World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) enjoyed a successful return to Manchester with the staging of the J&S Trading Manchester Classic 2017 last weekend.
With a field over double in size compared to the inaugural competition at Q’s Sports Bar a year ago, players from across six categories including physical and learning disabilities enjoyed a mixture of competitive snooker and coaching across the three-day event.
The Group 1-2 wheelchair competition was won by Newport’s Craig Welsh, who successfully defended the title that he won a year ago with a dramatic 2-1 victory against Tony Southern. Having each progressed through to the overall final undefeated, the pair split the first two frames before their decider went all the way, with Welsh potting a re-spotted black to clinch the title.
Welsh, who has paraplegia, said: “It was tight all the way but I am delighted to retain my title here in Manchester. I would like to thank WDBS and all of the referees and helpers for yet another well run event in Manchester this weekend. The team do a great job and I would also like to thank Andy Rogers for his help and support this weekend which is much appreciated as always.”
In Group 3 there was a second WDBS title for Daniel Blunn, who won 12 of his 13 frames across the event culminating in a 2-0 success against Gary Sanderson to take the first prize. Blunn, who has been a regular at WDBS events since his victory at the first ever event in Gloucester back in 2015, finished as runner-up in Manchester a year ago to William Thomson, but this year went one better to join Craig Welsh, Graham Bonnell, Raja Subramanian and Paul Smith as a multiple WDBS champion. Blunn also claimed the high break prize from the weekend across all groups.
There was a new winner in the Group 4-5 competition as David Weller defeated David Church 2-0 to win the title. The category was won a year ago by Andy Johnson who made smooth progress through his group this weekend, but was shocked in the semi-finals by WDBS newcomer Church. Ultimately however it was Weller who took the title, also making the highest break of the category along the way.
As at previous tournaments, there was also a Challenge Cup competition held, won by Joe Hardstaff, who a year on from his tournament debut defeated Gavin Gormley over a single frame to take his first medal at a WDBS event.
Prior to the start of the two-day event for players with physical disabilities, Manchester also staged its first Learning Disability Day for Group 6 players, including opportunities for practice, coaching and a competitive Six Red competition. The event was won by Robert Kirby, one of a number of players in attendance from the Selby Gateway Leisure Mencap Society, who returned having enjoyed their first taste of WDBS snooker at the Hull Open last November.
The event was well supported by players, sponsors and also welcomed Coronation Street star Cherylee Houston, who has been diagnosed with the rare connective tissue disorder, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, to its Friday open day and Group 6 competition.
WDBS Chairman Nigel Mawer said: “I am delighted by the success of what has been our most active and engaging event held to date. The WDBS is now really starting to make its mark and I could not have been happier with the support that we have received from all of the players, helpers and sponsors without whom the event would not have been possible.
“In particular I would like to mention the backing received from title sponsor J&S Trading through Simon Berrisford, which has already pledged its support for future WDBS events including our return to Manchester in 2018. Together with the contributions that we have received from them and our other prize money sponsors including LITEtask and the PHMG Foundation, our events and organisation will only continue to grow.”
The next WDBS tournament will be the first ever 2017 Paul Hunter Disability Classic on 12-14 May 2017 at the Derby Cueball. The competition will be the third WDBS event open to players with sensory disabilities (Groups 7-8) and is currently accepting entries.