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Quartet roll back the years at event for country’s top players

ON TOUR: Head coach Bruce Skingley (centre, flanked by two of his players) is taking Newmarket Under-15s to Holland
ON TOUR: Head coach Bruce Skingley (centre, flanked by two of his players) is taking Newmarket Under-15s to Holland

Newmarket & BSE Bar Billiards League may have been defunct for more than 20 years, but that did not stop four of its former players from excelling at a recent country-wide competition.

David Lloyd, Andy Noakes, Colin Baxter and Andy Pollard all previously represented The Tharp Arms pub in Chippenham before it disbanded due to players moving away during the mid-1990s.

The Newmarket League followed suit soon after and with no tables in the local area, the sport fell by the wayside.

However, Fordham’s Lloyd rekindled his love for the game after purchasing a table in December 2016.

He invited three of his former team-mates over for a couple of practice sessions and they duly entered the Specflue East Anglian Open 4-pin Bar Billiards Championships in Sudbury earlier this month.

They went with very little expectation, particularly after they had lost every match of a Fours Competition last September.

But, up against 64 players from across the United Kingdom, Lloyd went on to be crowned the main Cup champion, while Pollard triumphed in the Shield event.

“There was nothing in the way of expectations after we lost every match 4-3 in the Fours,” said Lloyd.

“Everyone there said we had done really well for a group that did not have a pub or a league to play in, but we still lost.

“So to achieve what we did as a group was a fantastic achievement and we are all proud of it.

“We did it for all of the players that used to play in the Newmarket League all those years ago.”

Lloyd opened up by beating Noakes (Chippenham) in the first group game and went on to win every match all the way through to the final, where he would meet England captain Curt Driver of Kent.

In the two-legged contest Lloyd racked up the highest score of the event — 3,250 — and he also won the second contest by a further 300 points.

“I had never played Curt before so I had no preconceived ideas about how it would go,” added Lloyd.

“We both started nervously and that actually gave me some confidence because if the captain of England is feeling a bit of pressure, I thought there was a chance I could go on to win.”

In the Shield — a competition for those that had been knocked out at the group stage — Exning’s Pollard won the first leg of the final by 30 points against Dave Lillee.

He then put his Sudbury opponent to the sword in the second leg, winning by a margin of 1,000 points to get his hands on the silverware.

Noakes was knocked out by Lillee in the semi-final of that section, while Chippenham-based Baxter exited the Cup competition at the quarter-final stage to Steve Hayle of Sudbury.

Lloyd, meanwhile, is keen to resurrect the sport within the Newmarket area and has been offered the use of a table that can be situated in a pub.

“It would be great if the game took off again,” he said.

“There used to be plenty of people play it in the area and so many pubs had teams.”

Lloyd can be contacted on 07951 010542.

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