NORTH EAST BILLIARDS CHAMPIONSHIP
Gateshead Snooker Centre – 11th June 2000
All games one-hour
A senior billiard tournament returned to Tyne & Wear in the shape
of a one-day handicap event sponsored with £150 prize money
from local company, Northumbria Instruments. This attracted a total
of 37 players with a large proportion from the Teesside area and many
of those from the Teesside Boys’ League. The oldest competitor, and
also the only lady entrant, was Vera Selby, now in her 70th year, who
dominated Ladies billiards in the 1970´s winning the Amateur
Championship nine times.
The handicaps, allocated by organiser Stan Chambers and John Hartley,
could have been something of a nightmare, but actually helped to
produce some excellent games and close finishes. Even so, from the 36
matches on the day, only six saw a handicap advantage being converted
into a win.
The preliminary round quickly set the high standard for the competition
which lasted throughout the day. Particularly impressive was Allan
Scott who since winning the national under-16 title in 1994 had dropped
out of the game completely. Without any other indication of his form
he was given a handicap of -60 but he made light of this as he rattled in
458 points to easily concede Dean Richardson 90 points.
Scott again registered the highest one-hour total in the first round with
a score of 496 although Lee Lagan and Darren Clark also passed the
400 mark with 455 and 443 respectively. Darren Kell, who was drawn
against his brother Gary, posted an early target for the highest break
with a run of 134.
The second round saw Allan Scott eclipse his previous performances
as he dominated his game against Andy Clark putting together a top
break of 102 and four others over ninety in an incredible one-hour total
of 762! It was later revealed that Scott has recently taken to the game
again and has been practising regularly in Middlesbrough with
professional players Chris Shutt and Paul Bennett. The speed of his
play was certainly reminiscent of Chris Shutt, and his stated intention
to tackle the national circuit next season can only spell trouble for the
Lee Lagan and Darren Kell maintained the high standard of play, Lagan
defeating Terry Beagrie (rec.200) by 538-295 while Kell had a 406-282
victory over Darren Clark (rec.130). Local referee Bryan Thompson
(rec.100) showed he was no mean exponent of the game, progressing to
the quarter-finals with a narrow 17 point victory over national circuit
player Tony James. Thompson, dressed immaculately, was in stark
contrast to the ranks of track-suits, football shirts and jeans worn by
most of the other competitors.
Amateur Billiards Champion
reached the quarter-finals
In the quarter-finals Thompson was
matched against Vera Selby (rec.30),
who had emerged a narrow 5 point
victor from her previous match
against Paul Jones. This contest was
another close call, but this time the
decision went to her opponent by a
margin of just 10 points.
Craig Brown (rec.130) had the
honour of holding the other cue as
Lee Lagan moved into top gear.
Finding top-of-the-table, he held the
position to give an object lesson to a
large group of young spectators who
gathered eagerly around the table,
and incidentally record his highest
break in competitive play with a masterful run of 294. His massive 668
aggregate total adding to the day’s entertainment.
In a remarkably consistent display, Mark Hatton’s 368 total was within
10 points of his wins in the previous three rounds. However, it was
not enough to overcome the 70 points he was conceding to Allan Scott,
who went through to the semi-finals with a 63 point victory. Darren
Kell also moved forward to a clash with Lee Lagan. Consecutive breaks
of 81 and 79 recovered the 120 start he was conceding to Richard
Beckham and thereafter he improved his position to win by 47 points.
Frantic searching through the record books has failed to reveal the last
time an amateur player had made a 700+ aggregate score on a one-hour
match. Now Allan Scott surely secured a record by making two such
totals in one day. His semi-final match against Bryan Thompson (rec.40)
turned into an exhibition as with top breaks of 148 and 101 he put
together another massive total of 715. Lee Lagan progressed to the final
with a 47 point victory over Darren Kell. An early break of 82 helped
him into a substantial lead and despite late breaks of 60 and 77, Kell
could not quite close the gap.
trophy from Stan Chambers
Allan Scott (rec.90) was looking a handicap certainty against Lee Lagan
in the final, but with so little recent match practice, how would he deal
with meeting the player who is acknowledged to be the best amateur in
England? Lagan started strongly and with a series of useful breaks
closed remorselessly on his opponent. After 40 minutes a 53 break by
Lagan put him in front for the first time. To his credit, Scott responded
immediately with a break of 76 and thereafter it remained a desperately
close match. Lagan again took the advantage when a break of 50 put him
19 points in front with just three minutes remaining. Scott again
responded. A break of 20 put him in front again by just one point, and
with perfect top-of-the-table position looked a certainty to play out
time. But sensationally he miscued, giving Lagan a final chance. It was
certainly not an easy one, but with his cue-ball firmly anchored against
the top cushion and less than a minute on the clock, he played a
wonderful centre pocket in-off and continued to hold the table with 16
unfinished to clinch an exciting win.
So ended a great day of billiards on
Tyneside. Lee Lagan collected £60
for his efforts and on this occasion
had certainly been made to work
for his money. Allan Scott, the most
exciting discovery on the day, had
scored over 3,100 points in his 6
hours play and must surely be a
contender for the highest honours
in the coming season. Stan
Chambers deputised for
representative Stephen Oxborough
to present the prizes in what many
will hope to see as an annual event.
Gibbons (rec.40) 198; Mark Hatton (67, 60, 50) 379, John Hartley (rec.60) 253; Dean Sandbach
316, Liam O’Neil (rec.50) 162; Allan Scott 458, Dean Richardson (rec.90) 263.
(rec.20) 229; Mark Hatton 358, Dean Sandbach (rec.100) 279; Allan Scott 496, Billy Bousfield
(rec.40) 210; Andrew Clark 225, Phil Dales 206; Paul Jones (rec.10) 197, James Clare 166; Vera
Selby 210, Anthony Hartshorn (rec.40) 161; Bryan Thompson 215, Paul Wilks (rec.70) 184; Tony
James 340, Daniel Beagrie (rec.120) 276; Richard Beckham (rec.30) 284, Stan Buckle 212; Steve
Buxton 264, Michael Donnelly (rec.60) 231; Darren Kell (134) 266, Gary Kell (rec.100) 141; Darren
Clark 443, John Gallafant (rec.40) 213; Craig Brown 278, Chris Hartley (rec.60) 161; Lee Lagan
455, Steve Bingham (rec.180) 271; Terry Beagrie (rec.30) 181, Anthony Peacock 168.
(rec.100) 184; Vera Selby 109, Paul Jones (rec.20) 104; Bryan Thompson (rec.100) 283, Tony
James 266; Richard Beckham (rec.50) 294, Steve Buxton 180; Darren Kell 406, Darren Clark
(rec.130) 282; Craig Brown 241, Peter Ainsworth 189; Lee Lagan 538, Terry Beagrie (rec.200) 295.
(rec.30) 215; Darren Kell (79 81) 387, Richard Beckham (rec.120) 340; Lee Lagan (294) 668, Craig
Brown (rec.130) 257.
The Plate was won by John Hartley who defeated Stan Buckle 274-
139 in the final. Buckle conceded after 45 minutes of the one-hour
match, preferring to watch the exciting conclusion of the main competition
between Lagan and Scott.
Amongst the mainly youthful audience watching Lagan’s masterful
break of 294 at Gateshead was an elderly gentleman who had been
taking a particular interest in all the day’s proceedings. This turned out
to be Sid Robson who was the Northumberland & Durham Miners’
Billiards Champion in 1951. One of the top amateur players in his day,
Sid had himself made a competitive break of 663 in 1954 which was the
best by any player in the country that year, winning the National
Breaks competition organised by the BA&CC. Sid recalled that his
break had been made mainly with red ball play. “We could all play top
of the table as well” he said “but we liked to mix it up a bit”. Watching
every round of the games from start to finishover six hours play
he added, “It’s great to see billiards being played in the region again”.