Saturday, 30 December 2017

Haslingden Sport - Snooker, Billiards and Pool

Haslingden & Dist Snooker League Fixture Handbook 1958-1959

It was a thriving snooker league back in the 1950s and 1960s and thankfully I was able to attend some of the Workers (Haslingden Workingmens Club) matches whilst supporting my dad's team.......

In email conversation only this week we have been privileged to receive several photo contributions from Geoffrey Heap who I personally can remember from when he was with the St. Peter's Scouts. But I also mentioned to him that I thought I could remember his dad playing for the St. Peters Church Snooker team, at times playing against my dad on the opposite team.  

He confirmed back that this was the case and memories came flooding back for me and obviously for Geoff as well.

I am not sure how old I was but would have thought perhaps about 12 or 13 and although I wasn't allowed to go to the Clubs that sold alcohol, my dad did used to take me along to watch and support the Workers when they played at alcohol free clubs such as: The Liberal Club on Park Street, and St. Peter's in one of the schoolrooms at the back of the Church, and rarely we would catch the bus to Rawtenstall and then another bus over to Townsendfold Social Club (with this last one! was I supposed to be there or not!! - alcohol or non alcohol?)

They were cracking nights watching my dad (the team Captain), and his mate Jimmy Collinge, Bob Fisher, Jimmy Heald (who also played the piano at the Workers), Joe Clarkson, George Garnett, Danny Trainor and uncle George Yorke amongst others.  I think they were a pretty good team and always did well in the league as I remember.

At the Liberal Club I remember some of their players which included Josh Knowles (Brian's dad), Mr. Duxbury (the Auctioneer) and later his son (also Auctioneer), Veril Riley, and one guy who stood out to me, he seemed a great player and ever so young for that team and that was Ernie Taylor (carpets etc)  at St. Peter's I can only just about remember Mr. Heap, but remember better a really tall chap with glasses who was another friend of my dad's in snooker and that was Frank Riley (lived on Townsend Street)

It was great to hear a couple of stories from Geoffrey about when he also used to go and watch his dad playing with the St. Peters Snooker team.  I have printed the tales here for all to enjoy....

The following tales are submitted by Geoffrey Heap:

Yes my dad was captain of St. Peter's Church Institute snooker team and I also used to go with him to watch the team play, when aged 13 and 14.  I then played for the team when I was 15 and 16 and yes a Frank Riley played for the team.

I have a couple of vivid memories of those days - I remember us playing an away match against The Irish Democratic League, a game the team needed to win to finish top. My dad and I arrived at the club early and the only other person there was the Steward, who happened to be playing the one armed bandit, which was one of the old tic tac toe machines.  As usual dad wanted a drink and the steward had to leave the bandit in order to serve him. At most matches, my dad used to let me have a few tanners to 'lose' on the bandits and this night was no exception; as soon as the steward walked away from the machine, I began to feed it with tanners, three or four coins later the jackpot dropped, well ten bob in tanners did, the rest of the £5 had to be collected from the bar.  I walked quickly towards the bar, with a broad grin on my face, to be met by a stony faced steward who very ungraciously paid me the £4.10s.  I then asked my dad what I should do with the pocket full of tanners and he suggested that he would keep hold of them until our next away match.  I agreed but asked to keep a few back as I had not had much of a play on the machine.  By this time the IDL team had arrived and we could see the steward in deep conversation with them, no doubt expressing his annoyance at having to be pulled from the bandit to serve my dad and by rights the jackpot should have been his.

I walked back to the bandit and proceeded to try my luck again, fully expecting to quickly lose the lot, unbelievably I hit the jackpot again, this time I dispensed with the broad grin and sheepishly asked the steward for my winnings, if looks would kill I was lucky to leave the club alive, needless to say I remained at dad's side for the rest of the evening.  To cap it all we won the match, thus denying the IDL the title.  By the end of the evening the atmosphere felt quite tense and we thought about asking for a police escort when we left the Club!

A match against Loveclough Printworks is also etched in my memory.  This club used an old set of snooker balls, the colours of which were very faded, green and blue looked the same colour, the reds all looked like pinks and so on.  Dad was in the middle of a nice break when he nominated "blue" and potted it; to our amazement the referee called 'foul stroke five away', dad asked why and the ref, pointed out that the green ball had been potted.  Dad lost his temper and eventually had to go outside to calm down and have a fag.  

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A Haslingden Pool Event (Click over to enlarge)
from L to R: Sean Moden, John Farrer (RIP), ?, Noel Hughes (Landlord of Thorn), ?, John Flynn, Lee Janusz, John Castley, Mick McKenna.

Photo: Kindly shared to us by Peter Fisher. 

Commercial Pool Team around the 1980 - photo taken in Pool room at Foresters
Photo: Kindly shared to us by Peter Fisher
L to R: Raymond Halstead, Martin Morley, Paul Lee, Paul Jackson (centre front), Paul Bottoms, Kenny Halstead, Steve Parkinson (RIP)

Rossendale Rosebowl Snooker Event organised by Tony Dyson who is shown holding the trophy. Steven Gerrard on the left with beard (beaten semi finalist), Nigel Higson (beaten finalist), Tony Dyson, Taylor on the right was the winner
Photo: Thanks to Peter Fisher for sharing with us 

Black Bull Pool Team who won league in 1979 (Click over to enlarge)
Names contributed are from L to R:  Melvyn Riley, Sean McKenna, Frank Cooper, Mick Kenny, ?, Fred Uttley, ?,?,Phillip Haworth (fritz), Stephen Duckworth, Steven Almond, ?
Photo: Kindly shared to us by Peter Fisher

Haslingden and District Snooker League "Pairs Finals"
held at the Sunnybank Social Club, Helmshore.
Finalist L to R: James Machell, Richard Holden, George Heys and Bryan Webster
Photo: Kindly shared to us by Peter Fisher

Jim Machell of Haslingden B.L. wins the Individuals
Cutting kindly shared to us by Jackie Ramsbottom

Haslingden Snooker or Pool Event
L to R: Roy Butterworth, Brian Jopson, Tony Couch, David Woodburn and Brian Gavin
Photo: Kindly shared by Peter Fisher

 Haslingden Pool Team players
from l t r: Jim Mead (RIP), Brian Gavin, David Woodburn (RIP), Joe Dowd, Alan Cliffe, Brian Jopson,?,?, Tommy Almond.  John Flynn with cue
Photo: Thanks to Peter Fisher for sharing with us