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Walter Lindrum
Walter Lindrum at 15.jpg
Walter Lindrum at 15, already a pro for two years.
Born 29 August 1898(1898-08-29)
Died 30 July 1960 (aged 61)
Sport country Australia Australian
Nickname Wally
Professional 1911–1950
Highest break 4,137 (19 January 1932)
Tournament wins
Major World Billiards Championship</> (1933, 1934;
retired uncontested in 1950)

Walter Albert Lindrum, OBE (born 29 August 1898, in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia;[1][2] died 30 July 1960, in Surfers Paradise, Queensland)[2][3] was an Australian world champion professional player of English billiards, often known as Wally Lindrum. He is often referred to as the greatest player so far seen in this sport,[3] with some 57 world records to his credit,[1] many still standing. Lindrum is also often referred to as one of the Australian all-time great sporting heroes along with Donald Bradman and Hubert Opperman.

Contents

Early life

Lindrum's grandfather, Frederick William Lindrum I, was Australia's first World Professional Billiards Champion having defeated the English master, John Roberts, Sr., in 1869. Walter's father, Frederick William Lindrum II, was an Australian Billiards Champion at the age of 20. Walter's older brother, Frederick William Lindrum III, became professional Champion of Australia in 1909. William II closely tutored his sons[1] and their nephew Horace Lindrum. The family can be considered the greatest billiard playing family the world has ever known.

Walter lost the tip of his index finger on his right hand in an accident in 1901,[1] and his father taught him to play billiards left-handed. Much of his childhood was spent practising billiards for up to twelve hours per day, under his father's tutelage. The family were itinerant, and moved from town to town often. His first professional game was played at the age of only 13 years.

By the age of 16, Walter was regularly making breaks of over 1000 during practice at the London Tavern, Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, where Fred Lindrum II was running a three-table billiard parlour. By 1921 Walter Lindrum was defeating his older brother, Fred III, then the Australian Champion. Walter refused to play his brother for the title of Champion of Australia.

Billiards champion

Postcard of Walter Lindrum

During the mid 1920s Walter Lindrum's standard of play was without effective competition in Australia, with many players refusing to play against him. As a result, exhibition matches were often organised, especially with New Zealand champion Clark McConachy.

It was not until 1929 that Willie Smith, considered by many to be one of the best English billiards players of the time, visited Australia and played three fairly even matches against Lindrum. With both players being one match up, Lindrum was forced to abandon the third game midway through, upon the imminent death of his girlfriend. While technically the match was a forfeit, Smith refused to accept the trophy and insisted it be awarded to Lindrum.

Smith, McConarchy and Lindrum departed Australia in September 1929 for a tour of England.[2]

Between 1929 and 1933 Lindrum dominated the English billiards scene. Often he would start conceding up to 7000 points to his opponents. Lindrum and his main rivals, McConarchy, Smith, Joe Davis (Champion 1928–1932) and Tom Newman, were called in the press "the big five". Lindrum won the World Professional Billiards Championship in 1933 and held it until his retirement in 1950.

On Lindrum's second tour in late 1930, Donald Bradman and other cricketers from the Australian team, would sometimes attend Lindrum's matches at Thurston Hall, London.

On 19 February 1931 Lindrum gave a billiards exhibition for the King and other members of the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace. King George V presented Lindrum with a pair of gold and enamel cuff links bearing the royal monogram. These formed part of Lindrum's essential attire for the remainder of his playing career.

His record break of 4137 was made in a match he lost against Joe Davis at Thurston Hall on 19 January 1932. However, this precipitated a change in the rules of the game.

A 1932 tour of the USA and Canada by several players, including Lindrum, proved a disaster, with disappointing attendances and financial losses by the players.

After that debacle and his winning of the 1933 World Championship, Lindrum argued that he should be allowed to defend his title in Australia. The 1934 match was organised to coincide with the Melbourne centenary celebrations in September 1934. His challengers were the New Zealand Champion, Clark McConachy, and United Kingdom Champion, Joe Davis. Lindrum won this title, but in subsequent years the title became dormant for lack of challengers, until Lindrum relinquished it upon retirement.

The title of World Professional Billiards Champion next passed to McConarchy in 1951 who held it until 1968, when he was defeated by Rex Williams.

During the Second World War, Lindrum performed about 4000 exhibition games to raise over one million dollars for the war effort. He was awarded the MBE in 1951[1] and the OBE in the 1958 honours list.

Walter Lindrum's distinctive grave in Melbourne General Cemetery

On 30 July 1960 Walter Lindrum died while on holiday at Surfers Paradise, Queensland. His body was buried at Melbourne General Cemetery. His grave attracts tourists due to the billiard table design of its monument, complete with balls and cue.

Recognition

In 1981 he was honoured on a postage stamp issued by Australia Post depicting a cartoon image by Tony Rafty.

Lindrum was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame and the Western Australia Sporting Hall of Champions in 1985. His house in Melbourne at 158 Kerferd Road, Albert Park, is noted for its historical association with him by the Port Phillip Council.

In Melbourne, the Hotel Lindrum on Flinders Street has incorporated much memorabilia associated with Walter Lindrum. The building formerly housed the Lindrum's Billiard Centre run by Walter's niece, Dolly. One of the original tables from the Billiard Centre has been fully restored there by the original manufacturing company.[4] In April 2009, the Hotel Lindrum hosted The Capital Cup, a billiards tournament that, on its 10th Anniversary, honoured the life and history of Walter Lindrum.

Records

In June 1927 in Melbourne he claimed a world speed record when he scored 816 in twenty-three minutes in an unfinished break.[3]

During 1930 in Manchester, Lindrum set a record aggregate of 30817 during the fortnight match against Willie Smith. In this match he made 10 breaks over 1000 with a highest of 2419. In his final match of the tour against Smith in London, Lindrum's performance set numerous records: the highest individual aggregate (36256), the largest winning margin (21285), a record match average (262), and a record number of four-figure breaks (11). Smith, although beaten, had played excellently with an average of 109 per innings for the match.

His record break of 4137 was made in a match he lost against Joe Davis at Thurston Hall, London on 19 January 1932.[5] Lindrum occupied the table for 2 hours 55 minutes, for about 1900 consecutive scoring shots.[1] He also holds the record break for each country that he played in, the fastest century break (46 seconds) and 1011 points in 30 minutes.

In 1933 on a tour to South Africa Lindrum claimed a new world record for fast scoring when he completed 1,000 points in 28 minutes in Johannesburg.[3]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f Ricketts, Andrew. Walter Lindrum: Billiards Phenomenon. ISBN 0-949742-48-1. http://users.dragnet.com.au/~ricketts/index.html.  
  2. ^ a b c "Lindrum, Walter Albert (1898 – 1960)". Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition. http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A100674b.htm. Retrieved April 12 2007.  
  3. ^ a b c d Peter Ainsworth. "Walter Albert Lindrum: His Life and Times". English Amateur Billiards Association. http://www.eaba.co.uk/articles/walterLindrum/walterLindrumProfile.html. Retrieved April 12 2007.  
  4. ^ "History of Hotel Lindrum". http://www.hotellindrum.com.au/lindrum/history.html. Retrieved April 12 2007.  
  5. ^ "Walter Lindrum". Online 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica. http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/Cambridge/entries/044/Walter-Lindrum.html. Retrieved 2007-04-12.  

References

  • FitzSimons, Peter (2006). Great Australian Sports Champions. Harper Collins Publishers. ISBN 0-7322-8517-8.  
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