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Accolade for billiards stalwart

PUBLISHED: 10:16 31 December 2008 | UPDATED: 10:33 07 July 2010

Clive Scott, chairman of the English Amateur Billairds Referees' Association.

Clive Scott, chairman of the English Amateur Billairds Referees' Association.

CLIVE Scott, who has devoted much of his life to the sport of billiards, has been made chairman of the English Amateur Billiards Referees' Association, with responsibility for co-ordinating all the sports' referees in this country.

CLIVE Scott, who has devoted much of his life to the sport of billiards, has been made chairman of the English Amateur Billiards Referees' Association, with responsibility for co-ordinating all the sports' referees in this country.

It means that Scott, the owner of Wheelspeed, the motor accessories and parts business in Cattle Market Street, Fakenham, has reached the top of what was once the pre-eminent cue game in this country, writes Peter Bird.

This year he is responsible, as tournament director and head referee, for 35 amateur championships events across the country plus an open series of events being played at venues as far apart as Scotland, Wales, Southern Ireland, Austria, Poland, Jersey and Belgium.

It is a far cry from his start in the sport when, at the age of 15, he was made secretary and treasurer of the Walsingham Men's Institute Billiards and Snooker Club.

Scott grew up as an all-round sportsman. He played football for Walsingham and was a member of the team which reached the final of the Norfolk Primary Cup played at Carrow Road; for three seasons running he coached Fakenham Town to success in the county Senior Cup and at one time was also chairman of the Walsingham Tennis Club as well as finding time to play both cricket and golf.

But his favourite sport was billiards and he soon progressed from being Walsingham's secretary and treasurer to chairman of the Stiffkey and District League and then the Norfolk Billiards and Snooker League, taking just enough time off from officiating duties to win the Norfolk billiards championship in 1971.

Scott can still remember when billiards was the pre-eminent cue sport after the second world war and players such as Fred and Joe Davis and Walter Lindrum were household names.

It was a pre-eminence that lasted until snooker was featured on television, first in black and white in the 1960s and then in colour. The programme's popularity sent billiards into decline, though the game is now making something of a come-back.

“But snooker will always be more popular now. It looks more glamorous and there is more money in the sport. It's also more difficult for most players to understand billiards but once they do it's a game they really enjoy and which, unlike snooker, offers no second chance if a mistake is made.”

Because Scott plays such a leading part in the English game, he is in much demand abroad for his skills.

He is tournament director for the International Billiards Federation and the World Championships which means he acted a tournament director of the first world championships of the modern era in Singapore in 2007 - also refereeing one of the three two hour sessions in the final - and did the job again at Carlow, in the Republic of Ireland four months ago.

“When I was much younger there were several hundred players in Norfolk. Now there are only scores, but the numbers are growing again,” he said - looking forward to what he believes is a better future for a sport he will continue to promote both in Norfolk and countrywide in the years to come.

But whatever the strength of the sport he will always have his memories of meeting the biggest names in both billiards and snooker as referee at exhibition matches involving among others Stephen Hendry, Jimmy White, John Virgo and Willie Thorne.

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