Willie Smith

Willie Smith, formerly a linotype operator from Darlington, only entered the Billiard Championship twice, and won it on both occasions. The first was in 1920, against that wonderful touch player Claude Faulkiner, and then in 1923 he regained the title from Tom Newman. Willie was possibly the best non-specialised, all round billiard player of all time. He played the game the average club player could identify with, making shots they would attempt. The only difference was that Willie usually got them.

Willie's best break was one of 2743, which must have taken great strength and concentration, as there were no quick repetitive close cannon shots in his game.

His reasons for not entering the championship more often were due to his constant wrangles with the governing body, a phenomenon which is still repeated in many sports today.

Like many old-time billiard professionals, Willie never really took to snooker, but almost reluctantly played the 22 ball game to earn a living. When asked in 1980 if he enjoyed watching the World Snooker Championships on television, he replied he would enjoyed it a lot more if they changed the rules. "Which rules?" he was asked. "All of them," he replied.