A RE-OPENED pool hall was buzzing when Europe’s top potter called in to take on all-comers.
Stoke-based Lee Kendall landed the European 8-ball pool title in Malta earlier this year and is also captain of the England A team.
He is recognised as one of the best pool players the country has ever produced.
Lee paid a visit to the new Buzzers Sports Bar in Victoria Road, South Shields, as a favour to his old mate Brian Halcrow, a former world top 10 player from the town who has taken charge at the venue, which is above the Top Club.
As part of a sold-out event the new European champion agreed to take on the best borough players in a series of challenge matches.
It proved a big night for Buzzers as news also came through that the venue has been confirmed as a world championship qualifying 8-ball pool venue.
Pool may not be in the same league as snooker, certainly not in terms of prize money ... but it’s a great game and accessible to everyone.Lee Kendall, pool champion
Lee said: “If I had any advice to budding pool players, I would just say to practice, practice and practice again.
“When I come to events like this to take on all-comers it can go one of two ways. Because of who I am they can either raise their game or fall apart.”
As if to prove the theory, Gazette reporter Paul Kelly agreed to be the first to challenge Lee on the green baize – it proved a humbling experience, despite a positive start.
Paul stepped up first to break and the balls spread nicely, with one red potted.
It was so far, so good.
For his second shot he played a red to the middle and screwed back for another in the left corner.
When that ball was dispatched, his hopes were rising of an unlikely victory against the continent’s best.
But an over-hit shot into the right middle let Lee in – and he proved merciless.
Within a minute the eight balls were dispatched with cool precision.
On the night as a whole Lee proved triumphant in 20 of the 29 games played.
He said: “Pool may not be in the same league as snooker, certainly not in terms of prize money.
“I won £4,000 for taking the European title, but it’s a great game and accessible to everyone.”
Brian said: “It’s great news that we’ve been selected as a world qualifying venue.
“The first tournament is on May 9, when there will be 16 places at £20 a head.
“The winner will win a three-night stay at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool.
“It’s open to anyone and is a great chance for amateurs to come along and qualify.”
To book a place, just pop into Buzzers, call Brian on 07474 806047, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.