ALBERT HANSON MEMORIAL BILLIARDS INVITATION
South Bank Albion SC, Middlesbrough. Sunday 9th March 2003
John Hartley’s ambitious new Pro-Am tournament reached a
successful conclusion at 11.15pm on Sunday 9th March. The event
which was staged as a memorial to Albert Hanson, the “Mr. Billiards”
of Teesside, involved 36 past and present players from the Boys’
Billiards League, of which Albert was a co-founder. Using the two
tables of South Bank Albion Club, 30 minute qualifying games were
arranged over two evenings (29th December and 2nd February) with
the winners meeting the seeded professionals in the concluding stages.
All games were handicapped and played as a straight knock-out.
In addition to the more usual names, the field also included Mike Dunn
and Jon Birch, who since starting their careers in the Boys’ Billiards
League have become established Snooker professionals. Neither of
these players had appeared in a billiards match for some years, but
both showed that the skills they had learnt in their formative years had
been well remembered. Jon Birch in particular displayed a touch which
suggests that he still finds time amongst his snooker commitments to
fit in some practice at the three-ball game. In fact, Birch could probably
have done without his 80 points start as he cruised through the
competition to place his name on the trophy for this inaugural event.
His most difficult game came in the final against that hardest of
competitors, Geoff Charville (+100), who, for the first 10 minutes,
denied Birch the semblance of a chance. However, Birch maintained his
composure and after taking the lead with an 81 break he drew steadily
away to clinch an ultimately easy victory.
Charville, who always seems to be present at the final stages of these
pro-am events, had earlier recorded a great win over Dave Causier (scr).
Receiving 100 points, his position looked hopeless as Causier, making
the top break of the night with 141, recovered his handicap and took a
65 points advantage. With typical determination, Charville held the
table, putting together an unfinished run of 74 to see him achieve a
By far the most impressive scoring in any of the games came from Lee
Lagan (+40) who made two centuries to eliminate Mike Dunn (+80) in
the quarter-finals. This helped him to an impressive 421 points in his
allotted 45 minutes with an average of 46.8. However, he did not carry
this form through to the next round, where he lost to Geoff Charville.
Jon Birch’s path to the final included a surprisingly easy win over a
lack-lustre Chris Shutt (scr.) who could only muster at top break of 25!
Birch on the other hand, finished this match with an unfinished run of
132, outpointing the World No.4 by an impressive 184 points, excluding
Brian Thompson and Vera Selby travelled down from Tyneside to
assist with the refereeing on the night and they were supported by
local referees John Hartley and Callum Robinson. The closing stages
were well supported by various members of Albert Hanson’s family
and the prizes were presented by his brother Kevin. In addition to their
trophies, Jon Birch collected £160 from the cash donated by diverse
sponsors, and Geoff Charville took £80 as runner-up. Unfortunately
there was no prize for the most smartly dressed player, which would
surely have gone to Darren Kell, the event deserving more attention to
this detail by most competitors, especially the professionals.
Albert Hanson Memorial Pro-Am at South Bank Albion.
131, 110, 88unf