AMATEUR BILLIARDS CIRCUIT
English Ranking Tournaments – All games one hour
Lee Lagan started the new millennium with another classy performance, winning the ranking tournament at Cue Gardens,
Bradford in January, with the consistent Stephen Crosland reaching
his third final of the season.
The pick of the preliminary round matches was a hard-fought encounter
between David Rees and Tony James. The former emerged winner by
just 16 points despite an excellent run of 107 by James. Phillip Welham
also found the table to his liking, as he knocked in breaks of 154 and
69 in a more one-sided encounter against Jamie Moore. At 12 years-
old, Daniel Beagrie from Middlesbrough, was the youngest player in
the competition. The draw however, did him no favours, as he was
matched against England International David Nichols who completed
a 348-157 victory.
Having travelled together from Teesside, Lee Lagan and Darren Kell
found themselves, once more, drawn together in the first round. Helped
by a break of 86, Darren held the advantage for most of the match, but
Lagan came good at the end with breaks of 167 and 52 to win 355-
200. Peter Shelley extended the high-break target when he put together
a run of 201, but even so, was pushed all the way by Middlesbrough’s
Lee Cuthbert who himself recorded a break of 52.
Lee Lagan produced a string of good breaks to overwhelm John Hartley
in his second round match. His one-hour aggregate of 433 including
five breaks over fifty. With the limited opportunities left to him, Hartley
still managed a score of 246 points, a total which would have been
enough to win several of the other matches! David Rees was involved
in another close match, this time finishing on the losing side by just
two points against Dennis Marr.
Having reached the quarter-final stage, Alf Nolan was making his most
successful appearance in a ranking tournament this season, but his run
came to an end as he encountered the in-form Lee Lagan. Dominating
the match, Lagan threatened the double-century with a run of 196 and
added breaks of 101 and 51 to win by over 300 points. David Nichols,
needing ranking points to help him retain his place in the England
team, did his cause a power of good by defeating provisionally 7th
ranked Peter Shelley in a high scoring match.
Stephen Crosland has appeared in two of the previous three ranking
finals so far this season, and added to this impressive record by defeating
David Nichols in their semi-final match, although the margin of 22
points was probably less convincing than he would have liked. Lagan,
meanwhile, was just getting better and better. Brian Cousen was little
more than a spectator as Lagan amassed a total 559 points which
included breaks of 162, 115, 91 and 58.
Stephen Crosland is, without doubt, one of the best amateur players in the
country, but even he had no answer to the onslaught which was produced
by Lee Lagan in the final. His aggregate of 688 in an hour’s play was the
highest of the competition, the winning margin of 602 points was the
highest ever seen in an ABC final, and with a top break of 244 he secured
not only the winner’s cheque, but also the high-break prize.
The Plate competition was won by Tony James who defeated Mohamed
Shauq in the final. One of the best performances in the 30 minute
games came from Mark Hatton who included breaks of 130 and 56 in
his 245-27 quarter-final victory over Jamie Moore. He subsequently
lost by just 11 points to Tony James in the semi-final.
The Newmarket Bowl & Snooker Club was the venue for another exhibition of power billiards by Lee Lagan, who, in a total of six
hours play, scored just a few short of 3,000 points to take his second
ranking tournament with some ease.
There was an excellent turn-out for the event on 13th February, which
attracted 57 competitors. In the preliminary matches, Robert Shanks
must have wondered what had hit him as Lagan, warming up with a
break of 88, then produced a massive run of 260 as part of a 527 points
total. Other players in form were Terry Colby and Jim McCann, who
both completed century breaks. Paul Dunning may well have joined
this band of century-makers, but time ran out when he had reached 90.
In the first round, Peter Shelley obviously found the table to his liking
as he rattled in a series of good breaks, including a best of 134, to score
a total of 601 points in his one hour match against Ivan Stevenage – a
score which would not be bettered all day. Under the circumstances,
Stevenage, who was making his first appearance in a ranking event
this season, did well to score 141 in reply. Lee Lagan included a couple
of centuries (160 and 114) as he shrugged off the challenge of Dennis
Marr, while Gary Rogers also put together two centuries in his first
round win – a break of 130 being followed by another of 132 unfinished.
David Nichols came close to the century on two occasions, the first
failing at 98 and the second stopped by the bell at 95. Joe Bird and
Michael White contested one of the closest match of the day, Bird
getting home by just 4 points.
With Lee Lagan and Peter Shelley both looking on superb form, their
second round match seemed to be the one to watch. In the event, Shelley
could not produce the scoring of his previous rounds and Lagan, with
a top break of 83 completed a comfortable win.
The Quarter-finals produced the closest possible finish as Terry Colby
and Stephen Crosland could not be separated after an hour’s play. With
the scores tied an extra 15 minutes was granted, a period which Colby
dominated to finish winner by 66 points. Lee Lagan’s relatively lean
spell of break-making came to an end when he produced a run of 280,
the highest of the day, to give Bill Andress no chance.
The semi-finals saw Lagan continue much the same as in his previous
rounds. His 446 point total against Colby being mainly comprised of
two breaks, 212 and 106. The other semi-final was more closely fought
with David Nichols emerging the winner by 76 points.
Could Nichols stop the Lagan charge, or would he become another
victim? The answer was not long in arriving as Lagan put together
breaks of 117, 141 and 185 to win at a canter. Nichols held his
concentration long enough to put together a run of 58, but the result
was never in doubt. Once more Lagan returned to Teesside with both
the prizes for winner and high break.
Jimmy Chambers produced an excellent performance to win the Plate
event. His 342-158 victory in the one-hour final against Gerry Dickson
included breaks of 114 and 57. The highest aggregate in the 30 minute
games came from Neal Rewhorn, who had breaks of 131 and 64 in his
362-70 victory over John Smith.