A new pro-am tournament was instigated on Tuesday 8th June at
South Bank St. Peters Club, Middlesbrough in memory of Tommy
Coulton who was a well-known club member and official in local
leagues. The inaugural event brought together an impressive field of
talent with local professionals Chris Shutt and David Causier being
joined by Lee Lagan, Paul Bennett, Tony McKinder and Darren Kell.
All games were of one hour duration and the professionals conceded
150 points start.
The four amateurs were drawn in the first round with the winners to
meet the seeded professionals. With two tables playing simultaneously,
the current CIU champion Tony McKinder made an early break of 75
to draw clear of Paul Bennett, only for the twice Amateur Champion to
respond with a break of 82, drawing level once more. With the players
proceeding neck and neck, a late break of 56 by McKinder proved
conclusive, this time Bennett’s response of 40 being terminated by the
bell while still 18 points in arrears. McKinder’s average of 25.8 was as
good as any on the night.
Playing on a table which is notorious throughout Teesside for its tight
pockets, Darren Kell made a superb start against Lee Lagan, with a
break of 67 taking him to an early lead of almost a hundred points.
From this point however, Lagan slowly reduced the deficit and gradually
overhauled his opponent to win by 55 points.
Receiving 150 points from David Causier, Lagan’s tactics were clearly
to defend his advantage and this policy worked well, despite an early
break of 54 by Causier. After 40 minutes the World No.3 was still 134
points behind, but at this point exploited a rare opening to accumulate
60 points. This was immediately followed with the first century of the
nighta break of 105to offer the prospect of an exciting finish. A
nervous climax saw both players squander good opportunities with
Lagan making the better of his chances to win by 51 points.
Being introduced as “one of the area’s leading amateur players” brought
a smile to the face of World No.6 Chris Shutt and there was nothing
that Tony McKinder could do in the match to dispel his good humour.
A break of 76 by Shutt at his first scoring visit, reduced his handicap
by half before the CIU Champion had been given an opening. Despite
a rally in the middle of the game, McKinder could not reproduce the
consistent form of his earlier match and Shutt completed a comfortable
win by 76 points.
winner of the Tommy Coulton
The spacious games room of the
St. Peters club was packed with
over 150 spectators as the final
match began. Playing his first
game on the “easier” of the two
tables, Lee Lagan remarked “I feel
as though I can’t miss”. And he
certainly didn’t miss much, as he
put together breaks of 104 and 66
to establish a lead of almost 300
points after 40 minutes of the one
hour match. At this point, Shutt,
who had seemed unusually
subdued, put together a rapid-fire
147 break to give himself a chance.
This was quickly followed by
another of 137 which occupied just
7 minutes, but when he broke
down while still behind, it looked
as though the first name on the
trophy would be that of Lee Lagan.
With time running out, an unexpected miss by Lagan allowed Shutt a
full three minutes to overtake his lead of 41 points. This he did in style,
running in a break of 58 unfinished to delight a packed house. Shutt
averaged 27.6 to Lagan’s 17.8. Both in terms of attendance and standard
of play, this first event was a huge success and will make a welcome
addition to the billiards calendar on Teesside. Chris Shutt took the
winner’s cheque for £225, plus £40 for the highest break. Lee Lagan
received £150 for his night’s work.
216, D. Kell (67) 161.
[rec.150] 363; L. Lagan [rec.150] 378, D. Causier (105, 60, 54) 327.
Shutt (147, 136, 58 unf) 469, L. Lagan [rec.150] (104, 66) 452.