Majid’s Magic in Stirling

Imran Majid

A trophy engraved with 'Stirling Open Champion' made the long journey back from Scotland to London this weekend; the hands clutching the trophy were those of Imran Majid. In a photo-finish final, Majid narrowly pipped BPPPA Number 1 Daryl Peach to the winning post with a memorable 11 racks to 10 triumph. Two of the most successful and experienced British players ever, Majid and Peach put on a show of the very highest quality; this was a 'gloves off' battle of wits, safety, escapes, knowledge and nerve. The adage 'nobody deserved to lose' is used too carelessly in sport, but on this occasion, it certainly serves as a fitting description of the final. Majid's hard graft and eventual victory at Riley's Stirling takes his BPPPA tally for 2005 to three and counting, having already taken the Harrow Open in January and February's Doncaster Open.

For Majid and Peach the draw was a strong Highland wind blowing in their faces throughout the competition. Majid was sent to the one-loss side of the draw on the first day after he was drawn against good friend and rival Raj Hundal, 'The Hitman' getting the better of 'The Maharaja' 9 - 4. Majid recovered with a convincing 7 - 3 win over Robert Jude to qualify for Sunday's knockout stage. The world class Scot Michael 'The Yeti' Valentine was dispatched 9 - 5 by Majid in the last 16 stage before Euro Tour success story Andy Worthington came within a rack of sending Majid back to London empty handed in the quarter final. Worthington was 7 - 3 down in the race to 9 match and to stand any chance he was going to have to string two or three break and dishes together. He managed five!, only for the fluent Majid to coolly win the remaining two racks, 9 - 8 the score line, Majid in the semis and looking every bit a champion. 'The Dazzler' Peach had a safe crossing into the last 16 knockout stage, overpowering first Alan Lowe 9 - 2 and then Jim O'Hare 9 -0. Peach was in great form from the word go on Sunday; consistent qualifier and in-form Dave McCarthy could only distract Peach long enough to steal one rack, 9 - 1 to 'The Dazzler'. The aforementioned Highland wind threw out the name Mark Gray for Peach to play in the last 8. Gray had been champion in his last three BPPPA Tour Stops and was tipped by some to add a fourth here in Stirling. Peach was the winner in a close match, 9 racks to 7. Although he has appeared at the business end of all but one Tour Stop since, Peach somehow hasn't won a BPPPA event since May 2004. In Stirling his hunger, determination and drive to remedy that fact was a pleasure to watch.

Down to the last four then and Majid faced Weert Open Champion Lee Chenman, putting in his best performance on home soil since taking the coveted European title. Mistakes by Chenman were punished by Majid as he pounced on anything and everything to win 9 - 4. Raj Hundal was to be Peach's opponent and the story of the match read much the same as the first semi. Hundal was making a mess with some uncharacteristic errors and Peach was mopping up after him, racing into an 8 - 2 lead. 'The Hitman' was sparked into life with Peach on the hill and flirted with a comeback, winning four without reply, but it was too little too late, 9 - 6 to 'The Dazzler'.

Some great matches of pool and great performances were seen on both Saturday 4th June & Sunday 5th June 2005 at Riley's Stirling club. Jonathan Mathers and Kevin Brown made the quarter finals and the remainder of the last 16 were Mark Mills, Stephen Capaldi, Jim O'Hare, David Walsh, Simon Widlo and Jonni Fulcher.

It was a great way to end a long hard fought weekend of 9 ball, seeing two deserved finalists provide an enthralling match, trying to do whatever it takes to win; and winning is what this game's all about for the top boys. I know their secret for winning though, I've been watching every nuance and I've figured it out' I'll tell you. Of course the hours and hours of practice at the table and having more dedication than a Record Breakers host, is ultimately what makes you a great player, I'm sure you'll agree. But it's what you wear that makes you a winner. It's true. When Imran Majid was potting the winning 9-ball I noticed what he was wearing..'.A poker face and shiny black shoes.