Thanks to some family issues that I won’t bore you with, I had to step away from the World of pool for a few months but I am back and I feel like Marty McFly or Dr Who or some other time traveller – a few months away and 8-ball pool has jumped forward years from when I was last on the scene.
Since I last looked we have new World Champions, live free to view terrestrial television coverage, a weekly Monday programme, sell-out tour events, and a “buzz” about the sport that we have all been working towards for years – success at last, but we still have a way to go.
In brief, January saw Freesports take the last few days of the World Championships from Bradford only to be pleasantly surprised by the decent viewing figures obtained as Ben Davies took the main event, beating fellow Welshman Simon Ward in an enthralling final that went to the wire – which hardly hurt the viewing figures. New sponsors were delighted to come on board such as Select Car Leasing, Black Type bookmakers, and popular website Eazeemoney.com as well as their long-term supporters Strachan, Aramith, The Racker, and Woods Trophies and Engravers, who all contributed to the success of one of the most prestigious pool events ever held in the United Kingdom.
As well as the TV viewers, the event was also live streamed to an amazing 186 Countries around the World with Africa taking a keen interest in a sport they love more than most, as all the winners were eventually crowned with congratulations long overdue to Michelle Roonay who beat reigning champion Collette Henriksen in a high class Ladies final, Liam Dunster and Mark Boyle who took the doubles trophy back to Scotland, Collette Henriksen and Rab Fee who took the mixed doubles, and finally Andy Lucas who won a ding dong battle with Jason Twist to take the Seniors 7-6.
No sooner had the excitement died down and the tables were packed away before the IPA team moved on to Round One of the new Freesports Cup, featuring all the top players in a weekly format at clubs around the Country and sponsored by Riley’s Sports Bars. Twenty-one weeks of live action started with the qualifiers, and each week sees four of the very best to brandish a cue in two matches and a final, with the winner progressing through to the next stage. So far Marc Farnsworth, Ronan McCarthy, Craig Marsh, and Kristian Phillips have all got through from two evenings each at Washington and Cardiff, though there is still plenty more action to come from a long list of venues that were specifically chosen to be as fair to the travelling players as possible.
All in all, blackball pool is very much on the up with live television the icing on the cake, led of course by the IPA but hopefully filtering down to every level, as we all continue to look to get the sport the recognition it so obviously deserves. Join in by watching live via Freesports or get involved yourself via ww.ipapool.com