Billiards: Top ten England ranking for Branson - at 84!

Branson Hoole, of Epworth. Picture: Andrew Roe
Branson Hoole, of Epworth. Picture: Andrew Roe

Branson Hoole is proving age is no barrier as he remains in England’s top ten billiards players - at the age of 84!

Epworth sportsman Hoole - also known as ‘Chum’ - lives and breathes billiards.

Branson Hoole (far right), of Epworth, in 1992 for a billiards tournament. Picture: Andrew Roe

Branson Hoole (far right), of Epworth, in 1992 for a billiards tournament. Picture: Andrew Roe

It’s a sport that has played a huge part in his life since first taking up snooker seven decades ago.

He has gone on to represent England and taken his sporting talents to the likes of Australia, New Zealand and Thailand.

Practicing everyday, Hoole is currently ninth in the Over-50s England billiards rankings.

“I just loved playing billiards. I’m not sure what it was but I definitely preferred it to snooker,” said humble Hoole, who lives with his wife-of-60-years Mavis in Greengate, Epworth.

“I like the idea of planning shots and trying to out-wit the other player, I enjoy that competitive side of the game.

“I was always playing and always trying to push myself to get better.

“It’s absolutely fascinating to watch a billiards match unfold and to see the opposition player’s gameplan.

“Billiards has enabled me to play for England and represent my country which is a wonderful thing.”

Since he started playing snooker in Sheffield at the tender age of 14, Hoole later moved to Wroot and really began to hone his billiards skills.

Since then, Hoole - a former Epworth team captain of 10 years - has been chairman of the Isle of Axholme Billiards League and still plays for Epworth’s B side.

He enjoyed the sport so much that after giving up his shoe repair business in Epworth town centre - now the home to Keith Clough estate agents - Hoole took over a warehouse in Thorne, Doncaster, and turned it into a snooker centre.

There, he installed 12 billiards tables, gaming machines and a fully-licensed bar.

His retirement in 1995, aged 65, saw former RAF serviceman Hoole sell off the snooker club and take his love of billiards even further.

And that included a particular highlight in 1997 when he played an international match for England.

Hoole was selected in an eight-strong squad to take on neighbours Northern Ireland.

Facing Irishman Tony Buttimer, Hoole held his nerve to eventually defeat his opponent by just two points in what was an incredibly entertaining match.

“He wanted two and I wanted 58 and I then ran out with a 60 break,” smiled Hoole.

He has since gone on to feature for England against New Zealand, Australia and Thailand in a host of overseas matches playing some of the world’s best ever billiards players.

During his time in Sydney, Hoole had the chance to play billiards in the home of the late-great Horace Lindrum - a world recording-breaking billiards player from Australia.

Hoole has also been in Vienna and has taken part in a mentoring project where, after playing a match, he and his opponent would discuss where the other could improve.

As well, keen sportsman Hoole has achieved a billiards coaching qualification after attending a Lilleshall programme.

He told the Bells: “I’ve helped quite a few people along the way in terms of coaching and mentoring.

“I just enjoy it and any experience I can pass on, I’m more than happy to.”

And there does not seem to be any stopping Hoole who has just recently played in Derby - again versus Northern Ireland.

Currently holding the ninth ranked place in the Over-50s category, Hoole won three games from six during the tournament.

The 11-time Isle of Axholme League’s individual champion added: “Billiards has allowed me to play all over the country and go across to different places like Australia and New Zealand as well as play for England. I really enjoy every minute of it and I won’t be stopping any time soon.”