On Sunday 28th February I went to EIS in Sheffield to watch the first round of qualifiers for the 2010 World Championship.
We arrived at 11:30am, about 90 minutes after the morning session had started. Immediately upon arrival I spotted three players who were playing today, Patrick Wallace, Bjorn Haneveer and Tony Drago. Of these the Belgian professional Bjorn Haneveer was the only one that I had not met before.
The qualifiers are played in the badminton hall, you go up the stairs and to the right of the EIS, and this is where we headed. There were 6 cubicles in a line each with a match going on and depending on where you sit you can watch up to 3 matches at a time. We decided to take a seat so we could see the matches Matt Selt v Thepchaiya Un Nooh and James Watana v Lee Page. Matt Selt seemed to be struggling in his game against Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un Nooh, getting in but then missing. Matt was 5-3 behind after losing a close 8th frame, and got in first in the last frame of the session. However after taking a decent lead before missing, Un Nooh got in and cleared with a 50 break to take a 6-3 lead into the evening session.
On the other table James Wattana came from 3-0 down to go 5-3 up before losing the last frame of the session to go into the evening 5-4 up. The four tables we couldnt see had Jordan Brown v Bjorn Haneveer in which Jordan took a 5-4 lead, Noppadol Sagnil took a 6-3 lead over Michael White, Sam Baird went 6-3 up against Stephen Rowlings and Lee Spick led Joe Jogia 5-4.
During the break between matches ending and the second session players arriving I got lots of photos. I met Lee Page, Stephen Rowlings, Sam Baird, Lee Spick, Joe Jogia, Noppadol Sangnil, Michael White, Thepchaiya Un Nooh and Jordan Brown as they finished there games. I also met referee Colin Humphries as he finished refereeing the Michael White v Noppadol Sangnil game.
Other players I met that were playing in the second session were Mark Boyle, Li Hang, David Hogan, Xiao Guodong and Mei Xiwen.Some of the other players who would be playing in the next few dat were also around ,they included Simon Bedford, Liang Wenbo, Craig Steadman, Brendan O’Donoghue, Matt Couch and Atthasit Mahitti.
However I was most suprised when in walked the legend Jimmy White who arrived for some practice despite not having a match until Wednesday.He saw me and obligingly as ever put his arm around me to pose for a photograph whilst looking at my http://www.ryan 147.com T Shirt. Even my Dad had a picture with Jimmy.
A little later I saw Michaela Tabb, I was really pleased when she said “Hello Ryan” and came over and gave me a big hug. I took the opportunity to get another photo with her.
My other favourite referee Jan Verhaas was walking down the stairs and came over and asked me how my football ground trips were going, I also had another picture with Jan.He is a really nice guy.
I also met Jack Lisowski who was awarded the Paul Hunter Scholarship for this season and has done so well on the PIOS that he will be joining the 96 professionals on the main tour.
Finally I went and had a chat to Premiership football referee Uriah Rennie was arriving to do some training at the EIS and he was very friendly too.
The evening session saw only 4 matches played, the highlight of which was Tony Drago, Malta’s best ever played against Xiao Guodong.Other games saw Boyle/Wallace, Hang/Hogan and Norbury/Xiwen. We watched 3 frames of the Tony Drago match and a frame of the Boyle v Wallace game before heading off home after what had been a long weekend.
At the end of today I have now met 88 of the 96 professionals, all the photos can be seen on my Snooker page of the site.
The Venue (EIS)