Every billiards lover will be aware of the tremendous
impact on billiards that was bestowed by Ralph
Macklin many years ago when he initiated the
Middlesbrough boy’s league. When he retired, his work
was assiduously continued by Albeit Hanson and still runs
on today. The direct results of the investment of all that
effort had been the never-ending supply of champions at
the very highest levels.
Names easily spring to mindRussell, Gilchrist, Causier,
Shutt, Birch, Martin Goodwill, Murphy and now Paul
Bennett. It seems to me that if you give youngster’s
competition they are bound to improve much faster than
those that have none.
This brings me to an important development in the attitude
to youth that has been going on for some time, but which
has its roots outside of Teesside. This “youth policy”
manifests itself in a fitting way with its own junior billiards
team championship on Saturday 1st November at the
Newmarket Snooker Centre, commencing 12 noon.
The event is of course the brainchild of the Eastern
Counties Billiard League and at this stage I will underline
the name of its innovative and hard-working secretary,
Phil Welham, who drives perhaps the most forward looking
amateur association in the country at the moment.
If you are not catering for youth competition, the issue of
the future of billiards is being ducked. I put it to you
where would we have been without the efforts of Macklin,
Incidentally, I know that some of those that did turn
professional feel that there is a barb to that question,
inasmuch that there is a feeling deep-down, that they may
have cracked the snooker pot of gold. They’ll never know
will they, but I am sure that foe every one that came off
the Middlesbrough circuit, there is a committed gratitude
to those who willingly gave their time so freely, years ago.
Meanwhile, six teams of 4 players a side, representing the
“A” and “B” sides of Lines; Northants; and Norfolk, will
turn up within a proper dress-code, and play on excellently
prepared tablesfreely given, I might addfor the
privilege of playing in properly organised competition and
the faint hope that they might win honours.
Northants are the dark horses, their “A” side comprising
Dean Bavister, Matthew Sutton and Fraser Adams, but
their second string are a joy to beholdbilliards fanatics
Wayne Gardner and Ashley Thomas (both only 11 years
old) bolstered by 13 year old all-rounder, Ashley Burton.
Yes, I do think the efforts are worthwhile