Amateur Billiards Circuit
The Reardon, Stoke-on-Trent
March 10th, 1996
Always a popular venue with consistently good tables and Peter Shelley’s
impeccable catering, the Reardon was host to 42 entries for the fourth
ABC Tournament of this seasons programme.
The pick of the matches was the pairing of Peter Shelley and Darren Kell
with the Teessider prevailing comfortably with breaks of 76, 61, &
99. Ellis Lloyd won his Rugby derby against Malcolm Lax, Lee Lagan hit
early form with a fine 132 and the West country double act of Dick Watts
and the ubiquitous Bill Andress both scored well with a string of
middling breaks. In the bottom half of the draw the pick of the bunch
saw Jim McCann in fine fettle with a string of breaks including a solid 94.
Darren Kell confirmed his status as one of the favourites with a big win
over Ellis Lloyd which included a fine effort of 128. In the pick of the
round Lee Lagan overcame the Bill Andress score-from-anywhere machine
and Dick Watts continued his progress with a solid win and a couple of
good breaks. Chris Shutt hit ominous form with a big century, 180, and
Paul Bennett topped the 500 total mark with several half centuries. Of
the other likely contenders Phil Welham, Steve Crosland and Jim McCann
all had convincing wins with Jim chipping in with efforts of 119 and 81.
Darren Kell won the Teesside clash against Lee Lagan recording an
unfinished break of 142 for good measure. Dick Watts won a close affair
against Norman Routledge by a mere 4 points. Chris Shutt continued to
impress against Paul Bennett, just missing a double century with 193
which proved to be the day’s highest break. Phil Welham looked good with
four half century-plus breaks against Ivan Stevenage. Steve Crosland and
Jim McCann continued their progress with the latter looking particularly
solid, producing a couple of near century breaks. David Rees also made
his mark with a fine break of 132.
Breaks and totals in this round were less noteworthy than what had gone
before and only Steve Crosland and Chris Shutt managed totals in excess
of four hundred, with breaks of 62 and 82 coming from Steve. The in-form
Jim McCann succumbed to David Rees who was showing good form with
several 50’s. Darren Kell saw off the challenge of Dick Watts with
something to spare.
Teesside clashes are inevitable given the number and calibre of entrants
from the area. The first semi produced a surprisingly comfortable win
for Darren Kell against the favourite Chris Shutt. Darren recorded
breaks of 83 and 65 while Chris just failed to add to his earlier round
centuries with a 99. The other match saw a rock solid Steve Crosland
coast home by almost a couple of hundred against David Rees. Steve hit
his best form of the day and was Mr. Consistency with breaks of 70, 83,
75, and 84.
As is becoming customary at the end of a long day’s ABC billiards
neither player reached anything like the form they had displayed in
earlier rounds, but this would not have concerned Darren Kell who got
home by just 18 points to record his first ABC title, thus staking his
claim as Teesside heir apparent once Chris Shutt departs from the
amateur ranks at the end of the season.
Derick Townend, Robin Suttcliffe and Tony Keeling were the pick of the
round, all getting close to the 200 benchmark half hour total with
Derick having a 66 break for good measure.
Plate favourite Peter Shelley won well against Malcolm Lax with an
impressive half hour total of 237. Chris Mitchell had a good win over
the capable Alan Orton and Tony Keeling booked his third round place.
Robin Suttcliffe, Peter Shelley and Chris Mitchell all registered
respectable totals in winning their games, while Tony Keeling got home
by just 6.
No fireworks but the matches went by the form book with Shelley and
Keeling proving too strong for Sutcliffe and Mitchell respectively.
Shelley who had always looked the likely winner duly delivered the goods
with a sound victory by 356 – 281 including runs of 83 and 60.
Huntingdon is another fine venue, accessible with good conditions and
friendly staff…big pockets too!!! A record (?) entry of 64 bears
testimony to the continuing grass roots support for the A.B.C. format
and put immediate pressure on the organisational skills of Derick
Townend who could have done with a few more tables at his disposal given
the number of matches to negotiate.
A mammoth round saw several intriguing pairings including Shelley v
Salisbury, Burgess v Shutt and Andress v Karen Corr. Steve Crosland was
the first to show some form recording two centuries, 128 and 118 in an
emphatic win over Ellis Lloyd who himself made a couple of half
centuries. The ever improving youngster Dean Bavister had a sound win
over Ross Porter, Peter Shelley had a century and two other good breaks
to oust Albert Salisbury and Dave Burgess surprisingly edged out Chris
Shutt 311 – 280 including a run of 98. Chris seemed surprisingly out of
sorts and missed several times when in good position in the 20’s and
30’s but no doubt the lapse will be temporary. Karen Corr did well to
run Bill Andress fairly close; it was the first time that I had seen her
and I was impressed by her rock solid cue action and all-round
knowledge; she is obviously no mean player.
Evergreen Dick Watts had a great win over Steve Crosland including a
couple of near centuries. Dean Bavister found Darren Kell too good on
the day but was by no means disgraced. Rudolph Chapman, brother of
Roxton, was making his A.B.C. debut but could not follow his first round
victory, losing to the classy Chris Ross. Other title aspirants Robin
Sutcliffe, Bill Andress, Tony Keeling, Peter Shelley, Dave Burgess and
Jim McCann also got through. A feature of the Burgess/Dennis McGuigan
encounter was the spritely refereeing of Tim Runham who at the tender
age of 82 easily carried off the prize for seniority. I was even more
impressed when Dennis informed me that Tim had only just completed his
own first round match prior to refereeing ours and was then off to play
in the plate such is the stamina of the billiards fraternity!
Robin Sutcliffe recorded a very creditable win over Dick Watts who just
couldn’t reproduce his form of earlier rounds, Darren Kell moved up a
gear with a near 500 total and there were good wins by Peter Shelley,
Dave Burgess, Jim McCann and Chris Ross. Bill Andress also had a good
win over Tony Keeling and joined the rest in round 4.
Darren Kell looked in the best nick with a comprehensive victory over
Robin Sutcliffe including runs of 97, 88 and 50. Shelley prevailed over
Burgess by 40, at times showing delightful touch at the top and there
were other good wins for Chris Ross and Jim McCann over Bill
Andress. The semi-finals looked evenly matched with the distinct
possibility of debut A.B.C. wins for McCann and Ross.
Kell must have fancied his chances of adding a second consecutive
A.B.C. title to his Stoke victory, especially after the early demise of
Shutt, but in the event it was Shelley who had just too much on the day,
running out a winner by 270 – 228. In the other semi-final, Jim McCann
shaded a match of similar profile 263 – 236 against Chris Ross to book
his final place at the end of a very long day with the one certainty for
the survivors being an assured bedtime of antisocial proportions!
The pattern set in previous A.B.C. finals was maintained with fatigue
being a key factor in a match of modest scoring and few breaks. Six
hours of almost continuous billiards interspersed with the odd sandwich,
cup of tea, snatch of conversation and an occasional dip into the Sunday
papers inevitably takes its toll and the fact that Shelley won had
probably as much to do with his stamina as his undoubted ability. A
score line of 272 – 237 indicates that either player could have won and
the sole contribution of either player above 50, a 71 by Shelley, was
all that separated them. All in all an absorbing day’s billiards and
congratulations to Peter for staying the course and adding this title to
his plate win at Stoke.
32 entries meant a large plate competition and with the pairing of
leading players in the main competition guaranteeing some high class
contenders, this was not going to be a cakewalk for anyone. As expected,
Chris Shutt started the fireworks with a largish total, albeit almost
300 lower than his Teesside boy’s half hour record and there where other
good wins for Ellis Lloyd, Phil Welham, Jerry Conba and Karen Corr.
David Rees with a couple of half centuries and a near 200 total booked
his 3rd. round place along with Jerry Conba, Karen Corr, Phil Welham and
Chris Shutt it was difficult to see the winner coming from anywhere
else. Chris Shutt moved up several gears in his victory to score 358 in
half an hour, including runs of 51 & 193, thus posting his intentions.
Jerry Conba continued in consistent vein and won with something to spare
and the other semi-final places were claimed by Karen Corr, including a
nice run of 58. A Prydden and finally Chris Shutt who, with an almost
identical total to his last match, knocked in breaks of 54,81 and 103.
Karen Corr continued her good form and won impressively against Jerry
Conba to book her place in the final. Jerry had been a model of
consistency throughout the competition and Karen can be well pleased
with her win. Chris Shutt returned from the dizzier heights of the
previous two rounds to register a win with a total of just 217 and a
solitary break of 66 to set up an intriguing clash with Karen.
Those of us who thought that this would be a breeze for the Teesside man
had to revise their opinions because although picking up the expected
victory with something to spare, Chris did not have things all his own
way. Karen’s progress to the final had indicated a degree of inner steel
which did not desert her in the match and to lose by only 150 in such
company speaks volumes for her determination. All in all a high class
plate with the usual keen competition.