Tournament accounts from the players who attend them.

First of all we must mention the venue. A fabulous historic hall that provided the grandest of settings for the weekend’s play. The Dolphin centre staff were always at hand and very helpful with any requests or issues we had. We were looking for the best venue in a central location that would showcase Darlington to potential visitors and I think we managed to achieve that. The facilities and service were excellent and we were even provided with our own private snack kiosk in the corner. Also we were treated to another fantastic welcome speech from our Darlington MC Steve Rose.

One major success of the tournament was the beginner turnout. We had a real push pre-tournament to recruit as many locals as we could. I think we had over fifty players who all registered as BFA members on the day. The beginner’s doubles was the highlight and was run as a World Cup format with each team being allocated a country. It was really competitive but most importantly, great fun. Who would have thought that Gibraltar would beat Jamaica in the final? We made a big fuss of the finalists with walkout music, announcements etc, and their bizarre over the top celebration on scoring the winning goal summed up their enjoyment of the day. Maybe the crate of lager as an extra prize helped with that!

In the serious stuff we had some good results. A particular highlight was Danny Warr, aged 10, winning beginner singles. Even more impressive he beat Eliza Kilian in the final who won both Women’s and Amateur Singles. There were also the usual wins for Alice Warr in Junior Singles and Alice & Sophie in Junior Doubles. Matty & Alice also managed to win Mixed Doubles, double dipping Rich Marsh and Donna Walker in the final after having lost earlier to them.

The icing on the cake was the victory for Callum Oakes in Open Singles. Matty and Callum were pitted against each other early on in the winner’s side with Matty prevailing. This turned out to be the only time Callum lost a singles game all day. He came back through the loser’s side beating Eddie Edwards, Mike Amsden, Matty again and Steve Lyall before meeting Rich Marsh in the final. The battle of the backwards baseball caps.

The first set was ridiculously close with Rich having several match points but Callum managed to hang on for the 3-2 win. The second set went Callum’s way 3-1 to finish the tournament in style with a home win.

One particularly unique feature of the weekend was having a film crew in attendance. We were joined by James and his group of film students from Northumbria University who recorded the action mixed with player interviews, features etc. They also filmed the whole OS final. Their aim is to do some follow up stuff and produce a documentary about the sport, so we wait excitedly to see what they can produce.

So overall we were very happy with the way the tournament went. We were working with a tight time schedule so some game formats had to be tinkered with, but we got finished well within time and all the tables were put up and taken down without any assistance needed from the travelling players. Hopefully everybody enjoyed their trip to Darlington and we’ll do it all again next year!

All at Darlington TFC

Everyone in Manchester seems to be continually surprised that I like to play on Bonzini.

I learned how to play in Gallargues-le-Monteuex in France when I was a kid. I got a lot of my style in the early days from a French lad from the 94, Paris, called Nicolas who shot a really good front pin for a left-hander. His upper body would spring back out of the shot as he executed it, which seemed absolutely necessary for him to get the power he needed. Me and my partner, Adam, who now runs the Cern Table Football Club in Geneva, would sweat like f*ck under the bright lights as we played until the bar shut. Sometimes we’d win, sometimes Nicolas and Philippe would take the honours and we’d always sit and drink beers and smoke cheap hash for ages.

Me and Adam lived in student-land for a bit and were always a bit baffled by this gnarly old Garlando with the blocky feet. We used to grease the bars with crisp packets and we realised we’d have to adapt a little so we did and we trained up a few interested students a bit. Everyone had nicknames and all that and it was loads of fun.

I got a job at Ticketmaster and persuaded them to invest in a B-90. We had a little crew there that played all the time, me and my boss Lee would pause from listening to phone calls to ask the question: ‘Game?’ and we’d put our headsets down and head to the canteen. We took the piss but the call of the table was irresistible.

One day Adam gave me a shout “there’s a Bonz for sale in Kent”. Adam’s first table. We went to Salford Van Hire and drove to Gravesend. I think the Stadium cost Adam £700 plus the mad drive and all that but we’d have done anything to get our hands on a Bonzini.

Eventually I got my own table off ebay. My mate Alex had a work van but this time we only had to drive to Altrincham or somewhere near there. The kids had grown up or whatever but I never will. Had it in a houseshare for a bit. To justify it, I had to get rid of my beautiful reed organ that I wrote my only hit on but it was worth it. I’d never been so excited about anything in all my life.

After a couple of house moves, I realised that there’s nothing particularly exciting about having nobody to play against so I was forced to open Man Bites Frog, to accommodate the table and open some doors.

I’d met George Eid during the short-lived Fireball Boom but now I started to play him all the time. We established the Foosball Quarter in Chorlton. A Bonzini and a Tornado book-end the liveliest part of Chorlton and I’ve never looked back. Getting the ITSF B-60 kicked things on a bit too.

George couldn’t be persuaded to travel to Copenhagen but James Clayson is a good player with as much history and love for the game as me and he was mad keen. He had to work, so he’d only make it for the doubles.

My alarm went off at 4.30am on Thursday. Typically, I went out and got smashed and I think I got to bed at about 1am so I was knackered but well-excited and dragged myself to the airport. By the time I got to Copenhagen at 10.30 I still had almost 8 hours until the club opened. I’d contacted Amalie Bremer who’d been really kind and helpful and she’d suggested I come down to the club to meet everyone and get warmed up before the tournament. First game I played I just lost my shit really. This decent guy called Peter who said he didn’t really play anymore just totally destroyed me. I was a bit shaky and vaguely desolate and called George for a pep-talk. “You’ve got to change your defence mate”. Following a 30 second conversation I was back on the table and kicked some arse for a few games. Met a whole bunch of lovely people that evening and I felt really welcome and ready for the competition.

The Swiss Elimination makes for a really nice kind of tournament, where you seem to get sweet confidence boosts at the appropriate times. I could have done better on the whole but I beat some decent players and gave a good account of myself. A lot of people came joint 33rd I think but out of 68 players I’m happy with that!

The DYP was loads of fun. The guy I was playing with had a good snake shot and once his invincibility up front wore off we swapped and it worked.

The less said about the doubles the better really. James was flying out on the Saturday morning so we were cutting it fine. Looking back, the most exciting part was wondering if he would make it to the event on time. I’d been there for two days already and I filled him in on everything but I just didn’t play well. He came in, cold, and played so well at the back but I just couldn’t score, against anyone. I don’t think I’d ever played so much before and maybe I was tired or something but nothing was working for me. The low point was getting beat for the 4th match on the bounce by two girls who we certainly should have beaten. They were so buzzing when they won that it was impossible to be that upset but we really were.

I felt gutted to let my partner down, I’ve never really felt so responsible before. We played better as we went on but in the end were beaten by two identical young lads who were among the nicest people we met and we were sort of chuffed for them.

Copenhagen is a top town. I went there with my girlfriend last year and we spent so much money but this time, plugged into foosball, it was totally affordable. The bars at the club and at the venue were run by volunteers (everyone was having a go) so the beers were cheap and I found a place near my apartment which was a mad locals bar. The owner, Alan, was really friendly and said I could come in early for breakfast, which he then refused to charge me for. The Danish guys in there were all drunk at 8am, somehow, and all interested in what I was doing in Copenhagen. I just assumed that everyone in Denmark would know about the Danish Open but obviously that’s not the case!

David Cleall-Hill and James Clayson

Anyway, all in all an amazing experience. We met so many super-sound people and everyone was interested in what we were doing there, just seemed to appreciate that we’d come all the way from England to play in their tournament.

A few people had strongly advised me to go to Coventry and I ignored this advice because I love going to other countries and seeing what’s going on, life is short isn’t it? There were only two British players there and I’m so glad that we made the trip. Maybe Coventry was a total hoot but Copenhagen felt like a magical experience and I could only justify one or the other.

I was sitting round a table with a few people on our last night and they were talking about being disappointed with how they’d done or whatever and I remembered about why we fall in love with this game and it’s because you have those perfect moments with the right four people on a table at the right time where the game is the most perfect and pure and the most fun and it matters who wins but it doesn’t because everyone is in full swing playing the greatest game of their life and it’s romantic and should be on a postcard in sepia. That’s what I fell in love with, in France when I was growing up, so Bonzini will always be special for me.

George thinks I need to get it out of my system a bit and he’s right. A lot of people in Copenhagen played the same, either snake or pin shots and they couldn’t deal well with a push, a pull or a pull kick for example. So, now I’m going to do my damnedest to learn how to play some shots on other tables a bit. I hate playing getting beat when I can hold my own on a Bonz so I’m going to work really hard on that and actually listen to people instead of being stubborn and set in my ways. I’m up for getting my arse kicked anywhere really as long as it’s a laugh and the people are sound.

Anyway, Chorlton Table Football Club meets sporadically but if you’re in Manchester give us a shout, I can get a few heads together for a game x

David Cleall-Hill

So here is my afterglow for the Tornado Worlds:

First of all I had the exact same partners last year.

Last years results:
OD – 3rd with Tommy
OS – 5th
OM – 2nd with Midori

Going into the tournament I didn’t have any Tornado practice, you can mess around with the ball at home but it doesn’t replicate actually playing against someone.

I have good chemistry with both partners so was happy to be doing it again this year.

Mixed was the first event, I let Midori play front in the first match as it was against a team we have never seen and she is a forward normally… we lose the first game and decide to switch, killed them 5-0 but in the last they got 4 lucky ones and beat us on match ball, so it wasn’t the best start.

So we decide to start drinking and go on a fun run through the losers bracket!! The more we drank the better we played (well it felt like that to me ?) we had 1 match I think at 9th place against Li Liem a pro player, they had us down 1-0 and 4-2
In the 2nd game but we came back and won on match ball.. we also won match ball against Paul & Hannah Smith and against Tracy McMillan/Jackie Han.

I was shooting pull kicks and tic tacs that whole day and it was working a treat. So we finished the day at 4th place and our next match would be against Todd/Kristin at noon the next day.

We beat that team last year in the same spot, this time round it was a similar outcome, the only difference is I had to shoot a pin shot as it was too early to do any fancy shots as I didn’t have the right feeling (hungover) but I scored nearly every time, won 5-1 in the last game.

Next up was Tony Spredeman and Ellen Moon, Last year they beat us in the winners bracket and the final, he scores really good on Midori so we knew we he had our work cut out. We stole the 1st 5-4 after being down 4-2, lost the next 5-3 and then lost 5-4 match ball in the last game, He closed it well.

They went on to Lose the final to Ryan and Lynda Ly. So a podium finish in the first event wasn’t the worst start after losing the first round in the winners, I was playing decent and knew I would get better over time.

OS started and I noticed my bracket opened up nicely so I decided to really try this year, that sounds shitty but normally OD gets my full attention and singles takes a back seat. my plan was to shoot a pin shot every match until I need to use my snake, I got through my first 2 very comfortably… my first tough match was in the last 16 against Scott Ohare from Tampa (pro doubles world champion) he has a really fast pull shot and a tic tac series on the 5. He started out playing great and I was a bit lazy while working him out so I lost the first game, I step up and win game 2 but it was close still, I made huge adjustments game 3 and 4 and won in 4 close games.

I then had to play Kevin Romero who’s a very talented/fast player out of Costa Rica, i killed him in 3 games, he scored 5/6 points in total, so I’m sitting in 5th place and see my next match is against either Ryan Moore or Brandon Moreland, Brandon beat him in 5 games so I was slightly surprised. I have only played him once before about 10 years ago and beat him and noticed he hasn’t played much in the last few years, I was still confident.

I played awfully bad against him, I was dropping passes, rushing my shots, he was consistent and better on every rod than me in this match, he won 3-1, off to the losers bracket I go and I was done for the day at that point.

So I wake up Sunday feeling energised, put some positive music on and checked the payouts to remind me about what I can win.
I have to play my first losers match against Nathan Winter, he stopped touring about 9 years ago and came back.. he used to give a lot of top players problems back then so I took him seriously.

1st game I was up 4-2 and had 3 shots to win but lost.
2nd game I was up 3-1 and had shots on 4-4 but lost again.. he got on my pin shot and was blocking it well. So at this point he is just pot shooting, not really looking at my D on the 5 or 3 so I’m guessing with him, I should really be 2 games up and not the other way round. So I wasn’t overly worried as I knew I just needed to convert the opportunities as I feel I’m playing better than him.

So it was time to bring out the snake shot, I win game 3 5-1, game 4 I win 5-2 and then in the 5th game 5-3, I didn’t miss a single snake shot.. so now I’m at 4th place, an extra $200 in my pocket as the payouts from 5th upwards are:
5th 800
4th 1000
3rd 1500
2nd 2500
1st 5000

I knew from this point every match is worth 500 more and upwards.

I have to play Blake Robertson next at 4th place to 3rd, he beat me last year in the 5th game and has been the best doubles player this year on the tour so I know he’s playing well. I stepped up my game and in a fast match I won 3-0. 5-1, 5-3, 5-2. I could see he wasn’t that sharp so I jumped on him early and didn’t give him a chance to breathe in this match.

Now I want revenge on Brandon, as he lost to Tony in the WBF. Ryan was put out by Tracy, Blake beat Tracy then lost to me.
Todd, Mares, Tommy, Terry, Tommy Yore all lost around 9/12th.
I play Brandon with energy and won 5-0 in the first game, after that I felt my wrist tense and lock up and was unable to do any wall passes with any sort of authority, he worked that out quickly and shut down my 5, out scrapped me and won 3-1 again. So 3rd place an improvement on last year but worse than my 2nd in Vegas.. I can’t complain.

So OD finally starts late on Sunday, our plan before the tournament was for Tommy to play forward until we get to 5th place and then for me to take over after that. The reason for this is because his 5 bar defence is so effective against nearly all the players bar 3/4 and he’s a bully/intimidating player to play against.

This was working fine the first 2/3 games and then we played Paul Smith/Erik Hueltner in the WB 1/4 final (9th-5th) Paul was living with the ball and passed nearly every time but I started out blocking well and we won the first game, in the 2nd paul continued his good play and got on a mini run against me and Erik was blocking tommy good, they won the 2nd game and then immediately went up 2-0 in the 3rd game, I could sense danger at this point but we got lucky as Tommy’s bumper broke so we called table maintenance and it took them nearly 1 hour to come and fix it, it couldn’t of come at a better time as they had the momentum.

We return and make it 2-1 and then I go on and lock down Paul’s shot, I was baiting for just the right amount of time and was keying in when he was shooting, someone said I blocked 8/9 in a row and he has one of the best snakes on tour. We win the next 2 games 5-4 to take the match in 4 games, Tommy closed the games like a champ.

So Sunday is over and we expect to play Brandon and Blake next as they are in our bracket but found out that a pro team shocked them and won against them 8-7 in the 5th. So the draw opened up for us like it did in singles.

Monday at noon we play against Dewey Culpepper and his partner, I could see they were nervous and told Tommy to put the heat on them right away, he did just that, we won 3-0 in a matter of minutes!! Winners final here we go!

We have to play the winner of Ryan/Bobby and Dave Gummeson/Tracy, both teams are multi times world champs so it will be tough either way and our first top (as in top 3/4) team to play. Ryan And Diaz win in 3 games so it’s a repeat of last years winners bracket final (which they won 5-4 in the 4th game last year against us).

I wanted to play goalie as my left hand still didn’t feel good and Tommy was playing like a man possessed.

I had a plan going into this game and I was very confident we could win. My plan was to use a stationary bank series to clear the ball to Bobby Diaz and limit turn overs and mistakes, so the only way Ryan gets a 3 bar possession is from his 5 bar passing and nothing else.

Tommy is really good at shutting Diaz down from his 2 bar and getting the occasional stuff and turnover, so we use the phrase ‘kick it to dio’ and he will then give Tommy the ball.

The series went just as planned. We won game 1, lost game 2, Won game 3 and at this stage I blocked Ryan’s snake 6/7 times in a row and he didn’t even score 1 in the 3rd game. I felt really comfortable defending everyone all weekend.

In game 4 he switched to a pull shot, I blocked a couple but then he scored 3 in a row and Tommy wasn’t getting opportunities so they lead 3-0 in game 4. In my head this 4th game is over so I let Ryan score 2 middles against me on purpose as I had a plan for the 5th game. Tommy also did a couple of push sides on Diaz to keep him on that side of the goal for the 5th game, this was all just a plan to win the last.

Tommy scores the first point, Ryan immediately gets it and tries the same shot which I have 2 men on and block and I smoke a bank to make it 2-0. I block again, hit a bank and Tommy picks it up and drills a pull side.. the game was over in 2-3 mins a 5-1 in the last game to take us to the final! ? Clay Tumney did the stats, Ryan was only scoring under 40%, Tommy a bit less but he had a lot more shots. I cleared the ball 80% (which is unheard of) I actually got the ball back on the ones I didn’t so no turnovers, Bobby only cleared 50% so the idea to pick on him worked perfectly, I scored 4 banks in the match too. There was a lot of shit talking going on between Tommy and Bobby as they are both the best of it so for comedy value alone it’s worth a watch.

picture by Scott Hale

So we are waiting for the final, Blake and Brandon play Ryan and Bobby to get to us, I went to my room for a while to rest, I come down after about an hour. The losers’ bracket final is a thriller, Bobby is blocking Blake really good but he keeps getting the ball… They are leading 2-1 and has the ball in the 4th game to win but Ryan steals it and makes a clutch play to send it to game 5. There were a lot of momentum swings in game 5 but Ryan/Bobby won 8-6 in the 5th game after Bobby blocked a lot of shots! I didn’t really care who we played as I would lose nervous energy investing myself in one of the teams, I was just trying to scout and see what each player was doing on big points (1st ball, 3-3 and 4-4)

This was only my 2nd Open Doubles final at the Tornado Worlds after losing with Joe in 2013, that year we won the winners bracket too but got the sad Rob Davey news literally just before the final so it was difficult to play our best game. We got double dipped that year to Tony and Rob Mares. I have been 3rd every year since then with different partners.

I was calmly confident going in and was really focused on doing my job, I knew I was blocking well, they used a different zone in the finals but I was still effective. I was mixing it up a bit more though offensively.

We come out hot, Ryan starts with his pull shot series which I thought he would. I started blocking a few, tommy is scoring great and we win the first 5-2 I think… a great start to the final, Ryan then steps it up and dominates the 2nd game, Bobby starts blocking a bit better, all the crowd are on our side and cheering after every ball…. the atmosphere was electric as everyone that was in the room was watching the final.

1-1 and we are down 4-2 and i pull a defensive switch as Ryan was getting in a rhythm with his pull, we get some blocks and I made a couple of snakes with a slop to win and steal that game which was huge! So we are 1 game away from being the Tornado World Champs, game 4 is quite tight but they win 5-3 and then in game 5 Ryan steals 2 passes and immediately it’s 2-0, Bobby scores his only point next and the next thing is we lost 5-0 in the 5th… I didn’t block enough and Tommy stopped scoring.

I said if we do end up losing the first match we take as longer break as possible to regroup, I think I took over 45 mins.

I’m still confident and believe we can win, they are the best team in the world over the last 5 years so aren’t gonna cave in and hand it to us.

The crowd gets hyped up again and we start the 2nd match, They quickly lead 3-0, Tommy then puts me up front, the only time in the whole tournament that I’ve played front and it’s in the toughest scenario you can imagine.

I come out and make it 3-1, tommy starts blocking Ryan now and I score a few and it’s 4-4, then I block one of Diaz’s shots into his goal to steal game 1, I didn’t miss a shot. I didn’t have many 5 man possessions so wasn’t sure yet how it is.

Game 2 we defensively shut them down between us, we got a couple breaks and I was scoring when I got it and we win 5-1!
Suddenly we are 2-0 up in the final match!! This is when it got harder, Ryan was taking more time, went to his snake shot and was scoring well on tommy, my 5 bar dried up and they dominate game 3, they started well in game 4 too, my wrist was still locked up so was struggling with anything offensively and Bobby started blocking now too, you could see the momentum shift from a mile away so it’s now 2-2 in games, I take the full time to come up with a 5 bar series for game 5, I found one ?

I pass and score 1-0, I switch with Tommy, block Ryan, clear it to Tommy, he takes a time out and I score it again! 2-0, switch again, tommy blocks his 5 but he gets it again and rags it through to his 3 bar, Ryan scores 2-1, I pass again but Bobby blocks, shoots and it goes off a guy and scraps in… 2-2. I had another shot at 2-2 but missed, Ryan gets it and scores. I had chances in the last game but missed them.. they win 5-3 in the last game. I’ll tell you 1 thing, you can practice every day forever but nothing will prepare you for the pressure you feel in those moments, I’m normally calm under pressure but this time it got to me and they were better when it mattered.. full credit to them on how they raised their game when their back was against the wall. I was gutted for a while after and still am as I feel I missed a great opportunity to win the biggest/most prestigious doubles event in the world. I’ll watch it back and see where I messed up but I know if my left arm was anything like it is normally I could of had 1 or 2 world titles as it let me down in singles and in the doubles final. I know next time I’ll be better mentally as I’ll draw on the experience of this time!

My final payouts were:
$1500 in singles
$2500 each in doubles
$150 each in mixed.
$4150 total.

I’m satisfied with the results as I wasn’t well practised and they are combined my best showings at worlds. In Vegas this year I was 2nd in OS and OD in a larger field but it wasn’t the worlds. It just shows that if I did dedicate some time and put some hours in then I can win over there and cause anyone problems.

I asked Mary and there were just shy of 500 players, payouts were deeper (down to 32nd $200 in OS and 400 in OD).

We found out the Costa Ricans are a force to be reckoned with, really skilled and fast paced players. A good atmosphere and a well ran tournament, events weren’t starting till noon so you could sleep in which was great!

If you have read all of this then well done, book a flight and go to the HOFC in March next year for the next big tornado event..it is by a country mile the best table out there for developing your game/skills and has the highest level of competition.

Cheers

Rob

Arriving at our hotel in Varna mid afternoon on Friday after a lengthy car journey through Eastern Europe, the Brits among us were a little anxious, not really knowing what to expect from one of Bulgaria’s lesser known tourist destinations. Our contacts in the foos world had explained Varna as a beach holiday with cheap drinks, tasty food options, friendly players, and a tournament on the side. That turned out to be a great description!

The venue itself was an outdoor covered area just offset from a major walkway towards the beach. There were 8 competition tables (4 Roberto and 4 Fireball) roped off for spectating, plus a 16 player Bobby Sport and a couple of other tables which were constantly in use by the public. There were a multitude of areas to sit, chat, drink and enjoy the sun, helping to create the best atmosphere at a tournament I’ve ever experienced.

Sparing you the granular details of the matches themselves – results were pretty solid for the UK players. Andrei & Steve won the Friday and Saturday night DYPs respectively, and I took 2nd in Mixed Doubles with Kati on the Friday night.

But the big one – Steve and I snagged 1st in OD! Following a relatively straightforward route to the final against a few players who would arguably be pro in the UK rankings (the Bulgarian/Romanian scene is getting better rapidly), we naturally faced our biggest test to lock up 1st. The final was a true multi-table affair. We lost the two Roberto Sport legs 4-5 after fighting back to have shots to win in both, then won both fireball legs a little more comfortably (albeit they were a grind). Moving into the 5th set, Steve turned into a wall at the back, and we took advantage of a couple of little errors to finish it off. Football may be coming home after all!

The only event missing from that summary is Open Singles… It started fantastically for all 3 of us, qualifying at or near the top of the leaderboard. Then the same player (Biserov) took us each down in turn in exceptionally close matches. I had a ball to win my semi-final at 7-7 in the fifth, but blew the chance and then capitulated in the playoff to finish 4th . Not a terrible result, but it was there for the taking for any of us!

That’s almost enough rambling from me… so I’ll leave you with some highs and lows to sum up the social side:

Highs

– A restaurant called “Happy” that became the go to place for every meal
– Takeaway chicken wraps
– Matching sloth-themed team shirts
– Drinks costing almost nothing as a Londoner
– Evening & night beach parties
– A genuinely friendly social group
– The Romania/Bulgaria international friendly penalty shootout

Lows

– Being eaten to death by flies during the games. My legs were on fire. Timeouts for slapping happened more than a few times. Bonus high point: Causing fits of laughter during the OD final when a fly attached itself to my leg for close to 4 minutes without being shaken off.
– Table quality and variation – the Fireballs especially didn’t seem level but this is nit-picking
– Having such a good time you forget to sleep

WORLD CUP 2015 Team GB Men’s Afterglow

WORLD CUP 2015 Team GB Women’s Afterglow

WORLD CUP 2015 Team GB Seniors’ Afterglow

WORLD CUP 2015 Team GB Juniors’ Afterglow