The University Pool team ended the last decade on a high, scooping their first University Pool Council Nine-Ball Championship team title in early December. After topping their group, York’s trio of Luke Fleet, Mike Walsh and Fotis Demousis saw off Aston and Reading Universities, before beating Manchester 2-0 in the final.
The second team, consisting of Tom Wilson, Andrew Myhill and Matt Robson, battled through to the final of the Trophy competition, eventually beaten by their counterparts from Warwick.
In the individual competition, staged over the same weekend, Fleet battled his way through to the final before losing to Rich Wharton, from Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge). Walsh was also beaten by the eventual champion at the semi-final stage.
With over 150 students descending on the Riley’s clubs at Wavertree and Grand Central, Liverpool, the championship is the largest nine-ball event in the country.
The format saw the two highest-placed first teams in each of the six groups advance to the Championship play-offs, with the next best team entering the Trophy competition. York’s firsts, captained by Walsh, had little difficulty overcoming this first hurdle, winning matches against Aston seconds (2-0), the London School of Economics (2-1) and Oxford (2-1) to march into the knock-out phase.
University of York Firsts, winners of the Team Championship
York’s second team, hoping to improve on last year’s runner-up spot in the Trophy, beat Cardiff thirds on two occasions (both 2-0), Keele seconds (2-0) and Imperial firsts (2-1) to keep their hopes alive. The third team recorded Group C victories against Warwick seconds, the defending Trophy champions (2-0) and Bristol firsts (2-1), but defeats in the elimination deciders to Edge Hill and Warwick meant they narrowly missed out on progress.
In the quarter-finals, the firsts really hit their stride to dispatch Aston University 2-0, before Fleet and Walsh guided York past the determined challenge of Reading in the last four. Fleet battled back from 0-3 down in the deciding set to win 5-3, sealing the team’s place in their first team final.
Buoyed by this momentum, York ripped into Manchester in the final, with Fleet, Walsh and Demousis all racing into early leads against their respective opponents. However, with York just one set from victory, Manchester mounted a spirited fightback through Sanup Mistry and Jonathon O’Gorman to reinvigorate their hopes. However, York weren’t to be denied and Demousis sunk the decisive nine-ball against O’Gorman to collect the silverware.
University of York Seconds, runners-up in the Team Trophy
In the Trophy, the seconds saw off Oxford and Manchester to set up a final against Warwick, one of the fancied teams and the defending champions. Wilson fired the opening salvo, taking the opening set with a whitewash, but Warwick Captain Daniel Turner got the better of Myhill in a topsy-turvy affair to level the match. Everything hinged on the third game between Robson and Terence Cattrell: with the scores locked at 3-3, Cattrell held his nerve to ensure Warwick retained the Trophy.
In the individual championship, Fleet entered in the last 64 round, seeing off Chris Hatton (Essex) 5-2, Ifan Williams (Cardiff) 5-3, his clubmate Robson 5-4, Lee Mager (LSE) 5-2 and Kevin Lau (Huddersfield) 5-1 to reach the final. Facing an opponent with an established mainstream pool pedigree in Wharton, Fleet struggled to gain a proper foothold in the match and eventually succumbed 5-1.
Mike Walsh, semi-finalist in the Individual Competition
Walsh was forced to start his journey in the second qualifying round, where he beat Daniel Kendal (Manchester) 5-1, Andy Dodson (Gloucestershire) 5-0, Andy Bowe (Aston) 5-2, William Robinson (Bristol) 5-2 and Naveed Hussain (Birmingham) 5-4, before meeting Wharton in the semis. In contrast to Fleet’s win in the other semi-final, this boiled down to a deciding rack, with the Anglia Ruskin player emerging victorious and denying an all-York final.
York will hope to harness the momentum from these successes when they head to Great Yarmouth for the BUCS-UPC Eight-Ball Championships over the weekend of the 25-28 February.
Thanks to Mungo Pay, Pool and Snooker Club President