A POOL hot-shot is swapping paints for pots in a bid for a baize of global glory.
Paint technician Michael Peel, from South Shields, overcame all the odds to reach the finals of the World Eight Ball Championship, to be staged in Blackpool next month – and the chance of the £10,000 first prize.
It’s a big ask to win the world championship the first time you qualify, but I feel I have got a chance with Brian in my corner.Michael Peel, World Eight Ball Championship finalist
The 27-year-old, from Biddick Hall, produced some magical pool in qualifying to narrowly defeat England international Chris Gill, who was attempting to reach his sixth world championships.
Michael could now come face-to-face on the Golden Mile with his close friend Brian Halcrow, the man who was his pool-playing hero as a youngster.
Former world No 3 Brian, also from South Shields, is making a comeback after a seven-year break, and qualified by reaching the final of his first event back on tour.
Michael, of Grays Walk, has revealed he remembered Brian’s advice in the nail-biting finish to his recent qualifier.
With the cue ball resting against the cushion and with two balls to pot, Michael sunk both of them in the same pocket with the finest of cuts.
He also guided the white ball around the table to set up the black to clinch an 8-7 victory.
He said: “I was 13 when I started playing pool, and Brian Halcrow has always been my guide and mentor.
“Nine times out of 10, you would miss that shot, But if I had done, it would have been curtains for me, so it was do or die.
“When it comes to crucial shots like that, Brian advises me to step back, literally take a deep extra breath and compose myself.
“It’s no good being shaky and sweaty, you need to focus on what you have to do. If you rush into it then you make mistakes.
“It’s a big ask to win the world championship the first time you qualify, but I feel I have got a chance with Brian in my corner.”
Brian recently took over the running of Buzzers sports bar in Victoria Road, South Shields, where the qualifier was staged.
It has already gained a reputation as one of the best pool venues in the UK, and won the honour of becoming a qualifying venue for the World Eight Ball Championship.
Chris Gill’s qualifying defeat was his first appearance at the re-opened Buzzers – situated on the top floor of The Top Club.
He said: “The new set-up is fantastic. I am going to play at Buzzers on a regular basis because Brian Halcrow is going to get a lot of quality players entering his events.”
l Pool players can see tournament dates by following Buzzers Sports Bar on Facebook.
Players can ring the club on 456 1621, between noon and 11pm, call 07474 806047, or email firstname.lastname@example.org