Category: Interviews

Simon Berridford and Liam Bairstow smiling

Corrie’s Bairstow to play at Humber Classic

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) is delighted to confirm that British soap star Liam Bairstow will be among the players competing at next month’s Humber Classic tournament in Hull.

Liam is best known for his role as Alex Warner in ITV’s Coronation Street, after he famously became the first actor with Down’s Syndrome to be cast in the world’s longest running soap opera just over three years ago.

Away from the studios Liam is also a keen snooker fan and first met the WDBS team last May when he visited the World Championship to watch Mark Selby take on John Higgins on final day. Having kept in touch ever since, we are now looking forward to welcoming Liam to what will be our first-ever weekend competition exclusively for players with learning disabilities.

“I am really looking forward to this event,” said the Bradford-based actor. “I have been a fan of snooker since I have been watching Ronnie O’Sullivan who is my favourite.

“It was amazing to visit the Crucible last year because so many people were there. It was really exciting to meet legends like Stephen Hendry and John Parrott who I remember watching play.

“It was also a lot of fun as we had a challenge in the Cue Zone where if a boy beat me he would get a tour of Coronation Street and he did, so I was able to take him round the set.”

As well as being able to pick up a cue for himself, Liam is looking forward to being able to meet new people during the event which will be held at Hull’s Tradewell Snooker Centre from 17-19 August.

“I love socialising and meeting new people,” added Bairstow. “It’s so nice to be able to talk to different people and then keep in touch through social media. I love Facebook and Twitter to be able to let my friends know when I will be on TV.”

Of his fellow cast members at Corrie, Liam identifies Charlie de Melo, who plays lawyer Imran Habeeb in the soap as a talented snooker player on a set which has welcomed the ‘Weatherfield Snooker Hall’ as a recent addition to the iconic street.

As for his own hopes in Hull, Liam is keeping his cards close to his chest but says that it would give him ‘a very warm feeling’ if he is able to take home a medal from the event.

Entries for the Humber Classic remain open with players with all disabilities welcomed to our free Friday Open Day, ahead of the two-day tournament for our Group 6 players.

Download the entry form now: https://www.wdbs.info/event/humber-classic-2018-group-6/

Image of snooker balls

Watch: New WDBS Video

Watch our new video as we hear from some of our World Disability Billiards and Snooker players about their stories and their experiences at WDBS events.

The video features Mickey Chambers, Robert Craft, Kal Mattu, Niteshk Chavda, Lee Finbow, Lewis Knowles, Christof Niklaus, William Thomson and interpreter Yvonne Thomas.

Thank you to Jamie Hyde for his hard work both filming and producing this video for us.

Watch below or via the WPBSA YouTube channel HERE.

Mickey Chambers Interview

Reigning WDBS Northern Classic (Group 4-5) champion Mickey Chambers was recently interviewed by BBC Lancashire Sport during World Snooker Disability Day in Sheffield.

Listen to the interview here: https://audioboom.com/posts/6856528-leyland-amputee-footballer-mickey-chambers-talks-about-adding-snooker-success-to-his-cv-with-a-title-at-his-first-event

Tony Southern playing snooker shot using rest

Tony Southern Q&A

A name who will be familiar to most with an interest in disability cue sports, Tony Southern will be among those in action at next month’s J&S Trading Northern Classic, to be held at Preston’s Elite Snooker Club for the first time.

We caught up with Tony recently to preview the tournament and look back at his time in the sport…

Hi Tony, we begin 2018 with the J&S Trading Northern Classic in Preston. How much are looking forward to the competition?

Yes, I am really looking forward to the first event of the year. I played a few pro-ams at the Elite Snooker Club back in the early 1990’s when I was at university in Preston, so it will be good to see how the club has changed.

Tony Southern shakes hands with Craig Welsh

Tony reached the final of the 2017 Manchester Classic, narrowly losing out to Craig Welsh

You entered your first WDBS competitions in 2017, notably coming so close to winning in Manchester, losing on a re-spotted black. Can you go one better this year?

Hopefully! After a break from snooker due to injury and other priorities it was good to be back, and Craig Welsh played really well in the event and to beat me in the final.

Of course you are no stranger to snooker having competed in events for nearly 35 years – how do you reflect on your time in the sport?

I’ve achieved a lot since my first national win in 1985 at age 16! I’ve won 24 national disabled championships under the old BSAD/DSE framework (four of which were classed as World Opens when World Snooker was previously involved in the 1990’s), I still hold the highest event break of 87 and had a decent amateur career against able bodied players. But all of that was as a standing player and since I’ve comeback I’m playing from a chair, as that what I’ve done in my other cue sports to good effect.

Tony Southern plays snooker shot against Glyn Lloyd watched by Vic Hartley

Tony plays a shot as opponent Glyn Lloyd and referee Vic Hartley look on

What has competing in snooker events done for your life in general, what positive effects has this had physically and mentally? 

I have made lots of new friends, and it is always nice to see some old faces, and in some cases very old (Glyn Lloyd and referee Vic Hartley) still involved! I have got to know a lot of the top pros as well and travelled the length and breadth of the country. It will be good to play my first international snooker event in Belgium, after playing American pool around the world the last 10 years.

Tell us about your disability, how does this affect your snooker? Has this changed over your career and what challenges has this given you?

I have cerebral palsy which affects my legs, as mentioned above most of my snooker career was spent playing standing up, but as you get older, muscles get weaker and I started using a chair for my other cue sports in 2006. It made sense to do this for snooker too, as I was getting too fatigued walking around table.

Tony Southern places cue ball

Tony in WDBS action at the 2017 Open Disability Snooker Championship in Wolverhampton

You had spoken of retirement in 2017, but posted recently that your health has improved and you are looking forward to continuing to play for the foreseeable future. What are your goals for 2018 and beyond?

I was diagnosed with two prolapsed discs in my back in 2016, which meant I was having real issues with bending to play any shots, even from a chair. It cost me matches and several titles in my other cue sports, so was getting really down about my future prospects, as I always want to be competitive.

However, a series of treatments on my back in 2017 and a recent knee operation have really helped, and I’m now the president of the British Pool Federation, looking after the interests of the American Pool players in the UK, both at a professional and amateur level. So if I have to be at events in an administrative role, why not play as well!

Tony Southern and Andy Johnson point at balls arranged to look like Belgian flag

Tony will be competing at the inaugural Belgian Open in March (pictured with Andy Johnson)

How important is the social aspect of WDBS events, both catching up with old friends and meeting new people?

It is really important, I’m one of the few left from the mid 1980’s still competing and it’s nice to see the older players and referees still going. It is also good to see younger players grow and improve, I recall seeing Daniel Blunn as a young teenager many years ago and telling his father that he was very good and would win lots of titles, which of course he has done!

What message would you have for anyone out there considering entering a WDBS event for the first time?

Basically, come and give it a go, no matter what your standard of play. It is almost guaranteed that your level will improve just being around the WDBS scene and utilising the coaching days, and competing against players on a level playing field in terms of disability. Three days of fun, coaching and events is a great experience for all involved.

There is still time to join Tony and enter the J&S Trading Northern Classic from 2-4 February 2018. Click HERE to learn more and download the full entry form.

Nick Neale plays snooker shot

Neale Celebrates 147 Break

Last month WDBS player Nick Neale achieved a special milestone as he made a maximum 147 break for the first time in his career during practice.

The Birmingham potter, who competes as a Group 7 player at WDBS events following the loss of his sight in one eye at the age of 15, has stepped up his practice time in recent months and is ‘over the moon’ that his hard work is already starting to pay off.

“I had been close to making a maximum before,” said Neale. “I knew that something was coming, not necessarily a 147 but something big.”

“I have been practising a lot and on the day I started to pot a few balls, during a proper frame not an exercise like a line-up, and I got to about ten reds and ten blacks when my girlfriend said that I was on a 147 so I thought that I might as well go for it at that point.

“The black from the last red was probably the best pot I played, stunned it up for the yellow and then with all of the colours on their spots, you don’t really miss them and I think that every ball went into the centre of the pocket. I was dead straight on the final black, I didn’t want to roll it in case I got a kick so I played a little soft stun and it went in. It was a good feeling because it’s something that you always strive for as a snooker player.”

Nick Neale with Allan Morley

Neale, who reached the final of his first WDBS event almost a year ago at the 2016 Hull Open, spent nearly ten years away from the sport after the loss of his sight and only recently decided to start playing full-time again, practising for six days a week. Chasing a first WDBS title, he also hopes to be able to take on able-bodied players in other competitions over the coming years.

“I would like to just to see what I can become again,” explained Neale. “I would like to enter some of the seniors events, professional competitions of possible and see if I can do alright in them. I’m never going to win one but if I could win a couple of matches in the amateur rounds it would be nice to be able to play a top pro and I believe I can do that. Why not? It all depends on the draw because there are a lot of amateurs there like us who are going for the fun and to enjoy it.”

Neale will return to WDBS action at next month’s 888lcd.co.uk Hull Open and entries for the Group 7-8 event remain open. There will also be a Group 6 event for players with learning disabilities, to be held alongside our regular open day of people with any disability.

Learn more about the 888lcd.co.uk Hull Open.

David Church Q&A

World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) has welcomed new players from across the country to events in 2017, including Norwich cueist David Church.

Having so far competed in both the Manchester Classic and Welsh Open since joining the WDBS field, Church is now preparing for an assault on this year’s Open Disability Snooker Championship, as well as a special trip to Germany later this month for the professional Paul Hunter Classic event won last season by Mark Selby.

We caught up with him recently to talk about his WDBS experiences so far and in particular how snooker has played a crucial role in helping him to manage depression in recent years.

David, you are currently getting ready for next month’s Open Disability Snooker Championship in Wolverhampton, how much have you enjoyed the events that you have played to date?

Quarter-final – with Daniel Blunn

The events I’ve played in have gone very well in my opinion. At my first tournament in Manchester I was surprised how many people with numerous disabilities play the game, not only play, but to a very good standard. I was welcomed by everyone, players, staff and the tournament directors.

I felt I had a great tournament in Manchester, winning my group to reach the knockout rounds and then winning a tough semi-final against Andy Johnson. At 1-1, in the deciding frame, I was 39 behind with 59 on. I thought that was the end of my tournament because my mindset wasn’t there, but somehow my safety game got me into the final. However, I thought that I did well considering it was my first WDBS tournament and I was so nervous as a tournament environment was new to me.

In Wales I was amazed by how many entries we had from all eight groups and the standard everyone played at. I had the high break of 48 which would have been more if I hadn’t had a kick on the green, as everyone knows about in the WDBS! I was seeded no.1 for the knockout stages and my game felt great, however I ran into a very good player, Daniel Blunn, in the quarter-finals who fully deserved the title and the match against me.

I thoroughly enjoy the events, so much that I get so pumped up and practice hard and eat well for the tournaments.

With ref Sarah McManus and partner Olivia

How did you hear about WDBS?

I was playing for Norfolk in the county championships and I got talking to EASB referee Sarah McManus who said I would be eligible to play and so I went for it. It was the best thing that I’ve ever done.

You have impressed in both of the events that you have entered so far, reaching one final and one quarter-final, as well as making the high break in Wales. Can you go all the way and take a title now?

I’ve performed well and I have no doubts that I can win a title. I am not being cocky or arrogant, I just know when I’m at one with the game, I know what to do and do it to what I think is a reasonably high standard. My high break is 82 and I’m getting closer to my first century with help from the SightRight Elite Academy and my coach Stephen Feeney. My dream is to be world disability champion.

Tell us about your disability, how does this affect your snooker?

With former WDBS champion Nigel Coton

My disability is Moebius Syndrome. It is a rare disability affecting the sixth and seventh cranial nerve in the brain which causes facial paralysis and where the muscles in the face and the body aren’t as strong as someone without the disability. At the time I was born, both I and my sister, who has the same disability as me, were the first siblings to have that specific disability in the U.K.

Also the disability that I use to play in the WDBS events is a severe impairment in my leg due to a car accident after walking home from snooker, when two cars crashed and ploughed me through a brick wall. I broke my tibia so as a result I had to have surgery to put a metal rod in to support my leg. This causes constant pain and my balance isn’t as good anymore, which cause me difficulty when playing certain shots.

What role has snooker and the WDBS has played in helping you cope with the after-effects of your accident?

Since the accident I have suffered from depression and ever since been on anti-depressants. I found snooker by mistake, I just hid myself away from the outside world, so my dad took me to the snooker hall and I fell in love with the game. Snooker is my escape from my mind and my depression and I love it.

When I’m at one with the game there’s no better feeling. I’ve never been so emotionally engrained in a person or an object like my snooker.

David Church standing at Crucible Theatre

At the home of snooker

You recently joined us for Disability Day at this year’s World Championship, how did you find the day?

I was honoured to be invited to Sheffield for World Disability Snooker Day at the Crucible Theatre and being able to watch my hero Ronnie O’Sullivan, who I met on the day and previously I watched his exhibitions in Lowestoft. I enjoyed watching the snooker and being in the snooker capital with my girlfriend Olivia and meeting more people from the WDBS.

Before Wolverhampton you will also be in action at a professional event for the first time, the Paul Hunter Classic in Germany. Tell us about what made you enter the event and how much you are looking forward to the experience.

I play at Woodside Snooker Centre in Norwich where former professional Barry Pinches plays and I often play his son Luke Pinches, who is under-16 amateur runner up, as well as a couple of great players who are on the EASB Premier Tour.

They suggested that we should go, so I jumped at the chance to go and play and hopefully give a good account of myself and my ability. I’m really excited to be competing in the amateur round.

What message would you have for anyone out there considering entering a WDBS event for the first time?

On the baize

No matter what your disability is or what standard you are, whether you are a 20+ break or 100+ break player – go for it!

The moments, memories and the weekend away is 100% worth it. It is the best thing I’ve done personally. As well as an amazing weekend full of snooker it is a great opportunity to meet and make friends with people who share the same interests and are in a similar situation.

David will next be competing at the Open Disability Snooker Championship in Wolverhampton from 22-24 September 2017. Entries are still open for the event – please visit here for more information.

Gary Gallacher Q&A

This week World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) heads to Cwmbran for the first ever WDBS Welsh Open, featuring a record 45 players from all classification groups.

Among those in action will be Gary Gallacher, a player who has been with us since our first Group 7 event in Woking over a year ago and has been an ever-present since.

Like Phillip Murphy who we spoke to recently, Gary is from Wales and so we caught up with him to preview our latest event…

You have been with us since our first event for Group 7 players in Woking last year, can you tell us what snooker and these WDBS events in particular have done for you?

I watched snooker on TV as a child and started playing in my teens. Now in my mid fifties, I still love the game as much as I did all those years ago. Obviously my disability has held me back but the WDBS has now given me a chance to play competitively within a level playing field.

What have you been able to learn from the players that you have played against?

We all have the same passion about snooker and it goes to show that no matter what disability you have, anything is possible.

Photo of David Baker and Gary Gallacher

How have you found the camaraderie at these events, the social side and getting to know fellow regulars like Bob Craft and David Baker.

It has been absolutely fantastic. Coming in as a new player (Woking), I was made to feel welcome straight away and although we are all extremely competitive, we always find time for a chat and a few beers with each other, comparing cues, makes, woods, tips etc. The list is endless!

Tell us about your disability, how does this affect your snooker?

I have ‘Intolerable Diplopia’ (incurable constant double vision). I have had five operations during my lifetime on each eye along with botox injections and various other interventions to no avail. When I play snooker my vision alters with every angle due to also having a horizontal and vertical defect. I am unable to get down to a shot for too long as each eye picks up a different image (they don’t work together), hence I have to line the shot up before I get down to it and play it from memory rather than visually. If I take any longer than a few seconds I have to stand up and start again, this puts pressure on me to play quickly. The greater the distance the more difficult it gets, It’s really frustrating.

You recently joined us for Disability Day at the Crucible, at which your family came with you, how did you find that day?

It was a dream come true to be invited to represent the WDBS at World Disability Snooker Day and was one of my proudest moments. To play alongside such a prestigious event as the World Snooker Championships, tour the Crucible and meet past and present champions was an absolute pleasure. It was something I never thought I would achieve and it’s all down to being part of the WDBS.

Next up we have the first Welsh Open, which will be held in your home country, how much are you looking forward to that?

I can’t wait – counting down the minutes and looking forward to a shorter train journey!

What message would you have for anyone out there considering entering a WDBS event for the first time?

If you are passionate about snooker don’t let disability hold you back. The tournaments, the players, the support and the coaching are second to none. Just get in there and show what you can do.

Photo of Phillip Murphy playing snooker

Phillip Murphy Q&A

The recent Paul Hunter Disability Classic at the Cueball Derby saw its strongest field yet for players with visual and hearing disabilities, including Pontypridd’s Phillip Murphy who was competing at a WDBS event for the first time.

With our next tournament set to be held in Cwmbran, Wales later this month, we caught up with Phillip to reflect upon his WDBS debut and what he would say to anybody thinking about entering future events…

Phillip, we recently met you for the first time at the Paul Hunter Disability Classic in Derby, how did you find your first WDBS event experience?

I found my first WDBS experience a little nerve-racking, but at the same time I was excited as this was my first time and I was unsure what to expect on the way up from Wales!

How impressed were you by the standard of the players that you saw during the weekend?

I was absolutely impressed by the standards of the classification groups and I saw some fantastic snooker matches while I was in Derby.

It was great to learn more about some of the disabilities that some of the players have and to see that they could play equally as well as able-bodied players, both those with visual and hearing disabilities. It is unbelievable.

How did you become a snooker fan, how long have you been playing?

My first love is football but snooker is not far behind!

I used to play a lot of pool and once at the club while I was waiting for my match to start I had a game of snooker and was instantly hooked. I joined my local club and started to play in a league with my team.

That was four years ago now and I have been playing snooker ever since.

Tell us about your disability, how does this affect your snooker?

The condition I have is called retinitis pigmentosa (usher syndrome) night blindness, which is a slow degenerative condition which affects my peripheral vision and the ability to see in dark areas.

The biggest issue I have with it affecting my game is that when I am concentrating on the cue ball I get black ‘floaters’ on the cue ball. This means that I need to get back up from the shot and wait for a minute, before I can go back down and then I am usually ok.

Also if the lightning on a table isn’t good I can’t play on that table at all, which has happened a few times with my local league team where light has been poor and I have been unable to play.

Plus I tend to look around prior to every shot being taken to make sure no one is behind me so I don’t hit anyone or anything.

Next up we head to Cwmbran for what will be your home tournament, the WDBS Welsh Open. What have you learned from your first event and how much are you looking forward to it?

Yes I am looking forward to the Welsh Open at Cwmbran Redz which is practically on my doorstep!

I have learned from my first event not to be so nervous. I did find that I put a lot of pressure on myself throughout the whole tournament in Derby and that is a massive lesson I’ve learned. It won’t be happening this time around.

It’s ok to be nervous though, I will probably still be. Even the professionals get nervous before an event.

I am also looking forward to meeting and playing other players as this event is open to all classification groups. It will be fascinating to see and play against these players.

What message would you have for anyone out there considering entering a WDBS event for the first time?

My message to others who are thinking of entering a WDBS event is to enter and come along and enjoy the free coaching which helped me massively in my game at my first event. I have taken that advice on board since and this has helped me to play better at my local club.

It’s ok to be nervous as I explained previously even I was nervous. You’ll be looked after by everyone involved in the WDBS events so come and enjoy a game of snooker and make friends.

It’s that simple: Enter, play snooker and make friends!

The entry deadline for the WDBS Welsh Open is 23 June 2017, download the entry form now and join Phillip and the rest of the field in Cwmbran.

Swail Supports WDBS

Two-time World Championship semi-finalist Joe Swail has offered his support to World Disability Billiards and Snooker and encouraged players to take part in upcoming events in Gloucester and Hull.

The Northern Irishman, who reached a career-high world ranking of number 10 during the 2001/02 season, was born partially deaf in both ears and says that his results are proof that a disability doesn’t have to hold people back.

“I would definitely encourage players to take part in WDBS events,” said Swail. “The most important thing for players is to enjoy it and if they have got a talent then they should have the chance to progress.

“I’m a firm believer that a disability shouldn’t hinder what you are going to achieve in life. I’ve been a professional for over 25 years now and my disability has never held me back.”

In fact, Swail is philosophical about the effects of his disability and the other related conditions that have developed in recent years, including tinnitus and vertigo.

“I have been partially deaf since birth and it is just one of those things that has deteriorated over the years. It has been a progression and there are connected conditions that have affected me in different ways, but I have learned to deal with it. It is a disability but it is the same as with a lot of other people who have other sensory impairments or physical impairments, you just learn to deal with what you have got, to reflect on the good days, appreciate it’s not the be all and end all, and move on with life which is what I’ve done.”

Photo of Joe Swail playing snooker

Rather than hinder his snooker career, for Swail his disability was one of the reason why he first took up the sport when he was approximately 12-years-old. His older brother Liam is fully deaf in both ears and himself was a talented snooker player, having hit 300 century breaks prior to his 16th birthday. Sadly he was not able to join Joe on the professional circuit following a serious road accident, but their shared passion for the sport was something that helped drive Joe to his achievements so far during his professional career.

“I got involved with snooker because I knew early on that I wouldn’t be able to do a ‘9 to 5’ job which would have required good hearing and patience. With snooker however the silent surroundings and requirement of concentration suited me. My mates were moving on with different things, moving to college and I knew I wouldn’t be capable or have the confidence to do that. But it was snooker that gave me a new lease of life.

“My brother was a fantastic snooker player and we competed against each other as kids. He would want to beat me and I would want to beat him. Unfortunately I lost a lot of games on the 6 foot table, but we spurred each other on and made sure that our disabilities weren’t going to stop us doing what we wanted to do.”

From both his own personal experience and that of his brother, the player nicknamed ‘the Outlaw’ believes that snooker is an ideal sport for people with hearing impairments:

“You are just playing a game that you both enjoy, you know how to play it, you know what you want to try and do and you don’t actually have to try and talk to people. It’s definitely a great hobby for deaf people to get involved with because they are playing the game that they love and they are having a bit of craic as well without having to engage in communication by speaking to one another because you are limited that way.”

The next WDBS event open to players with hearing impairments (group 8 players), will be the WDBS Hull Open from 11-13 November 2016. Read more and learn how you can enter now.

Pockett Hails New Opportunities

Last November saw the WDBS host the 2015 Open Disability Snooker Championship at the South West Snooker Academy in Gloucester.

Tony in action at the SWSA

Tony in action at the SWSA

Staged by the new governing body for World Disability Billiards and Snooker, the tournament marked the first step on the long road back to the Paralympics for cue sports and proved to be well-received by those who took part.

One of those players was Gloucester’s Tony Pockett, who finished as runner-up in the Group 4/5 event to India’s Raja Subramanian. Pockett, who suffers from chronic back pain, decided to end a 24-year absence from snooker when by chance he heard about the tournament on the local radio:

“I was driving in the car when I heard about the tournament and thought that it sounded interesting,” said Pockett. “To be honest, in my position you have got to be in a positive mood to even think about entering something like this. If the event had been somewhere else I might not have gone, but because it was on my doorstep I thought that I would make the effort and go.”

Tony and his wife Carol attended the Betway UK Championship in December

Tony and his wife Carol attended the Betway UK Championship in December

Tony first began to play snooker at the age of 14 and regularly played in local leagues in Gloucester, however was diagnosed with dropfoot in 1988 when a piece of disc in his spine crushed the nerve going to his foot. He underwent a spinal decompression operation three years later that unfortunately was unsuccessful and prior to this tournament had barely played snooker since.

Pockett said: “I had to give up work and snooker because of my spine and I haven’t played since then properly. I’ve played two games in Weston Super Mare with my son, other than that it’s the first time and my cue had been in the bedroom since 1991!

“I used to play seven days a week as my father was a groundsman at sports and social club. We could be there all through the holidays and that’s where it first started off. When I met my wife I said that I should always go and play snooker on a Sunday lunchtime whatever happens, but when I gave up work that was it.”

Pockett, whose wife Carol also suffers with a disability, explained that for him the event has opened doors and that he would now like to continue to play snooker on a more regular basis, having already arranged to meet with other players from the event.

“My wife said that it must be the first time she has been left on her own all day for 25 years,” added Pockett. “She is disabled as well, so we live a very limited life. The event has opened the doors for me in a way. It has given me the interest to have a go at it now, whereas before I would say ‘no ok mate’. It has been really good, so laid back and the organisation has been superb.

Tony and the other players meet David Grace in York

Tony and the other players meet David Grace in York

“I was watching the younger lads play and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves which is wonderful. What can you get better than this? Nobody felt outclassed.”

As one of the group finalists in Gloucester, Pockett was also invited to attend the final Saturday of the Betway UK Championship and was given a special backstage tour of the venue, including the television studios, main arena and practice tables.

He was particularly thrilled to meet the likes of Steve Davis, John Parrott, John Virgo and Dennis Taylor, as well as David Grace who took time out from his semi-final preparations to pose for photographs.

Check out our photo galleries on Facebook for more images from both the 2015 Open Disability Championship and of Tony’s visit to the Betway UK Championship.

The WDBS will be announcing details of its 2016 events during the coming weeks.