Peach beats Gray in most remarkable BPPPA final ever

In what must be the most incident packed final ever - Daryl Peach has once again proved his dominance of the professional pool scene in Great Britain, with another outstanding quality performance at the British Professional Pool Players Association's St. Albans Open at Riley's American Pool and Snooker Club in Hertfordshire this weekend.

This outstanding result for Peach reinforces his totally justified position as the clear leader at the top of the BPPPA rankings leader-board, and quite rightly so, as he has notched up an incredible four wins outs of the last 8 events (and he has only attended 7 of those).

Peach deserves more recognition than he gets from the "powers that be" who have long overlooked Britain's best player for far too long.

His dominance of the British Professional Pool Player's Association rankings, and an equally impressive omnipresence in the top ten of the EPBF's Europe wide Euro Tour make him a force to be reckoned with, and a disgracefully under utilized asset.

Gray berates himself severely when ever he doesn't get good shape or on the rare occasion that he misses a ball, but his greatest asset is that by the time he is ready to play the next shot he has forgiven and forgotten and can concentrate with full confidence and commitment on the next shot.

It appears to be a natural inclination, but it's the perfect temperament for a pool player and combined with the fact that he looks like he's never going to miss a shot, it makes him a very formidable opponent indeed. In a tense but outstandingly high quality final, Blackpool's Daryl Peach made a terrific start and roared to a very commanding 6-1 lead over ex-snooker player Mark Gray. But Gray had other plans and mounted a tremendous comeback to take the score to 9-8 in HIS favour.

The finals table had been racking and breaking badly all day, and in the final, referee Chris Billings had a very tough job on his hands freezing the rack. To his great credit he gave it his full attention and dedication, but after taking a full FIVE MINUTES to rack the 18th game to the required standard, Gray broke and the 9-ball slid directly into the corner pocket, thus giving Gray a commanding 2 rack lead AND the break for what could be the final game.

It was at this point that the most magnanimous gesture I have ever seen in professional pool occurred.

In an outstanding gesture of sportsmanship, Gray offered a re-rack to Daryl Peach. Peach accepted immediately and after a brief consultation with the referee, the balls were racked again.

To be fair, this exact same situation occurred three times at this event to my knowledge, but I've never seen it happen in a final before when the money is so high and the ranking rewards so important.

It heartens this reporter to know that in Great Britain we have players who pride themselves on their reputation for fair play and sportingness, and shows an unprecedented level of respect for fairness, for the sport, and for themselves.

As things happened, Gray didn't really get another decent chance to get back into the game and afterwards was happy to concede that he didn't mind being beaten by Daryl, "because he's number one" referring to the BPPPA professional rankings.

Gray, who always presents himself as the consummate professional, will himself be promoted to the number two position in the rankings when the latest updates are posted later this week, leapfrogging over both Raj Hundal and Imran Majid in the process.

Congratulations also go to Tony Burton, one of the five or some BPPPA Junior Tour player's who like to test themselves against the adults on the BPPPA's Main Tour. Burton has written a little piece of UK pool history this weekend by becoming the first Junior to reach a Semi Final on the Main BPPPA Tour.

Congratulations also go to fellow Junior Tour Player Mathew Lawrence, winner of this year's Junior Championship, who also qualified for the second day's last 32 stage of the Main Tour at St. Albans this weekend.

It's good to see that the BPPPA's Junior Tour is providing such a rich vein of talent, and hopefully it will feed the Main Tour with future champions in the years to come.

Nigel Webb is still commuting all the way from Spain every month to play in the BPPPA Tour's ranking events. An admirable amount of commitment from someone playing with a new found focus lately.

Gary Stewart had the most talked about break at the tournament, bringing his back hand forward and therefore effectively shortening the length of the cue to nearly half. I asked him where he got the idea from? "Everyone always asks me about my break", he said, and the he told me how he had been practicing and really breaking badly, so he started experimenting with a centre break, just attempting to control the white each time, not bothering about making a ball. After a while he started getting good results with the cue ball control, but realised that he would need to move it to the side rail to increase his chance of running out, so he did... And broke and dished four consecutive racks. Since then it's been his own, rather unique trademark.

It's great to see enthusiastic local players entering the BPPPA events, especially when they do as well as St. Albans league player Daniel Lim did this weekend. Dan, 25, from St. Albans entered the BPPPA event with a bunch of his friends, all of whom are local league players. But it was "The Flourish" who put in the best performance amongst the pals, and he was quite "shocked" when he realised he'd qualified for the last 32 stage of the tournament.

Talking about his last 32 draw against Daryl Peach on the Sunday, he said, "When I walked in here today I was thinking "what am I doing here?" but he managed to aquit himself very well, after all, he lost to the man who won the tournament. Had he learned anything from the experience of playing Britain's best player?

"Yes.... Don't miss", he said, with a smile on his face!