1999 INDIVIDUAL BILLIARDS CHAMPIONSHIP
There was a disappointing entry of 29 players for the £1,100 CIU National Individual Billiards, with eleven of these coming from Teesside clubs. The three top players from that region—Bennett, Lagan and Kell—were all faced with “away” draws in the first round, as was defending champion Neal Rewhorn. This however, proved to be no obstacle as all the leading contenders progressed comfortably. The star performance came from Lee Lagan who included breaks of 259 and 101 in his victory over Alf Nolan. Neal Rewhorn was also in fine form, producing breaks of 120, 82 and 75.
(Swanley Junction WMC)
(Maidenhead Ivy Leaf Club)
(New Haw Club)
(Swanley Junction WMC)
(Railway Rec. & Soc.)
(Selly Oak Inst.)
120, 82, 75
(Bradley & Colne Bridge)
(Clay Lane WMC)
(Monks Road WMC)
(Doncaster Labour Club)
(Acklam Garden City Social)
97, 81, 71
(Acklam Steel Works)
(Beechwood & Easterside)
(Throckley Union Jack)
(North Ormesby Inst.)
Byes : Peter Shelley (Ball Green WMC), Branson Hoole (Clay Lane WMC), Tony McKinder (North Ormesby Inst.)
In the second round, Tony McKinder produced a excellent performance to defeat 1997 Champion Darren Kell on his own table, and in doing so, made a superb break of 255. Surprisingly perhaps, the news of his club-mate´s first round break of 259 had not reached him, and it was only after the completion of his wonderful effort that he discovered that he had fallen just 4 points short of the competition´s top break, which carries a prize of £100. Lagan meanwhile put in another huge break of 216 to defeat Lee Connor by half the game and Peter Shelley continue his good form this season, compiling runs of 120 and 118 unfinished to ease into the third round.
|Jack Hedley||500||Mark Leonard||443|
|Neal Rewhorn||500||Ivan Stevenage||165|
|Branson Hoole||496||Bem French||500|
|P. Johnson||500||Tom Hodby||274|
|Paul Bennett||500||Tony James||170|
|Darren Kell||229||Tony McKinder|
Lee Lagan eliminated Paul Bennett in the third round, a result which would not have come as too much of a surprise to the Teesside fans, although the comprehensive margin of the victory certainly would. Bennett could only manage a top break of 57 as Lagan strung together runs of 145, 81 and 67 to win by more than half the game.
Defending champion, Neal Rewhorn gave Jack Hedley little chance as he collected 435 of his required 500 points in just four visits, including a top break of 204. To his credit, Hedley still managed to compile a break of 107 in a 287 point aggregate.
Peter Shelley made it a trio of “away” wins when he comfortably disposed of Bem French, and it was left to Tony McKinder to record the only “home” success of the round with an even more comprehensive victory over P. Johnson.
204, 91, 76, 64
|Bem French||266||Peter Shelley|
85, 67, 60
145, 81, 67
79, 67, 69unf
Both semi-finals—now extended to three hours duration—were held at the Batley Carr WMC near Dewsbury. The first of these, on Saturday 6th March saw Lee Lagan in awesome form against EABA Chairman Peter Shelley. In the first 1½ hour period, Lagan knocked in breaks of 83, 56, 177, 64, 67, 59 and 199, to average 48.0 in an aggregate of 883 points. This established an almost invincible 752 point lead at the interval. Lagan made sure of the match with additional breaks of 67, 52 and 53, but towards the end, and with the match beyond him, Shelley eventually displayed his true capabilities with excellent breaks of 127 and 161 unfinished. Even so, he finished 537 points in arrears at the bell.
Tony McKinder, who had been kept apart from his team-mate Lee Lagan by virtute of the CIU competition rules, had nevertheless just as daunting a tie against defending champion Neal Rewhorn. However, on the following Saturday he set up an all-Teesside final by recording what must be considered the best victory of his career to date. Always in front, McKinder´s highest break of 135 towards the end of the first session took him to an interval lead of 160 points. He subsequently held off the constant threat of Rewhorn to win by almost the same margin.
199, 177, 83, 67, 67, 64, 56, 52
127, 68, 57, 161unf
135, 80, 72, 71, 53, 53, 51
86, 81, 74, 71
The CIU National Billiards Championships reached its conclusion on Saturday 17th April at Middlesbrough and resulted in a victory for Tony McKinder, who defeated newly crowned English Champion Lee Lagan.
The final was arranged at the home club of both players, North Ormesby Institute in Middlesbrough and was played on a specially erected table. From the start, both players were evidently unsettled by the ultra-fast speed of the bed-cloth, such tables being a relatively rare commodity on Teesside. McKinder adjusted to the pace more quickly, taking the lead with a break of 55 which proved to be his highest of the match. As Lagan continued to struggle, McKinder, with every visit producing a small but useful contribution, built up a lead of almost 200 points midway through the first session. His grinding consistency exerting a pressure which it is difficult for the spectator to fully appreciate.
Not favoured by the best of running, and playing without his usual confidence, Lagan was still 167 in arrears at the interval and amazingly had a highest break of just 28. Neither he, nor McKinder, who had made a break of 374 in practise just two days before the match, could secure their favourite top-of-the-table position. However, while Lagan made repeated attempts to do this, McKinder soon abandoned his efforts and settled for an all-round game.
Lagan’s best spell came after 30 minutes of the restart when a break of 46 was followed by one of 101, the highest of the match. This helped him to within 59 points of McKinder with just under an hour remaining, giving his supporter’s renewed hope. However, he was unable to sustain his effort and McKinder, continuing with consistent if unsensational play, gradually drew away again.
A 41 break took McKinder into a lead of 158 with 15 minutes remaining and this signalled the end for Lagan’s ambitions for an English/CIU double. A final rapid-fire 60 break from the Park End player was of academic interest, as McKinder secured his first major title by 143 points. The winner’s average of 12.1 reflects the low scoring nature of the game, which contained little intentional safety play. However, on his way to winning this competition McKinder has defeated the 1998 CIU Champion, the reigning CIU Champion, the current English Champion and made a break of 255 in an earlier round. Such a record makes him a worthy champion.
McKinder practises regularly with Peter Gilchrist, but does not compete in any of the other national competitions due to his job in a Sports Centre, which requires him to work most week-ends. It is to be hoped that this success will encourage him to attempt a broader area of activity next year. He collected the winner’s cheque of £500, while Lagan received £300 as runner-up plus £100 for his break of 259 in his first round match against Alf Nolan, which was the highest of the competition. The all-time record break for this event is 398 unfinished, which was made by Bob Close in 1985.