In what promises to be a closely fought war, the first drop of Varsity blood was spilled by Coventry in the fittingly red setting of Riley’s Sports Bar. The result of 2015 was flipped on its head as the underdogs took the contest by 47 frames to 43 to put the first points on the scoreboard for the Magenta Army.
A relaxed and friendly atmosphere hovered over the event from start to finish, with the two teams mixing well (as several have played or coached for both sides over the years) over their love of chalk, pockets and frankly extortionate drinks.
In keeping with the welcoming tone, even I was offered a chance to swap a pen for a cue and show off the skills honed by the ‘street pool’ of eliminator stained baize and tip-less sticks that Kelsey’s has to offer.
Practice games before the real pool took place were an exhibition of talent and geometry, with shots being sunk on no fewer than seven tables at once in a dizzying sea of yellow, red and black. In keeping with the welcoming tone, even I was offered a chance to swap a pen for a cue and show off the skills honed by the ‘street pool’ of eliminator stained baize and tip-less sticks that Kelsey’s has to offer.
Playing with former Pool Club President and website designer for the new and improved theboar.org, Tom Golden, I felt an immediate change in mind set as my competitive side came out in full. I fancy myself as a reasonable pub player among my friends, but here I was faced with a man who it was reasonable to assume actually knew what he was doing. With a custom cue that had a beautiful blue base (which I may have picked up and assumed I could use without asking) and a reputation of at one point being quite literally the Boss, I psyched myself up, took a sip of what one would hope was world peace-winning water for its price and obtained a level of focus I once thought impossible.
Potting two from the break, I went on to play the finest frame of my life; a performance filled with heart and unintentionally brilliant safety shots. After potting the black and shaking hands with Mr Golden, my ego was flattered with an offer of a spot on the team if any official member couldn’t make it. Chest puffed out, I accepted the offer of a best of three contest. What followed was a massacre, as my fragile confidence was stamped on by the hustling fin of a true Pool Shark. Maybe it’s not quite as easy as the players make it look after all.
Balls were sunk in every pocket with seemingly embarrassing ease, as each and every frame included at least one shot that would drive us mere mortals wild if we were to make it.
This incredible standard continued throughout, as Warwick stormed into an early 16-12 lead in the first two rounds of singles matches. In the doubles, Warwick initially held on to maintain a 19-16 advantage, but by the end of the second round the score was tied at 21 apiece with everything still to play for. The format was a spectator’s dream, as I was able to drift around the tables and survey the sporting talent at all seven, or become fully engrossed in the drama of a single table. Balls were sunk in every pocket with seemingly embarrassing ease, as each and every frame included at least one shot that would drive us mere mortals wild if we were to make it.
From here Coventry took the initiative and, whilst the score remained close right until the end, looked up for this streamlined Varsity tournament. Whether these first two points will be crucial to the outcome of the tournament as a whole remains to be seen, but what is certain is that Coventry have made a real statement of intent for the week to come.