Derek Clark obituary

THE re-taking of South Georgia by British commandos during the Falklands War cost snooker tournament promoter Derek Clark a lot of money.

This was the beginning of one of the two articles (both are below) I wrote for the Southern Daily Echo in 2009 about Derek Clark who died on July 25 this year aged 88. All are welcome to attend a service at Portchester Crematorium on the August 14 at 1.30pm.

Article 1 continues…

Now a 73-year-old grandfather, Clark used to organise exhibition matches and special events mainly in the Portsmouth area.

As news came through from the South Atlantic on Sunday, April 25, 1982, Clark feared for that day’s England/Wales international.

He recalled: “I thought ‘I’ve done my money’. It’s the only tournament I’ve ever staged that I’ve lost money on because the Royal Navy were confined to barracks and Portsmouth Dockyard was on overtime.”

Clark, whose dad was a master baker, started playing snooker aged 14. He went on to win both the Southampton and Portsmouth singles titles – in the same year.

He remembered an exhibition he organised at the Rock Gardens Pavilion, Southsea.

Alex Higgins was on a break of 85 – with blue, pink and black left – against Graham Miles when his tip came off. The legendary Peoples Champion picked the tip up off the table and said: “I’m now going to show you a bit of Irish magic.”

He stuck the tip on with spittle and cleared the table.

Article two

A 73-year-old grandfather who holds a unique south-coast snooker record has recruited a team of young guns for a raiding party along the M27.

Derek Clark, resident coach at Stubbington SC, will next season launch an audacious bid to win the Portsmouth & District Billiards & Snooker Association league title with five top youngsters from the Southampton & District Social Clubs League.

First to sign for the new Stubbington team was Sarisbury Social’s former Town Champion Alex Dunkley, 21, who is coached by Clark and receives sponsored practice time at the club.

Joining Dunkley are: Billy Castle, 16, from Churchills; Ollie Tydeman, 19, from Sarisbury Social; Arron McIntyre, 20, from Chandler’s Ford Central, and women’s world number seven Suzie Opacic, 20, from Q World D.

Clark said: “I’d like to compare the standards between the two leagues.”

In 1969, Clark, then representing Bitterne Conservative Club, defeated Malcolm Wright (Eastleigh Cons) 3-0 in the Town Championship final.

He also beat Alf Hobbs 4-1 in the Portsmouth final to become the only player to have claimed both titles – and he did it in the same year.

Clark posted the first ever century (111) at the Craneswater Club, Southsea, in May 1961, and the first ever century (102) at Winchester SC in February 1984.

However, he insists his greatest achievement was leading Portsmouth’s Radical Club to victory in the 1977 CIU team championship final against Western Social Club (Cleveland).

Nominating a reluctant Brian Watson, who had just lost 2-0, to play the decider, Clark told his star a little white lie.

“I’ve just been to the toilet,” he said. “There’s a couple of blokes talking out there and they said ‘how can that Brian Watson be an international player? He played absolutely useless’. And I agree with them!”

Watson won.

Clark used to practise at the Castle Club with Fred Davis, brother of the legendary Joe Davis.

“It was an education to watch him play,” he said. “I took everything Fred told me and it really turned my game right around.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed doing it all. I still enjoy it.”

Apart, that is, from one brush too many with snooker bad boy Alex Higgins.

“Not my favourite player,” said Clark, who is waiting for the return of a prized Eureka cue he lent Higgins for an exhibition match at the Rock Gardens Pavilion, Southsea.

Clark lives in Catisfield, near Fareham, with Barbara, his wife of 52 years. They have a son and a daughter. A first grandson, Arlo, was born on February 6.

Picture by Kevin Legg