This was it, the day we’d been waiting for with limited optimism. Other than the ever spirited Costa, the team expected little from the day where we had both a Cuppers semi-final match against Peterhouse 2 and a champion of champions match against Robinson. We turned up at 1 o clock, (well, most of us did) ready to go. Costa was late (but at least he was awake, I had made sure of that by phoning him multiple times) as it turned out though, the League Secretary hadn’t even booked the tables from 1, so we had an hour to kill in the CSC. Having brought some revision, Mike went to plug in his laptop, swiftly being told that the CSC was paying for electricity and he couldn’t do that. So we hired out a table to practice on, and watched the Formula 1.
It was our first choice team (a rarity for the year):
Mike Shaw, he became Captain out of anger at organisation, and carried that anger through the whole year.
Phil Durkin, ever reliable, and where the future of Christ’s Pool lies.
Darron Cullen, Our resident Postdoc.
Niral Shah, one of the most consistent pool players in the team (if the least consistent in contactability).
Joao Costa, the only non-scientist in the team, and although difficult to pin down, and somewhat inconsistent, when he plays well, he plays very very well.
And finally myself, with a small hope that the team of 2 which I’d taken over 2 years ago and was now a society of 50 members, might see some, if improbable, success.
The clock struck 2 and the stage was set. Hamilton was lapping 9th place in the grand prix, and we had 6 singles on 6 tables to start us off in the, best of 15, Champions of champions match against Robinson. Phil struck gold early and brought us to 1-0 up. We were ahead. I tried to cover any excitement as I had my own match to concentrate on. Unfortunately Robinson were too swiftly level, Darron potting the black and white simultaneously. Mike also lost his, having got off to far too good a start. From a tricky situation in my own frame, I stuck in a mid-range pot to the middle pocket and snapped up the black to bring us back to 2-2. I went over to Costa’s table to give him support and he was in a messy situation. He was on the black, which was over a pocket, but 2 reds covered it. He played a risky swerve shot which was all kinds of wrong and the frame was gone. 3-2 down Niral was engaged in what some would call an epic, others would call very very long and some might even say a boring frame. None of us minded after though when he won it relatively easily.
We’d hit our target of winning 3/15 frames already and had had a surprisingly strong start. Maybe we could win after all? After the next batch of 6 though, with us losing 4 of them and leaving them 7-5 up needing one of the 3 doubles matches to win, we were pretty much dead and buried.
So the doubles games began concurrently. Darron finally brought in a win for us, and apparently “blitzed his way through the balls”. 7-6. Costa and Mike got down to the black. Costa had a risky shot and took it on. The black went in, the white was going to the middle pocket… we all held our breath… and it bounced off the middle jaw. 7-7. I was now starting to become a little bit stressed. We had the independent adjudicator in on our match to decide about a total snooker. It wasn’t and I ended up playing an average shot. The frame continued. We had 2 of our colour left and they were yet to pot, although all bar one of theirs was in an easily potable position. The frame continued. I gave away two shots in a screwy situation. They potted 3 of theirs before running out of position and leaving us in an unhelpful position. The frame continued still. Finally, we had one of ours in a good position. I potted it and ever sensibly, snookered myself. Digging deep I pulled out a swerve shot to go up as one of my best ever shots, leaving our red over the pocket. They potted one of the yellows, and then accidentally potted another one (they actually didn’t mean to). They then failed at the snooker to leave Niral with an easy red pot. He played it a bit thin and left what could have been an incredible pot on the black. It wasn’t to be though and he left it straight over the pocket.
The frame had now lasted 40 minutes when the other team took on a bold shot from a tricky position. They missed and left me what would on any other day been the easiest pot in the world. Helpful encouragement included “If you miss this we’ll hate you forever”, “Don’t be like yourself last year” and other helpful hints. I got down on the shot, drew the cue back and hit it straight in the pocket. I stood up and watched the white ball, as it drifted towards the middle pocket… and missed.
8-7 to Christ’s 1.
We had won! Somehow, through all the adversity and despite the odds, (Robinson were undefeated in any competition this season) we had done it! Celebrations were had and we were so happy and distracted that the loss to Peterhouse 2 which followed didn’t seem to matter.
It was a fantastic match, and wonderfully tight in hindsight. The fact that our team managed to come from nowhere 2 years ago to being the Champions of champions with our own silverware, having beaten none other than the fabled Robinson team who had destroyed us the last 2 years running. It was a day for the underdog. A day to remember.