LOOSE CANNONS TOUR
Twelve thousand miles for a game of billiards !!! What a preposterous
suggestion; who could be that crazy? Well, a ‘Loose Cannon’ could
and now it’s about to happen, and this is how it all came about.
I have always been interested in reading about foreign lands and New
Zealand has long held a fascination for me. So, when In 1987 I received
a telephone call from a ‘Kiwi’ visitor to England, I was delighted. Paul
Stocker of Napier, was visiting his family in Worcester and, as a keen
billiards player, was looking for a game. I have never really discovered
how Paul obtained my telephone number, but we had a few enjoyable
hours on the table before he returned home. Paul came again in 1997,
after competing in the IBSF Championship in Malta, and between
these times his friend, Tony King also spent a holiday back ‘home’ in
England which included time on the green baize.
I achieved what can only be described as a life-long dream when I went
on holiday with my wife, Enid, to New Zealand in 1990, and we were
so impressed with this wonderful country that we returned in 1999. So
with all this Kiwi connection and a desire to visit New Zealand as often
as possible, I just happened to mention, rather ‘tongue in cheek’, that
perhaps we ought to arrange a tour. From that chance remark there was
no turning back – the enthusiasm for the trip, from both sides of the
world, seemed to have set in motion an unstoppable force.
It remains a very long way to go for a few games of billiards, but there
is so much more involved than that. The arranged matches will be
competitive – we intend to return to England unbeaten but, in the end
the results will scarcely matter at all. The “Loose Cannons” are visiting
New Zealand for a great holiday, to enjoy the sights, experiences,
companionship and hospitality that this magnificent country can offer.
We want to meet and enjoy billiards with as many Kiwi players as
possible, to enhance and nurture the warm friendship that already
exists between the billiards players, and the people of our two countries.
We hope that our visit might help to spark a little extra interest in the
wonderful game of English Billiards, and that any New Zealanders with
whom we come into contact will feet that, should they visit England in
the future, some familiar, friendly faces will be waiting to welcome
Finally, I would like to put on record my appreciation of those who
have helped bring this crazy idea to fruition, in particular to Ray
Habgood, in New Zealand, who has so efficiently assembled a collection
of disjointed possibilities into a coherent and viable itinerary. Many
thanks Ray, you are a great fellow, but I will still pot the white and
double-baulk you when the occasion arises!!
The Loose Cannons arrived in Auckland on Tuesday October 6 and
were met at the airport by Ray Habgood and Wayne Carey. That
evening they were entertained with a barbecue at Ray Habgood’s home,
where they also took the opportunity for some practice on Ray’s
The tour began in earnest the next day with a competition against a
representative team from Auckland. Before the start, both teams met
with a film crew from TV3, one of the three nationwide TV stations in
New Zealand. The meeting lasted over an hour and included interviews
and filming. The event also received newspaper coverage with a
cameraman from the New Zealand Herald taking numerous photographs
before and during the first round of matches.
The competition, which was held at Snooker World, Royal Oak,
Auckland, was a round-robin event with each player in the opposing
teams all playing each other, giving a total of 16 matches. These were all
one hour duration.
In the first round Peter Shelley was in good form, scoring four breaks
over 50 in the last half of his match against Warren Burke. Ray Habgood,
Wayne Carey and John Smith won their matches to make the team
score all level at 2-2.
Peter Shelley top-scored in the second round with a break of 146, the
only century of the event, in his match against Habgood, winning by
nearly 350 points. John Smith and Bill Andress also won for the Loose
Cannons to give them the lead 5-3 after two rounds.
Round three saw Ron Milicich made a good start in his match against
Peter Shelley and he won comfortably 329-152. Two of the other
matches were close, Ray Habgood beating Derick Townend by 11 and
Bill Andress beating Wayne Carey by 10.
Auckland needed to win all four matches in the final round to defeat the
visiting team. Ron Milicich beat Bill Andress, and Ray Habgood came
from behind with a 32 unfinished to win his match against John Smith.
The match between Derick Townend and Warren Burke was close until
a break of 97 by Derick near the end gave him the win. In the remaining
match, Peter Shelley comfortably beat Wayne Carey to give the Loose
Cannons a 9-7 victory.
Results: Auckland names first –
Ron Milicich (62) 215, John Smith 249; Warren Burke 134, Peter Shelley (84, 91, 52, 59) 463.
Match Score 2-2.
59) 461; Ron Milicich (60) 326 Derick Townend 196; Warren Burke 169, Bill Andress 328. Match
Milicich (73, 53) 329, Peter Shelley 152; Warren Burke 166, John Smith 270. Match Score 5-7
Ron Milicich (55) 291, Bill Andress 224; Warren Burke 232, Derick Townend (97) 283.
Thunder from Down Under
On the morning of October 5, the Loose Cannons travelled from
Auckland to Hamilton. That afternoon and evening they played against
two teams representing the Waikato Billiards and Snooker Association
at the Hamilton Cosmopolitan Club. The following brief report was
supplied by Dan O’Sullivan, secretary of the Waikato B&SA.
“The afternoon session had four ‘B’ grade players who acquitted
themselves well. However, the loose cannons, with Bill Andress showing
out, came to the fore and won the match four nil. After a break for a
superb, black tie meal, play continued with four of the Clubs top
players. Brendon Bateman again showed his ‘Snilliards’ skills and kept
Derick Townend in check for a long time. However the ‘Cannons’ soon
roared and the gallant locals were dispatched four nil.”
Which of the Cannons returned with the title of New Zealand Open
Champion? Who made a break of 259? and which Cannons went
Paragliding!? Concluding details of the tour will appear in the next