A BERKSHIRE cueman has laid down a second emphatic marker at the start of his blossoming career on the masters snooker circuit.
Matt Ford (pictured) followed up his success on the English Masters Tour South with an impressive – but perhaps not unsurprising – display at the first leg of the Cuestars South of England Seniors Tour.
With a cue action to die for, the 40-year-old from Martins Heron, Bracknell, kicked off the event at Greenbaize Snooker Club, Bournemouth, by beating the defending champion and ended the day with a 92 clearance.
“The standard is higher that I’d thought it would be,” said Ford, who won the Cuestars South of England Championship Tour last season and became eligible for the 40-and-over tours on his birthday in September.
“They’re solid players, experienced players.”
And he added: “I’m enjoying these masters events.”
Ford won the first leg of the English Masters Tour South in Brighton, was knocked out in the groups in the next in Dunstable and lost in the final of the third tournament in Woking the day before travelling to Bournemouth.
The seaside town hosted what was probably the highest standard Cuestars Seniors event since the competition was launched in 2010.
But despite the depth of the 19-strong field, Ford dropped just two frames out of 16 and recorded eight breaks of more than 40.
And he reached a peak in the final against Nick Birney, winning 2-0 in 35 minutes with runs of 56 and 92.
“I know what I’m capable of,” said Ford. “If the balls are spread out and I can get a few cannons here and there, I can score.
“Attacking is my game. If I can attack the balls, I will. If I’m forced to play safe, I will.”
Birney, from High Wycombe, qualified as runner-up in his group after losing to Southampton’s Wayne Muddiman and then beat former champion John Hunter and ex-professional Mike Talmondt, both 2-0, in the knockout rounds.
Hunter had set off like a train, compiling breaks of 67 and 70 in his opening match against Nick Miles, and won all four group games 2-0 before hitting the buffers in the quarter-finals.
After losing his first match to dad-of-two Ford, last season’s champion Talmondt didn’t drop another frame until the semi-finals.
Remarkably, the Portsmouth taxi driver and his Copnor clubmate Mark Tillison have been draw together in the same round-robin group in all six Seniors events that they have both entered since making their debuts last season.
In their latest encounter, Talmondt constructed an 89 break, which stood as the day’s highest until Ford snatched that in the last frame of the final.
The second leg of seven is at Fareham Snooker Club on Sunday, November 22.
Matt Ford: 92, 60, 57, 56, 54, 53, 47, 43.
Mike Talmondt: 89, 43, 43.
John Hunter: 70, 67, 51, 49, 49.
Wayne Muddiman: 65, 45, 42.
Steve Ashton: 61.
Nick Birney: 58, 42.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP POSITIONS
GROUP A: 1st, John Hunter (Salisbury SC); 2nd, Martin Wallace (Crowthorne RBL); 3rd, John Monckton (Woking SC); 4th, Neil Carroll (Chandler’s Ford SC); 5th, Nick Miles (Ashlett Club, Fawley).
GROUP B: 1st, Steve Ashton (Salisbury SC); 2nd, Jasbir Bansal (Woking SC); 3rd, Paul Lawrence (Park Gate RBL, Southampton); 4th, Richard Arnold (Salisbury SC); 5th, Jon Walker (Potting Shed, Aldbourne).
GROUP C: 1st, Matt Ford (Sunninghill Comrades Club, Ascot); 2nd, Mike Talmondt (Copnor SC, Portsmouth); 3rd, Neil Herd (Frome, Somerset); 4th, Mark Tillison (Copnor SC, Portsmouth); 5th, Bob Toulouse (Sovereign SC, Farnborough).
GROUP D: 1st, Wayne Muddiman (Chandlers Ford Central); 2nd, Nick Birney (Liberal Club, High Wycombe); 3rd, Gary Lobb (West End Social Club, Surrey); 4th, Peter Chin (Woking SC).
QUARTER-FINALS (£10, 12 points): Birney 2 Hunter 0, Talmondt 2 Ashton 0, Ford 2 Bansal 1, Muddiman 2 Wallace 1.
SEMI-FINALS (£20, 15 points): Birney 2 Talmondt 0, Ford 2 Muddiman 0.
FINAL (£70/£40, 25/18 points): Ford 2 Birney 0.
Report and picture by Tim Dunkley.