“Thank you to Blaise Northey and Col (Ret.) Tony Hall OAM for recording this interview about Walter Lindrum coaching billiards and snooker in the Australian Army, and to Mark Dunn for helping bring this to light. This interview showcases Walter’s generosity and love for the sport, through a story detailing his eagerness to pass on his billiards and snooker knowledge to others.” – Tammy Lindrum
Blaise: Hello everyone, my name is Blaise Northey. I'm here with my dear friend Tony Hall who we started playing croquet together a long time ago.
Tony: You helped me immensely.
Blaise: Tony, I now play English billiards, which of course was a game dominated by one of Australia's greatest ever sports people, Walter Lindrum, and I believe you have a personal story relating to Walter.
Tony: When I graduated from the Royal Military College, I went to infantry for a year, but then came back to Puckapunyal to command a transport platoon. At the time at Puckapunyal had, I think, seven major units, and Walter Lindrum had decided that he wanted, in his doting years, to donate a billiard table to each of the major units. One table for the officer’s mess, one for the sergeant’s mess and one for the other ranks canteen.
Each day, he and his marker, lifetime marker, moved into the Royal Australian Army Service Corps officer’s mess, and he started work. Each day, the army engineers would set up six concrete pillars so that the billiard tables could be very stable, and when they've done that, he moved in, and he and his marker set up the table for that day, and that evening he gave a demonstration. I was a young officer in the service corps mess and when Walter arrived back and his marker arrived back for dinner about 9 o'clock after the demonstration, he was hungry, but the staff had gone home, so the young officers cooked a steak for him and his marker every day for about 6 weeks. I'm sure it's not as long as that, but there were 13 tables, about 13 tables in all.
Well, at lunchtime, Walter and his marker would come back and have lunch with us, and then after that we'd have a quick lunch, and after lunch he would coach three or four of the young officers in billiards. Well, I was not so good at billiards, but I progressed very well at snooker and after about three or four weeks coaching, he had me playing very well. I could make breaks, not that I did it every time, but I could make a break and did make many breaks of over 100, which was just brilliant. I thought I was going well.
However, when he finished on the last day, he came back, had a steak, and then he looked me in the eye and said ‘Tony, don't give up your day job because you can't see straight.’ So I discovered why I broke down in snooker, and I discovered why I wasn't much good at billiards.
It makes an interesting story, but Walter Lindrum was a brilliant player. Because of him, he won the World Championship so many times that they abandoned it, and they still don't play the world championship in billiards . It's only … the important ones that get to TV all the time are the snooker championships, and I still watch them every time it's on, normally at one or two in the morning, I get up, well I stay up, and watch what's been done because I love snooker. That's about it.
Blaise: Thank you Tony. That's an amazing story.
This interview was recorded by Tony Hall And Blaise Northey in November 2022.
The events described in the recording likely occurred during:
"It was either early 1953 (unlikely) or March 1954 to July 1955 (excluding Nov 54 to April 55) that Walter was at Puckapunyal." - Tony Hall
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