On Sunday 6th December 2009 I went to the Telford International Centre to watch day 2 of the Pukka Pies UK Championship.
We arrived at the Telford International Centre just over an hour before the first session of snooker began.The venue was nice enough, but nothing compared to the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. We bought our tickets and went to look inside the venue. Just as at the World Championship, there was a table which people could try different challenges such as clearing the colours, a stall selling world snooker merchandise and a bar selling ‘Pukka Pies’.
The match we had decided to watch was the Steve Davis v Stephen Hendry match. The two legends of the game had won 13 world titles and 11 UK titles between them. There was 4 tables in the arena and unsurprisingly Davis v Hendry was on one of the main tables with Ricky Walden v current world champion John Higgins on the other.
The table we were watching was packed with fans, however there was a few empty seats on the other table. Stephen Hendry started the match superbly knocking in a 115 break after Steve missed a simple red on 20. However Davis came back in the next and took the frame to level it up at 1-1. After that the snooker quality began to dip, with both players clearly struggling to make any sizeable breaks and after two very scrappy frames it was 2-2.
During the mid-session interval we popped out of the arena and I got photos with Mark Allen, who was playing Stephen Lee on one of the untelevised tables and commentator Neal Foulds.
When the players came out they still struggled a little and neither player made a break over 50 in the next 3 frames as Davis took a 4-3 lead. The 7 times world champion finished the session as he had started it with his second century of the match, this time a 130, to go into the evening session all-square at 4-4.
After this session had finished, we had something to eat and then had a wander round the venue once more. During this break I got pictures Mark Selby, Mark King and referees Eirian Williams and Jan Verhaas.
As the tournament is played on a roll-on, roll-off basis, there was another set of matches starting around 3pm depending on when the first set of games finished. After a food break I went to watch Stuart Bingham v Joe Perry. As we went in Bingham was leading 7-4, he won the next in a rather scrappy frame in which the highest break was 33. After the interval Stuart Bingham came back out and took the last frame to win 9-4 and book his place in the second round.
As we entered the arena to watch the last session of Davis v Hendry, Jamie Cope was leading Mark Selby 8-4 in the game on the other table. We couldn’t see the match as we were watching the other table but in that match Selby came back emphatically and won all 5 frames to win 9-8.
On the table we watched, Hendry and Davis came into the last session dead level at 4-4, with this session effectively a first to 5. The Nugget won a scrappy first frame, but Stephen Hendry fired straight back to win the next in two visits with breaks of 33 and 44. They shared the next two frames to go to the mid session interval still level at 6-6, and it looking like a late night finish. However after the mid session interval Hendry pulled away, winning the next 3 frames, finishing off with his third century of the match, a 112.
As we were about to head off home, we saw Selby come out and stand with the fans signing and chatting, obviously delighted after his incredible comeback against Jamie Cope.
I had a great day in Telford, and it was a good experience seeing the two legends of the game, Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry, play each other.