TWO former High Wycombe snooker teammates share the lead following a long day on the Cuestars South of England Seniors (40+) Tour.
Nick Birney, who still lives in the Buckinghamshire town and is based at the Liberal Club, saw off last season’s double champion John Hunter in the final of the second leg of seven at Jesters Snooker Hall, Swindon.
As it was gone 7pm, the pair agreed to split the £100 prize pot and play a one-frame match for the ranking points.
Birney, who won on the pink after trailing 39-0, said: “It was a very long day. John and I were very tired but it was a great game.”
Earlier, Birney, the 2012 play-off winner, defeated a “wily” Trevor Thorn (Basingstoke Conservative Club) 2-0 in the last-eight and then continued his rivalry with old friend Wayne Muddiman who has since migrated to West End in Southampton.
The Wycombe boys slugged our three frames in a closely-contested up-and-down semi-final and now lead the rankings with 40 points each, four ahead of Hunter.
Muddiman, who won last month’s first leg at Chandler’s Ford SC, beat Richard Arnold (Salisbury SC) 2-0 in the quarter-finals.
Hunter, the 2013 rankings winner and play-off champion, said his 2-1 last-eight victory over Neil Herd (Player’s, Westbury) was “certainly the toughest Seniors match I’ve played”
And the Andover cueman based at Salisbury SC added: “Neil played fantastic against me.”
Reflecting on his overall performance, Birney, who accounted for Herd in the group stages, said: “Beating strong players like Neil, Wayne and John made it a good day.”
Martin Wallace (Colours, Reading), the only player to take a frame off Muddiman in the group stages, climbed to fifth after being knocked out 2-0 by Hunter in the semi-finals.
Elsewhere, Ray Mears (Sovereign SC, Farnborough) was “chuffed to bits” to set a personal best 27 break with a colours clearance in the second frame of his 2-1 group-stage defeat by Alan Thomas.
The Seniors Tour welcomed two new faces: Darren Howard, who has a top break of 94 and hails from the Liberal Club in High Wycombe, was the only player not to drop a frame in the group stages before making a 2-0 quarter-final exit to Wallace; and the home club’s Derick Probets, whose highest break is 42, failed to qualify from a tough group.
The third leg of seven is at Salisbury Snooker Club on Sunday, December 15.
Neil Herd: 74.
John Hunter: 69, 57, 57, 55.
Wayne Muddiman: 67.
Nick Birney: 47.
Paul Rose: 36.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP POSITIONS
GROUP A: 1st, Darren Howard (Liberal Club, High Wycombe); 2nd, Richard Arnold (Salisbury SC); 3rd, Nick Miles (Ashlett Club, Fawley); 4th, Alan Thomas (Jesters, Swindon); 5th, Ray Mears (Sovereign SC, Farnborough).
GROUP B: 1st, John Hunter (Salisbury SC); 2nd, Trevor Thorn (Basingstoke Conservative Club); 3rd, Paul Rose (Jesters, Swindon); 4th, Steve Ashton (Salisbury SC); 5th, David Volante (Jesters, Swindon).
GROUP C: 1st, Nick Birney (Liberal Club, High Wycombe); 2nd, Neil Herd (Player’s, Westbury); 3rd, Paul Burt (Salisbury SC); 4th, Dharmendra Patel (Crucible, Newbury).
GROUP D: 1st, Wayne Muddiman (Chandlers Ford Central); 2nd, Martin Wallace (Colours, Reading); 3rd, Neil Carroll (Chandler’s Ford SC); 4th, Derick Probets (Jesters, Swindon).
QUARTER-FINALS (£10): Wallace beat Howard 2-0, Hunter beat Herd 2-1, Birney beat Thorn 2-0, Muddiman beat Arnold 2-0.
SEMI-FINALS (£20): Birney beat Muddiman 2-1, Hunter beat Wallace 2-0.
FINAL (£70/£30): Birney beat Hunter 1-0.