World snooker champion Mark Selby is a hit in Stourbridge
Mark Selby proved a class act on and off the table as he gave Black Country snooker fans a night they will never forget.
The reigning world champion checked in at the Stourbridge Institute and Social Club for a series of exhibition matches.
And he lived in to his star billing by rolling in a maximum 147 break during a stunning performance.
The Leicester cueman played 10 frames against a number of club players and two raffle winners and also knocked in a further three centuries.
Local snooker league stalwart Kevin Franklin, who helped organise the event, almost stole the headlines in the final frame of the evening when he lost on the black.
“He fluked the brown,” joked Franklin. “I had a 50 break and then missed the last red and Mark cleared the last four colours to win.
“But I will take that, being beaten by the world No.1 and world champion on the black!
“I was just happy to pot a few balls, especially as he had rolled in a maximum in the previous frame.”
Selby started the night in sparkling form when, after seeing Pete Gibbons break off, he stepped in to bag a classy 132 – just missing out on a total clearance when he missed the final black.
“Mark arrived around 6.30pm and met a few people and then played his first game,” said Franklin.
“His opponent broke and then Mark stepped in and knocked in a 132 break, first poke! It was brilliant, but then he had two more centuries before his maximum. It was just amazing stuff.
“The spectators nearly lifted the roof off the place when he knocked the black in for his 147. There were people standing on chairs cheering, it was just a brilliant night.”
But while Selby’s potting skills drew plenty of plaudits, it was his all-round demeanour that really impressed Franklin.
“Mark was a class act, not just on the table but off it as well,” added Franklin. “I have known him since he was a youngster from the days when I used to play in the pro-ams and various competitions that were staged at Willie Thorne’s club in Leicester.
“Mark used to play there and he was a nice lad then and it’s great to see that he hasn’t changed. He is just such a lovely bloke.
“I have been to a lot of these exhibition nights and organised a fair few, but this was the best one by far.
“He had time for everyone and was still there around midnight signing autographs and having pictures taken.
“Initially he had been due to play eight frames but when he turned up he said he would do a bit of a question and answer session and play a couple extra frames if we wanted. He interacted with the crowd throughout the night and had some great one-liners.
“It’s only the second time I have seen a 147 live and funnily enough Mark was there on the other occasion as well.
“I was playing for the West Midlands Post Office in a competition at Willie Thorne’s club and my team-mate Martin Quinney knocked in a maximum, and Mark was there watching.
“That was the club where he used to practice and I can remember another time when we there just after I had won the Midland Amateur Championship and he came up to me, shook my hand and congratulated me. He must have only been about 12 at the time.
“Even then he was a class act and he hasn’t changed.”
“It was an absolutely brilliant night and one that everyone who was there will be talking about for years.”