Snooker stalwart becomes patron

Honoured. . . Gore and Districts Memorial RSA snooker section chairman Evan Fricker (left) and Ernie MacManus congratulate Wattie Gee (centre) on being made the first patron of the snooker section. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

A long-serving and playing member of the Gore and Districts Memorial RSA snooker section has been made its first patron.

On Friday afternoon former Gore man Wattie Gee, now of Dunedin, was surprised with the honour in front of family members and members of the snooker section.

The presentation was made by snooker section chairman Evan Fricker.

Mr Fricker said Mr Gee could ‘‘aptly be described as a stalwart of the section’’.

‘‘Dedicated, devoted, competitive, passionate and humble,’’ Mr Gee was a, ‘‘true sportsman who had represented and supported us with great dignity’’.

Mr Gee had played snooker for the club for more than 50 years.

‘‘He has represented our RSA at numerous tournaments with some success.

‘‘Now at the ripe young age of 96 he can still wield a cue as good as many players much younger.’’

He and Ernie MacManus founded the Golden Oldies Wednesday snooker and the Golden Oldies Snooker tournament.

Not only had he played in every Golden Oldies tournament, but when he was 90 he won the tournament against the late Jimmy Casey from Invercargill, Mr Fricker said.

He had also coached new players.

Mr Fricker could remember as a 14-year-old receiving a special exemption to learn how to play snooker at the RSA.

Watching his father Frank and Mr Gee play against each other was the ‘‘catalyst that gave me the inspiration and desire to take up this wonderful sport; a great passion of mine ever since’’.

Mr MacManus said he thought he was a good player until he started playing with Mr Gee on Wednesdays.

‘‘He gave me a fair thrashing and taught me how to play.’’

He agreed Mr Gee was a worthy choice to be made patron.

Mr Gee said he was very grateful to be made a patron.