Pool players representing Oldham and a popular local pub faced the ultimate showdown in an intense nationwide finale on the weekend.

At the Bear on the Hill pub on Huddersfield Road, which last year completed a £100,000 makeover, two friends have been fine-tuning their game to face off against other pool players to be in with a chance of bagging the trophy and £1,000 cash.

The brewery, Proper Pubs, saw 173 pub teams battle it out in the inaugural tournament which staggered several weeks and saw each pub hold four heats.

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After each heat, a winner and runner-up progressed to the next stage, representing their pub and hometown in the regional final.

This year, the regional was held at Oldham's own Bear on the Hill pub which landlord, Tony Beswick, said he was delighted about.

He said: "I was proud during the regional finals, first of all that we even had it because out of all the pubs in Greater Manchester, it could've gone anywhere, but it's also the fact that we're just pool mad in our pub."

The Oldham Times: Darren Smithies won the prize money and the trophy for the pubDarren Smithies won the prize money and the trophy for the pub (Image: Tony Beswick)

Then from the regional on October 19, 'Team Bear on the Hill', made up of Darren Smithies and Kevin Hodgkinson, made it through for the final showdown in Preston pub, The Gamull, where they challenged all the runner-ups and winners of all other regionals.

The intense finale saw Kevin knocked out at the quarterfinal which Tony said was "unlucky" as "he should've won" while Darren defeated his opponents and was ultimately crowned the winner.

Tony said: "It's huge for the pub because we're only a small pub.

"We're a tiny pub but the fact that we've won it and got to the quarterfinals is just phenomenal.

"There were people there from Newcastle, Cumbria, Kent - and Oldham won it.

"It was unexpected and all I can say is I'm proud of my boys.

"I thought they would do well and we've got two pool teams, one in the Shaw league and one in the Oldham league, and we're actually top of both at the moment."

The Oldham Times: The tournament was difficult and stretched over several weeksThe tournament was difficult and stretched over several weeks (Image: Tony Beswick)

The landlord, who started running the pub more than three years ago, said he was impressed with The Gamull and how the pub staged the big event with a "professional set up", including cameras hooked up to TVs so spectators could see every play.

'Team Bear' travelled to Preston by minibus, armed with friends, family and the pub's supporters for the big event which kicked off before midday and didn't end until gone 8pm.

Others also streamed the competition so friends at home could watch.

Tony added: "There were professional referees with the white gloves and everything.

"The set up at the pub was just phenomenal with all the games on TV. It was like watching Sky Sports."

To keep the teams fuelled throughout the day, the brewery also provided a burger van which Tony said was a "nice touch" and "must've cost them a bit because it was a high-end classy one".

He added: "It was a long day because it was best of five in each game and there were 16 players that were playing in knockouts.

"We also had to change to completely different rules from what we knew - it was a huge difference.

"The rule meant every single time you hit a ball, it had to hit a cushion which, if you play pool, is really hard to do.

"It's a huge layer of difficulty because it stops you from snookering people."

The Oldham Times: There were smiles all around as 'Daz' took the win - and the party - back to OldhamThere were smiles all around as 'Daz' took the win - and the party - back to Oldham (Image: Tony Beswick)

When Kevin got knocked out, Tony commended him for conducting himself "like a proper gentleman".

"He got knocked out and was still there cheering Daz on.

"He's my older cousin - he did the family proud", he added.

Then when Darren potted the win, video footage shows the pub erupted as the Oldham entourage roared in celebration.

Tony said: "It was deafening when he won.

"It was a fun bus ride home.

"There were many pints in between in the competition, the fact they were standing at the end was impressive."

A trophy is now being made, which Tony said will be proudly displayed behind the bar when it comes.

If you have a story, I cover all things Oldham from food reviews and local business news to music and events, pubs, education, crime, property, health, community concerns and much more. Please email me at Olivia.bridge@newsquest.co.uk or send me a message on Twitter @Livbridge with your news.