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Melling is talk of the town
Keighley’s Chris Melling has been overwhelmed by the reaction in his home town following his Mosconi Cup success.
The 33-year-old received the Most Valuable Player award as Europe beat the United States 11-9 in a thrilling clash at Bethnal Green.
Melling won three singles matches, including a crucial 5-2 triumph over Brandon Shuff in the penultimate game to stave off an American fightback.
And the world number 13 admits he has been swamped by congratulations since returning to Keighley.
He said: “I’ve had ‘well done’ messages from friends all over the world but the support I’ve had back in Keighley has been amazing.
“They were chanting my name when I went in the Royal Oak, singing ‘walking in a Melling wonderland!’.
“Keighley might have a bit of a bad reputation but not everything is bad.
“I’ve had between 500 and 1,000 messages of congratulations and, even now, when I walk into the bank or the phone shop, people keep coming up to me and saying ‘well done’.
“Someone even said on Twitter I should have been nominated for Sports Personality of the Year!”
Yet amid the euphoria of starring in Europe’s third successive cup triumph, Melling revealed he had also been mourning the death of a close friend and supporter from Keighley.
He wore a black armband during the match in tribute to Sue Reynard, who recently died from cancer, and pledged to donate his winners’ medal in her honour.
Leading 9-6 going into the final night, Europe were desperate for a win after America had won the first three games of the session to level at 9-9.
And Melling stepped up to the plate against Shuff, admitting he relished the pressure situation.
“I’ve always been a big-game player,” he said. “I am better when there is more pressure. A lot of players go the other way and can go to pieces in front of the cameras.
“Thankfully the basics of my game are good and I made sure I stayed down on my shots.”
Melling – labelled ‘box office’ by Matchroom Pool chief Barry Hearn – played one of the shots of the tournament in the final rack when, blocked behind the eight ball, he played a side rail kick-shot to pocket the six-ball in a move that brought the house down.
He said: “I knew I could hit it but it would be very hard to keep the white ball safe.
“Eighty out of 100 times, it probably wouldn’t come off so I was obviously delighted to do it.”
It was the second time Melling has played in the Mosconi Cup, having helped Europe to victory last year in Las Vegas.
But he was not needed on the final day of that clash and admitted his first match on home soil at a packed York Hall venue was an even better experience.
The Yorkshireman, nicknamed the Powerhouse, said: “Playing in Vegas was a dream come true, representing Europe and my home town of Keighley. The pressure was “The pressure was unbelievable but (team-mate) Darren Appleton said ‘if you qualify for London, it will be completely different’ – now I know what he means.
“There were 600 people all singing your name – it felt just like a football match!”