English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Amateur Billiard Player : February 2001

The Amateur Billiard Player : February 2001

OVERSEAS NEWS

LOOSE CANNONS TOUR OF NEW ZEALAND

As described in our last issue, the Loose Cannons had arrived at
Auckland on 4th October and the following day they continued
their tour by hire car making the trip from to Hamilton along Highway
1. They were quickly made aware that their TV appearance the previous
night had not gone unnoticed. Calling in at a roadside fruit barn they
were asked by the cashier if they were “the dudes who were on television
last night?”—Fame at last!

Four days were spent in Hamilton, playing matches at the
Cosmopolitan Club against a club side, a New Zealand representative
team and competing in the New Zealand Open. It proved to be a
superb venue with excellent facilities, and the most magnificent
hospitality was extended to the visitors. Their chief host at the club
was Bryan Villers, self-described as “a sprightly seventy-seven year
old”. Bryan is very active organizing competitions at the club, especially
for the lesser “B” and “C” grade players. And how sprightly? Well, he
proved too sprightly for John Smith over a forty-minute game and gave
Derick Townend plenty of problems as well! Earlier Townend had
been edged out by Brendan Richardson, but otherwise the Cannons
were pretty much in control as they raced to a 14-2 victory, despite
being dazzled by the blue and yellow Bart Simpson-patterned waistcoat
and the remarkable potting ability of Brendan Bateman.

Still early days of the tour and it was obvious that the Loose Cannons
expressed desire to return home unbeaten would be put to a severe test
against the New Zealand representative team. The Kiwi’s were certainly
“up for it” as they sped into a 3-1 lead, the visitors not really
distinguishing themselves in this round although Derick Townend did
well to overcome Gary Oliver. Townend went on to gain another notable
success over Darcy Boyce, while Peter Shelley hit more points in one
break (155) against Merv Stewart than he had scored in the entire
previous game, but there was simply no denying the steely determination
of the New Zealanders to triumph over the “Old Country”. Wayne
Carey and Gary Oliver secured the required victories and the double
success of Carey, New Zealand’s top ranked player, was the decisive
factor of the match. Result: Loose Cannons 3 New Zealand 5. The
“Test Mach” was immediately followed by the New Zealand Open
which is reported elsewhere in the magazine, and resulted in a fine
victory for Bill Andress. With all the Cannons performing well they
managed to collect a total of $1,050 in prize money!

The 10th October saw the Cannons at Te Puke, known as the kiwifruit
capital of the World. A visit to the orchards resulted with them
being presented with no less than three boxes of fruit! In the evening at
the Te Puke Club, half-hour games were arranged against local players.
These included Rob Elvin, President of the NZ Billiards & Snooker
Association, but the “Loose Cannons” proved too strong, dominating
the match.

Result: Loose Cannons 14 Bay of Plenty 2.

Two days later at Napier R.S.A. Club the Loose Cannons looked to be
in great danger of tasting defeat at the hands of a provincial side as they
trailed 1-3 after the opening round of games, their lone victory being by
a mere twelve points. However the dinner interlude saved them from
further punishment, and they returned fully refreshed to whip the
Hawkes Bay second string players 4-0. They repeated the success
when the local “big guns” were brought back into action, Peter Shelley
being particularly severe on the leading local, Paul Stocker, with runs of
124, 67 and 61 securing an emphatic victory. The evening was splendidly
organized and promoted, having received pre-match publicity in the
local newspaper and many team and individual photographs were taken
for future publication.

Result: Loose Cannons 9 Hawkes Bay 3.

Moving on to the Porirua Club, Porirua, Wellington on 13th October,
Peter Shelley was again in superb form as he cracked in a superb 259
break in the final heat against Malcolm Cooke. Result: Loose Cannons
7 Capital City 1. By 15th October the tourists were still ploughing
through the donated boxes of kiwi fruit, apples and oranges, although
one box of kiwi fruit had to be abandoned in Porirua.

The following day at Riccarton Club, Christchurch the “Cannons”
unbeaten provincial record is in danger again as they trailed 1-3, but the
visitors fight back to secure a honourable draw. The Shelley v Oliver
match was the highlight of the evening. In the last 3 visits to the table
both players produced a burst of scoring. Oliver made a 60 break,
Shelley replied next visit with a 68 break, and Oliver in turn replied
with a 92 unfinished to win by 10 points!

Result: Loose Cannons 4
Canterbury 4.

By way of recreation the team took a thrilling Jet-boat ride across Lake
Wakatupi and along the Kawarau and Shotover rivers, passing within
inches of banks, trees, driftwood and fishermen! All with regular stops

by way of 360º turns—an awesome experience. On the return they
managed to recover Derick’s cap, which had been lost overboard early
in the trip. Obviously enthused by the spirit of adventure Peter Shelley
and John Smith then decided to take a turn at Paragliding! John Smith
takes up the story. “On board the boat we were issued with jackets and
strapped into a harness while the operator, a Sylvester Stallone lookalike,
explained procedures. Out into the bay we were attached to the
parachute. Take off was from a sitting position, then we were up there
floating in the sky—wonderfully peaceful, magnificent views, but I
can’t believe that we are doing this! A couple of times the boat cut
power and let us just float down towards the water, before surging
forward to lift us skywards again—an exhilarating experience. At the
end of the ride we and the ‘chute were winched back to land smoothly
on the deck before we all returned to the jetty—still cannot believe that
I have done this!” So, suitably prepared for their evening match at
Commercial Travellers Club, they despatched the opposition with
Peter Shelley making a 132 break.

Result: Cannons 10 Southland 2.

The final match of the tour took place at the Whangarei R.S.A. Club in
Auckland on 21st October. A team of eight players from various towns
in Northland had been assembled by Merv Stewart, all “B” and “C”
grade players who were to receive a start of 150 points for each fifty minute
game. Despite this tough handicap, the “Cannons” cut loose to
notch an 8-0 victory, most scores indicating comfortable successes.
The rest of their final evening in New Zealand was spent in the
clubrooms. Still keen for a game, Peter Shelley and John Smith had a
knock against local players while a birthday party/disco was in progress
in the other half of the room! Merv Stewart later reported that as a
consequence of this match he now had at least 9 players interested in
forming a billiards competition amongst the local clubs next year.

Result:
Loose Cannons 8 Auckland (Northland) 0.

All agreed that the visit had been a great triumph, a wonderful experience
for the tourists and successful in creating extra interest in billiards in
New Zealand.


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