A recent article and video of St Marys Bay Pool player Darren Madden has gone viral, with over 1 million hits in the past few days.
A man playing pool may not seem like a video you would think was particularly unusual, but then Darren is no ordinary player. Due to a disability, he 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.
Darren’s passion for the game is so significant that he doesn’t just play recreationally; he frequently competes in structured competitive environments against able bodied players.
Talking to the Cuesports website Darren said: “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.”
In the video, circulated on Facebook, shows Darren clearing up in one of his frames. It features two doubles and a three ball plant.
Asked how he started to play, Darren said: “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!”
“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. Let’s be honest, not many people give up the break!
At Great Yarmouth two weeks ago, 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.
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.
The Looker would like to congratulate Darren 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