The Mighty Ms came into the new season missing some key figures. The loss of Lee ‘Iceman’ Collins to the pool halls of Bath, and the vile treachery of Ben Green, crossing the city to close rivals Balliol, left gaps to be filled. The arrival of Victor Fedyashov, coupled with Ben Sampson’s long-awaited return to the team, more than evened the score, but the league season started in rocky fashion, as consecutive losses to the twin powerhouses of Balliol and Brasenose put us on the back foot. However, the team pulled together, aided by the call-up of ‘James’ Neuhaus, and some gritty performances helped us to a creditable fourth place in the league. A fine result, but we swore to make the Iceman proud by doing something that he never could – win Cuppers.
In the first match, the team once again showed their tenacity, overcoming an early 4-1 deficit to beat New 7-6 in a tie-break frame. From there, the momentum continued to build, and Merton romped to the semi-finals, dropping just 12 frames in their next five matches. There, a tough match away at Hertford saw neither team able to open up a lead, and the start of the 12th and deciding frame saw Merton ahead by a narrow 6-5 margin. Tensions were at breaking point, but a rapid clearance calmed fragile nerves and carried Merton to a final against league winners Balliol. We came into the match with a point to prove, having been thwarted by the same team at the same stage a year ago, and our drive was evident from the start. The early frames were close encounters, Merton edging some tight games, and as the match progressed, Balliol were unable to find an answer to a Merton team at the top of their game. When the dust settled, Merton were crowned victors by an incredible 7-0 scoreline.
Particular credit goes to Ben Sampson’s crowd-pleasing brand of champagne pool, which inspired his team-mates, confounded his opponents and amazed just about everyone in the Crown House Pool Club. He takes over as captain of the team next year, and his bombastic playing style and genial personality will make him a brilliant leader. Great things await for the Mighty Ms.
Ben Challen (2009)