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Billiards - 17. April 2011.

THE woman who has run ladies snooker for 30 years has retired

Mandy Fisher resigned as chairman of the World Ladies Billiards & Snooker Association (WLBSA) on the eve of last week’s Greene King World Ladies Snooker Championship final.

Five days after her 49th birthday, Fisher broke the news at a meeting at the Pot Black Sports Bar in Bury St Edmunds.

She told stunned players and officials: “I have done all that I am capable of doing for the ladies game and I will not be standing for re-election.”

Since founding the WLBSA in 1981, Fisher has brought over half a million pounds of sponsorship into the ladies game.

“I don’t want it to fold; I don’t want it to fail,” she added. “I just feel I can’t do any more than I’ve done.”

World number three Maria Catalano said: “Mandy has left big boots for someone to fill.

“It sure is a sad loss for the ladies’ game. Mandy will be sorely missed.”

Jason Ferguson, chairman of the World Professional Billiards & Snooker Association, paid his tribute to the mother of women’s snooker.

He said: “We want to put on record our thanks to Mandy for her incredible dedication to snooker over the past 30 years.

“She has done a fantastic job in women’s snooker, often in difficult circumstances, and so many players owe a lot to her. We wish her all the best for the future.”

Fisher, the 1984 women’s professional world champion, oversaw the women’s game through its heyday in the 1980s and 1990s.

It was an era when women’s snooker attracted huge sponsorship, was often televised and even appeared on the front pages of national newspapers.

One of Fisher’s undying memories is the run up to her 1991 world championship quarter-final clash with the awesome Allison Fisher on the day her second son Matthew was due.

She was forced by Barry Hearn, now World Snooker chairman, to parade in front of the massed ranks of the world’s press in Hyde Park wearing carpet slippers and a maternity dress.

The mother-of-three now works as a foot health professional in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.

Players past and present were quick to add their appreciation.

Marianne Williams said: “It has been a bit of shock.

“Mandy has tried to keep the ladies game together over very turbulent times and this helped Reanne (Evans) to become the player she is.

“Several doors have been opened already and we must keep Mandy’s legacy alive.”

Another who was “shocked” to hear the news was Jane O’Neill, a one-time WLBSA secretary and tournament director who emigrated to Spain in 2003.

“It wasn’t always easy,” she said. “But Mandy’s heart was always in the right place and she worked tirelessly for little reward.

“There were always the knockers and detractors and plenty with ‘bright ideas’, but no one ever came close to achieving better than Mandy.

“Who can replace her? She shouldn’t go unless Barry Hearn is taking over!”

Jan Hughes and June Banks said Fisher had “worked tirelessly” and will be “greatly missed”, Vicky Gibbs described her as “helpful and professional” and WLBSA photographer Monique Limbos paid tribute to “all those years of dedication and love for the game”.

Seven-time women’s world champion Reanne Evans said: “I want to say thank you to Mandy.”

Mary Hawkes called Fisher the “mainstay of ladies snooker”.

World number four Katie Henrick said she was “very sad” and added: “Mandy has always dedicated so much time and effort into the ladies game. She has always worked very hard for us, maybe not appreciated enough. We will miss her.

“She’s a lovely person and has always been kind, encouraging and supportive to me.”

Six-time world billiards champion Emma Bonney said: “Ladies snooker will not be the same without Mandy as chairman.

“She has given it a tremendous amount of her time over the years and it is fitting that she is going to be our president and will still be associated with us.”

Vicky Carter said: “It’s been great having her as a player back in the day, and, as chair, putting so much time and effort into the game for us.”

Fisher said she was “honoured” to be elected WLBSA president, a position vacated by the death of Agnes Davies, the 1949 women’s world champion, who died in February, aged 90.

Replacing Fisher as chairman is Brian Harvey, a retired florist from Somerset who has represented England at billiards. Harvey still plays on the English-Billiards Open Series and is a useful snooker player.
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