On Sunday March 19th I watched the final of one of the oldest individual national sporting contests anywhere in the world! The English Amateur Billiards Championships held at the Whitworth Institute, Darley Dale, Derbyshire.

Martin Goodwill

After nearly seven years absence from competitive play, Martin Goodwill was up against Matthew Sutton, one of the new generation of young players capable of taking this coveted title.

Goodwill won by a comfortable margin thanks to a great start to the evening session when he made two century breaks to take his lead to over 400 with Sutton not scoring in between. Not that the deficit with an hour or so to play was beyond him, Sutton is not the fastest of players in normal mode but when needs must, he can change gear and did just that, changing from a Cliff Thorburn like tempo into Tony Drago.

Matthew Sutton

Matthew Sutton looked impressive and one thought he really had a chance, however with the package of speed came a lack of care and control; it has to be that way, and after some missed chances the deficit crystallized into impossibility with about twenty minutes remaining.

During one of his visits Matthew played an exquisite masse stroke when covered near a cushion with the three balls almost touching and in direct line, no cushion shot was on. It is not often that you see the shot played these days because of restrictions on cannons, the necessity to have the shot available in case of frequent covers does not arise.

I do believe this rule in particular should be reviewed as it would help to popularise the game amongst interested carom players, not forgetting that it would perhaps inject additional interest in the game.

Cannons are the backbone of Billiards along with hazards. I do not believe that anyone except perhaps a carom player will start to ‘Lindrumise’ cannons.

Limited increase is the way, I suggest the answer for the professional game is a hundred cannons which could tie up with a baulk line adjustment.

Finally congratulations to Martin Goodwill who won with a polished, impressive performance. It was a colossal feat, considering his prior absence from the game for such a long period. 

Mark Wildman