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Thornhill Manor Snooker Club ‘on the (cue) ball’

By: David Webster & Robbie Vermont, from Thornhill Manor Gazette

Thornhill Manor snooker was born in a dark corner of the Community Centre.

Clive Locke, Harry Pearson, Terry Riley and Robbie Vermont played on a quarter-sized table on Monday afternoons surrounded by the ladies of the knitting circle. The noise level was high but the cakes and cookies the knitters provided were well accepted by the snooker players.

The players would make an occasional excursion to Inyoni Creek, where there was a full-sized table in the clubhouse, or to The Modderfontein Sports Club.

Hall facilities expansion opens a door to bigger things

In the mid 2020s the village committee had been discussing ways to improve the facilities at the Hall, where the toilets and the kitchen/serving capacity were proving inadequate for functions.

The village committee put a proposal to Rand Aid to improve the Hall facilities. In brief, the existing kitchen was converted to a serving area (also suitable as a changing area for stage productions) and the washrooms were expanded and updated. This was jointly financed by the village committee and Rand Aid; in a continuation of the many ways the village fund has been used to improve facilities and quality of community life.

What came first – snooker room or kitchen?

Quite fortuitously, it transpired that there was a space underneath the expanded kitchen and washrooms just large enough to accommodate a snooker facility. After searching various options, we acquired an unused, full-sized snooker table from Wedge Gardens.

This had originally been donated to Casa Serena, the Italian old age home – now Thembalami. The table was in very bad condition but was fully renovated and installed in the new snooker room, which had been tastefully decorated in line with the Hall. The project was completed in late 2017 and immediately there was an increase in the number of people wanting to play.

We had, a while before, found an old trophy, which we renamed the RA Challenge Cup, and invited challenges from other Rand Aid villages. Elphin Lodge had been playing in the East Rand Retirement Village snooker league (who knew such a thing existed?) and took up the challenge and won the trophy in the first encounter in 2017.

A force to be reckoned with

With encouragement from Keith Anderson at Elphin we entered a team in the ER League for the 2018 season, and created a formal club structure with Clive Locke as captain and chairman, and Dave Webster as secretary. In this first season we came 5th out of 10 teams. To our satisfaction this was better than Elphin who came 7th! Rudy Waage won the league handicap championship. Elphin however retained the RA Challenge Cup based on the two league encounters with them that year. We also instituted two internal competitions, a Club Knock-Out Championship won by Andy Tasker, and a Handicap Championship won by Rudy Waage.

Climbing the championship ladder

We had grown active membership over the 2018 year, so we entered two teams in the ER league in 2019. Our A team came 2nd, finishing only three points behind Marmanet Village in the season. Our B team came 10th out of the 11 teams, which we felt was a good start. Our A team won the league trophy for the pairs’ outcomes over the league.

Thornhill Manor beat Elphin to take possession of the RA Challenge Trophy that year, again based on the league encounters between the two villages in the season. Andy Tasker won the club championship again. Unfortunately, the winner of the handicap tournament was not recorded (not my fault, I was overseas for five months at yearend).

We fully expected strong results from both teams in the 2020 season, growing in experience and ability with each month that passed. We again entered two teams in the league for the 2020 season. However, the arrival of the Covid pandemic put paid to our hopes of winning the league in our third season.

After four matches we were tied first with Arbor Village, and felt our team rally could go all the way. But play was suspended after the 4th league match, and not resumed. We did run our internal competitions under strict Covid precautions in October, and this provided some much-needed relaxation. The knockout championship was won by Dave Webster and the handicap competition by Robbie Vermont. Sadly, we must also record that two founder members, Clive Locke and Harry Pearson passed on during 2020. We have started a memorial wall in the snooker room to commemorate them and others who pass.

Covid-19 continued to bedevil us in 2021. We ran an informal pick-up league in the village and this kept interest going. We hope the ER league will resume in 2022 and plan to have a streamlined internal RA league.

(No acknowledgement is made in this article about Dave Webster’s part in the story. In short, it was Dave’s initiative that secured the space for the snooker room, he engineered the acquisition and restoration of the table, he established the snooker club and has devised and guided it through the various competitions. His enthusiasm and organizational skills continue to motivate the success of the club. – Thornhill Manor Gazette Ed)

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