The 2011 GB9 Midlands Classic
11-13 March 2011 from Barceló Daventry Hotel

Phil Burford, Jayson Shaw and Damian Massey were the title winners at the first GB9 event of 2011 at the Barceló Hotel in Daventry.

Phil Burford The 2011 GB9 Midlands Classic

Phil Burford

Most players will agree that the 93 days since Chris Melling sank the final 9-ball in Blackpool back in November 2010 have flown by, and it was plain to see that the off-season brought with it a certain anticipation for the best American pool players in Great Britain to hit the ground running on the tour’s return to Northamptonshire. Countless new faces entered the cauldron of pool knowing they were taking their place in what many people, players and spectators alike, are quoting as the best national pool tour on the planet.


Drama was to be expected from the word ‘go’ and early results certainly didn’t disappoint. Paul Williams and Jonathan Mathers both came through 9-8 against Adam Shaw and Paul Stoves respectively, with Craig Osborne scraping past newly promoted Ben Finch 9-7. Certainly the upset of the competition, perhaps indeed the weekend, was Shane Appleton; in his first match since winning last season’s Challenge division, he eliminated British number 1 Mark Gray 9-5. The hunter at that point became the hunted with David Nelson then blitzing Appleton 9-1. He too was then defeated by Phil Burford, with Burford joined in the quarter-finals by Daryl Peach, Craig Osborne and Jayson Shaw. The Shotgun from Ipswich appeared more comfortable and took a methodical approach in dispatching the 2007 World Champion from the tournament, with both only managing 3 break-and-runs between them in the match. ‘The Wizard’ was much more ruthless in his semi-final, hardly giving Burford a chance to breathe in taking a 6-0 lead, including 2 break and dishes of his own. Burford could only split the next six racks with Shaw, rallying with a dish of his own in rack 11 before Shaw saw out the match in the 12th rack to complete a resounding 9-3 victory in less than 42 minutes.

Both Osborne and Shaw appeared to bring the same attitudes with them to the final table; Osborne was calm, prepared and literally dancing his way to the table, whereas Shaw was somewhat more focused and primed for battle. It was the latter, and ruthless, attitude which prevailed, with the Glaswegian storming to a 9-2 victory to give him his first GB9 title since August 2008. “It feels great to win the first event of the season”, said Shaw. “I have been practicing every day for a month now as I have a new club with my own table in it. I want to thank the Q Club (in Glasgow) and all the GB9 staff for a great tour”.


With such an influx of new players on the 2011 tour, the first Challenge Cup event of the season could have been one of the most open competitions in GB9′s three year history. In the end, however, two of the tour’s stalwarts in ‘The Omen’ Damian Massey and Andrew Morris came through to contest the final. The early rounds still drew out names to watch out for in future competitions; congratulations must go to the likes of Sam Thistlewhite, Shaun Chipperfield, Shane Davies, Neil Craycraft, Gabor Szalay, James Topliff and Phil Wildman, who all reached the last 32 at their very first attempt. Standout new player of the competition was Welshman Kristian Phillips; starting his campaign at 5pm on Friday evening, managing to beat James Shade, Mark Shepherd, Mark Morris, Jason Howard, Gabor Szalay and Kevin Simpson before finally falling in the semi-finals to Andrew Morris 9 racks to 5. Massey’s 2011 campaign also started at 5pm, seeing off Darren Murray, Danny Orme, Chun Hao Man, Dean Reeve, Adam Stevens, Richard Main and finally Glen Cooney to secure his berth in the final to face Morris almost exactly 24 hours later.

Playing some clinical pool in the final itself, Massey took a 7-0 lead before a then dejected Morris rallied with four back to back racks of his own, showing he wasn’t giving in just yet. A tricky 9-ball halted Morris’ run and Massey took an 8-4 lead. The Bournemouth man then held his nerves to see out the 13th rack as he secured the 14 Challenge ranking points, the £800 winner’s prize and, most important of all, his second GB9 title. An ecstatic Massey said “I’m delighted to win my second Challenge event on GB9. I seemed to hit form in the quarter finals and from then I was confident of the win; to be honest I’ve never been more focused than I was in the final.” Massey also had kind words for GB9 player/referee Martyn Royce. “He was superb – very professional, spoke clearly and with authority, and I hope he continues to referee more games in the future.”

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