Date posted: 15th November 2021

The Scene
The Royal St. George Yacht Club.

The Prize
The coveted Bruce Lyster Perpetual Trophy

The Rules
Best of five frames doubles snooker.

The Preparation
In Killiney - the excitement had been building for months.  The team is selected surreptitiously behind closed doors and announced by the chairman at our Thursday Blitz evening some weeks before the event.  The tension was high, who would make the grade?  Who would be left out?  Who has done enough to impress the judges during the season?

From an historical viewpoint, this annual encounter has been taking place for many, many years.  Brian Casserly had organised the event for decades, George Crawford before him and Bryan handed me the reins in 2004 and interestingly the trophy winning team that year was,

2004 Team
Johnny Hunter
George Crawford
Marcus Cleary
Arthur Jordan
Bryan Casserly
Gordon Horsfield
Joe Nagle
Willow Murray
Michael Thunder
Tom McGovern
(Some players now sadly missing but never forgotten)

The contests have all been great evenings and some very long evenings but always played with the important camaraderie between our two clubs as a given.  Our chairman gave a motivational talk to his team the night before and stressed that when playing these away matches we are ambassadors of Killiney G.C. and should dress and act appropriately.

Match Time
The Killiney team, encased cues sharpened and polished, assembled in the bar of the George at 17.45, appropriately suited and booted for the opening frame to take place at 18.00 sharp.  We were welcomed by their snooker Chairman Robin Sykes.  Robin and I go back a long way having met in St. Paul's National School at about 5 years of age.  We also both have Monkstown Hockey club connections and both our sons played together, winning at the highest level.  Robin’s son, Richard was one of the best hockey players I have ever seen and unfortunately due to an injury shortened a very promising international career.  He did, however, take up golf and is doing rather well playing off +2 in Dun Laoghaire.

Back to the snooker - normal proceedings would dictate two frames before the gong goes for dinner.  The opening frame was very close.  First out, for Killiney, Ivan Cruise and Joe McAvin.  After a slow start the maestro Joe McAvin requiring all the colours to win - and potted the yellow, green, brown, blue, pink but regrettably fouled on the black ball to lose the frame by a whisker.  The second frame was all Killiney with Des FitzGerald rolling back the years with a tactically controlled frame accompanied by his heavy scoring partner Declan Morrissey.  Their opposition included Flag Officer Paddy Traynor, seldom beaten in these annual tussles.

Giving nothing away the teams moved to their beautiful Library room for dinner, one frame apiece.

Crispy Smokie to start, a fillet steak as large and as tasty as I can recall having, Crème Brule, coffee.  A sip of fermented grapes was also supplied in abundance.  A few fond words from both Chairmen and back to the battle on the baize.

More Snooker
The third frame is a vital frame as by winning that one your team only needs one more for triumph.  So, we put in a very strong pairing of Willow ‘the Wizard’ Murray and Gordon ‘The Boss’ Horsfield.  A pair seldom bested on the baize – this should be a doddle for Killiney.  Not long after that comment the George led 2-1.

Frame number four - we really needed a win on this frame or early to bed was where the Killiney team were going.

I looked at the bench and smiled - Michael Thunder and Ronnie Butler - perfect.  Well, what a performance from the two Killiney men, maybe a bit sluggish at the start but a great comeback at the end with decisive potting to gain a very well-deserved victory.  The match was level at George 2- Killiney 2.

One frame to go. Winner takes all. No place for the weak hearted. Experience is the key.

Stan ‘The Man’ Noble and Maurice McCudden stepped forward – it was duck or no dinner.

After a titanic battle with both players lifting their game to unknown heights - it was 01.30 in the morning when Stan ‘The Man’ Noble, at 91 years of age potted the pink and then the black to take the Bruce Lyster Perpetual Trophy back to Killiney.  What a man. What a team. What a Manager. What a night. What a win. Brilliant!

We accepted the trophy gracefully and invited the Royal St. George to be our guests in Killiney Golf Club in 2022 where we will defend the trophy with everything we can muster.

Well done team – it was an honour to lead you to victory.

Gordon Horsfield