Dechaine wins Clash of Champions

Mike Dechaine

Eye of the Tiger was playing in the background. The crowd was anxiously awaiting the introduction that would officially begin…"THE CLASH OF CHAMPIONS" pitting  5 time New England Champion Herb Lehmann against the current New England Champion, 23 year old, Mike 'THE FIREBALL' Dechaine. Not only is Mike the New England Champion but he's the 2010 Empire State Champion and the 2009 World Summit of Pool Champion. Also in 2009 he came in third in the World Galveston Open and third in the World 10-Ball invitational.  In 2007 he won the Valley Forge Open Amateur Championship where there were over 1,000 entries. At the time he was touted as being the best Pool Player in North America under the age of 21. In all the great games there comes a time for a 'Changing of the Guard'. Is this that time in the great game of Pocket Billiards? The tension has been building for months and now the time is here, so Let the games begin…

The announcer, Frank Williams, takes the microphone and begins the introduction. He compares the participants to the ancient Roman Gladiators who fought with swords and shields, however, the weapons of choice today are Billiard Cues. The background music changes from Eye of the Tiger to the theme from Chariots of Fire. Frank begins with the introduction of Herb Lehmann as Herb makes his appearance through the double doors on the left. The crowd roars their applause as he enters. Then he introduces Mike who enters through the door on the right to the same applause. They walk, side by side to the table, shake hands, and cross their cues like the Gladiators did in the olden days. Then Herb takes the microphone and introduces referee Adrian 'Doodles' Costa.

'Doodles' racks the balls for straight pool since that's the game they're going to play first. It's a race to 100 points and they lag for the break which Herb wins by a whisker.

The cloth was brand new as the table was assembled only two hours earlier so it was extremely hard to judge the speed and the banks. It was the first time either player had a chance to play on that surface. Mike tried an almost impossible two bank shot in the side pocket on the opening break which he almost made  Normally he would break safe but he knew the crowd didn't come to see safety play so he lived up to his nickname The Fireball. Doodles called all the shots for the players and controlled the crowd in a no nonsense manor. They jockeyed back and forth for a while and Mike eventually beat Herb to the finish line having had a run of 28 on two different occasions only to have the cue ball get kicked into a corner pocket on the break shot. Then they switched to 9-Ball and Mike won that handily.  

He then played volunteer members of the audience one game of 8-Ball each. If Mike won they got a signed certificate saying "I got beat by Mike Dechaine playing 8-Ball on April 2nd, 2011". If someone were to beat Mike they got a signed certificate saying "I beat Mike Dechaine playing 8-ball on April 2nd, 2011" and a t-shirt that says the same thing. One challenger, Brian Lescko, did just that. Brian got his certificate and his t-shirt is on the way. Congratulations, again, to Brian Lescko and just to put you on notice Brian…Mike wants a rematch. Mike mingled with the crowd after the event and a good time was had by all.

The proceeds of the event went to the Knights of Columbus Unity Council 37 in Torrington. Frank Williams and Herb Lehmann both went out of their way to make sure Mike was comfortable and the event was a success. They worked tirelessly behind the scenes with dozens of long distance phone calls and not to mention putting a pool table together from scratch for the event and then taking it down and setting the room up for Bingo the next day. The culmination of the event was a dedication to Herb Lehmann for his work throughout the years on behalf of the organization. The room downstairs that has the pool table was officially designated…"THE HERB LEHMANN POOLROOM". When they unveiled the plaque on the wall a cheer went up from the crowd that could be heard in Hartford and the 'iron man' himself couldn't hold back the tears. A tribute to a fine man and a good friend.

Mike would like to thank everyone involved for the great reception they gave him and their enthusiasm for the game and would definitely like to do this again sometime.