IT WAS like an old boys reunion as High Wycombe’s Nick Birney clinched the second leg of the Cuestars South of England Seniors (40+) Tour.
Birney emerged victorious from a record 23-strong field at Fareham Snooker Club after seeing off Wayne Muddiman 2-0 in the final.
The pair have known each other for 25 years.
Muddiman, now living in Southampton, said: “It was good to see old Nick Birney again. We used to play together in High Wycombe.
“When Nick was about 12 or 13, he was the star in High Wycombe. Brilliant potter; brilliant break-builder.
“If I go to High Wycombe, I go to the old Liberal Club there and meet up with him, Matt Wilson and Martin Grainger.”
Birney, who is based at the Buckinghamshire town’s Liberal Club, was gifted the second frame when his opponent potted the tricky frame-ball pink down the left cushion into the top pocket only to see the cue-ball travel across the table and disappear into the opposite corner pocket.
Muddiman said: “I potted a pink down the rail with loads of side for the game and I went ‘in-off’ in the corner. That was it.”
Birney cleared the last two balls for the match but the old friends had already agreed to split the £150 prize pot.
Runner-up to Colin Norton in the first leg at Chandler’s Ford Snooker Club in October, Birney now leads the rankings.
Despite a 2-0 defeat in the group stages by Portsmouth’s Iain Smith, he qualified in first place.
And 2-1 wins halted the progress of Terry Azor (Chandlers Ford Central Club) and Dave Mumford (Chandler’s Ford Snooker Club) in the knockout.
A shock in the groups saw Norton miss out on a quarter-final spot by just one frame. Mumford’s 65 break against Norton helped Muddiman edge the 2011 Seniors Champion for second place.
Norton dropped to second in the rankings. Azor climbed to third and Muddiman went straight in at number four.
Reflecting on his Seniors Tour debut, Muddiman said: “It’s a good day; the format’s good. I’d love one (tournament) a month. All credit to John Hunter, it’s a good event.”
The 42-year-old, who last played a Cuestars event under the old handicap system, accounted for Martin Wallace (Colours, Reading) 2-0 and Vince Elphick (Hassocks Men’s Club, West Sussex) 2-0 in the knockout. And he beat Norton 2-0 in the groups.
Also making his Seniors debut was Southampton’s 1995 Town Champion Mumford.
“Wayne played consistently well all day,” he said. “He was a deserved finalist.”
The 43-year-old defeated Steve Ashton (Salisbury SC) 2-0 in the quarter-finals.
“It was just nice to meet a few old faces,” he said. “I had a really nice day. I enjoyed the camaraderie; there’s a good atmosphere around the Seniors.
“I was really pleased. It was a very, very long day. It was my first experience of a proper tournament, which I’d been in for any length of time, for a long, long time. I was just delighted to get that far.
“Early in the day I was very pleased at how my technique was standing up. I was pretty tired having played seven matches in ten hours. I just ran out of gas.
“When people like John Hunter didn’t qualify (for the knockout), that says the standard was high.”
Group C winner Elphick beat Channel Islander David Brabiner 2-1 in the last-eight.
Cuestars director John Hunter, who recorded the day’s highest break of 84, said Fareham Snooker Club was a “fantastic venue” with “excellent tables”. And he added: “I look forward to holding further competitions at the club.”
John Hunter: 84.
Dave Mumford: 65, 54.
Colin Norton: 55.
Nick Birney: 54.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP POSITIONS:
GROUP A: 1st, Dave Mumford (Chandler’s Ford SC); 2nd, Wayne Muddiman (Chandlers Ford Central Club); 3rd, Colin Norton (Fareham SC); 4th, Paul Burt (Salisbury SC); 5th, Nick Miles (Ashlett Club, near Fawley); 6th, Ray Mears (Sovereign SC, Farnborough).
GROUP B: 1st, Nick Birney (Liberal Club, High Wycombe); 2nd, David Brabiner (First Tower Institute Billiards & Snooker Club, St Helier, Jersey); 3rd, John Hunter (Salisbury SC); 4th, Iain Smith (Portsmouth); 5th, Gary Wilton (Fareham SC); 6th, Richard Arnold (Salisbury SC).
GROUP C: 1st, Vince Elphick (Hassocks Men’s Club, West Sussex); 2nd, Terry Azor (Chandlers Ford Central Club); 3rd, Wayne Hamilton (Hassocks Men’s Club, West Sussex); 4th, Neil Carroll (Salisbury SC); 5th, Mike Thatcher (Shirley Conservative Club, Southampton); 6th, Ron Ellis (Burgh Heath Club, Surrey).
GROUP D: 1st, Martin Wallace (Colours, Reading); 2nd, Steve Ashton (Salisbury SC); 3rd, Gary Hart (Salisbury SC); 4th, Alan Thomas (Jesters, Swindon); 5th, Danny O’Driscoll (Craneswater SC, Portsmouth).
QUARTER-FINALS (8 points, £10): Mumford beat Ashton 2-0, Birney beat Azor 2-1, Elphick beat Brabiner 2-1, Muddiman beat Wallace 2-0.
SEMI-FINALS (12 points, £25): Birney beat Mumford 2-1, Muddiman beat Elphick 2-0.
FINAL (25/18 points, £100/£50): Birney beat Muddiman 2-0.