Leagues history august 2015 Chester & District Billiards & Snooker Leagues

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Chester & District Billiards & Snooker Leagues

From the records in our possession the Chester Billiards League began in the year 1909. At this time the Mond Challenge Shield was presented for annual competition, from the name itself we presume Mond as we know it today, being part of the ICI company. The first winners of the league in 1909-10 were Chester Unionist Club, later becoming Chester Conservative Club at that time based upstairs in Newgate Street above the Assembly Rooms, before moving to it's present location in Nicholas Street.

In 1933 the Will Thomas Cup was presented for an individual handicap competition again on an annual basis. The first winner being A.C. Townsend.

In 1962 C.D. Davies presented a cup to be played for each year individually with no handicap involved this became the Chester Billiards Championship. The first person to win this competition was Ron Willetts in 1962-3. of Chester Liberal Club, situated upstairs in Nicholas Street. before their move around the corner into Nicholas Street Mews and sadly recent closure.

The league matches played each Tuesday throughout the winter are at present played 200 up with four players in each team playing off their allotted individual handicap. There is also a prize for the highest break of the season.

This format has changed from past years 1950-60 when at that time more clubs and teams were involved in the league and teams comprised of six players all playing their matches off level with no handicap involved and each game only played 100 up. One year the highest break being 97 made by Phil Williams YMCA . The Cayzer Cup presented in 1928 by Sir Charles Cayzer M.P. The first winners being Conservative WMC in 1929. This was for many years a team knockout competition, is now played at the end of the league season as two small leagues the winners of each league playing each other for the trophy, again a changed format due to the reduction of teams playing in the league and so create a continued interest for all concerned. Whilst still part of the Chester and District Billiards and Snooker Leagues and all trophies being owned by this association, together with just one Treasurer, the Billiards League have for some time run their own section with a separate committee and presentation evening. With the unfortunate demise of both billiard and snooker teams registered in the leagues, it obviously needs both sections to continue to support each other in these times.

The records indicate the Chester Snooker League began in 1930 the first winners being Chester Liberal Club in 1931. Whilst little is known of the early times, from what is remembered in later years around the 1950's The C & D league fixtures were played as at present on a Friday evening, there was also a Monday League called 'The Temperance League' this was as the name suggests for clubs that did not have the facilities of a bar, for example YMCA, Upton British Legion, PSA (Pleasant Sunday Afternoon), Burrells Shop, Saughall, Eccleston and Handbridge institutes. In later years this was renamed The Monday League and existed as such for some time. The C & D league in the 1950's was a team handicap, matches were played on total team aggregate not individual scores, consisting of six players in a team so every player finished their game, the total scores then added, the team handicap deducted from the aggregate of the six games so deciding the result of the match, 2 point awarded for a win.

From a cutting taken by Colin Hargreaves (for obvious reasons) in 1982 from The Chester Chronicle, 'Snooker & Billiards Round-up' it is interesting to note at this time the C & D snooker league consisted of four divisions together with the billiard league. There were also two divisions of the Monday league. Many of the teams playing at this time as seen are no longer in existence.

During this timescale Harry Drennan ( league secretary) was the instigator of forming an inter league competition played on an annual basis, which became very popular. Chester team travelled by coach, helped by league team Crosville Buses, with many supporters to the various locations. The Inter league consisted of teams from Chester, Deeside, Ellesmere Port, Oswestry, Birkenhead, Wallasey, Bromborough and Heswall area. Chester won this competition several times, although Birkenhead and Wallasey in general being the strongest teams.

For many years the only individual snooker competition in the league was the Will Parry cup played off individual handicaps each season, the first winner being J.Newbrook, St. Francis Church Club, in 1954.

In 1961 the league decided to hold the first ever Chester Snooker Championship played off scratch over three frames.. The final over five frames was played at the Bridge Inn Pub, Tarvin Road, Chester. A one table league club at the time with a large snooker room and surround seating upstairs. This was won by Colin Hargreaves, the league intended to give a prize but Colin offered to contributed towards this and donated a trophy, the league then named this the Hargreaves Cup, thereafter Colin entered the competition over the years nine times and managed to win it on each occasion. Over this period in time the billiards and snooker league presentation evenings were held at the Chester Town Hall with a dinner attended by the Lord Mayor who presented the prizes.

In 2014 due to the cup becoming the worse for wear Colin provided a replacement. Several league players over the years who won this trophy went on to turn professional, the most famous of these James Wattana, born 1970 in Thailand, came to live in Chester aged 15 staying with Harry Wah, and played for the YMCA. Winner 1986. James went on to win the world amateur title in 1988 and turned professional 1989. He subsequently reached the semi finals of the world professional championships in Sheffield in 1993 also 1997. Nick Walker born 1973 in Chester, now living in Canada, again playing for the YMCA won the Cheater Championship 1989, 1990 and 1991, turned professional 1991 and in 1999, after defeating Dennis Taylor in the final prequalifying round at Telford, reached the last 16 of the world championship in Sheffield. Neil Jones Chester Conservative Club won the Chester Championship in 1995, 2001,2002 and 2003, he also joined the professional ranks for several years before reverting to amateur status. Gareth Allen, Broughton Wings, won the Chester Championship in 2007, 2010 and 2014 and won the honour of turning professional in 2015.

The Wrights Pairs Handicap cup was presented to the league for annual competition the first winners in 1961 being D.Sollars and E.Chadwick. U.S.C. The president of the Billiards and Snooker Leagues for many years was Ron Woodcock who still played for Chester Liberal Club, at the age of 89. When Ron passed away his daughter presented the league with a new trophy to be known as The Ron Woodcock Memorial Trophy. This is played for on an annual basis off individual handicap for the age group 55 years and over. The first winner in 2005 being Terry Willcock. Chester Liberal Club. At this time Colin Hargreaves became the leagues new President.

In one of the photographs taken in 1972 can be seen C.D.McAllister, always known as Mac. Who was the league Chairman for many years playing from Chester Concervative Club, also Maurice Hayes, Upton Legion, who at this time was the league secretary, and later became the secretary of the Professional Snooker Players Association, and was responsible for getting Embassey Tobacco Co. to sponsor their first World Championships held in 1976 in Wyenthshaw Manchester, before the move the following year to Sheffield Crucible.

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