House of Commons Pool Tournament

Posted by HLD 22 NOVEMBER 2013

Lobby correspondent Rob Merrick was on unbeatable form as he became the 2013 Annie’s Bar Champion – without losing a game, beating Labour MP Simon Danczuk 3-0 (best of five) in the final. Danczuk became the beaten finalist for the second time.

The audience in the Palace of Westminster’s Churchill Room were treated to a night of high drama as many MPs – including semi-finalist Conservative MP Nigel Adams – were attending a reception at Buckingham Palace.


After Rob Merrick beat the champion, Labour MP Gregg McClymont, in two games (best of three), Master of Ceremonies Steve Pound announced that if Nigel Adams did not return in time to play his match, Simon Danczuk would be given a bye to the final. As the deadline neared, Conservative MP David Amess (a candidate for Deputy Speaker) volunteered to take Nigel Adams’ place.

The Master of Ceremonies asked Danczuk if he was prepared to reject the offer of a bye and take the challenge of a Member ‘who has never picked up a pool cue in his life’. Danczuk took up the challenge and quickly won the first game. He looked well ahead in the second and on the verge of victory when Adams burst through the doors and took over the frame from David Amess. Exhilarated by the dash from the Palace Adams played brilliantly to win the game and set up a thrilling final third frame. However, Danczuk recovered his composure and claimed his place in the Final.

There was to be no stopping Rob Merrick who stormed to a 3-0 final victory and a first prize of £1,500 to be donated to the charities of his choice.


All semi-finalists’ charities will share in the £3,000 prize money. Simon Danczuk won £750 as runner-up; and Nigel Adams and Gregg McClymont won £375 each. The £320 raised by entry fees was donated to the Journalists’ Charity. Details of the MPs’ charities will be published as soon as the cash has been donated.

Sponsors of the event, Rileys Bar Pool Snooker, the biggest operator of pool and snooker clubs in the UK, presented each semi-finalist with pool cues engraved with their names. Managing Director of Rileys, Maurice Kelly, said the event had now raised around £30,000 for charity – most of which had gone to MPs’ charities. He presented engraved Rileys pool cues to the people, he said, who had made the event possible – sponsor Jim Fitzpatrick, Master of Ceremonies Steve Pound, former sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe, and Commons organiser Rob Gibson of Gallery News.

Sponsoring MP Jim Fitpatrick paid tribute to Rileys for funding the event for since 2003. He said it had become one of the most popular events in the Parliamentary calendar. He thanked the organisers in the Commons, Rob Gibson of Gallery News; Law Officer Peter Brooksbank, Jim’s parliamentary assistant Debbie Fenn, the staff of Strangers’ Bar, Will Conway, Richard Pengelly and Barry Kavanagh for accepting entries and answering inquiries, and Deryc Sands, administrator of the Sports and Social Club where the early rounds were played.


Master of Ceremonies Steve Pound said the event would not have been held at all without the contribution of Lord (Dennis) Turner, who as Chairman of the Catering Committee was responsible for putting the pool table in the old Annie’s Bar in 2001.

Raffle prizes were presented by Shadow Sports Minister Clive Efford. The Lambert pool table, specially commissioned for the event with under rail lighting and printed cloth, was supplied by SAM Leisure of Coventry. The referee was Patricia Murphy and intermission entertainment was provided by trick shot artist Rico Diks.

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