Parker’s Engine starts in Victoria

Bradley Park

Bradley Parker surprised the field at Riley's Victoria as he emerged the victor at the annual BPPPA London 8 Ball Open. Parker's talent has never been in question but that trophy declaring ‘Champion' had always eluded him up until the final here in Victoria, where he overcame Andy Nicholson by nine racks to seven. Parker didn't let his inexperience at the 8 Ball discipline get in the way of his trademark attacking style and wherever possible seemingly learnt the ropes as he went along, the nuances of 8 Ball much cuter and more devious than 9 Ball means a crash-course in safety play is better than none at all.

Parker's first steps on the path to victory were not as sure-footed as he would have liked, a 7 – 6 defeat to Germany's Dirk Embacher put Parker on the one-loss side of the draw. From here on in Parker's class shone through, three wins over three tough opponents put Parker into the draw for the straight-knockout last 16 stage; the wins came against Adam Collins 5 – 3, Joe Sims 5 – 2 and Steve Turnbull 5 – 4. Bristol's experienced American 8 Baller Jon Davies was seen off 7 – 3 in the last 16 before Andy Worthington, already assured of a spot at the World Pool 9 Ball Championships later this year, was Parker's next target 7 – 4. A rematch with Embacher awaited Parker in the semi final and after the German edged out Parker earlier on in the tournament at hill-hill, Embacher suffered a taste of his own medicine as Parker strode on to the final thanks to a 8 – 7 win.

Andy Nicholson is another whose achievements do not balance with ability. A regular in the latter stages of competitions, Nicholson never seems to be the one carrying out the trophy through the exit doors come the end of the day – he came with in touching distance in Victoria. Wins over Mark Hopgood 7 – 1, Joe Sims 7 – 5 and Dirk Embacher 7 – 6 put Nicholson through to the last 16. Beating Martinho Correia at any sport I imagine must be difficult, but beating him 7 – 1 is testament to how good Andy Nicholson's game can be. He took that game on to beat Mike Rogers 7 – 2 and in the semi final, English 8 Ball specialist Nick Wollerton 8 – 2.

Parker out-classed Nicholson in the final which considering Parker had lost 14 racks in the run into the final from the last 16 stage, and Nicholson just 5, a reverse of the score might have been predicted. Bradley Parker thoroughly deserves this win and with the grit he showed here in victory, combined with his undoubted ability, there is no reason why Parker's name cannot be up in lights more often.