Midland Counties League
Stoke-on-Trent took the honours in the Midland Counties Billiards
League by going through the season unbeaten and thus becoming the
first side to claim the title two years in succession. A notable feature of
the league over it’s ten year history has been the unpredictable nature
of the result of matches between the stronger sides, but Stoke have
become so dominant over the last two campaigns that it is difficult to
imagine from where a challenge to their supremacy will come.
Peter Shelley enjoyed a superb season, winning all fifteen games played
and recording each of the four highest breaks, the best of which was a
run of 167, and he was solidly backed up by his highly consistent
team-mates Tony Keeling and Norman Routledge.
Runners-up Stafford, for whom Chris Ward was successful twelve
times in fifteen outings, can feel well satisfied with their highest league
finish, but the teams from outside the top two simply did not perform
to the standards of which they are capable. Apart from Tony Keeling
and Peter Shelley for the Champions, only Neal Rewhorn notched a
century break, in stark contrast to season 2000-01 when no fewer than
twelve players reached three figures.
The season was rounded off when the Atack Snooker Club, Nuneaton
hosted a one-day individual handicap tournament, the final of which
saw the League Secretary, John Smith (+75) narrowly prevail over
Norman Routledge (+60), while Richie Evans (+115) saw off the
challenge of Dave Hall (+180) a little more comfortably in the “Plate”
At the league meeting held on the same day as the singles tournament,
it was decided that the limited handicapping currently in use would be
replaced by a more comprehensive system, in the expectation that this
would make the league more competitive and enjoyable – handicaps for
the one hour matches would initially range from Scratch to Receive
St. Stephen’s “A” won the Worcester Billiards League by a single point
from the runaway winners of the previous year, St. John’s “A”, these
two teams finishing comfortably clear of third-placed Suzy Q.
As is sometimes said in a different sporting connection, the season
proved to be a “game of two halves”. Suzy Q were languishing in
bottom place at the mid-way point, but rallied strongly to third, while
Callow End, joint leaders at half-time, slumped right to the foot of the
The new Champions, St. Stephen’s “A”, have struggled in recent years
to cope with their heavy handicaps, but this time around their squad of
Steve Mundy, Darren Painter, Michael Painter, John Smith and Rob
Wilson not only took the league title but completed a fine double by
thumping Suzy Q in the team knock-out final, while Smith stroked in
the highest break of the season with an effort of 141.
Nicky Vaughan beat his St. John’s “B” team-mate Gary Williams to
put a new name on the individual handicap trophy, while the father and
son combination of Norman and Jason Watts prevailed over Dave
Meynall and Alan Hook in the doubles final.
The Evesham Billiards League was formed only in 1982 and for the
current season has seven teams playing matches on Monday evenings.
To avoid clashing with snooker commitments, the billiards section runs
through the summer months, so at the time of writing the 2002 season
was still in its early stages. Teams consist of three players, with games
being of one hundred and twenty-five points up, plus handicaps, the
back-marker is Tony Bayliss who is assessed at owe sixty.
The hotspot of billiards in the area is Offenham British Legion Club
with three teams competing in the league, while Evesham Servicemen’s
Club provide two and Badsey British Legion and Pershore Working
Mens one team each. As is the case with many billiards leagues there is
some concern over the increasing age of many of the players involved,
but a hopeful sign is the attraction of a couple of new younger players
for the present campaign.
Much of the credit for the survival of billiards in the area belongs to
Dave Warner. Dave was instrumental in the formation of the league and
now, twenty-two years on, he is still heavily involved in its organization
as well as turning out regularly for his team, Offenham Legion.