Derby Day 2014 will go down as a memorable day, not only for those involved competitively, but for spectators who followed the event, be it in person or via the extensive online coverage provided by UEA’s media societies.

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Photo: Will Cockram

Derby Day has taken place annually since 2001, and the 2014 contest was undoubtedly the closest encounter between UEA and the University of Essex. Since 2005, the home team has traditionally strolled to victory and the last away win occurred in 2004 when UEA beat Essex in Colchester. Organisers decided to move the competition to a Sunday in the hope that it would yield a more closely contested event and their epiphany did not disappoint.

It was clear that Derby Day 2014 was going to be different from recent years as UEA put up much more of a fight to the home team. As blows were traded throughout the day, Essex took first blood with a dominant win in the Futsal, but UEA fought back by recording victories in Women’s Lacrosse, Korfball, Ultimate Frisbee, Men’s Table Tennis and American Football to name but a few. Indeed, it appeared that UEA were easing toward victory only for Essex to pounce back and narrow the gap by emerging victorious in Men’s and Women’s Athletics, Women’s Hockey, Men’s Squash and Women’s Tennis, amongst others. Essex took the lead early into the evening, but grit and determination from both of UEA’s Netball teams and Waterpolo meant that the overall victory would be decided by the ongoing contest at the Pool tables.

The rest, as they say, is history. As UEA students sat on the edge of their seats and tweeted in their masses to ensure that #DerbyDay2014 trended nationwide alongside Match of the Day and The Only Way Is Essex (the irony), pool team member Josh Edwards, now affectionately known as ‘Eddy from Pool’, kept his cool to clinch an overall victory for UEA.

Speaking to Eddy and his captain Nikolas Charalambous, Concrete discovered that Eddy was aware of the situation before he entered the frame said that he wanted to take ‘the opportunity to get a bit of glory’ . Eddy also notes that ‘The atmosphere was great, the football team came down, that made things really brilliant. We got a lot of support from them.’ Nik agreed, and said that he’d ‘never played in a tournament where you’ve got three bouncers between the pool tables. It was almost like a home and away fan base. Like a football ground.’ When quizzed on whether he enjoyed playing under the pressure, Eddy mentioned that he was ‘surprised’ that he thrived in the situation; ‘I thought it would put a lot more pressure on me than I could handle.’

Nik, who won five out of the six frames he played, hopes that the Derby Day win can serve as a catalyst for growth of the Pool club, particularly given that clinching the victory for UEA at Derby Day was merely the tip of the iceberg of a highly successful season. Indeed, the club reached the final of the BUCS Pool championships and it was there that they experienced the most pressure they’d been under all season, having won two tiebreakers in two playoffs to reach the final. At Derby Day, Eddy ‘knew someone else could win it if I had lost so it was a win or win later situation.’

Additionally, this season marked the first time in over 10 years that the UEA Pool club had sent somebody to the BUCS snooker tournament. Nik’s illustrious background in snooker, where he ranked 7th in the country for under 21s players, helped him on his way to reaching the BUCS final, only to lose narrowly. However, given that the tournament saw 128 players take part, finishing in the top two is a fantastic achievement for Nik and the club.

With it costing just £10 to join the club, Eddy and Nik encourage even those with a small interest in the game getting involved given the ‘big mix’ of ability present already. At the end of the day ‘anybody can win’ in pool. ‘It’s eight balls. That’s all it is.’