It’s finally our turn to host the IPA Tour in the North East at St James Park. All us North East players have been desperately looking forward to this one all season. (Even if you are a Sunderland Fan like myself!)
To be playing in a football stadium is brand new to the IPA and it’s fantastic that we in the North East have the privilege to host such a Blackball event. When it was announced that the IPA Tour would be going to St James Park, it created a real enthusiasm for North East players especially, rather than the standard hotel conference rooms that the tour is known for, playing in such a location provides something different and puts a message out that the IPA are willing to explore new avenues to make the best possible experience which is great for all involved.
So far this season there has been two individuals who have grabbed the headlines, none other than Pro Number 1 Mark Farnsworth who has already won the first 2 professional events this season, and also made the final of the open event in Cardiff.
Last season Marc Farnsworth completed the double winning the Open and Professional event, he will be geared up for this one with it been in his own back yard and someone who always looks in control around the table and rarely looks under pressure. Marc has recently been in Cyprus with the IPA and won the Professional event over Neil Raybone, he still remains top of the Pro rankings with his victory and continues to show why he is one of the best in the Country.
The other player to grab the IPA headlines is Mark Boyle from Scotland, already winning the first 2 Open events this season. Even though he is widely known in the pool world, Mark continues to show his class and what a brilliant player he is, Marks positional player is second to none and that explains why he has won the first 2 Open events.
As always there are some fantastic players in each section of the tour, players such as Craig Marsh, Jack Whelan, Gareth Hibbott, Jordan Church and Simon Fitzsimmons to name a small few who will be looking to cause a stir and putting a stop to the potential of a Farnsworth and Boyle final.
In the Amateur event, Ryan Clark bagged a great win at Cardiff against Mark Boyle and is someone who will be looking to go the distance. Other players from the North East to watch out for would be Michael Rhodes, Brian Halcrow and Kevin Rainbow.
We have a few North East players playing on the stream on Friday, these include Gavin Robinson who is taking on the 2016 World Champion Gareth Hibbott at 2pm. Chris Bowron who has recently been to Cyprus with the IPA team after winning a qualifier event plays the very experienced Ben Davies at 4pm. True gent and pro on the pool circuit, Michael Oliver is up against crowd pleaser Jordan Shepherd at 8pm. Some fantastic matches lined up and great to see a handful of North East players picked out.
Each event has a field of some of the best players in the Country and highly competitive, it will be a great weekend for players visiting the North East and I’m positive that players will enjoy the atmosphere, the location and the passion we have for pool here.
You can follow all the action via the IPA website (www.ipapool.com), where they will have all the draws and live scores as well as the dedicated streaming channel so stay alert so you do not miss a thing!
UK Open: Marc Farnsworth
Professional: Craig Marsh
Amateur: Simon Fitzsimmons