Walsh conquers Nottingham

David Walsh

It was never 'if' but 'when'. This weekend at Rileys Nottingham, David Walsh came away with his long-awaited first BPPPA Title in some style. In a thrilling, close final match he held his nerve to defeat the excellent and ever-improving Mark Gray, 11 racks to 9. It could have been a different story though had Gray not missed an 8ball into the side to level at hill-hill, but miss it he did, and the 19 year Londoner pocketed the remaining two balls to take the match. Winning the Nottingham Open Title gives Walsh, known as 'Too Dangerous', over a thousand pounds in prize money and the silverware that his indisputable talent has wholly justified for some time now. The triumph in Nottingham will take pride of place amongst Walsh's other notable achievements within the sport of pool, including competing at the European Junior Championships and winning last year's BPPPA Junior Player of the Year award.

Walsh's long road to victory began on the Saturday with victories over Simon D'Vali 9 - 5 and then a 9 - 4 win against Leicester's Dean Gamble saw him qualify for the last 32 knockout stage. Walsh had a bag full of tickets home for his opponents come Sunday. He handed them out freely, first to highly respected Paul Williams 9 - 4 the score, the experienced Nigel Webb was on the receiving end of Walsh's cue next, 9 - 3. Quarter finalist for the second consecutive Tour Stop, Mark Stephenson couldn't trip Walsh up either going down 9 - 3 to set up a top of the BPPPA rankings clash between Walsh, fighting to regain his Number 2 rank and runaway Number 1 Daryl Peach. The match was interesting to spectate to say the very least, imagine a cross between 'The Hustler' and 'Tantrums and Tiaras' and you're halfway there. The disagreements started from the 1ball in the opening rack and ended on the very last 9ball of the match and although the standard of the match was bogged down because of the fuss, it made for great entertainment. The score line reads 9 - 1 to Walsh but that doesn't tell the whole story. All I can say is that Mr Walsh got the better of Mr Peach on this occasion to make it to the final.

Mark Gray made the short journey from Peterborough to Nottingham on the Saturday and arrived as always as one to watch. Gray's draw was not the kindest but he got on with the job in hand and qualified for Sunday's play via the one-loss side of the draw. His results from Saturday's play were; Mark Stephenson 9 - 3, Daryl Peach 4 - 9, Suneel Kashyap 7 - 1 and Nick Hall 9 - 2. If Gray had a tough Saturday then Sunday was no day of rest for him, Mike Rogers, runner up at the previous event in Middlesbrough was shown the exit 9 - 5, and Gray, ever the gentleman, stayed and held the exit door open for promising local newcomer Kev Simpson 9 - 6. Raj 'The Hitman' Hundal, fresh from his last 32 appearance at the World Championships in Kaohsiung was Gray's quarter final opponent, Gray came out the victor in their last encounter, the BPPPA Redhill Open final so payback was in Hundal's thoughts and he looked good with a 7 - 4 advantage in the race to 9 match. Gray though is fast becoming known for his fighting spirit and won the next five racks for a 9 - 7 result to book his place in the semis.

Surprisingly Dean Mazirel was making a semi final appearance for the first time considering the talent and flair he has shown over the last year; Mazirel beat another player returning from Taiwan to make the semis, Steve Higton. He'd have to wait for his turn in a final though as Gray showed real quality running out a convincing 9 - 4 winner.

Rileys Nottingham is a fantastic venue and without doubt one of the best in this country with great facilities and superb staff. The number of local entrants owed much to their support also. Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th July was a success for not only the BPPPA and Rileys Nottingham but for the following players too, all making the last 32 stage and some beyond; Adam Clarke, Gee Cheng, Matthew Hyden, Adrian Pollard, Kevin Brown, Evans, Russell March, Chris Cowie, Nick Gallacher, Dave McCarthy, Paul Medati, Brett Armer, Caroline Walch, Rob Jude, Stewart Colclough, Richard Laing, Andy Worthington, James Popplewell, Joe Sims, Jon Davies and Jonathan Mathers.

The professional spirit that which the final was played in echoed the event itself. David Walsh will hopefully build on this success and will recall on the experience of the final at some point in the future when needs be. Whilst in a match he hides nothing, the way he rests his cue down after a visit will tell all whether he is happy or not, delicately placed for yes, carelessly strewn for no; Picasso did the same only with a paint brush as his choice of playing stick, so who are we to argue. After the final Walsh said, "I'm over the moon, that was a great match. I've been feeling confident all weekend and I honestly believe I deserved it today, I played really good. I'm only 19 and I've worked so hard the last five years but I'm going to work even harder from now on, I'm going to just keep practising. I've loads more to learn about pool but I reckon I'll be World Champion by the time I'm 30." Of his opponent Mark Gray, Walsh said, " Mark's a very good player who's getting better and better all the time, he's a nice guy too, he'll go far in the sport". Walsh lacks no confidence whatsoever and it's hard to disagree that he fully deserved the BPPPA Nottingham Open Title. David Walsh is a class act…and that's the bottom line.