I am writing this article in response to a
comment that I heard in my local club where, two older gentlemen were
discussing the record and achievements of Joe Davis.
One of them, said that "Joe was the best
Billiards player the game has ever seen", the other argued that the modern
players "must be better as the cue sports games have both improved over the
intervening years since Joes day".
This discussion although mildly interesting made
me think about the players of days gone by and their relative abilities and
Billiards is a confusing sport to some people
who take a casual look at its history, because bigger breaks were being made in
1907 than in 1924. The examples I quote are the 499,135 made in 1907 by Tom
Reece, this break was made using the rocker cannon, where the two object balls
are manoeuvred into the jaws of a corner pocket and cannons are repeatedly
scored. This stroke was banned in 1907 as was the pendulum cannon another
repetitive scoring method, thereby making scoring harder and at a stroke the
game more of a pleasure to watch for the paying spectator. The other break I
refer you to is Tom Newmans 1924 break, which was the highest, made with
Ivory balls. This break was an apparently modest in comparison 1,370.
These two breaks were made under such
contrasting rules that they do not prove a thing about the relative merits of
the two players concerned.
Comparing players can only have any real
validity when they play under the same rules and in the same match conditions,
such as pocket size and the position of the spot etc.
Many people consider such players, as Claude
Falkiner to be sub-standard when compared to Joe Davis for example, I am sure
that this was the case. Their respective championship records bear out the
above assumption however, for Claude Falkiners name to be still
remembered after such a long time indicates that at least on his day, he was a
force to be reckoned with.
A similar argument can be put forward on behalf
of Edward Diggle even though, he never won the world Billiards
People often remark on the relative playing
merits of the so-called big four great billiards exponents of the mid to late
1930s, however statistically a truer description of this period might be,
the big one and the chasing pack of three. By this I refer to the best player
of this era by far, Walter Lindrum. The following pack were Joe Davis, Tom
Newman and Willie Smith.
Walter could give his fellow professionals a
start in order to give them a sporting chance yet at the same time, they played
each other off scratch.
Returning to the subject of cue collecting,
there are several cues that contain Walter Lindrum references and signature
The most collectible Walter Lindrum cue id the
one that records his three thousand plus break in January 1929. This break was
a major achievement at the time. Joe Daviss largest competitive break was
2,501 made in 1932 and commemorated on many cues for many years. Incidentally
the most collectable Joe Davis cues are the ones with pre one hundred breaks.
Other cues of note are the Riley Tombstone badged Joe Davis cues and the 114
break cue with the rectangular badge which, are both relatively scarce in hand
spliced versions with a maple or birds eye maple front splice.
The other quite rare Walter Lindrum cue that is
worth getting hold of, though not as valuable as the 1929. Is the 1932 record
break cue with a break and signature recorded on the badge? This cue is hand
spliced with a black ebony butt. The break on this badge is the 4,137 made in
There are many other Lindrum cues as Walter gave
his name to just about anything in a bid to get the money together to return to
Australia after coming here and returning with the world Billiards championship
in 1932. Some of these cues are quite nice but rarely bring as much as the
When you consider that a new Parris cue can cost
in excess of £300. It is perhaps understandable that someone might treat
themselves to an "antique" cue for £250 especially if that cue seemed a
good player for them and had a piece of history associated with it, if only
that it is designed as a replica of a former great players cue.
Even though many people consider him a lesser
player one of my favourite cues is the Claude Falkiner facsimile cue. Mine has
an Ivory badge and a representative of his signature, I would like to know more
about him but sadly not much information seems to be around, as he never won