Legend puts young players in the right frame of mind

    By Andy Tong

    THE Hurst Green District Snooker & Billiards League is to launch a Youth Cup named after local legend Eric Sharman.

    The competition, which begins in September, is open to any player based with or linked to one of the HGSL clubs aged between 16 and 21.
    It is aimed at introducing new players to the sport, and will be sponsored by Times Local News, with the winner taking away £150 and the runner-up £75 plus trophies.
    Eric is keen to spread the word about snooker and encourage young players. Since his return to the sport four years ago, he has been providing tuition at the Cramp Club in Cranbrook.
    “I like to play the younger players and give them a bit of coaching at the same time,” says Eric.
    “I point them in the right direction.”
    He certainly has a history of bringing on the youngsters – his most notable opponent was a certain teenager named Steve Davis.
    He recalls: “I beat Steve Davis’s dad in the Kent Knockout Championship, three games at home and three away.
    “Up in Plumstead I met Steve, he was 12 years old, and we agreed to play at a later date. It was honours shared, I remember.
    “The Plumstead club didn’t normally allow anyone under the age of 18 to play but they let him because he was so good.”
    Eric won the Kent Messenger Championship in 1981 at the age of 46. “That was the biggest win of my career,” he says.
    “After that I stopped playing for 30 years because I had achieved everything I wanted to.”
    “But after I won the title, I had a waistcoat specially made just like Steve’s.
    “It was made by a Mr Robertson, a Savile Row tailor who lived in Cranbrook, and it cost me £45, which was a lot of money at the time.”
    Eric played his first game in a hall above Burton’s clothing store in Maidstone in 1952.
    He was then posted to Egypt during the Suez Crisis, and returned to Britain three years later.
    He carried on playing at RAF Wendover in Buckinghamshire, as a non-commissioned officer, and took over the care of the table after the curator was demobbed.
    Eric has made 17 century breaks down the years, with his best being 137 at Meopham in the Whitbread Cup.
    So what advice does he give young players? “The most important thing is that you have the correct stance and bridge. You’ve got to have balance, and get right down behind the shot.
    “Then you need the correct alignment for the cue action, coming straight through from the shoulder to the hand. After that, everything falls into place.”
    Contact match secretary Steve Smith on email:
    steve.mountfieldclub@gmail.com mob: 07720 298971

     

    THE REST IS HISTORY Eric Sharman (left) with HGSL’s chairman Lee Smith
    TOP TABLE (LtoR): Steve Davis, Eric Sharman and Ronnie Row