Here we go again with the great Interleague show, the request for spaces
letter has been sent, requests received, places allocated, and the acceptance
letters sent out. We are now in the booking in phase. To me it's at this
point that the work really starts and the realisation that the event,
not contested until April, is in reality just a few short weeks away.
There is a massive amount of work has been done to date but there is
still a massive amount of work still to be done between now (early March)
and April. I don't suppose anybody cares what goes on in the background
as long as there are no hitches in their personal interleague experience.
The fact that for just about everybody the whole experience (apart from
the various captains some of whom experience a tremendous amount of hassle
in getting their players to cough up the money) is just about turning
up and playing pool. Having a drink, going to bed (at some point) and
then going home on Sunday after a great weekend's pool.
Put as simply as that it's hard to see why there are usually 170 plus
requests for one of the 96 spots available. But delve a little deeper
and it all falls in to place.
It all starts at local league level where the league officials at some
point decide that they are going to affiliate to their county
pool association. Once that has happened the world of pool opens up
to their players.
All the league players become available should they choose to have a
trial for a spot in their county team, qualify for the England team via
the inter-county rankings, put their league champions in the national
Champion of Champions and a host of other things
that become available. I am just going to concentrate on the Interleague
here though. For information about any of the EPA's other events you should
be able to find what you want to know elsewhere on this web site.
Most leagues, if we are honest, only have two or three strong teams and
the majority of the good players in that league will gravitate to those
teams and in doing so create the basis of an interleague side. Because
the players are the best that their league has to offer it's only natural
that once local league domination has been achieved, players will start
to look further a field for their next challenge.
That's where the Interleague steps in. Of the 43 affiliated counties,
34 run an interleague section within their county offering pool at the
next level for those ready to take up the challenge.
The whole point of the interleague is that the local leagues put their
finest into a team, this team will usually, but not always, take the name
of the league they are representing. These "team names" are registered
with the national secretary at the beginning of the year. In quite a few
cases the players names are sent in later when the county starts it's
interleague but by registering the team with the national secretary via
the county association the team has reserved it's place in the county
section and be recognised by the EPA as a valid interleague team.
This may seem a trivial thing but it is probably the single most important
thing a team can do. Without being registered, as an official interleague
team the team will never qualify for the national finals, even if the
team wins it's county interleague section.
This is because if the EPA do not recognise the team as a registered
team they will not be invited to attend the national finals. This registration
process will however not affect them at county level it kicks in when
a team wants to play in the national finals.
In reality, the county registers each of their teams with the national
secretary when they know what teams are going to compete in the county
Once a team starts to compete in the national finals they will be competing
at a level that is a quantum leap up from local league.
The power of the interleague and the chance to be part of a competing
team is so strong that professionals & internationals play within their
local league against lesser players just to ensure that they will play
enough matches to qualify to play for their team in the national finals.
There are not that many events in the sporting world where the players
at the very top of the tree still play on a regular basis in local leagues.
Players like Darren Appleton, Mick Hill, Chris Melling, Lee Kendal, Gareth
Potts, Rob Chilton, Lee Clough, Gareth Hibbott are all part of what I
call the interleague family. The list of top players who play in the interleague
if I were to continue would be a long list of top players and if you want
to see the list then pop over to the IPA
web site, a lot of the players on their ranking list will be playing
in April as part of a team.
The interleague as an event has grown in stature over the years to be
the pinnacle of achievement in team pool. And as such it is a major milestone
in a team's lifespan to reach the level that that gets them a spot in
the national interleague.
Lets hope that we do not have the weather conditions that caused the
postponement of the Champions of Champions event
in November last year due to the risk of flooding in Yarmouth on the week
end of the event.
The re-arranged weekend was not with out it's problems either as the
electricity kept failing during the final Sunday of the weekend.
Because of the problems with the COC event and subsequent rescheduling
of the event for February we have a unique situation.
Normally there are five majors in the Yarmouth year but due to the cancellation
of the November event we will have six majors this year, Champion
of Champions in February, Intercounty finals
in March, Interleague winners in April, Golden
Cue in May, the Interleague ko cup in
October and finally the Champion of Champions event
We also have the world championship qualifiers
on the Thursday and Friday before the interleague. This event seems to
have levelled out at around 350-400 entrants. It may be of interest to
know that of the 400 or so entrants to the event only around 50 are not
involved in the interleague. By not involved I mean that they have entered
totally on their own and are not attached in any way to any of the teams
playing in the interleague.
I am of the opinion that the world qualifiers are probably the toughest
of all the individual knockouts run in England. The I.P.A.
tour is the toughest event around for individuals to participate in
but it is not really a knockout in the accepted sense of the word in that
the draw is seeded so if all goes according to plan, the current No 1
player will play the current No 2 player.
The qualifier draw however is by and large an open one, yes there are
usually byes and some players don't have to play until the Friday but
once that anomaly works its way out of the system it's a straight race
where the winner of match 1 plays the winner of match 2 etc. The knock
out continues until there are only 4 players left and these are the four
that will get to play in the world championships individual event.
Over the years the four who qualify from this event have been exceptional
players but you can't judge the true strength of the event by the four
who qualify for the world championships. You will get a much better idea
of the strength of the event, if you look at the players who failed to
Every year brings it's own casualty list as the rounds progress and running
against the trend of the last few years there was no real big name fall
outs in round one but there was still quite a few names who you would
not mark down as first fence fallers people such as Gary Sweetham (Surrey),
Steve Tedds (Tamworth), John Astill (Doncaster), Chris Chapman (Witney).
Dave Bryant (Blackwell), Danny Oliphant (Great Hollands) Steve Finnegan
(Chesterfield), Steve Hotchkiss (Nottingham), Lee Smith (Doncaster) Geoff
Harrison (Wigan), Roger Charles (Coventry) whilst all that lot might no
be household names they are big enough to think cor, I wouldn't have expected
them to lose in the first round - but they did.
Then when we got to the end of round two we had lost this group of players,
and perhaps unlike round one there were some very well known names take
took the early bath option in deference to proceeding to round three and
as mentioned elsewhere it just goes to underline the standard at which
the world qualifiers is played to from round one and not just the later
stages - here are some of the players we lost from this round.
Ian Priest (Stourbridge), Mark Hogan (Worcester), David Preece (Halesowen),
Mick Ruane (Derby), Nick Weller (Stoke On Trent), Iain Aldous (Ely), Karl
Sutton (Lowestoft), Richard Marples (Chesterfield), Gareth Manning (Weston
Super Mare), Willie Anderson (Faversham), Wayne Gardner (Northants), David
Astall (Wigan), Jason Stephens (Leicester), Peter Ashman (Littlehampton),
Steve Evans (Chesterfield) Nigel Olding (Peterborough), Martin Hazell
(Doncaster), Nick Booth (Borden), Paul Dunkey (Brierley Hill)
Round three is where you are going to come up against some stiff opposition
and in lots of matches it's hard to predict who would be the most likely
to win. So although the following players left the event to reach this
round is no disgrace and will give most of the losers the belief that
next time it could be them who make it through but as far as last year's
event goes we lost this group of players amongst others.
Michael Puntschart (Clacton On Sea), Nicky Parnell (Peterbrough), Craig
Haynes (Northants), Jason Norris (Farnham), Neil Raybone (Willenhall),
Jon Sanders (South Chailey), Graham Hewlett (Weston Super Mare), Jason
Hill (Preston), Darren Hope (Peterbrough), Rob Gould (Colllier Row), Dean
Torode (Rustington), Carl Clack (Norfolk), Paul Keeble (Felixstone), Shaune
Dawber (Wigan), John Waller (Sheffield), Andy Sutherland (Leatherhead),
Glenn Cahir (Wigan), Adrian Walton (Driffield), Ian Kettel (Chatham),
Ian Duffy (Telford), Danny Miller (Stevenage)
By round four we are in to what I call the business end of the event
and by this point the contestants have been concentrated down to the players
who are playing at the top of their game, despite that, some quality players
will have to be despatched and last year it was the turn of Eddie Barker
(Chesham), David Robinson (Accrington), Spencer Jones (Gr Yarmouth), Mark
Seaman (Rushden), Liam Stanley (Nottingham), Patrick Ward (Oakham), Ian
Davenport (Wigan), John Kelly (Stretham), Matt Goodale (Spalding), Stephen
Chambers (Leicester), Carl Bromley (Chorley).
The next set of losing players is amongst those that were in spitting
distance of the glory of reaching the world championships. I am sure that
they felt gutted for a few days after the event knowing how close they
were but someone has to fall at he final hurdle and last year it was Jimmy
Carney (London). Alan Mower (Colchester), Andrew Breen (Charlton), Matt
Cooke (Guildford), Darren Welfare (Brighton)
If you are interested in finding out who were the final 4 who qualified
last year you can have a look at the 2007 world
championship qualifier section of the web site.
This year's event will be as good as all the others have been and by
the end of the interleague weekend we will know who this years 4 qualifiers
By the time you read this, there should be a new look to interleague
section of the web site with the previous winners of the event being shown
on every page, the archive section will still
be there but it shows a little more detail on the event year by year as
well as access to the various pages also available. We are aware that
the archive section is not totally complete.
The simple reason is that incredibly, we do not have the records for
all the events. Until the present team took over running the event, apart
from having the trophy engraved, this is the only way we know who has
won the event, all events were run on paper and although the paper records
were kept for a while by the tournament director following the event it
wasn't long before they were consigned to the rubbish bin to make way
for the next load of event generated paperwork.
I am sure that anyone reading this who has organised an event or run
a pool league will understand why they were discarded after storing them
for a while. The amount of paper that was generated by the two Interleague
events was massive and storing what was seen as useless paperwork, once
the event was over, for any length of time was just not an option.
The only reason they were stored at all was just in case something cropped
up after the event that needed investigating but the dust had settled
and nothing had crawled out of the woodwork so to speak the paperwork
was discarded and along with it the records of the event leaving only
the perpetual trophy as the sole record of the event.
Now we use computers everything is stored for perpetuity we can go back
at any time to any event to check any recorded stat. Unfortunately for
the players and teams from yesteryear, although I am sure the players
from those days have their memories and are revisited from time to time
when they meet up with their former team mates and other players from
those times their achievements can't be shared with the rest of us on
anything other than a verbal recount of what happened.
As the current custodian of the interleague it saddens me that we don't
have a complete set of records for days gone by because the achievement
from those times are just as important as today's competitions.
And as I always say when I look backwards at previous events, if you
can fill any gaps in the record book please contact me and we will do
our best to verify it and update the record books.
The interleague has become the hardest event, in terms of the sheer number
and quality of the players involved and a large number of the teams would
take most national teams apart of they ever were to meet in a match.
I have been thinking of a way of marking out to everyone involved who
the previous winners of the interleague are and with the cooperation of
Leicester, Trent Trophies and Dawley have decided that from this year
all winners of the event can show this by, as football does with the world
cup winners, by adding a gold star to their team shirts for each time
they have won the event.
If it works well it can be extended to allowing runners up in the events
being allowed to add a silver star to show that they have reached a national
final and then perhaps bronze stars for any team that has reached a semi
Why do this? Everyone will be aware that Trent Trophies and Leicester
have won the event more than once but some teams who have won it are not
so well known or it was achieved some time ago and most people will not
be aware that a team they are playing has been good enough to win the
It is intended to show anyone at a glance that the team wearing the star
has won the national interleague title and even people not associated
with pool will understand if they see the stars on a team shirt, it means
that the team is a winner.
Whilst we have only arranged with these three teams there is nothing
to stop any previous winners adding the appropriate number of stars to
their team shirts. All we ask is that before adding the stars all captains
verify with us that the team is entitled to wear the stars.
Our verification process will be checking to see that the team name has
not changed and that there is a direct line back to the winning team.
In cases where the team name has changed the above checks will be made
and additionally that the majority of the players are still with the team.
We do not want a situation where a team splits and the various factions
all claim to have the right to wear the star.
Tom Fahy - Tournament Director