WHEN he missed out by a single frame when trying to qualify for the England squad, Mark McGauley thought he’d missed his chance.
But a rule change early last year meant another chance at international 8-ball pool, and he took it with both hands.
The 26-year-old from West Bletchley has qualified for the Scotland A team and is preparing himself for a year of major tournaments, starting in February at the European Championships in Dublin, Ireland.
“It was devastating to miss out for England,” Mark said. “I was within a frame of qualifying for the national team so to lose out was really hard to take.
“I always wanted to go travelling, so I bought an around-the-world ticket and went.”
And he was by no means a slouch around the table - he’d already played for England under 21s, but this ruled him out for playing for any other countries, including Scotland where both his parents are from.
But after hearing that a rule change would allow him to try out for the Scotland squad, he jumped at the chance.
This time, he made no mistakes to see off his opponents in style and impressing the coaches enough to include him in the A squad – the top team.
He said: “A rule change last year meant I could qualify for Scotland, where my parents are from. I was ineligible for Scotland originally because I’d played for England at under 21 level, and that ruled me out.
“But I’m delighted to be representing Scotland and cannot wait for the championships next month.”
Mark began to take the game more seriously when he started winning tournaments when he was 16. From there, he joined leagues around Milton Keynes to improve his skills and take it on to the next level.
And naturally, he is keen to test himself at the highest levels of the game, both with the Scotland team and individually in the coming years.
He said: “I just realised I was quite good at it and wanted to see how far I could go.
“Pool is all about consistency and being able to play the same shots over and over again.
“Milton Keynes has a great pool scene, with a lot of leagues taking place. There are some tough competitors out there.
“Of course I’d love to be one of the best players in the world, taking part in tournaments and winning major events. Anything is possible, but I cannot wait to see what this year has in store for me.”