The first World Disability Billiards and Snooker (WDBS) event of 2019 was staged at the Hazel Grove Snooker Club last weekend.
The Northern Classic, sponsored by BB Scaffolding, welcomed players with a variety of physical and learning disabilities to contest six individual competitions across the weekend.
There was a familiar winner in the latest Groups 1-2 wheelchair competition as Daniel Lee completed the successful defence of his Northern Classic title with a 3-0 victory against Aslam Abubaker of India.
Winner of the mixed-classification Welsh Open and Champion of Champions competitions already this season, Lee progressed from his three-player round robin group with victories against Tony Southern (3-2) and Shahab Siddiqui (3-1), while Abubaker comfortably saw off Scotland’s Gavin Gormley and Glyn Lloyd without the loss of a frame.
Following a first close frame won by Lee however, the next two would be more one-sided as the 39-year-old secured his first silverware of the new year.
In Group 3 there was a comeback victory for John Teasdale after the Lancaster potter recovered from 2-0 down to defeat Joe Hardstaff 3-2 in the final.
Competing in a newly-revised classification group exclusively open to players with absent or significant upper limb impairments, both came through a four-player round robin group, with Teasdale claiming his first WDBS title since the Challenge Cup back at the 2016 Manchester Classic.
With a number of players having switched from Group 3 to Group 4 for this event, there was a bumper 21-player field with previous winners from both groups to contest the title.
Ultimately however it was 27-year-old Daniel Blunn who emerged victorious to secure a record eighth WDBS win following a 3-0 victory against Peter Yelland.
Competing as a Group 4 player for the first time, Blunn came through his group with a perfect 6-0 record before defeating John Fenwick and David Church in a close semi-final to reach an unprecedented 11th final.
His opponent Peter Yelland meanwhile had a marathon final day in Stockport, initially coming through a three-way play-off match to secure his place in the knockout rounds, before defeating Andy Johnson, Danielle Findlay and defending champion William Thomson to reach the final.
It would though be Blunn who would prevail with a whitewash victory in the showpiece match to extend his unique record of having won a title during each year since the formation of WDBS in 2015.
The highest break of the weekend was made in this competition by Scotland’s William Thomson with a run of 64 during the group stage.
The final competition for players with physical disabilities was won by Preston’s Mickey Chambers, who completed the successful defence of his Group 5 Northern Classic title with a 3-1 success against David Weller.
Chambers, who has previously played for England’s amputee football team, had won his previous two WDBS events and maintained his flawless run for the loss of just two frames during the weekend.
The Group 6A competition for people with learning disabilities saw a repeat final from the previous event in Hull, but a different result as Mohammed Faisal Butt defeated Mike Busst 3-1 to claim his maiden WDBS title.
There was however a further repeat winner in the Group 6B tournament as Daniel Harwood claimed his seventh title with a 4-0 final victory against Leroy Williams.
It was their second meeting of the weekend after the pair had earlier met in a five-player group stage, which proved to be far closer with Harwood edging their initial contest 3-2, before the two faced each other again in a one-sided final.
The Challenge Cup competition for players not qualified for the knockout rounds was contested between Phil Woodwiss and Wayne Grew, with Skipton’s Woodwiss coming through a 2-0 winner to win his first WDBS medal.
Woodwiss competed in his first competition at the Welsh Open last summer and has been a regular face at events since competing in Group 5.
Once again the event began with a special open day, which welcomed both regular faces and a number of local organisations to come and try snooker and receive coaching and advice at the Go Green Energy Coaching Zone.
Among those to attend were students from two local students, as well as members of the Stockport Cerebral Palsy Society. They were joined by Councillor Walter Brett, Mayor of Stockport for 2018/19 and Coronation Street actor Liam Bairstow, who plays Alex Warner in the ITV soap.
The event was also supported by DSActive as part of the new partnership between the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association and the Down’s Syndrome Association, with the aim of providing more opportunities for people with Down’s syndrome to play snooker.
Prior to the event a special workshop was run by DSActive for individuals associated with WDBS including the board of directors, referees and coaches. This provided important information about terminology, communication and awareness to enhance the way in which WDBS events are run to give players with Down’s syndrome the best possible experience.
The workshop will also lead to the first snooker club-based sessions led by coaches who attended the session accredited by DSActive, based at clubs affiliated the English Partnership for Snooker and Billiards.
WDBS would like to thank our title sponsors BB Scaffolding, represented by owner Bradley Wosahlo and his business partner Brett Downs, as well as club owner Dino Georgiou and his team for their wonderful hospitality over the course of the weekend.
View full tournament results from the main competition via MySnookerStats here.
View event photos at our Facebook page here.
View the updated WDBS Roll of Honour here.