THE CLOCK never stops counting down to the next North-West Veterans’ Snooker League campaign, but now is the time when you really hear it tick as the battle for supremacy in the 2012/13 renewal is scheduled to cue-off in late September.
The finishing touches to the new term were finalised at the annual general meeting, held in Cnoc-Na-Ros Old Boys’ Club on Monday, August 27, with the following clubs represented - AOH, CYMS (Letterkenny), Cnoc-Na-Ros OB, Creggan PSC, George’s Bar, Mailey’s OB, Oak Grove, Over-the-Hill SSC, Pilot’s Row SC and Shantallow House.
Also present were Liam Doherty (vice-chairman), Jamsie Nicholl (secretary), Noel McGinley (treasurer), John Clifford (tournament organiser), Mickey Doherty and Mickey McLaughlin (committee members).
One-minute’s silence was observed in memory of deceased members before business moved onto the first item on the agenda, a discussion and final ratification on handicap point-marks for prospective competitors in the forthcoming season’s Veterans’ Snooker League (Section One and Two), Knockout Cups and Individual Championship.
The following amendments were made to the original handicap list - Gerry Canning (increased to +5 from scratch); Jack Johnston (reduced to +5 from +10); Eddie Gallagher (increased to +15 from +10); Mickey Gillespie (reduced to +15 from +20), together with Paddy Kerr, a routinely exuberant character left ‘speechless’ by his reduction (+15 from +20).
Proposals to alter the points of a handful of other players were defeated on the majority vote, namely Paul Toland (scr), Joe Ashford (+10), Tommy Cooke (+10), Terry Slevin (+10) and Noel McBride (+20).
Additional names to be included in the registration of players were Eddie Conway (+5), Daniel Harkin (+5), Liam Rigney (+5), Sammy Doherty (+10), Danny Rigney (+10), Mickey Baldrick (+15), Donal Kelly (+15), Matt McBay (+15), Joe Shiels (+15), Eddie Doherty (+20), Gerry McGowan (+20) and Kevin Webb (+25).
An updated version of the constitution and rules were read and adapted, as was the treasurer’s report, before the business ended with the election of office-bearers for the coming campaign.
The sitting committee were duly re-elected, with the exception of Martin Moore, who has stepped down from the Chairmanship. The Creggan PSC man executed the duties with the utmost diligence over the past three seasons. He was a ‘good man for the job,’ as they say, and the next incumbent to the post will have sizeable boots to fill.
In total, 21 teams have confirmed entries to the league and cup competitions - AOH Club, CYMS-Letterkenny (A and B), City of Derry GC, Cnoc-Na-Ros (A and B), Creggan PSC (A and B), George’s Bar, Mailey’s OB (A and B), Oak Grove (A and B), Over-the-Hill (A and B), Pilot’s Row (A and B), St. Pat’s-Waterside (A and B), Shantallow House (A and B).
CLUB SNIPPETS - William (Sonny) Kelly has vacated the hot seat at St. Pat’s (Waterside), thus a significant managerial era has ended, as the Robert Mitchum look-a-like held the commander-in-chief post since 1997 (the longest serving supremo).
Among the most successful managers in the 15-years-old history of team tournament snooker in the veterans’ code, the Top of the Hill man guided the ‘Pats’ to a brace of Section One League titles (2000-05), as well as twin peaks in the Knockout Cup (1998-02).
Alas, things have gone pear-shaped since then and fortunes really hit rock-bottom last season (wooden-spoon).
Incidentally, I ran into Sonny when out for my daily jog on Saturday morning last. ‘Aye, I resigned,” he said. And then proudly produced a suitable engraved watch presented to him in recognition of his services. Still, while the appreciation gift is the genuine article, methinks Kelly is telling ‘porkies’ about the resignation bit.
In fact, according to a very reliable source at the Melrose Terrace club, he was summoned to a meeting a fortnight ago by chairman Hugh McDaid and, with violist Noel McCann playing a slow lament in the background (the music piece is called the ‘P45 Rhapsody’), the Badger informed the Top of the Hill man it was his regrettable and unpleasant duty to direct him to the managerial exit door!
With ‘Kelly’s Kingdom’, as the club was known during Sonny Boy’s tenure, now consigned to the history books, the new team boss is Willie McCallion, a fairly predictable appointment considering ‘Tootsie’ was the mastermind behind the conquest of St. Pat’s ‘B’ in last season’s Section Two League.
* Opinion polls which projected a one-sided contest proved spot-on in the recent run-off for the Cnoc-Na-Ros governorship, the pair who traded the usual insults during canvassing being John O’Connell and Mick McLaughlin.
Of course, O’Connell is firmly established in the upper rungs of the managerial ladder, whereas his adversary is still ‘grounded’, so the David versus Goliath contest was something of a ‘no-brainer’ for the Rosemount club’s 108-strong electorate.
McLaughlin, who answers to the splendid nickname of ‘Sleepy’, confided in me that he was excessively disappointed with his dismal showing (his votes failed to reach double figures). Yes, I suppose you would be!
* Hugh McCafferty, the George’s Bar gaffer, has started to repair some of the damage in the aftermath of losing the services of key players George Deane, Paddy Doran and Willie Green (switched allegiances to Oak Grove).
Apart from securing the plum signature of the very capable Shaun Murphy (ex-Pilot’s Row), Hubert has coaxed top-shot Paddy Kerr out of retirement, a real tribute to McCafferty’s powers of persuasion and certainly on par with Alex Ferguson’s inducement of Paul Scholes.
* Jamsie Nicholl, who holds the bragging rights as the only club chieftain with a hat-trick of Section One League titles on his CV (2004-06-08), ended a brief sabbatical last weekend and agreed to return to the Oak Grove control room, presumably with a new long-term lucrative contract.
The Bishop Street superintendent has since secured the prized signature of the coming-of-age Eddie Conway, a former Senior Cup winning-captain (George’s Bar in 2000), who was head-hunted by several clubs, but decided to throw his hat into the Oak ring, no doubt heavily influenced by Nicholl’s well-heeled cheque book.
The rumour mill - which is never far wrong - predicts no significant changes in the rest of the camps, although some team managers would really need to strengthen their resources from last season, as they surely must know that “too many passengers means too many losses means no trophies means the sack.”