DARREN 'SKIPPY' MADDEN - POOL OVER ADVERSITY
Darren 'Skippy' Madden has become a Social Media sensation amongst the Pool community over the last few days following a video of him playing went viral.
The footage, taken by a player from another team to Madden's, has already been viewed by 250,000 people and shared hundreds of times on Facebook. Worldwide trickshot artist Florian Kholer has also given praise to the Kent cueist when sharing it online to his vast following.
Due to a disability, Madden has learnt to play Pool by holding the end of his cue in his mouth - an amazing feat that truly has to be seen to be believed.
Madden's passion for pool is so significant that he doesn't just play recreationally, he frequently competes in structured competitive environments against able bodied players.
As part of the Romney Marsh B Team, his side last weekend featured at the English Pool Association's National Knock-Out Cup Finals having qualified via their local KO competition.
In a big event, played in a packed arena and with the pressure of a team environment involved, Madden performed excellently and won 4 of his 7 frames throughout the weekend in Norfolk.
A video has circulated on Facebook showing Darren clearing up in one of his frames. It features two doubles and a three ball plant. You can see this below...
In the middle of responding to hundreds and hundreds of comments, questions and requests online, Darren kindly spoke to us here at The Cue View and explained how he got in this position...
How did you first get involved with Pool? Do you play any other Cuesports? Did you have an inspiration or favourite player/hero?
"I first started playing when I was about 14 at my local youth club. My mate and I won a doubles competition for Under 16's and it just carried on from there. As soon as I was old enough, I played in the local pub league.
I have the odd game of snooker but find it a little difficult, due to the table size, and not having much power in my cue action."
Bearing in mind your disability, did you teach yourself to play?
"Yes. When I first started to play I had someone give me a bridge/rest for every shot. As the years progressed, and my jaw became stronger, I started to just use the cushion. There are times when I need a bridge/rest, and a team mate will lay a cue across the table for me to use.
When I first started, controlling the cue ball was difficult; for example screwing it back, using side and top spin. However over the years I have practised with friends to overcome these problems and now I have complete control of the cue ball. I can only screw it back a small amount, but every little counts, as they say!"
Has your cue been adapted so you can grip the end of the cue in your mouth?
"My cue was given to me by a friend, as they had snapped the screw in part. I had that all removed and lead poured into the end for extra weight. The grip part is just rubber hosing glued on.
You wont believe me when I tell you, but I have had the same tip for nearly 20 years, which is how long I have had the cue! The tip has a slight chip in it, but as I hold it in the same position all the time it doesn't affect me.
Despite this, one day I would love to buy a new cue that has been made for me - maybe if I win the lottery perhaps!"
This is one of the videos on Youtube that shows Darren playing. There is also footage of him playing Snooker and Darts!
What are the main obstacles you have had to overcome in order to compete?
"I have problems with the break, as I can't generate enough power to split the balls up. I do practise this but I still find it difficult. In my local leagues and at Interleague I give up the break. Lets be honest, not many people give up the break!
At Great Yarmouth this weekend just gone, the top table said that I need to break as it would mean playing out of turn. I was very unhappy and annoyed with this at the beginning, but hey, like anything in life, it's just another obstacle in my way for me to jump over. So, I gave it a go and managed a legal break once - just about, but there were 2 foul breaks, although that's pool.
I don't have any issues with the EPA's ruling, I, like anyone else, have to abide by the rules."
How often do you play; practice and competitively?
"I play every Monday in The Romney Marsh Pool League, of which I am the Secretary. Sometimes I play in another league on a Thursday, just to help out if they are short.
Practise is usually a couple of hours before a match and I play Interleague one Sunday a month.
I have tried and will keep trying at the County Trials."
Darren with 4 time WEPF World Champion Mick Hill
In your opinion, what is your finest achievement in Cuesports, and what are your ambitions for the future?
"My first ever dish in a competitive match. It was against a very good friend, who I had been practising with all through the summer - it was a very sweet moment!
Locally I have won Player of the Season in two of my local leagues and have also won the Doubles KO and leagues themselves which I see as a major achievements.
In regards to making Great Yarmouth I was playing for Romney Marsh B; we qualified via our annual KO Competition. We didn't expect to get out of our group, even more so when we lost our opening match to the eventual Runners Up.
However, we won our next two matches, putting us through in 2nd place. We then lost in the Last 64 to Witney 10-8.
If someone told me beforehand that I would win 4 out of 7 during my first time at the National Finals in Yarmouth, I would have thought they were drunk, but turns out I can play this game quite well.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend for my first visit, I just hope we qualify for next year now."
Despite 'Skippy's' recent fame and finding himself firmly in the limelight, he seems to be taking it all in his stride. He doesn't understand all the hype, as he says he is just playing a game that he enjoys.
That may well be the case, but we wanted to congratulate him on his performances at Great Yarmouth and his career as a whole. He has had to break down a number of barriers to compete and has proved that anything is possible on the Pool Table.
Thank you for chatting to us, you are an inspiration to us all Darren!
Written and published by Michael Day on the 11th October 2017