Player Profiles

Find out more about the very best players in the game!

Curt Driver

England Captain

Current Ranking: Number 1

League & County: I am lucky enough to play for a number of teams – mostly I represent The Suburban Club in Medway and The Constitutional Club in Tonbridge. I also play for The Henty in the Worthing League which keeps me both very busy but helps with the practice!! I am proud to represent Kent at a county level.

When did you first play the game? I started playing in a league at the age of 13 – back in the 80’s. This gave me a really useful education in the game and enabled me to become All England Under-22 champion in my youth.

What is your greatest Bar Billiards Achievement? It is hard to decide because I have been fortunate to win a few great things. I am most proud of being England Captain and being Ranked No.1. There are many great players at the moment and so it is hard to keep performing when you are up against such talent at every event.

Why do you enjoy Bar Billiards? I enjoy the competition – it appeals to my competitive nature. I enjoy having to focus and test myself in challenging situations. I also enjoy the social side of our game. We are a friendly bunch and have developed a real sense of community through the country.

Who would play you in a Bar Billiards movie? That would have to be Vin Diesel – easy!

Pauline Withey

Ladies No.1

Current Ranking: 1

League & County: I play in the Oxford League for the Oracle Snooker Club in Abingdon on a Thursday evening. The Oxford league is at the very heart of my Bar Billiards and I really enjoy it. We have a lovely team who get along very well so it makes every match a lot of fun. One year I also joined the Wallingford League but I have always stuck with Oxford.

When did you first play the game? I have played since 1975. A friend of mine, Dave Tooke, wanted to start a team at a pub in town. I agreed and we started in section 7 of the Oxford league. I enjoyed it immediately – what a laugh we had in the early days. Learning the basics of the game came quite naturally to me and so I did improve, from a very low base, quite quickly. I remember one season where I lost horribly every game for the first half of the season. However, then something clicked and I managed to start winning games, putting better scores together and building my confidence. Like a lot of things, I think confidence can take you a lot further in Bar Billiards. Despite my game improving it still took a very long time for me to win a main tournament – I kept losing in finals! I cannot put my finger on what changed but eventually I got over the line and that started a good run of tournament victories.

What is your greatest Bar Billiards Achievement? Winning the All England Singles. It took me so long to capture that title and then, once I did it, I followed that up with another win the very next year. I enter all of the Open Championships and as many All England events as I can – even though I may get knocked out at some point – I always use these events to improve. If I can capture a high break prize or a furthest lady award then I feel that I have something to show for my efforts.

How can we grow the ladies game? I have five or six ladies that play Inter Area and County. For a time it was getting harder and harder to hold events that were ladies only. Things have changed a little and now that we play against the men’s teams – just like in our leagues – I am really enjoying the challenge. It is absolutely going to help us girls and I am certain it’s the right thing for Bar Billiards. Who knows, maybe they’ll do the same with other sports.

Why do you enjoy Bar Billiards? I love the social side of it is excellent. I enjoy being out with the people that play it. We are like one big family. We do everything we can to support each other and we all try to be there for one another.

Dogs or Cats? Cats.

Dream destination? That is a hard one because my sister would like to visit all sorts of destinations. She has a bucket list that includes places like Las Vegas or seeing the Northern Lights. On the other hand, I am very happy visiting the wonderful places in England. There are so many beautiful things to see that we perhaps take a little for granted. We will continue the debate about the next trip though!

Perfect dinner guest? Tom Jones – I’ve been to see him a few times, even quite recently. I am sure that he would be very entertaining at dinner.

Marmite yes/no? Yes

Mark Trafford

World Champion

Current Ranking: 3

League & County: I play for the Oracle Pool & Snooker Club who are represented in both the Eynsham and Oxford leagues. This keeps me busy and well practised on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s but I still try to find time to get another game or two in if I can. As for the county – I have played for Oxfordshire for about seven years or so and I also represent Oxford ‘A’ in our Inter Area competitions. I have also tried to help organise and manage Bar Billiards within the county and have been the county secretary for about five years. Whilst this comes with challenges it is rewarding to see players do well, improve and continue playing this great game.

When did you first play the game? I was a relatively late starter to Bar Billiards and only discovered the game in 2004. Prior to this I played a lot of snooker and pool in teams and individually. I enjoy each of these games very much but what really struck me about Bar Billiards at the beginning, was just how friendly the Bar Billiards playing community is. We are part of a special club as Bar Billiards players and we have created a fantastic community aspect. People can and do get entire families involved in the game – I like that about what we continue to do.

What is your greatest Bar Billiards Achievement? I still cannot believe that I have been able to secure two World Championship titles. I never for one moment thought I would achieve such successes. Of course, the first time is very special – hard to take in, but really special. It is also true to say I am immensely proud of the manner in which I was able to win my second World Championship just a couple of months ago. I was faced with some of the toughest opponents in the game and was able to record some of the best score that the tournament has ever seen – just at the times when I needed them most which is the most satisfying feeling  you can get in the game.

Which sportsperson do you most admire? As a cuesports fan it is hard to ignore ‘the rocket’ Ronnie O’Sullivan. His natural ability is amazing and to watch him play the game is a real treat.

Dog or Cat? I’m not really a pet lover but I do seem to have attracted dogs rather than cats throughout periods of my life!

Marmite yes or no? Yes.

Ultimate dinner date guest? Alexandra Daddario – for her sparkling conversation of course!!

Nigel Senior

Current Ranking: 2

League & County: I love to play Bar Billiards and so weekly I play in three leagues; Brighton, Worthing and  Littlehampton. In Brighton I represent the County Oak – this is my ‘home’ league having played in it from the beginning (some twenty years!) I am constantly challenged by the very high standard of play. In Worthing I play for The Albion & Fishersgate – it’s a similarly demanding league and ensures I always have to focus on my game. In Littlehampton I play for the Swan and this is a new venture for me having only recently joined this league. I very much like the varied format from the other leagues. I represent Brighton in our Inter League competition. Again this is a real challenge as we are always up against really talented opponents. As for the county scene – I am proud to be a member of the Sussex ‘A’ team and have done so for maybe about 17 years. Along the way we’ve been fortunate to win the All England County Championships on a few occasions. I consider this to be quite an achievement because the County Championships brings together the very best players in each county and gives me the opportunity to play as team mates with players that would normally be opponents.

When did you first play the game? I started in 1996 and it was my Dad who got me into it. He secured me a spot in the local pub’s ‘B’ team and that’s how I learned the basics of the game – there were plenty of highs and lows but I fell in love with it quickly. I am every bit as committed now as I was back then.

What is your greatest Bar Billiards Achievement? My Grand Prix win was particularly special as it is tough to qualify for it and, once in, you only compete against the very best the game has to offer. You really have to play well in every game to win it and I am proud of how I fought back in the year I picked up the trophy after losing my first game. It gave me a tremendous amount of confidence in my game.

Why do you enjoy Bar Billiards? I get a lot out of the competitive side of the game – I have a strong competitive streak. I enjoy lots about the game but particularly that the outcome is far from certain throughout the entire game as simple mistakes can prove very costly. Of course I also enjoy the social and community side of our game – it is a fundamental element of the Bar Billiards scene and we work hard to protect it.

Which sportsperson do you most admire? I have two sporting heroes – I am a big fan of Formula 1 and I immediately supported Nigel Mansell when I was young because of the name. As I watched I learned more about his will to win, his determination and his commitment to improving all the time. I soon realised that these characteristics transcended his sport and I have tried to adopt many of them, if I can, to aid my Bar Billiards playing. In cuesports I have always admired Jimmy White – his manner of playing the game and his approach has always appealed to me. He always attempted the difficult shot – that others would refuse – and as such was a brilliant entertainer.

Dogs or Cats? Dogs – but I could live without either.

Dream destination? I’d love to visit Italy – particularly to see the Grand Prix. There is so much history in both the country and in motorsport it would be ideal for me.

Perfect dinner guest? Nigel Mansell – I have about a million questions to ask him!

Marmite yes/no? Oh yes – I am all over that!

Jean Brackenridge

Ladies No. 2

Current Ranking: 2

League & County: I play in the Brighton, Lewes and Worthing Leagues. I enjoy the challenge that each of them present and, since I have been playing for so many years I know pretty much everyone. We are a close knit group in Sussex and I really enjoy that about Bar Billiards. I have always played in Brighton and I feel that is great for my game – it is massively competitive although everybody plays in a great spirit. I am a Brighton ‘B’ Inter League team member and it is a great competition because we get to experience lots of different playing environments. I was thrilled when the AEBBA opened up the County Championships to ladies teams – the previous county events were limited because of the number of players and so to compete with and against the men is great for the ladies game and, I believe for the game in general – a great step forward. I’m excited at the prospect of competing against new teams from Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire.

When did you first play the game? I first played when I was 17 and started in Division 6 of the Brighton League. My main motivation for playing at that time was that I wanted to spend more time with my boyfriend and that was the best way to get to him! I immediately loved the game even though I wasn’t very good, but mostly because of the great fun it is to play and the hilarious times we had at matches – and guess what, we still do!

What is your greatest Bar Billiards Achievement? Winning the All England singles for the first time was amazing. I was competing against some of the very best players ever to have played and I was a relative newcomer, so it came as a bit of a shock to everyone – including me!

Do you remember your best game of Bar Billiards? Yes – in the Sussex ladies doubles one year we were about 11k down after the first leg and for the very first time I played the table out in a reply. I didn’t even know I could do that! I also love playing matches against Pauline – it seems that they are all very good – she certainly brings out the best in me and I think I do in her.

Which famous person do you admire? Sir David Attenborough.

Dog or Cat? Dog – definitely. I don’t like cats.

Ultimate Dinner date guest? Other than my husband Alan – I’d like to spend some time asking Simon Cowell plenty of questions.

Who would play you in BB Movie? Everyone says I am like Jilly Cooper – she maybe wouldn’t play me but she’d write a great script!!

Marmite yes or no? Yes.

Name of cuddly toy when I was a child? Ted!

Kevin Tunstall

Current Ranking: Number 4

League & County: I play for The Henty in Ferring which plays in the Worthing League. We are a strong team and currently top the league. We enjoy a great team spirit and a great social evening. I also play for the Duke of Wellington, Shoreham in the Brighton League which also provides me with plenty of challenges as there are some excellent players in both. Sussex has for many years been a real hotbed of Bar Billiards as there are so many very strong players. I am proud to represent the leagues and the county in both Inter League competitions and All England Events. I was delighted to help this team the All England County Championships in 2016.

When did you first play the game? My Dad had his first pub when I was 9 and I started playing then – standing on a beer crate! I learned from lots of great players of many years ago and it helped me to be ready to play in league fixtures from when I was 14. I really progressed when I was in my later teens and it was only then that I first saw the ‘split shot’ which has been my hallmark ever since!

What is your greatest Bar Billiards Achievement? These things change over time and as you succeed in the game – it started as my first All England Championship. I am so pleased to have been World Champion and winning my fifth probably has to be my personal highlight. As a member of a team, I have been fortunate to win the All England Team Championships with several line-ups and all of them are very special. Finally, I was delighted to be captain of the England team for nearly 25 years – this made me very proud and we enjoyed a highly successful record.

Why do you enjoy Bar Billiards? I am lucky to have discovered a game that has played to my abilities and strengths. I have a natural hand/eye coordination and I am able to use my touch and temperament. The game also gives me a wonderful opportunity to spend time with my lovely wife Hayley who also plays to a very high standard. She has reached No.4 in the ladies rankings and together we have won several mixed pairs titles. I love that our game is friendly and has a great social aspect to it too.

Which sportsperson do you most admire? It’s hard to pick only one. But certainly Steve Davis is one of them – I always tried to emulate his achievements in snooker within my own Bar Billiards career. I love football and am a big supporter of Manchester United – as such I couldn’t answer this without adding David Beckham and Sir Alex!

Dog or Cat? Dog – definitely! I have always been a dog person.

Marmite yes or no? That’s changed with age – so it now has to be a yes!

Paul Sainsbury

Current Ranking: 5

League & County: I play for the Tunbridge Wells Con Club in Tunbridge Wells league on a Wednesday evening. It is very sad that we are now down to only four teams but nevertheless the standard is incredibly high. So much so that our league won the One Day Inter League event competing against leagues with vastly superior resources. With that high standard comes a consistent challenge and it is hard to win games of Bar Billiards here. We have enjoyed a very good run of form of late as my league team won the All England Team Championships, I won the All England Singles and at least six of the seven Kent County team – who are the current holders of the All England County Championships title – play in this league. I also spent 26 years playing in and for Berkshire of which I am very proud. I enjoyed every bit of my time there and made firm friendships and memories for a lifetime. I also won a number of very important titles including County and Teams championships.

When did you first play the game? I started when I was 8 years old as I was raised in the pub trade. I was 14 when I made my first 10k+ break and played my first league match when I was 16. I remember my very first league game which was an away match at a pub called the Cardinal’s Error. I was drawn out to play fourth on the night and just before the game started the landlady introduced my opponent loudly as ‘the best player in the pub’. He started the game with a break of 1,500 or so and I managed to overcome some very obvious first game nerves to respond with a break of over 4,500. I that settled both me and my team mates down and gave me an important boost of confidence at the right time.

What is your greatest Bar Billiards Achievement? Winning the World Championship is the greatest achievement in the game and of course is mine. It was the most experience I had ever done in Bar Billiards because, as the resulting newspaper headline put, it ‘Sainsbury ends his 31year wait for world title’. The combination of elation and relief I felt was incredible and impossible to describe. It was particularly special because my wonderful wife and my ever supportive brother were there to share it with me – also, from a Bar Billiards career standpoint, it completed my CV! I have one or two other accomplishments that give me huge satisfaction – I am very proud of the fact that I have won the All England singles title four times and in four different decades. I feel this is a reward for my commitment and reminds me that I can still play to a very high standard.

Do you remember your best game of Bar Billiards? I do, yes. It was a group match in the All England Singles against an incredible player called John Burrows. He won the first leg with a massive break of 22,890. I wasn’t sure if I could match that when I started the second leg but I was able to respond with 22,950 to take it. An amazing game where the only real sympathy has to go to the scorer! John dusted himself down from that match and went on to lift the title that year – I feel I helped to sharpen him further with that game!

Which sportsperson do you most admire? As a lifelong West Ham supporter my boyhood hero was Geoff Hurst. His achievements have helped to elevate an entire nation – not bad is it?! I also admire greatly Dame Kelly Holmes. She is a local girl who achieved greatness after overcoming considerable adversity win her life. She is an inspiration to all and she has been kind enough to open a superb cafe right a the end of my road!

Dog or Cat? Dog – all day long!

Ultimate Dinner date guest? Bobby Moore – what stories he would have.

Who would play you in BB Movie? Paul Newman

Marmite yes or no? Yes