I went with Matt (writer of Pro Snooker Blog) to the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds today to watch the last 64 and 32 stages of the 2009 Paul Hunter English Open.
We arrived at 10am just as the first session of matches was about to begin. The event was very different to anything I had been to before. All the players were so relaxed and friendly. The venue itself has a main table in the centre which is lower down, then there are lots of tables surrounding it above, with another room full of tables behind. As we arrived Daniel Wells was playing a young amateur called Phil O’Kane on the main table. Phil looked to be struggling and with some good snooker Daniel stormed through a 4-0 winner. Other matches being played in the 10am session saw Tony Drago just edge through 4-3 against Robert Valiant. All of the other pro tour players also managed to win through to the last 32 (including Ben Woollasten, Dave Harold, SimonBedford and Mark Joyce).
As I am sure you know I am trying to meet all the 96 snooker players on the current main tour and at the NSC it was so easy to meet them, and they were all really friendly. During the morning session I managed to get pictures with Robert Milkins, Ben Woollastan, Dave Harold, Chris Norbury, Daniel Wells, Kuldesh Johal, Tony Drago and Stuart Bingham who despite not playing until 7pm turned up at just after 10am!
The Main Table
Some of the artwork above the main table
Daniel Wells in action on the main table
Simon Bedford in play
Daniel Wells and Stuart Bingham
As the 10am session came to an end, and the players began arriving for there 1pm matches, the bar began to become rather full again. However to add to my collection I got photos with Mark Davis, Andrew Higginson, Rod Lawler, Andrew Norman, Peter Lines, Jimmy Robertson and Matt Couch.
On the main table for the 1pm session was Andrew Norman vs. 14 year old Oliver Lines who was the son of Peter Lines. Andrew Norman won through easily as we both expected 4-0. On the other tables Mark Davis managed to sneak through 4-3, as did Lee Page who beat Matt Couch in a rather interesting game which Couch had pulled back from 3-1 down to 3-3 before losing the decider.
After their game I managed to get a photo with Lee Page who is new to the professional tour this season along with Simon Bedford.
Oliver Lines in action
Andrew Norman attempts to pot a red with the rest
3 of the matches going on
Matt Couch in play
In the bar after the 1pm sessions had finished I got some more photos, this time with Craig Steadman and Mark Joyce. I also met Jack Lisowski who was really friendly. He recognised me from this site and showed a real interest in it, and Matt’s blog too which we both thought was very nice.
The 4pm session had probably the best match of the day. It was the Last 32 now so matches were best of 9. On the main table Ben Woollastan played promising amateur Robbie Williams. Robbie looked like a very good player and raced into a 4-3 lead. However in the 8th frame Ben made a 120 break, which for a missed pink would have been a total clearence, to take the match to a decider. Robbie took the decider to win the match 5-4. The other matches in the 4pm session saw Tony Drago win through to the last 16 with a 5-2 win over Nick Jennings,Daniel Wells lose 5-1 against Mark Joyce and Rod Lawler beat Dave Harold 5-4 in a high quality game with 4 breaks over 60.
Dan Wells breaks off
Dave Harold in action
Rod Lawler in play
Ben Woollastan takes a shot while Robbie Williams looks on
Woollastan takes a red to the centre
Williams eventualy won 5-4
We were unable to stay for the 7pm session as we had to get home, but we had a great day and I would definitely go again next year if possible.
However I will not have to wait that long to revisit the Northern Snooker Centre as I shall be attending the first Pro Challenge this coming Wednesday 29th July.