Younger and Higton win Manchester Open and Classic

Johl Younger

Manchester 10:00am 9th February 2004 - A spectacular weekend of pool, consisting of two British Professional PoolPlayers Association (BPPPA) events - the Manchester Open and Manchester Classic - drew to a conclusion Sunday evening at Rileys in Streford. At stake in each event was a £1000 first prize and an entry into the European Championships in March. Australian Johl Younger, a class act who has previously made the last 8 of the World Championships, took the honours in the Open on Saturday, while Steve Higton won the Classic in his home town on Sunday.

Johl won through the double elimination format undefeated, beating Wayne Lloyd of Rhyl 10-9 in the final of the Open, taking out Daryl Peach and Matt Staff, both 9-7, along the way. Because Johl is not an EU citizen and therefore not eligible for the Euro spot, runner-up Wayne became the first of the BPPPA's representatives in Prague. In third place, taking his first trophy, was Paul Kellet, with Matt Staff, now recovered from a broken wrist that kept him out of the last tour stop, taking fourth.

The Classic saw a slight change of tournament format, with double elimination down to the last 32 and then a straight knockout to the finish. Higton, possibly the best British player never to have won a major event, gave a brilliant performance, knocking Daryl Peach out 7-5 in the quarter-finals and whitewashing Dudley's Mark Stephenson 7-0 in the semis. In the final he met the current number 1 Raj Sagoo but soon found himself on the wrong side of a 7-3 scoreline. Four racks later it was 9-5, but an almost faultless performance and a couple of poor safety escapes from Sagoo allowed Higton to take the next 5 racks to win the match 10-9. He now joins Wayne as the second BPPPA contender for the Euro title. "I was running on pure adrenaline and determination out there - I had to have the thousand pounds and especially the ticket to Prague, and to win in Manchester is fantastic. I'm on top of the world right now", commented Higton after the game.

Third and fourth places in the Classic were decided by a play-off match between David Walsh and Mark Stephenson. Walsh, the amazingly talented 17 year old Londoner who finished as runner-up to Daryl Peach in the Shepherd's Bush event, scraped a 7-6 win to finish third. Fourth place was a great achievement for Stephenson, playing his first competitive event for a couple of years. He'll certainly be one to watch in future tour stops.

The weekend saw the continued influx of players from other cue sports disciplines, with local snooker legend Paul Medati and Glaswegian Clark Smith joining tour regulars Nick Dyson and Mark Carrington from the snooker world, while english 8 ball supremo Carl Morris put in a surprise appearance on Saturday. Carl managed to knock the ever-improving Norman Kay of Blackpool into the losers' half in his opening game, but was kept out of the money rounds with draws against the eventual runner-up Wayne Lloyd and top 16 player Ahmed Miraghi.

Having the third and fourth event of the season on one weekend means that the rankings are now beginning to take shape and tell a story. Raj Sagoo deservedly keeps his number one spot, keeping Daryl Peach at arm's length at number 2. Peach finished in the 5th - 8th range on both days, and with him missing the first event of the season has some catching up to do in his quest for the number one spot. Paul Kellett, a rock steady player continually improving since making the transition from snooker to 9 ball, sits in third place, with Higton's win putting him in fourth. Visit the BPPPA website at for the full ranking list.

Manchester Open Last 16
1st Johl Younger
2nd Wayne Lloyd
3rd Paul Kellett
4th Matt Staff
5th - 8th Stewart Colclough
Steve Higton
Daryl Peach
Andrew Worthington
9th - 16th Chris Almond
Lou Callaghan
Adam Clarke
Gareth Esprit
Darren Kirwan
Aaron Mahoney
Matt Potter
Jay Trivedi

Manchester Classic Last 16
1st Steve Higton
2nd Raj Sagoo
3rd David Walsh
4th Mark Stephenson
5th - 8th Paul Kellett
Daryl Peach
Clark Smith
Johl Younger
9th - 16th Mark Carrington
Neil Jenkins
Norman Kay
Lee Norcross
Ben Phillips
Gary Stewart
Jay Trivedi
Andrew Worthington