must be remembered that a new rules competition was being held at the same time which of course prevented people from attending – something that maybe we can prevent next year.  Lions Gold finished on top of the ladder and made the final by defeating a gallant Shamrocks team 5-4 in the first preliminary final, whilst Lions Black won their way into the big dance with a tough, hard-fought 5-3 win over Steel Green. Lions Gold named first.

Match 1 (ump G.Palmer) Gordon Worsnop Jnr vs Shaun McCarrick 

McCarrick broke, nothing down, but the bigs looked good from where I was sitting and Worsnop thought so too by potting two and then setting a ball beautifully over the top right pocket. Naturally, even though these two fine players are very experienced, there were nerves around aplenty and so a tactical battle began which had the crowd watching with such intensity. Absolutely riveting stuff by both players but eventually McCarrick made a “half error” and Worsnop pounced like the good player he is and opened up a good break, requiring just two while his opponent needed six still, and that break proved to be the difference in the end with Worsnop winning by three balls and as the black fell, what can only be described as a ”rebel yell” came from the Gold camp. GOLD were on the board 1-0.

Match 2 (ump J.McManus) Andy Ripley vs Keith Barsby

Ripley broke, nothing down, and the first cat and mouser was underway with each player brilliant in their own right and so very well aware that just one small mistake against this calibre of opponent most likely means “goodnight Irene”. Three visits each from these fine potters and still nothing down, then finally Ripley drew first blood and potted two, and “jawed”his next shot which gave Barsby some space who promptly potted three then also “jawed” a shot. The game was wide open now, Ripley then potted four-in-a-row and was so unlucky to get a cannon in-off which of course gave Barsby two shots and one could sense some tight nipper bones around the table at that time! Barsby then potted four straight and still had two shots on the black – he only needed one and BLACK were also on the board, 1-1.                                                         

Match 3 (ump C.Mayes Jnr) Joel Bristow vs Scott Vandersluys

Vandersluys broke, nothing down, and a quick no holds barred potting game followed which was amazing really given this was the big dance, and the crowd loved every minute of it with Bristow needing just three while his opponent needed four after two visits each and these weren’t just ‘wham bam thank you maam’ shots either, both took their time and played some really sublime shots and in the final stages it was Bristow who won the race to the black but lady luck decreed that the black would “sit”, leaving Vandersluys a really difficult cut shot into the top right pocket and most thought that perhaps it was beyond him – but Vandersluys played one of the shots of his life, the black was easy and a great game came to an end. GOLD 1-BLACK 2                                                                 

Match 4 (ump B.Jones) Scott Kilpatrick vs George Bowie

Kilpatrick broke, nothing down yet again and a long drawn out struggle commenced, which of course is quite expected in these tight middle stages of a grand final, and it was an intriguing game that ignited the passions of supporters of both camps, with some friendly advice occasionally heard. Both players had fought so hard and yet they were still dead level, requiring three plus the black. Bowie tried to place a ball over the bottom left pocket but it dropped in and left him an awkward angle for his next shot but I’m not sure what happened really – it appeared that his brace hand rolled as he played the shot but anyway, he missed from just about a foot! Kilpatrick had two shots but potted just the one and then the unthinkable happened – almost the exact same shot as Bowie fouled on before, and others described it as “he appeared to fumble” but he missed again and more people than just myself were holding their glasses up to the light and thinking perhaps they had to go to spec-savers real soon. Two more shots to Kilpatrick but again he couldn’t quite finish it, Bowie did, and it was off to buy a x-lotto ticket for George. GOLD 1-BLACK 3.

Match 5 (ump F.Banovic) Mark Worsnop vs Norm Wood

Wood broke, nothing down, and for a while it was a quiet steady enthralling match, then Wood exploded potting three, then, after attempting a fine cut he potted his opponent’s ball and gave Worsnop two shots. Gold supporters still remained hopeful for a Worsnop win and he gave them everything he had bringing the game back to an almost even keel with skill and cunning but Wood was in better touch overall and suddenly it was looking like an early night with GOLD now 1 to BLACK 4 down.

Match 6 (ump R.Gray.) Raz Oaten vs Donny Morrison

Oaten broke, yep, nothing down and a very even match ensued with Morrison able to enjoy the fact that his team was in a very dominant position which in turn enabled him to play with a touch less caution than Oaten who was struggling for his, and his team’s, survival. In due course Morrison drew ahead by three, but Oaten showed admirable courage to claw his was back to needing just one plus the black, then just the black – and it “jawed”. Morrison went for a double (which was the only shot he had) and tried to leave his white on the top cushion whilst at the same time run his last ball down the bottom left side and snooker his opponent – which he did, but unfortunately it was just a fraction too hard and the black fell, leaving Gold players virtually speechless with joy. GOLD 2-BLACK 4.  

Match 7 (ump G.Docherty Snr) First Doubles. Ripley/Bristow vs Gary Williams/McCarrick

McCarrick broke, nothing down, Ripley pots one and strangely decided to set one over a top pocket and play safe. Nothing much of note happened for several shots until Bristow fouled, and then McCarrick whittled the deficit back to even numbers with the ensuing two shots. Things progressed slowly until Ripley disputed the umpires call after asking for a foul snooker and having the appeal turned down, asked again and then McCarrick sportingly said yes i believe he’s right umpire. Bristow however wasn’t able to do what Ripley asked of him and Black supporters heaved a sigh of relief as had it gone it was frame over. Ripley later played a shot that from quite a distance blasted his opponents ball out and replaced it right over the hole with his own – and didn’t the crowd love that one! A foul by McCarrick saw Ripley with two shots and he managed to get them all bar the black while the Black pairing needed five and McCarrick to play. After potting two “cherries” to gain better position McCarrick still needed three, then two, a brilliant shot sees him need just one and the black – game over, what an outstanding finish and GOLD WENT DOWN 2-5 TO BLACK – who have now achieved a three-peat of league titles. Mr Gordon Worsnop Snr handed the top player award to Shamrocks captain Steve Warren and presented the shields to the respective captains – see you next year.                  – MARSY