Snooker will not be same after loss of league legend Kev

The action will resume at some point, but things will never quite be the same in the Stourbridge Snooker League following the loss of one of its finest ever players, Kevin Franklin.

Kev Franklin, at Stourbridge Institute Social Club, Stourbridge
Kev Franklin, at Stourbridge Institute Social Club, Stourbridge

Former team-mates and opponents from snooker clubs across the Midlands are still in a state of shock following news of his death, not related to Covid, at the all too young age of 55.

A glance through the numerous tributes of social media shows the esteem in which he was held, not just for his skill on the baize but for the way he conducted himself off it.

He was a friend and mentor to many players, especially within the Stourbridge League where he reigned supreme for more than three decades.

The word legend can be banded around far too easily, but it can certainly be applied to Kev for his deeds with a cue in his hand.

Over 35 years, he proved to be one of the finest players the league has ever seen, winning six Premier Division individual titles in 1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2007 and 2008, a record he shares with one of his great friends, Alan Hooper.

He also claimed six Individual Handicap triumphs and lifted the Over 45 Handicap Cup three times, despite being allotted the lowest handicap mark of all the entrants.

He became Pairs champion in 1996, partnering Mark Sheehan, in 2005 with Bob Dunn, and alongside Maria Catalano in 2015.

There was also a sole 3-a-side success in 1995 with Stourbridge Institute, and he had just reached another final in March 2020 with West Midlands Police team-mates Carl Southwick and Sheehan before coronavirus interrupted the schedule of play.

Also in 1995, in company with Stourbridge Institute team-mates Mike Russell and Matt Timmins, Kev reached the final of the Frizzells Insurance national 3-a side-final at Strykers, Wolverhampton where they were defeated by three under-16 England international players, including the late Paul Hunter, Barry Hawkins and English Amateur champion David Gray.

Kev was a member of the Stourbridge Institute team which won the Premier Division championship in 1995 and 1996 and, using the Institute as their home base, he helped West Midlands Police to the title in 2016 and 2017.

On each occasion he had most wins in the division, either outright or shared. He was also a member of the Brandhall Labour A team which won the title in 2005 and 2006.

West Midlands Police team members (left-right) Eliott Bastable, Pete Gibbons, Carl Southwick, Gavin Sloan, Kev Franklin, and Maria Catalano, at Stourbridge Institute Social Club, Stourbridge.

Before establishing himself as a Premier Division player, he lifted the First Division Individual cup as a teenager in 1985 and repeated the feat in 1991. Kev’s 10 century breaks included efforts of 124, 124 and 123, and in the neighbouring Halesowen League, where he had most wins on three occasions (2000, 2010 and 2011) he also recorded five centuries, including 119, 116 and 114, three of the highest 10 league breaks in their history.

But while he excelled on the local scene, possibly his finest achievement came when he defeated Eddie Cooper 5-1 to become Midland Amateur champion in 1996 at Botteville-Acocks Green Legion club, before going on to beat the professional Alain Robidoux in one of the exhibition frames which followed the final.

Four years later, Kev reached the final again but lost out to his good friend Hooper.

Off the table, Kev was heavily involved with the running of the Stourbridge League where he took on the role of assistant secretary, alongside secretary Tony Kidd, 23 years ago.

“The league would like to place on record its great appreciation for everything Kev achieved on the table and its profound thanks for all the help and support he gave during 26 years in administering the sport he cared about so passionately,” said Tony. “And to extend its deepest sympathy to his wife, Ruth and children Alex and Hannah for their loss and to the other family members and close friends.

“We became good friends and I don’t think we ever had a cross word in 26 years.

“He started by organising the representative teams in 1995 and then he took over all the knockout fixtures. His attention to detail was fantastic.

“He will certainly be a very hard act to follow.

“Kev would give his time freely to anyone who sought advice, exemplified by the audience he afforded a teenage Mark Selby at Willie Thorne’s Club at Leicester, just after he had won the Midland Amateur Championship.

“Kev would go and play in pro-am tournaments at Willie’s club, which was where Mark Selby practised as a youngster. Selby came up to Kev to congratulate him on his success and Kev took time out at length to speak to him. Then in 2018 when Kev was trying to organise exhibitions at Stourbridge Institute, he approached Selby who was world champion at the time. And he came and did it for a substantially-reduced fee as a favour to Kev.

“That was the classic case of the chap who had time for an up and coming teenager and he repaid the favour 20 years later by coming to the Institute as world champion during which he made a 147 maximum break. In the final frame of the evening, Kev made a break of 50 before Selby cleared to win, with the aid of a fortunate brown.

“Kev almost forgave him his lucky moment! Almost!”

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