JOHN MULLANE RETAINS GORDON LEWIS MEMORIAL BILLIARD TROPHY
John Mullane insisted he was “the second most disappointed person in the room” after being crowned Southampton billiards champion for the third time in four years.
The former England international defeated his team captain Terry Azor 499-446 in a thrilling two-hour match in which both finalists compiled century breaks.
Clutching The Gordon Lewis Cup after his victory on the super-fast, tight match-table at Cue T’s Snooker Lounge, Marchwood, Mullane had words of sympathy for Azor, who has never lifted the trophy in his long career. “There’s nobody more pleased than me to win,” said the 40-year-old from Winchester. “But I’m probably the second most disappointed person in the room because Terry’s my best mate and I’m upset for him. “To play that well, I was almost rooting for him!”
The ageless Azor raced into an early lead in the Southampton & District Billiards & Snooker Association’s individual final with breaks of 53 and 36. But his Chandlers Ford Central Club teammate replied with a 44 and, then in tune with the pace of the cloth, crafted a top-of-the-table 75. Resuming at the table after the mid-session interval, Azor, helped by excellent potting and ‘in-offs’, turned his run of 33 into 106.
The defending champion responded with a 112 to trail by one point, which prompted Azor to quip: “Can we stop now?” With less than 30 minutes to play, Mullane took a 28-point lead with a 51. As the clocked ticked past the five-minute mark, Azor broke down on 24. Mullane made certain with a 25 and double-baulked his opponent with seconds to go.
Mullane reckoned Azor’s ton actually turned the match in his favour. “He looked like his tail was up,” he explained. “It was lovely to see him play so well. “That seemed to fire me up and I got back in and made 112. But I thought to myself ‘that’s not enough’.
“I nibbled my way back in front by 20 or 30. With half-an-hour left he started missing a few. “We can all do our thing on the day. I wouldn’t play in it if I didn’t think it was worth winning. It means something to beat the solid, all-round players that we’ve got. “It was excellent.” Mullane added that the table was “brilliant”. “I’d love to play snooker on it and I’d happily play billiards on it,” he said. “It’s perfect. It’s as good as anything I’ve played on.”
In the last-four, Mullane defeated three-time champion Paul Adams (Churchills) while Azor saw off first-time semi-finalist Steve Allen (Totton Rec).
Final (2 hours): John Mullane 499-446 Terry Azor.
Referee: Tony Aldridge; scorer: Mike Thatcher.
(Photo – players from left to right. Steve Allen, John Mullane, Terry Azor and Paul Adams) 2011-2012
Mullane defeated three-time champion Paul Adams (Churchills) while Azor saw off first-time semi-finalist Steve Allen (Totton Rec).
Current champion John Mullane (Chandlers Ford Central) overcame host Mike Kunzi (Totton Rec) 300-184. Kunzi started well and made a 32 to lead 86-85, but Mullane got into his stride and made breaks of 36 and 46. Kunzi fought back with a 22, but missed a red off the ‘top spot’ when in amongst the balls, to let Mullane in for a decisive 58 and 48
Three-time champion Paul Adams (Churchill’s Eastleigh) faced eight-time winner Daniel Zagaroli (Chandlers Ford Central). Adams had never beaten Zagaroli off scratch before, but triumphed 300-217 – making a 42 and 30 – for a memorable victory
Last years semi finalists – Terry Azor (Chandlers Ford Central) visited Wayne Crotty (Hythe Social), and won 300-220 while Steve Allen (Totton Rec) will be keen to prove himself in his first semi-final, after progressing with a bye.