Bourne-based pool ace Mark ‘Granite’ Gray came agonisingly close to being crowned a world champion on Sunday (September 27).
Gray, the 42-year-old resident professional at Bourne Snooker Club, partnered Daryl Peach to the final of the World Cup of Pool, a nine-ball competition screened live on Sky Sports.
Gray and Peach represented England B - as hosts they were allowed two teams in the competition - and they played beautifully before losing 10-8 in the final at York Hall, Bethnal Green, to Chinese Taipei. The winners had knocked defending champions England A out in the semi-finals.
Gray and Peach led 5-1 and 7-4 in the final, but missed good chances to extend their lead allowing their opponents to come back and pinch the trophy.
It was only Gray’s second appearance in the competition, He also partnered Peach to the final in 2008 when they lost to the USA.
England B beat Sweden 7-4, second seeds Phillipines 7-4, former world champions Finland 9-4 and Japan 9-7 on their way to the final
Gray said: “We played great to go 5-1 up in the final, but we messed up easy clearances that would have put us 7-2 up. From 7-4 the game seemed to slip away from us, but Chinese Taipei were pre-tournament favourites and had the current 9-ball and 10-ball world champion Ko Pin Yi in their team.
“I’m gutted to have lost, but reaching the final twice in two appearances is a great achievement.
“The result completes a decent month for me as I also reached the semi-finals of the World Pool Masters.”
The Masters is a 16-man invitational event held in Manchester and Gray beat world champ Ko Pin Yi 8-5 before delivering one of his best ever perforances to come back from 6-3 down to win 8-6 against German legend Ralf Souquet.
Gray won five frames in a row without missing a shot.
Unfortunately Gray was beaten 8-4 by fellow Englishman Darren Appleton in the semi-final. He found it hard to concentrate after hearing his young daughter had been taken to hospital.
Gray went out in the last 32 of the World Championships in Doha, Qatar earlier this month.
He beat opponents from Egypt and Singapore before again coming from behind (5-9) to beat Souquet 11-10.
Gray then lost 11-10 to world number six John Morra from Canada after leading 10-8.
This week (from September 30), Gray, who is ranked number two in Europe, plays in a Euro Tour event in Holland.