English Amateur Billiards Final
At The Atack Snooker Centre, Nuneaton
At the Atack Snooker Centre, Nuneaton, I was attending the
closing stages of my 5th successive English Amateur
Billiards Championship. Whilst this period has seen five
different venues and a rather bewildering “she loves me, she
loves me not” relationship between the EABA and the EASB,
the one consistent thread has been the continued Teesside
dominance of the amateur billiards scene.
At the start of play on the morning of Saturday 25th May,
the pundits’ feeling was that this dominance would
continue. The pre-tournament favourite, Chris Shutt and
Darren Kell were both Teessiders, with the challenge coming
from Peter Sheehan from Widnes and Terry Ward from York.
First Semi-final: Shutt v Sheehan
97, 126, 128, 154, 59, 66
67, 102, 84
If anyone was capable of halting the Shutt steam-roller,
surely it was Sheehan, arguably the number 2 amateur
billiards player in this country and an awesome exponent of
In the first session, the expected high scoring match
started to materialise with both players scoring century
breaks and threatening more, gradually however, Shutt gained
the upper hand to end the session with a comfortable, if not
unassailable, lead of over 300 points.
The second session saw in fact, not a Sheehan revival but
a virtual repeat of the first, with Shutt continuing his
ascendancy and running out a winner by 1854 points (Ave
19.7) to 1179 (Ave 12.7), a high scoring total for a four
hour match. Sheehan had breaks of 67, 102, and 84 but was
out-gunned by Shutt’s 97, 126, 128, 154, 59 and 66. The
feeling in the crowd (dare I say it!) was that, with the top
break of 154, Chris Shutt was as yet, under performing!
Second Semi-final: Ward v Kell
|Terry Ward||917||(7.3)||Darren Kell||834||(6.6)|
The outcome of this game was very difficult to call, with
the seasoned Ward (appearing in his 7th semi-final) against
Kell, a player with an impressive record on the circuit this
The first session witnessed both players performing well
below par, seemingly frustrated by their inability to get
their all-round game going at the level of which we all knew
they were capable. The interval arrived with Kell ahead by
over 100 points with no breaks over 50 from either player, and still anybody’s game.
The second session say a slow but sure fight -back by
Ward, with two half-century breaks helping him to a 100
point lead with 25 minutes remaining. Any possibility of a
Kell come-back was then negated by Hard who, a fierce
competitor with an abundance of Yorkshire grit closed up the
game with some killing safety play to win by 917 (Ave 7.3)
to 834 (Ave 6.6).
It would take a brave man to back anyone against Shutt, but
one thing was certain- Ward would not bow his head!
The first session progressed as expected with Shutt
out-pointing Hard but with the latter hanging on and being
only about 150 points adrift as we entered the second hour.
THEN IT HAPPENED!!! Shutt suddenly erupted like an
unstoppable volcano and ran in a magnificent 566 break
which, although it included some 400 points at the top end,
it also contained some fine all-round billiards to underline
his overall mastery of the game. With additional breaks of
71, 85, 81, 66 and 52, Shutt’s interval lead of over 700
points was truly daunting.
The second session, was inevitably anti-climatic, with
Ward refusing to give up, actually out-pointing Shutt during
the session, with a veil-crafted 76 break against Shutt’s
best efforts of 50, and 54.
566, 71, 85, 81, 66, 52, 50, 54
With another final over, thoughts
inevitably turned to the future. With the imminent
departure of Shutt to the professional ranks, the three
stars of recent years Causier, Goodwill, Shutt will be out
of the frame. Will Sheehan retain his amateur status to
add another national title to the EASB version he von two
years ago? Will Hard go one step further and win his first
amateur title? Hill a new shooting star arise from the
banks of the Tees (or elsewhere) or will one of the golden
oldies now stand a better chance? Who knows? But we can
be sure of one thing with people at the administrative helm
of the calibre of Albert Hanson, Derick Townend, Malcolm
Lax, the future of Amateur Billiards is in good hands.