English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Amateur Billiard Player : June 1996

The Amateur Billiard Player : June 1996

Professional Scene

Mark Wildman

Having only just accounted for the 1995/96 prize monies in the
professional tournaments I found myself on the wrong side of the editors
editorial of the first issue of the ABP.

It was David’s theme on the commercial opportunities to players from
billiards that caused the blip! I just have to refer you to the earnings
of the top flight players and the point is made.

Russell grossed circa £35.000 Sethi 117.000 Chapman £14.000 and
Causier, Gilchrist and Foldvari were each in the £10.000 area.This
coming year of 1996/97 sees the prize fund almost doubled to over
£250.000, so I expect the individuals mentioned and perhaps others to
earn their Keep totally from billiards.

In fairness to Just about all outside of the professional scene,
which includes David, how would they know when so little happens in the
UK media world except for the two monthly periodicals.

Next year Chris Shutt will be playing “professionally. He is expected
to do very well, perhaps not as well as David Causier who won a
respectable amount and reached llth in the rankings in his first season.

The quality gets better and better and the depth of good players
deeper and deeper. More importantly perhaps, the average age of the top
players has reduced tremendously over the last 10 years.

So when progress is measured, it should be against that kind
of data, rather than the many plus or minus of lesser detail
I have many times gone out on a limb to try to get billiards lovers
to understand just how good the top players are. I grew up in the
immediate post war years as the game gradually spluttered to almost
oblivion – not quite though, there was always a group of billiards
“loonies” around. However, although I have seen and played against the
likes of Joe Davis, John Barrie, Willie Smith, Laurie Steeples, Sidney
Lee and many others the game has been forsaken by most for the coloured
ball game.

In the thirties the legends were made – LINDRUM, SMITH, NEWMAN,
DAVIS, McConachy etc. They were possibly made because the game had gone
into deep freeze. If not, evolution would have provided even better
players. The 46 year gap between the”golden era”and the beginning of
the present, had put the games evolution almost into reverse
It is now into forward gear again and I would without hesitation put
the top players on a par with those of the thirties, but to appease the
masses I will exclude only Lindrum, Smith and Davis from the comparison.

Even then I’m not over certain that the present champion would be
outclassed in that exalted company. Strange that only a few months ago
I was forecasting that he was likely to lose his way over the next three
years, but he has turned the corner and is oozing self belief.

He can still lose however, Roxton Chapman beat him comfortably in the
British Open over 4 hours.

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