|We are now well in to the preparations for the 2007 edition of the Interleague winner’s event, all the teams that played well enough throughout 2006 in their counties Interleague sections from Cornwall to Cumbria will be travelling to Vauxhall Holliday Park in Great Yarmouth to see just how good they really are. By the end of the extended weekend one team will be able to say they are the greatest Interleague team in England for the other 95 teams it’s a question of how close can they get to being No1.
The competition is so fierce that it is a generally accepted mark between the teams themselves that you have a good team if you can qualify out of the group stage at Yarmouth. The reason for this is the random (within set criteria) draw places 96 teams in 32 groups of three teams per group. It’s true that some groups are stronger than others and thereby harder to qualify from. Indeed it has been known on a few occasions that three possible winners of the event have all been drawn together in the same group.
You always have to remember that all the teams who get to perform in Yarmouth come from the pinnacle of the county Interleague structure and hail from all over England, not only that, the teams that get here would beat the majority of the teams they played wherever in the country they come from. Some of the Interleague teams are stronger than a lot of National teams that is the quality we are talking about here. It is also true that a lot of the teams boast professionals and internationals in their line ups.
However you look at it, when it’s your turn at the table you know you are playing a good player and that is one hell of a reason for coming knowing that you are going to be playing a player of sufficient quality that if you make a mistake you will lose. That level of competence is not generally available in your local league.
The above is just a few of the reasons why lot of players dream of getting to play in this event.
It is possible to play here in your own right as well via the World Eightball Pool Federation World Championship Qualifiers which are run just prior to the Interleague on the Thursday and Friday. It is the one event where anyone has the chance to play at the world championships but of course you will have to get past some very handy cueists if you are to qualify.
This weekend is not just about the Interleague & World Championship qualifiers either; there are other major events that are played out over the Interleague weekend that make and break players dreams this all makes the weekend a bumper event for a number of players for a number of reasons.
The England national teams (bar the ladies) have made the weekend a big event for the players lucky enough to represent their country as well by playing the internal team trials over the weekend.
After the action of the World Championships which continue to run during the day on Friday right up till around 7:00pm it’s time for the Men’s England trials qualifiers to do battle in the England internal team trials to see who will be part of the England World Championship squad and thereby eliminate the need to qualify through the above mentioned Qualifiers. This event is for the players who have qualified via the England team trials in March to be part of the 15 man England squad for 2005/06 this includes some players who are members of the current England squad but who have been sent for re-trial because they had not been retained in England’s squad. Pool is one of the few sports that continue with the belief that it’s every player’s right to represent their country if they are good enough to be able to beat those that are already there.
There are also the players who are new to the England Squad this year having just qualified via the trials in March it’s the chance to claim a spot in the world championship team and join the 5 retained players. Due to the numbers allowed in each national team by the World Eight ball Pool federation There are only three spots available but eight England team members after one of those spots. Clearly, three into eight does not go so the non-retained and New England players have what we call an “internal team trial” to see which three get the spots up for grabs. For the other five it’s one of the biggest disappoints in Pool not to be able to play for your country in the World Championships.
The way it’s whittled down to the three is about as fair as it can be given the spaces available. All eight players have to play each other and at the end of that there will be three players who have won most matches and will go to the World Championships as a member of the England Squad. Whilst this may sound easy, just beat enough of the other players and you are there. True, but when you see who the players involved are you should be able to see how hard the task of qualifying will be, players like Clint I'Anson from Nottingham (Region 3) Neil Toms from London (Region 7) Nicholas Roberts from Hampshire (Region 7) Baydon Jackson from Nottingham (Retrialists) Dean Wisher from London (Retrialists) Steve Robertshaw from Leicestershire (Region 3) Nicholas Davey Lancashire from (Region 2) Paul Cox from Bedfordshire (Region 4).
All the players will be in action from 7pm on the Friday where they hope to get through four matches and then play the final three on Saturday after the Interleague finishes for the day.
You can see that winning one match will be hard enough with the calibre of player involved. As a guide the qualifying players have had to come up with around 5-6 wins from their seven matches to get in. Each match is played over the best of nine frames per match. Think about that, you are playing the best of the best and you still probably have to win 5/6 of your 7 matches or you are more than likely on your way home. I doubt that any player involved in the internal trials would be confident enough to say they will get through. Obviously the likes of Keith Brewer and Bayden Jackson will stand out as likely qualifiers but even they know it’s far from easy to beat 5 or 6 other England players back to back. However three players will do that and go on to represent their country in the World Eight Ball Pool Federation World Championships in May.
Whilst it’s good that everyone has a chance to qualify history proves that only the very best actually make it. It’s hard to explain it but its similar to a giant version of the Champions league where the standard of play is so high in the first place that 60-70 per cent could qualify but as the rounds go on the “weaker on the day” ones get weeded out until eventually you are left with the cream of the crop from that years entrants. The skill level needed to progress just gets higher and higher as the rounds progress by the time you get to the last few players trying to qualify the slightest touch of luck can catapult you into the World Eight ball Pool federation World Championships. And quite often does but all the work to get that rub of the green was done in the previous rounds. Another thing to remember is that for that bit of luck one player gets there is another player who will forever more cite that bit of luck as the reason they did not make it. Such is the overall standard of pool these days that if you miss just one opportunity to qualify you could well end up waiting a long time for another one to come your way.
Apart from all pool that is played over the weekend there is also a thriving social side. Once the action dies down on the pool front the bar and night club in Vauxhall’s takes up the slack as the players start to chill out after a hard day’s battles. There are of course the die hards who use the evening to continue playing via the flyers. Some “players” Have been known to stalk the person running the flyers to ensure they are in the right place at the right time when the “we are now taking names for a £5.00 flyer” announcement is made to avoid being at the back of the cue when the names are being taken or even worse in the shower.
Most people though take “downtime” in playing to socialise outside pool table environment. Some go into the Yarmouth for a meal and then onto bars such as Peggoty’s then finishing the night off with a trip to a night club to return to Vauxhall’s in the early hours of the morning.
Others stay on site and have a quite drink at the bar before moving next door into the on site night club – the starlight room to round the night off. The starlight room is actually a place where a lot of players from the different teams get together as people with a common interest and become firm friends as a result of being out with other players in a social environment rather than just the battle ground of the Interleague. This intermingling of the players is one of the reasons why people want to travel the length and breadth of the county to be at Yarmouth, it’s a chance to catch up with people you don’t see that often but enjoy being with and long may that continue.
There are a few players who, once the pool playing day is over just go back to their accommodation and curl up in front of the T.V. or settle down with a good book. It’s not my idea of a good time but it is each to their own.
As an organiser this is a great weekend to be involved with and it get better each year and the reason it gets better each year is the players
Tom Fahy - Tournament Director