Tommy Coulton Invitation Billiards Tournament
South Bank St. Peters Club, Middlesbrough
Tuesday 3rd & 10th July 2001
opposition to win the Tommy
Teesside is privileged not only to have some of the best amateurs in
the country living within it’s boundaries, but also some of the World’s
best professional players. The annual Pro-Am event at South Bank St.
Peter’s Club, in Middlesbrough gave a rare opportunity to see them all
in action over two consecutive Tuesday nights in July.
The Amateurs were in action first on 3rd July as eight players competed
to find the four who would face professional opposition the following
week. On an overpoweringly hot summer evening a full house witnessed
the matches which were played simultaneously on two adjacent tables.
There was a major upset when Jeff McKeown managed to eliminate
English Champion, Lee Lagan 255-211. Lagan was sadly out of touch
but still managed to stay in contention until the last 15 minutes when
McKeown had the best of the game to claim an unexpected victory.
Neither player had a break over 40.
English No.2, Darren Kell was another unexpected casualty when he
went out to Tony Mackinder 235-126. Mackinder looked confident on
the Club’s notoriously tight “billiard” table and established a lead of 40
with less than 15 minutes remaining. He then added a run of 66 leaving
Kell with no chance of recovery.
Robin Wilson started his match against Mark Hatton with a brisk 50
break, but thereafter it was Hatton who took control. Breaks of 52 and
62 clinching a good 236-195 victory. Last year’s winner, Geoff Charville,
made up the four qualifiers as he strolled through his match against
Simon Snee. Breaks of 80 and 50 highlighting an emphatic 321-74 win.
126; Mark Hatton (62, 52) 236 Robin Wilson (50) 195; Geoff Charville (80, 50) 321 Simon Snee
Tuesday 10th July saw the entry of the professional players to the
competition which included a welcome appearance by Teesside exile
Mike Russell. As it transpired, his involvement, together with most of
the professionals, would not last very long.
Paul Bennett, now ranked World No.16, could make no impression on
Hatton who built upon the 150 points he was being conceded to finish
with a winning margin of 206.
This was a magnificent display from Charville who put together back-
to-back centuries to leave the World Champion in a hopeless position
after 35 minutes of their match. Although Gilchrist replied with speedy
contributions of 78 and 121 he never looked like making up the deficit
and Charville finished winner by 234 points. His match average of 33.3
would have been pleasing to many professional players.
Russell, who has recently acquired a new cue, raised a few eyebrows
when he chose to play this match in stocking feet. “I felt a twinge in my
back after the first shot” he explained “so took off my shoes to allow a
lower stance”. He certainly encountered a few problems with the club
“billiard” table, his first eight visits yielding just 12 points! Mackinder
meanwhile steadily added to his 150 points start before a fine run of
144 by Russell brought him within 60 points of the ex-CIU Champion.
From this point nerves seemed to take over for both players with many
opportunities ending in an unexpected miss. Eventually, Mackinder
held on to win by just 30 points.
David Causier saved the whitewash for the professional players by
easing past Jeff McKeown with a top break of 113.
Charville was always in front in this match, a sound tactical strategy
successfully denying Causier the opportunities he needed to develop a
rhythm. With Causier unable to make any impression, Charville, for
the second time that night, confidently disposed of a top professional
by more than his start.
Hatton, who has improved his game noticeably over the last year,
totally dominated this match. His performance highlighted by a break
of 87. The scoreline would have looked even worse for Mackinder
except for a contribution of 47 at his final visit.
As with his semi-final, Charville slowed the tempo of the game from
the start and when an all-round contribution of 54 gave him a 106-39
advantage after 30 minutes, he
looked to be well on the way to
retaining the title he won last year.
At this point Hatton showed his
resolve, and with consecutive breaks
of 31 and 75 took the lead for the
first time. Adding another run of 53
a little later, he progressed to a well-
deserved victory by 88 points.
Hatton collected £200 and Charville
£100. The highest break prize of
£50 went to Mike Russell for his
Mike Russell and Peter Gilchrist
explained that their lack of current
form was due to the enormous
pressure of having a WPBSA
disciplinary hearing hanging over
them for the last two years. This case, in which they are jointly accused
of “fixing” a 100-up billiards match in the Australian Lindrum Masters
multi-cue tournament in 1999, eventually began its hearing in London
on Friday 6th July, but was immediately postponed again for tapes of
the matches to be obtained from Australia.