WITH the World Snooker Championship approaching a climax, Eric Nolan, a regular contributor to Looking Back is hoping that readers with an interest in the sport can help him with a photograph he has unearthed.

Local historian, Eric, has been researching prominent Blackburn businessman James Hargreaves who founded the tobacco wholesalers. Eric worked for the company managing the cigarette machine operation.

He said: “When going through my work files, I came across this photo of me presenting The Hargreaves Snooker Cup. I’m not sure of the year although it may have been the early 1970s.

“I’m pretty sure the location was a working men’s club in Accrington. You will see the guy with the microphone has a crutch - he was the one-legged referee and compere/MC.

“It would be interesting if any readers can name our local amateur snooker winner, and the referee. I’d also love to know what happened to the cup and whether is it still being played for.

“Incidentally, the cup was purchased from a retail customer of ours, former Rovers and Clarets football player, Keith Newton, who had a newsagents and trophy shop at Sudell Cross in Blackburn.”

Eric also has some fascinating memories of his time at Hargreaves.

He said: “My boss Michael Hargreaves, was friends with a former Hargreaves’ rep, Johnny McLoughlin, who he told me was the one who came across Alex “Hurricane” Higgins in Ireland playing in a dingy club, while over there buying greyhounds, and brought him over and set him up in Blackburn.

“Eventually he was too hot to handle so sold his contract on. Among other incidents, he had chucked a snooker ball and shattered a mirror in a club in Yorkshire when playing there, after having had rather too much liquid refreshment (not like him!).

“A snooker table was installed upstairs in our premises in Weir Street in Blackburn, before Hargreaves moved in with their subsidiary company Site & Sell (1965) Ltd. which I managed, where Higgins and I think also Denis Taylor would practice.

“I remember our wholesale warehouse manager, Eric Baron telling me about all this, since he’d had to help carry the heavy slate table up to the second floor and re-assemble it !

“Johnny then formed one third of a bingo company with Fred Skinner and Michael Hargreaves. They had three locations, Central Bingo in Blackburn Gt. Harwood and Church, Accrington (all of which had our cigarette machines in).

“Afterwards he also opened John’s Snooker & Pool Bar on Clayton Street in Blackburn which his son ran for a while after his dad died.

“Round about this time, our company sponsored an Exhibition Match between current World Snooker champion John Spencer and Dennis Taylor, then living in Blackburn. It was held at the former Trafalgar Hotel at Samlesbury and we invited our customers. Dennis won both the match and highest break - the latter for which he won a box of our best Cuban cigars!”