Peach and Finch the first to take honours in Blackpool

Daryl Peach

The GB9 Blackpool Pro and Challenge Cups were played to a finish over Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th April at the sun-soaked Barcelo Imperial Hotel and in a markedly more testosterone-filled playing arena than at Tour Stop One, it was home-town hero, Daryl Peach and Pontefract's latest up and coming prospect, Ben Finch who took down their respective fields. 

In arguably the most dramatic Pro Cups to date, last week‘s EPBF Italian Eurotour Champion, Daryl Peach beat Craig Osborne by nine racks to four in the final match.  The final itself will be remembered for the business-like Peach taking nigh on every one of his chances to pocket the lion's share of the £2500 prize pool but it will be the dogged comebacks of both finalists in earlier rounds that will set tongues wagging. Before turning a semi final against India's Raj Hundal on it's head by conjuring a 4 - 0 deficit into a 9 - 7 win, Peach had already clung on for life in beating Kevin Uzzell 9 - 8 in the round prior. Uzzell looked a nailed on semi finalist, leading the match 8 -5, but Peach shirked no pressure pots and when Uzzell scratched off of his break at hill-hill, there was only ever going to be one winner. 

A delighted Daryl Peach commented, “I‘m over the moon with my tournament game at the moment, I'm playing as well as I played to win the World 9 Ball Championships. I'm not really practising at the moment as the local club has recently closed down and I'm still waiting to have my table fitted at home. I'm using it as a positive though and it means I'm fresh for all the tournaments.” On the subject of his comeback wins today he said, “Well against Raj, it was four nil until I ran six out of six of my breaks so I'm going to beat most people in that form no matter what the score and against Kev, well Kev should've beat me to be honest but he didn't take his chance. I'm so confident and relaxed at the moment, even when I'm behind”. “The British ranking events used to be my bread and butter but not anymore, there's eight world champions! Who can better that? No one can, not even the Phillipines.” Completing Peach's ‘home-straight' to glory in Blackpool was a 9 - 3 win over Si Widlo. 

Osborne's tall comeback tail may even eclipse Peach's. At 8 - 3 down in an alternate break format, there's rarely a light at the end of the tunnel. Even less likely when the opposition already on the hill is Scotland's very own 'Yeti', Michael Valentine. The pair were team mates for Great Britain II at the recent World Team Championships and the spirit in which the match was played in should have been the talking point. Unfortunately, for Valentine at least, the talking point was without doubt Osborne's fearless fight back, compounded by a horror shot on a simple eight ball at hill-hill by the Scot, which drew an audible gasp from the spectators. Whole seminars could, and I'm sure do, indeed take place on the subject of pressure within the workplace; I'd venture that a video of Michael Valentine shooting that 8 ball would suffice.  Osborne cleared the simple 8 and 9 to book his spot in the final. 

In the Challenge Cup, 29 year old Ben Finch got one over on close friend and fellow Pontefract cueist, Shane Appleton nine racks to six. A former English 8 Ball player, Finch has only owned an American cue for eight months and yet is already being touted as a big favourite in the race for promotion from the Challenge ranks to the Pro. On route to his first silverware in 9 ball other than, in his own words, “£5 a man comps”, Finch barged past some heavy hitters in Gary Bullocke 9 - 8, ring-game specialist Jonny Cooper 9 - 6, Chris Cowie 9 - 2 and in a nip and tuck semi final, a 9 - 6 victory saw him through. “It feels unbelievable” said Finch after his victory, “I felt at the start of the season that I was good enough to win one of these and I've proved that I can now. I started playing 9 ball because of how well people such as Darren Appleton were doing and I thought, 'what am I doing working 12 hour shifts when I could give pool another go', so I'm putting in 20 hours a week practise now.

Hopefully I can build on this win. It was nice to play Shane in the final as even if he‘d have won I‘d have been pleased for him. He‘s a great lad and is due a win, no doubt.”  
Although this was Shane Appleton's first GB9 final, he in fact becomes the third member of the Appleton family to make the final two of an event, with brother Darren playing a starring role in many a final already and cousin Andy making a Challenge final last season. Shane battled his way past a host of established names including the champion from Tour Stop One, Stewart Colclough and has unquestionably asserted himself as a force to be reckoned with in the coming tour stops.  

The biggest cheer of the day came thirty paces down the corridor from the playing arena and shouldn‘t pass without note. In the player's bar, a crowd gathered around the television to yell, ‘get in there' in unison as Steve Davis doubled a brown to beat reigning World Champion John Higgins in the last 16 of the Betfred World Snooker Championships. Davis may well have contributed to a large number of current GB9ers players converting to the sport of 9 ball owing to his escapades in the mid nineties against Strickland, Reyes and the like. Romford Slim, as you are only known on the blue baize, American Pool salutes you! 

The GB9 Paul Medati Trophy, with a further £6000 to be handed out, is in it's early rounds as this is written and will be concluded on Sunday 25th April. For Live Scoring from the tournament visit and for Live Coverage and commentary from the television table go to 

The GB 9 Ball Tour is supported by Barcelo  Hotels, SAM Leisure, Mezz Cues, Aramith, Simonis and Flexirest.