PICKERING snooker player Paul Davison is relishing playing “in front of a home crowd” in the Betway UK Championship.

The Ryedale potter opens his campaign tonight (Wednesday) against Stuart Carrington at 7.30pm at the Barbican in York.

The championship started yesterday and runs until Sunday, December 9 and will see the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Selby, Mark Williams, John Higgins, Judd Trump, Mark Allen, Neil Robertson, Shaun Murphy and Ding Junhui competing for the Triple Crown title.

Ashley Hugill, from Melbourne, East Yorkshire, begins his tournament on Thursday.

For the 47-year-old Davison – whose last two tournaments have had him travelling to Belfast and Daqing, China – it is a pleasantly short journey he will be making from his home to the table.

He also hailed the backing he gets in Yorkshire, saying: “It’s good. You’d rather be in the main arena than the sports hall at the back, but you’ve just got to get through the early rounds and then you’re there.

“The atmosphere is good – it’s slightly better in the front because you’ve got the higher-ranked players there and a bigger crowd.

“It’s nice to be in front of a home crowd, and it’s nice to be going back home rather than to a hotel afterwards.

“I’ve got a few people coming to watch. I always have good support here.”

The last – and only – time Davison and 28-year-old Carrington met in a competitive environment was in 2012 in a Q School professional tour qualifier best-of-seven game, which Davison won 4-2.

On personal terms, however, it is a different story.

Davison said: “I haven’t played Stuart too many times, but I see him around on the circuit a lot. We’re good friends and he’s a nice guy.”

Both Davison and Carrington suffered early exits from the UK Championship last year, with the last-128 stage seeing Grimsby-based Carrington go down 6-2 against Mitchell Mann while Davison lost 6-0 to the 'Welsh Wonder' Williams, who would go on to the last 32.

Speaking about his aims for the tournament, Davison said: “I am just going to take each game as it comes. You can’t think too far forward and think ‘I want to win three, four or five matches.

“You take each ball, each frame and each match at a time and keep winning matches.”

Meanwhile, the opening day at the Barbican saw two-time UK Championship winners Neil Robertson and Ding Junhui progress to round two.

Australian ace Robertson saw off Welshman Kishan Hirani 6-2, featuring breaks of 72, 75 and 110. Ding beat Polish player Adam Stefanow 6-1, while former world champion Ken Doherty won six frames in a row to come from 2-0 down to beat Yuan Sijun 6-2, helped by a break of 130.