In a historic battle at Wivenhoe, UEA claimed victory over Essex in Pool and in doing so crowned the away side victors of Derby Day 2014. The team headed into this fixture on the back of some great form – winning the BUCS pool championships in Great Yarmouth – and were determined to use that momentum to steer them to victory. Nobody could have predicted quite how much would be riding on the last event in Essex, as the expectant crowd huddling round the three pool tables were treated to a fitting climax to a brilliant day.
Both sides had six players competing each, with 36 frames to play for. Captain Nikolas Charalambous was consistently emphatic in his victories – only losing out once to an opponent and keeping his nerve to beat perhaps Essex’s strongest player by several pots. Even when news filtered through to the players that victory would clinch Derby Day, UEA players were unwavered as they maintained a steady lead against Essex throughout the tie. In the race to get to 19 frames, UEA were always comfortable.
Tim James, Daniel Winterbourne, Torr Cumming and Daniel Keeble were all valiant in the victories as each frame filled the travelling support with hope of a Derby Day win in Essex for the first time in 10 years. James was particularly impressive – losing once and winning four of his fixtures. But it was Josh Edwards who was the hero of the day. As the score was locked at 18-11 Edwards knew that a UEA win would not only win the frame, secure victory in the pool, but also have his University rejoicing a miraculous Derby Day win. With both players down to the last ball, Edwards kept his nerve to sink the black and immortalise his name into UEA folklore.
As news began to filter back to Norwich, captain Charalambous expressed how proud he was of every single member of his squad: “I know how much of a team we are and had no hesitation in knowing if we would win or not.”“The difference between us and Essex, I would say, is that ‘we play like it means nothing, when it means everything.’”UEA players were given the honour of lifting the Derby Day trophy, and how fitting a tribute that was given the strength in character they showed on the day – a perfect end to the perfect year for UEA Pool.