Snooker sensation as North Notts Arena kids take league by storm

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS! -- captain and coach Steve Mallender with some of his young Notts Arena B side, who have been crowned league champions.
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS! -- captain and coach Steve Mallender with some of his young Notts Arena B side, who have been crowned league champions.

Youngsters from the North Notts Junior Academy have sprung a minor sensation by running away with the Division One title in the Worksop and Retford Winter Snooker League.

Under the guidance of captain and coach Steve Mallender, their team, known as Notts Arena B, have swept to glory by a staggering 13 points after an exceptional season.

At the start of the campaign, they wouldn’t have been considered to lift the big one. But the hard work and practice the lads have put in, both on and off the table, has paid dividends.

Although their average age is only 15, they became the most feared team in the league and went on an unprecedented 20-match unbeaten run that set up a clear lead at the top of the table. They had the title wrapped up with four weeks of the season still to go.

Mallender said: “Each week, everyone thought the handicaps may catch them up, but they just kept improving. It’s been a real privilege to be part of the success. I am proud of every one of them. They have shown just how professional they are in the way they approach the game and conduct themselves. They all have bright futures.”

For the second season running, one of the Arena B youngsters, Hayden Staniland finished top of the player rankings, winning 17 of his 19 matches. But he was backed up by teammates Macca Croft, Olly Turner, Josh Mallender, Arron Mallender, Harri Spencer, Harrison Lowell, Warren Lowell, James Clark and Luke Gee.

Their success comes only five years after juniors weren’t allowed in many of the clubs in the league. Now snooker is booming at Worksop’s North Notts Arena.