Magician Mark wins all-Legion showdown

Pictured from left are Mark Hichen (semi-finalist), Dean Walmsley (runner-up), Mark Riley (winner) and Eric Barnes (semi-finalist).
Pictured from left are Mark Hichen (semi-finalist), Dean Walmsley (runner-up), Mark Riley (winner) and Eric Barnes (semi-finalist).

Mark Riley claimed the Sovereign Snooker Services 2014 Clitheroe Small Table title. but charity was the winner on the night at a packed Clitheroe Royal British Legion.

After almost eight months of league and then knockout matches between 24 of the Ribble Valley’s best players, and over 800 frames, the final saw Legion club and team mates Dean “The Destroyer” Walmsley and “The Magician” Riley take to the green baize.

In a tentative first frame, it was nip and tuck until Walmsley missed a difficult final blue for the frame, allowing Riley to win on the pink.

With both players opening up a bit in the second, Riley played a loose safety allowing Walmsley a sniff on the last yellow, and he duly cleared the table to level the match.

Again there was nothing in the third frame – Riley potted a difficult red, and in doing so then showed his class in clearing the table with a faultless 80 clearance to make it 2-1 and take the highest break of the competition.

With the fourth frame still young, Walmsley took command with some good safety until Riley got the most outrageous fluke in potting the last red, with Walmsley still several points in front.

Riley showed no mercy in clearing the table with a 32 clearance.

Walmsley took a 26 -point lead after Riley went in off in frame five, and then took a difficult red on for a good chance of taking the frame and reducing the deficit to 3-2. But he wobbled the red and Riley took his chance with a break of 26 to level the scores, and then went on to sneak it on the pink with his next visit, leaving himself one frame from the title.

Riley had a solid 40 break in the sixth, but missed an easy red with the frame at his mercy. Walmsley couldn’t capitalise and let Riley back in to win 5-1 and take his first title.

After the match, there was a raffle to raise funds for Abbie’s cause, in aid of Dean’s niece, for cerebral palsy treatment. In a totally unexpected gesture, all the players donated their cash prizes to the charity and, added to the raffle, raised over £550.

Special thanks to sponsors Sovereign Snooker Services, Clitheroe Royal British Legion, Susan and Sarah Garner for hosting the final and providing the buffet, and raffle organiser Ian Rushton.