Flashback: Lancashire Seniors win 2019 National Finals!

However, as the event approached, fate dealt a further blow to the Lancashire team. Three of their key players, including the influential IPA professional Lee Clough, were unable to make it due to work commitments. The absence of Captain Dean Donohue, who had to stay back to take care of the kids when his partner received an invitation to the event with the Lancashire ladies team, added to the challenges.
With their lineup significantly depleted, the team's expectations were modest as they set off for Rhyl. Vice-captain Dave Mercer stepped up to fill the void, and the team vowed to make the best of the situation and compete against the nation's best.

In a stunning display of skill and determination, the Lancashire Seniors Blackball pool team defied all odds to claim victory in the national county final championships. Against all expectations, the team managed to secure the coveted title even without three of their regular players.

The road to glory was not without its challenges. Originally scheduled for March, the finals faced an unfortunate setback when the designated venue, Pontins Brean Sands, had to be closed due to a roof collapse. The English Blackball Pool Federation (EBPF) faced the daunting task of finding an alternative venue, ultimately settling on Lyons Robin Hood in Rhyl for the rescheduled event in October.

In the group phase, Lancashire showed their mettle with a convincing 11-6 victory over Oxfordshire. The team's performance was a mixed bag during the group games, securing wins against Worcester, Cheshire, and an outstanding 11-1 triumph against Derbyshire. Unfortunately, they faced defeats against East London, Bristol, and Teeside, barely managing to qualify for the knockout phase, securing the fourth spot.

The Quarter-finals presented a formidable challenge as Lancashire faced unbeaten and highly fancied Nottinghamshire. Determined to rise to the occasion, the players delivered a stellar performance, with Gary Nicholson holding his nerve to seal a nail-biting victory in the final frame decider, propelling the team to the semi-finals.

Buoyed by their success, Lancashire met Essex in the semi-final, a match that followed a similar pattern of intense competition. Building a strong lead early on, Lancashire seemed poised for victory, but Essex fought back, leveling the game at 10-10, setting the stage for yet another final frame decider. Once again, it was Gary Nicholson who stepped up with nerves of steel, securing a brilliant finish to grant Lancashire another remarkable triumph and a spot in the final.

The final showdown pitted Lancashire against a highly talented and confident East London side that had previously defeated them in the group stage. Lancashire, however, had different plans and surged into a 6-2 lead, fueling hopes of a dream victory. Despite East London's attempts to make a comeback, Lancashire maintained their composure, halting their fightback at 8-8, with Scott Wall and Adam Girt claiming crucial frames to put their team ahead at 10-8.

With Howard McGill and Dave Mercer at their respective tables, and Gary Nicholson on standby, the tension in the room was palpable. Howard seized his opportunity and skillfully secured the decisive frame, leading Lancashire to a resounding 11-8 win and an unforgettable championship victory!

The Lancashire Seniors Blackball pool team's triumphant journey in the national county final championships will be etched in the annals of the sport's history. Their ability to overcome adversity and emerge victorious without key players demonstrates the true spirit of teamwork and passion for the game. As celebrations begin, the Lancashire team's achievement will undoubtedly inspire future generations of pool players to aim for greatness against all odds.

Author: Dave Mercer (Captain and Player)