Monday, 29 November 2010

The Nuthouse Nutters.

Four games into the season, I think it's about time the exploits of Eastbourne's latest pool team were put down in writing. As the team I played for last year disbanded, I took it upon myself to create a new team, backed by 28 Carew Road. Having emailed the league chairman and got a home table sorted out, October 21st saw the beginning of a pool dynasty that would take the game to new heights.
Or maybe not. Our first game saw us lose 7-3 to the Corn Exchange. There were wins for Ewan, Callum, and Danny, but Jamie and myself were left wondering what might have been. The next week, rather coincidently, pitted us against the same team, but this time in the League Cup. A chance to put the record straight. We had a slight change in personnel for this game, as Ewan decided to go to a gymnastics class instead. The hours leading up to the game were a bit frantic, but finally, Alex Irani was drafted in to replace him.
"I'll do you a favour this week, Pikey, but I doubt I'll play anymore games," said the man from Mumbai.
We rocked up, played a quick practice frame to get used to the table, then it was time for business. I selected Jamie to go first, and he repaid my confidence, making a top-drawer five-ball clearance to put us 1-0 up. Next up was Danny, whose style we'll come back to later. After a couple of a chances each way, Danny took control, making it 2-0. Normally I save myself for either fourth or fifth in the rotation, but I decided that if I could make it 3-0, we'd be in a very strong position. I played one of the guys who'd beaten me the previous week, but I got my own back fairly comfortably, and did indeed make it 3-0. There had been talk of going out to TJs if we won that night, and at 3-0, it looked a distinct possibility.
Next up was Callum, who played the oppostion captain. As to be expected, he was a fairly good player, and dragged it back to 3-1, despite Callum's best efforts. Step forward the ringer coming in for one week only as he was "not great" at pool. Alex got off to a fast start, sweeping around the table; potting balls in every direction. Aided by the fact that his opponent was only slightly better than your Grandma, Alex ran riot, easily making it 4-1. At the half way stage, with the prospect of an easy victory, the TJs idea seemed to fade.
As we sat eating the half-time food, it gave us a chance to fully appreciate what we were sharing the room with. At the other end of the room, there sat a DJ table, with two old men sitting a yard away from each other. Clearly, the idea was a karaoke night. In reality, in the two-and-a-half hours that we were there, not one single person went anywhere near them. In addition to the complete lack of interest from other people, the men themselves seemed utterly lost. Not once did one speak to the other, instead they just sat and stared into space.
But anyway, back to the pool. Any complacency we had at 4-1 was quickly eradicated, as Jamie, Callum, and then Danny all lost, making it 4-4. Tension City. Needing just one frame to be guaranteed at least a tie, I thought it'd be better if I played the ninth frame, with the intention of winning, then leaving Alex freerolling in the tenth. As it happened, I could easily have lost the ninth as, after a fast start, I fouled, leaving my opponent with a very makeable clearance opportunity. Just as I was resigned to losing, he missed his last colour, which gave me the opportunity to clear. I held my nerve and did so. The opposition captain stepped up again in the tenth, never really giving Alex an opportunity, and so it went 5-5. In a league match, that'd be the result, but as it was the Cup, obviously a tie-break frame was played.
I nominated myself to play, and the Corn Exchange put forward the guy whose league record was ten wins from ten games. He wasn't unbeatable though, as he was the player Jamie beat in the first game. I broke, and potted. I continued with that colour, potting one more ball before playing a decent safety. He had few options, and played a poor shot which left me in. I potted three more balls before again playing a good safety. Under big pressure, he again faltered, leaving me with the opportunity to clear. Both my coloured balls were near the black spot, with the black ball also around there. The cue ball was near the corner pocket at that end of the table. I set myself, then rolled the first, and toughest, ball into the middle, leaving myself with the perfect angle on the final colour to the opposite middle. The adrenaline caused me to put slightly more backspin on the white than I intended, but the colour went in and I couldn't complain about the shot I had to win the game. I rolled it in and gave a small punch to the air. Very satisfactory - pretty much the perfect game when it mattered most.
Such was the nature of our win, TJs was back on the cards. Not really my favourite choice of spending a night, but off we went, mingling with the black men, the Turkish men, the men in their forties, the men with no hope in life, the slags looking for black men, the Polish girls, basically everyone that I find a bit scary and don't want to associate with. But it was a funny night, culminating in a road sign finding its way into our kitchen.
The next week saw us play Victoria 07. Fair to say, luck wasn't on our side. Ewan won the first frame of the night, and I won the last frame of the night. But I did so whilst on tilt as we lost the eight frames in between. The less said about that, the better.
Last Thursday saw us play Sharky's Spartans, and we began the game having won just five of our previous 20 league frames. Ewan had two of those victories, and he took his total to three after the first frame. Jamie was up next, and should have made it 2-0, but instead it went 1-1. We'll come back to that later. Callum went third, and was in a similar situation to Jamie - probably should have won but didn't. I then lost as well, something which we'll also come back to.
So we were 3-1 down, and it was a familiar story, losing frames we shouldn't have. Alex dragged it back to 3-2,  before Ewan continued his good form, making it 3-3, although it's fair to say he got a little lucky as his opponent potted the white in the same shot as the black. Not something that happens very often, but remarkably it happened again the very next frame. Jamie was the beneficiary this time, profiting from a dreadful shot by his opponent. Lucky? Quite possibly, but I didn't feel it was undeserved. So we were 4-3 up when I put Alex in. He did exactly what I wanted him to, which left us with two frames to get the all important sixth win. I took my customary ninth frame spot, and despite a horrible frame which had no flow, I scraped over the line, giving us our first league win of the season. Callum finished the match with a flourish, making the score a resounding 7-3.
It's currently 1939 on Tuesday night, we're just about to go play a rearranged fixture against another Nuthouse team. Local derby time. Back in a bit.
Back. Thoroughly pissed off as well. We just lost 9-1, and deserved to as well. Hopefully Thursday will go better.
It's now Thursday, we lost again, this time 6-4. I don't really want to talk about that, so I'm gona do some squad profiles instead.
Chris Pike, captain. League record 5-5 (oh dear), cup record 3-0 (that's more like it).
Depends on the day, but if I'm playing well I'd like to think I can give anyone a decent game.
Highlight of the season: The near perfect frame to win the decider in the Cup game against the Corn Exchange.
Donkament of the season: After a very nice five-ball clearance of my colours, I left myself a semi-difficult pot on the black. I'd expect myself to pot it maybe six or seven times out of ten, but on the back of a decent potting spree, I was confident. I got down, struck the white and... completely aired it. I didn't even hit the black, let alone pot it. My opponent went on to clear up, and I headbutted a fruit machine.
Jamie Whitlock, vice-captain. League record 2-8, cup record 1-1.
Better than his record suggests, but lacks the killer instinct.
Highlight of the season: A very impressive five-ball clearance in the cup win against Corn Exchange, which got us off to a good start.
Donkament of the season: With his last red over the corner pocket, and black over the middle pocket on the same side, he was in prime position. His opponent had three balls left, all blocking the path from the red to the black. So, a simple screw back was required, and there was a good three feet's worth of margin for error. But Jamie shanked it, left himself snookered, missed the black, and his opponent somehow cleared up.
Callum Thompson. League record 2-5, cup record 0-2.
A mixed bag of good stuff and bad stuff.
Highlight of the season: Lovely little clearance to put the finishing touches to a 7-3 league win over Sharky's Spartans.
Donkament of the season: Struggling a bit here, apart from the odd missed easy pot. I'm gona be slightly paradoxical and have Callum's donkament as a game he actually won. His opponent broke off and potted a yellow, but snookered himself on all other yellows. Slightly annoyed, he decided to smash the balls, hoping for them to fall more kindly than they had to start with. Unfortunately for him, having chosen reds, he potted two more yellows, so before Callum had even come to the table, three of his balls had been potted. Callum played one shot and missed, but left it tough for his opponent. Under some self-imposed pressure, the guy messed up again, this time potting the black, handing Callum victory on a plate.
Ewan Mcfarlane. League record 4-5, cup record n/a.
Resident snooker player.
Highlight of the season: Decent clearance in the first game at Victoria. Sadly that preceded eight striaght losses for us.
Donkament of the season: Having potted his first six balls in one go, Ewan missed his last ball about 14 times, almost gifting his opponent the frame. Thankfully he scraped over the line against Sharky's.
Danny Saunders. League record 1-3, cup record 1-1.
Re-Christened Smasher Saunders after his style of play, Danny possesses one of the best eyes in the team, but sometimes lacks the cue ball control.
Highlight of the season: In the Cup match at Corn Exchange, Smasher smashed pot after pot, on his way to putting us up 2-0 and in a strong position.
Donkament of the season: Along with Jamie's shot against Sharky's, against Victoria, Smasher played one of the worst positional shots I've ever seen. With his final colour over the middle, and the black over a corner on the same side of the table, all Smasher needed to do was screw back three inches, as his opponent had a ball near the cushion between the colour and black, blocking Smasher's path. But for the only time all season, Smasher didn't smash it, on one of the occasions in which he should have. He rolled it in, leaving himself snookered on the black. He missed, and his dreadful opponent cleared up.
Alex Irani. League record 3-3, cup record 1-1
Typical Irani really, big heart, big mouth, big banter.
Highlight of the season: I could say strolling round the table potting balls for fun against Corn Exchange, but I'm gona go for something slightly different. Having come into the side as a very late call up, Alex seemed rather relaxed and underwhelmed by the prospect of playing pool in a team. As quoted earlier, he wasn't massively up for it. An hour later he was rapt, and that evening was talking tactics about the next week's game. Part of the team.
Donkament of the season: Apart from playing rather average in a couple of frames, he hasn't done too much wrong. So it's gona have to be his reaction to missing a pot in a game a few weeks ago. To put it simply, he turned away from the table, walked up to the wall, and gave the radiator and almighty boot. That's passion. Or maybe just annoyance. One of the two.
Adam Toulson. League record 0-2, cup record n/a.
After a long time in the wilderness, the Gecko finally made an appearance last Thursday against Martello. Expectations were high, but sadly the pressure was too much. Toulson's performance reflected the way he looked. Rusty, untidy and in need of improvement.
Highlight of the season: n/a.
Donkament of the season: Remarkably, it's not getting seven-balled. He never really had a chance in that frame, but in his second frame he was given a huge opportunity to clear, but lack of practice meant he rattled one, leaving his opponent clear on the black.
Despite my rather harsh view on the Gecko's play, it's only because I know him to be a very good player, and I've every confidence he'll do a much better job if he returns to the Nutters.
So that's it. We're now six games into the season we have two wins and four defeats. We've had some varying levels of performance, but I'm confident that if we play to our ability, the Nuthouse D pool team be a solid midtable side. Next game's this Thursday, ciao for now.

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