Local snooker player Richard Long will be hitting New York later this month to take part in the World Pool Series.
The 31-year-old received an early special Christmas present when offered a place in the competition, which will see over 100 of the world’s top pool players competing.
The founder of the competition is professional pool player Darren Appleton and the Englishman gave out 12 wild card places to play at the tournament, which takes place in the Steinway Billiards venue, in Astoria, from January 14-17, and yes you guessed it, the Waterside man was lucky enough to be invited.
“Darren is the founder of the tournament, I think he gave out a dozen wild card spots, but he wanted people to reply through their CV,” explained Long. “So I sent him an e-mail with my CV attached and 95 per cent of it was all snooker based, so I was shocked to get the invite,” admitted Long.
“I sent my e-mail around December 5th in the morning and that night I received word that I got a wild card - it was crazy.
“So massive thanks firstly to Simon Cooke for making me aware of this opportunity and to all my family and friends on Facebook.”
I sent my e-mail around December 5th in the morning and that night I received word that I got a wild card - it was crazy.Richard Long
Although he got a wild card, Long had to get his flights, accommodation and competition fee paid and the help from friends, family and major sponsor, the Donnelly Group, most of the money has been gathered up.
“The tournament fee and flights are paid for and a few friends are organising a snooker tournament and a few other things,” he added.
“Donnelly Group in Campsie are my main sponsor and I ran a few bonus balls, so friends and family have played a major part in me getting the money gathered up, however, in saying that if a business would like to sponsor me for the tournament, that would be great.
“Big thanks to DUP councillor Graham Warke for his assistance and trying multiple companies to get me a sponsor.
“Thanks to local cue sportsmen Phil McConomy and Paul Strawbridge for their encyclopaedia of knowledge and especially to Paul who’s offered me a practice table with him, which was very kind of him.”
With Christmas now done and dusted, Long, who is playing in the North West Premier Snooker League on a regular basis this season, is now looking to put in the hours on the pool table.
“Now that Christmas is over I’m going to practice quite a bit now, probably eight or 10 hours a day if I can,” he stated.
“There are a few boys who played in the Mosconi Cup for both Europe and America, who are taking part in New York and one of my favourite all time players Francisco Bustamante, so the standard is going to be unreal.
“Changing from snooker to pool is 100 per cent a different ball game and this eight pool format tends to be about the break-off and controlling the white ball.
“Good amateurs can clear the table most of the time and if you can’t reach that level then you aren’t going to be competing against these boys, so that’s what I’m going to be aiming to do. I’m not going to New York for all the sights, I’m definitely going to be pushing to take my best to New York as there’s an £80,000 prize pool, so there’s a lot of money involved in the competition.”