The countdown has begun; it is now time to write the latest instalment
in the National Interleague Knockout Cup record books.
This event pits some of the countries top professionals against the
finest local league players in England. It has to be said that this event
is a great leveler. It's an event that forces professionals to put their
reputations on the line. Whilst most of the professionals will still
congregate at the top of the performance charts there are always a few
who have what can only be described as a 'mare' and goes home wondering
what they did to deserve that kind of treatment. The players who the
damage to the reputations of the pros and enhance their own standing
are what can be termed as 'local league' players, albeit at the top end
of term. In fact some of the 'local league'players border on being good
enough to be a pro themselves. Now add in to the equation the 'team'
element and you have all the makings for a roller coaster ride of emotions.
The event has all kinds of emotional highs and lows for everyone involved
obviously, the low of watching your team going out despite putting in
a good all round team performance that would have beaten every other
team bar the one you played is one everyone can relate to. But there
are other types of emotions as well like the one from players in a team
who expect to get a hammering in the group stage of the event and duly
get exactly that. Their emotions are still pretty much the same but tinged
with a degree of realism that makes their exit bearable and not quite
as soul destroying as the former.
Then you have the emotions that players have from within teams when
they are putting in a solid performance in match after match whilst the
majority of their team are playing like donkeys. This is all right whilst
your team manages to win the match but when the team loses there can
be some serious finger pointing and major fall outs in teams is not uncommon.
It has in the past, on one occasion led to blows being exchanged between
The opposite of that emotion is when the defeat of a team can be laid
firmly at the door of a particular player. For the player concerned,
who will always be aware that it was their fault, it is a terrible time.
Having the whole weight of the team's destroyed aspirations on their
shoulders. It's definitely one of the most harrowing individual experiences
in any sport and how you deal with it is all down to how the rest of
the team react to it. If the team puts their collective arm round the
player and consoles them, then the pain is halved. If one or more of
the team choose to vent their feelings in a more confrontational way
then the pain is doubled.
There is something about the knockout cup that sets it apart from the
normal team events; maybe it's the fact that there are 9 people in the
team, making it one of the largest team events in the country, and the
fact you can't just enter it you, or more precisely, your team has to
qualify through a knock out event run by the county associations.
Maybe it's because to get an invitation into the national finals is
like gold dust even if your team reaches the semi final of the county
run qualifier your team is still not assured a spot in the finals. This
is because there has always been more requests than there are spaces.
Trent Trophies A are the most successful team in the event having won
it more times than anyone else, last time round they had a nightmare
event, for them that is, anyone else would be well happy with a quarter
final place. They were beaten in a tense play off against Ollerton A.
Now, if you think that you should have done better than you actually
did, one of the first things you think about after the dust settles is
to strengthen the team. In Trent Trophies case that would seem just about
impossible wouldn't it.? When you consider the team they have has two
professionals, three current England internationals and a sprinkling
of I.P.A. Tour players what the hell do you do strengthen a team like
Thought of an answer yet? Well you get lucky off course, in the case
of Trent Trophies the luck comes in the shape of the Morris family deciding
they need a break from their pub in Sheppey and taking over a pub on
the outskirts of Stoke on Trent... What you may be wondering has that
got to do with strengthening the Trent Trophies squad?
Well it's like this, the Morris family we are talking about contains
the ex England manager and his son Carl, Who just happens to be one of
this countries top professionals as well as being a current member of
the England squad. If that isn't enough to show you the level of player
we are talking about he has won one of the two individual world championship
finals he has played in.
Now that's what you call falling on your feet the only question now
is which of the regular Trent Trophies players will be relegated to a
less proximate role in the team or perhaps Carl has to the team. However,
it doesn't seem likely that you keep a player of the stature of Carl
Morris in reserve.
This time last year Morley had just acquired the services of Mick Hill
and added to a team that was already a star studied line up. Even before
a ball is potted you can see that any team that is unlucky enough to
draw them is going to play at the top of their game in order to make
All these things added together illustrate just why teams are so desperate
to get the chance to play in the event... Any spaces still available
through teams failing to attend their paperwork are allocated by drawing
all the next best teams out of a hat until the target of 96 teams has
Because it's such a big event teams that are offered a place rarely
turn it down. Once you (and your team) are there what happens? Increasingly,
the weekend starts with another event on Friday during the day, in the
K.O. cup's case it's the English Pool Association Ladies Tour grand final,
this competition starts at 9:00am and runs through to a finish on Friday
There should also be some international matches being played on Friday
and Saturday night. At the time of writing the England senior squad will
be taking on Region 3 on the Friday night whist the England under 21's
will take on a Region 4 team. Then on Saturday night England under 21's
will face the Region 3 team whilst England will take on the Region 4
team. All of this has still to be finalised...
As well as all that, the Youth Grand Prix finals will be played on Friday
during the day. This is the inaugural season for this event and will
showcase the cream of the current batch of youth players.
The majority of the male players arrive during the day and the first
thing to do is book themselves in to their accommodation, then nip down
to the store to pick up a T. V. then is of to your accommodation unit
to drop your things off. Once that's done the first port of call is the
main hall firstly to get a well earned drink after your journey to Great
Yarmouth secondly to see who's already in the main hall and soak up the
unique Vauxhall Holiday Park atmosphere.
The flyers are in full flow by 7-8pm when as soon one is announced a
queue immediately forms at the entry desk. Yarmouth flyer queues are
legendary so only the lucky few get in to any given flyer however, there
are usually 5-6 flyers run a night so everyone who wants to enter one
can but not always the one they wanted to.
The flyers are an event in their own right with a smattering of professionals
prepared to put their reputation on the line in a best of three frames
head to head winner take all match with whoever managed to get in the
first 64 places in the queue with them. It's not unheard of to see two
top professionals draw each other in round one. Nor is it a rarity to
see professionals go out in the first round to unknown amateurs,
There are those who prefer a trip into Great Yarmouth town to check
out the night life rather than stay on site and there is plenty of night
life to keep them occupied. Some sample the town's bars and sea front
attractions. Some go to the night clubs of which Garibaldi's is one of
the most frequented venues over the weekend by pool players.
It's not unknown for players or even whole team teams to turn up at
9am on the Saturday morning without having gone to bed at all. Obviously,
there are teams and players that hold on to the urge to party on Friday
to have a clear head on Saturday morning.
Saturday is a fast and furious session of pool where by around 8pm the
starting 96 teams have been whittled down to 16 after playing some 2,000
frames of competitive pool across 32 tables or if you prefer 181 frames
per hour which in turn means 3 frames per minute.
Saturday night is the real party night as only 16 teams remain in the
event for everybody else it's time to drown their sorrows some do this
in the Starlight Room which has adult type entertainment.
After the "Adult entertainment" has ended the Starlight Room is transformed
into a night club where the players that stay on the campsite let their
collective hair down until around 2am when the club closes then it is
into the main hall to have a nightcap before the main hall closes at
2:30am, then as a final act of defiance it is around to the various food
outlets on the camp site then is off to bed or perhaps continue the party
in someone's caravan.
For others it's a shower and a cab into great Yarmouth and a visit to
some of the town's many and varied entertainments on offer. Some go to
a restaurant and have a meal before heading back to the camp site. Others
spend most of the night "out on the town" where places like the Wellington
pier have a bar that stays open to 2.00am.
Sunday sees the Main event resume at 9am with the last 16 teams all
ready to do battle and does not stop until there is only one team undefeated.
Then comes the presentation followed by the packing up of everyone who
has not yet done so. Then the final stage of the event is the long journey
home and the start of pangs of wanting the next event to come round so
we can all do it again.