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King of the Hill

Wednesday, 18th May, 2016

World champion Mick Hill (with the cue) with local eight ball players at the Rising Sun Hotel on Saturday. World champion Mick Hill (with the cue) with local eight ball players at the Rising Sun Hotel on Saturday.

By Michael Murphy

World eight ball champion Mick Hill taught local potters a few lessons on the green felt at the weekend when he took on two Broken Hill combined teams at the Rising Sun Hotel.

The ‘People’s Champion’ made history last year at the World Eight Ball Championships in Blackpool, England, when he became only the second player to win three men’s singles titles.

The British-born cueman joined Gareth Potts in the record books after he lived up to the pre-match hype and destroyed Nigel Clarke on the table, 11-5.

Hill has just returned from a trip to China where he played in the Chinese Billiards Championship, and although it’s a game he rarely plays, his expert control of the cue ball saw him placed second overall.

But it was all eight ball for Hill’s third trip to the Silver City last weekend, which began with a demonstration event at the Night Train on Friday night.

Local eight ball player and good friend, Gerard Lehmann, helped organise the champ’s Silver City stopover as part of an Australia-wide tour.

On Saturday, local players queued to have a crack at the champ, and they came off second best.

“He’s in Australia for another week before he heads back to England to play in the world championships,” Lehmann said on Saturday, in between frames at the Rising Sun.

“Today we have got two Broken Hill sides going up against him.

“So it’s a big hit out for the local boys and Mick just loves playing, and as you can witness today, he plays pretty well.”

Hill won the first set 10 to 2, and cleared the table five times. Phil Summers, who plays locally for the Rising Sun, stood up for the local team during that set when he also cleared the table.

“But it’s not all about winning,” Lehmann said.

“It’s about Mick Hill being here and playing eight ball, and just showing the general public what the best player in the world does on the eight ball table, and it’s absolutely awesome.”

The event was a good session for local players. Broken Hill will field a team at the Country Championship in Bordertown, South Australia, over the June long weekend.

The Silver City successfully hosted the event two years ago, and the local association will put in another bid to host it in the next few years.

“The team has not been selected yet but it will be a very strong team ... eight ball is really solid in Broken Hill,” Lehmann said.

Other big news for the association over the weekend was the recognition of Ray Mason’s contribution to eight ball in Broken Hill.

The Rising Sun Hotel publican was awarded a life membership.

“He has been behind the scenes of eight ball for years and years,” Lehmann said.

“He runs the jackpot joker for the association and donates a substantial amount of money every year,” he said.

Lehman said they couldn’t have picked a better time to recognise ‘Masha’.

“To have the world’s best eight ball player in your own pub, and get awarded a life membership ... it was really good.

“It was well deserved for ‘Masha’, so congratulations to him.”

Lehmann paid tribute to his world champ mate, even though Hill showed him up on the table.

“He is like the Tiger Woods of eight ball, and I’m just lucky enough to be one of his friends.”

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