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Pensioner Jack scares Mapstone.

Birmingham pensioner Jack Fitzmaurice threatened to pull off an unlikely victory at the Benson & Hedges snooker Championship in Malvern yesterday.

The 71-year-old West Midlander, easily the oldest professional still playing the game, took the first frame off Bristol's Barry Mapstone but lost 5-2.

Mapstone, 48 years younger than his Solihull-based opponent, whitewashed Fitzmaurice in the closing two frames.

Former winner Mark Williams, the world No 3, played a supporting role and proved a lucky omen for countryman Ian Sargeant.

Williams, who capturing the title five years ago in Edinburgh, came to the Worcestershire venue to cheer on his regular travelling companion.

Some of the Welsh wizard's magic rubbed off on the Tredegar professional who reached round three courtesy of a 5-0 whitewash of Paul Stockwell.

However, Sargeant was helped by Stockwell's late arrival, resulting in a two frames forfeiture for the 31-year-old Londoner. He now plays veteran Willie Thorne after whom the Malvern club is named.

Neath's Steve Newbury and Ian Brumby of Liverpool, two of only nine players to have competed in all ten B&H Championships, survived. Newbury beat Craig Roper 5-1 while Brumby, 3-0 up, and then 4-3 down, defeated Ian Glover, of Doncaster, 5-4.

Double runner-up Mike Hallett, a former member of the world's top 16, whitewashed Essex rival Jason Pegram 5-0.

The 40-year-old Grimsby player is best remembered for his staggering collapse in the 1991 final, when he lost 9-8 to Stephen Hendry after being 7-0 and 8-2 up.

He is now down to 143 in the world rankings but is confident he can turn around his career.

"I've put a lot of work in this season and I've got my old drive and determination back again," Hallett said.

Top twenty Scots

Craig Brown's Scotland have soared into the top 20 footballing countries in the world, in FIFA rankings published yesterday.

The Scots started the year 38th in the world but a string of good results, culminating in their qualification for the Euro 2000 play-offs, have seen them rise to 20th.

Brown's side rose eight places last month and are now one behind Russia. England remain in 12th place while Waleshave tumbled 13 places to 97th, behind minnows Namibia, Qatar and Togo.

The Republic of Ireland are ranked 35, from 56th at the start of the year, while Northern Ireland are 78th.

European first

Frenchwoman Nelly Viennot will make history tomorrow night when she becomes the first woman to officiate at a European Champions' League match. The 37-year-old, a regular top-flight referee in France, will run the line in the Group E match between Molde and Real Madrid.

Harriers on top

Kidderminster Harriers recorded a comprehensive 2-0 win over Hednesford at Keys Park, with Danish link-man Thomas Skovbjerg behind both goals.

In the 19th minute his cross from the right found its way to Scott Stamps at the far post and he drilled his shot low into the corner.

Seven minutes from time Skovbjerg made the points safe when he scored with a shot from 20 yards.

Campion repeat

England's Cassie Campion defeated Australia's world squash No 1 Michelle Martin for the second time in a week in the final of the Women's United States Open in Connecticut. The Halifax-based 26-year-old world No 5 won 9-4, 9-4, 4-9, 9-3.

Everton settles

Leading snooker journalist and broadcaster Clive Everton has accepted damages and costs totalling pounds 65,000 following the settlement of a year-long libel battle against the game's governing body.

Everton's ban from certain venues under the control of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association has also been lifted.

Everton sued the WPBSA, former chairman Rex Williams and former media relations manager Brian Radford over an article that appeared in a house publication, In the Frame.

Countdown to 2000

60: Fee in dollars paid to Jim Thorpe for playing baseball. It cost him his pentathlon and decathlon medals from the 1912 Stockholm Games.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 2, 1999
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