Newcastle Open Snooker Championship in second year

Long running BBC television series Pot Black, the King Street-based Strokers Pool Hall and Merewether-born champion Eddie Charlton.

LIMELIGHT: Merewether 44-year-old Steve Briant is one of the players behind the Newcastle Open Snooker Championship. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

LIMELIGHT: Merewether 44-year-old Steve Briant is one of the players behind the Newcastle Open Snooker Championship. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

They are some of the fondest memories of the once popular indoor sports pursuit, but Steve Briant believes there is still a “heartbeat” here in the Hunter which will be showcased at this weekend’s Newcastle Open Snooker Championship.

With $3000 woth of prizemoney up for grabs the event, resurrected only last year, will attract 48 of the region’s and state’s best players to Belmont 16s and Wangi Workers over two days of knockout competition.

This includes Mayfield’s Luke Green, Kahibah’s Grant Schubert and Wangi Wangi’s Nick Waymouth as well as former Welsh under-21 champion and tournament favourite Michael Cosh, who will travel down form Coffs Harbour. The title holder is Mayfield’s Rob Elsley.

“It will be the largest gathering of snooker players in Newcastle for a generation,” Briant said.

The event organiser, keen player and Newcastle District Billiards and Snooker Association (NDBSA) committee member said it was all part of the larger plan to provide the sport with a long-term future in the area.

LIMELIGHT: Merewether 44-year-old Steve Briant is one of the players behind the Newcastle Open Snooker Championship. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

LIMELIGHT: Merewether 44-year-old Steve Briant is one of the players behind the Newcastle Open Snooker Championship. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

It follows a tough two-year period for the association with a 40 percent loss of tables because of club closures, but the Merewether 44-year-old remains defiant in the face of adversity.

Briant, who grew up with the game in England playing at the same Cambridge club where Australian world champion Neil Robertson is now based, said the biggest challenge in the Hunter was finances and finding a suitable headquarters.

“The Newcastle committee is working hard to retain our sport for the future generation,” he said. 

“We are pursuing options to provide a stand alone snooker club so we will no longer be at the mercy of and follow the demise of a mother RSL or bowling club.”

One of those sites targets squarely in their sights is the closed down District Park facility of Newcastle District Tennis Association at Broadmeadow.

“Just the snooker club part reopens next week with former UK national coach John Govan holding sessions for any interested players,” Briant said.

The Newcastle Open Snooker Championship gets underway at 10am both days with only Belmont in use for final matches on Sunday.

The NDBSA is also running a 2016-2017 summer league with a five-man handicap format on a Wednesday night.

Cessnock Ex-Services Club recently claimed a third straight Premier League minor-major title double in the team scratch section.