Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Squire, Norman Powell (1909–1974)

by Richard I. Cashman

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

Norman Powell Squire (1909-1974), billiard and snooker player, was born on 22 November 1909 at Christchurch, New Zealand, son of Harold Percival Squire, bricklayer, and his wife Harriet Rose, née Downing, both New Zealand born. Norman attended a public school and spent a year at technical college. From an early age he developed a reputation as a superb cueist. Noticing his ability, a fellow New Zealand professional Edward James ('Murt') O'Donoghue encouraged him to try his hand on the Australian club circuit.

About 1935 Squire settled in Sydney. He made an immediate impression as a 'hustler' who habitually conceded mammoth starts for high stakes. Soon virtually unbeatable in snooker, he became a familiar figure, always ready to take on any challenger, at City Tattersalls and other clubs. A tall, heavy man with brushed-back hair, he had a good reach and a deft touch. He used a long-butted cue, specially made in New Zealand. On 22 August 1939 at St Barnabas's Church of England, Broadway, Sydney, he married Annie Ross (d.1965). He was employed as a fitter and turner when he enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force on 15 March 1943. Qualifying as a flight mechanic, he served with units in New South Wales and Victoria before being discharged from the air force on 28 August 1945 in Sydney.

World War II restricted Squire's opportunities to perform at the highest level. Horace Lindrum had allegedly been reluctant to accept his challenge for the Australian snooker title in 1944. The sport recovered only slowly in the next decade. It was not until the 1960s, when Squire was over 50, that he recorded his best performances in international competition. On a tour of South Africa in 1963, he achieved a maximum break of 147. Back in Sydney in the following year, he defeated a class field in a snooker competition which included Eddie Charlton and Lindrum, winning all ten frames and losing none. In July 1969 he won the Australian professional billiard championship, beating Warren Simpson and Charlton in a round-robin tournament; next month he defeated the celebrated New Zealand player Clark McConachy for the Australasian billiard title.

At the registrar-general's office, Sydney, on 11 March 1969 Squire married Paula Margaret Taylor, late Lyons, née Coutts, a 38-year-old variety entertainer and a divorcee. He loved gambling, and regularly patronized horse-racing, the dogs and the 'trots'. Always prepared to back himself, he would bet at almost any stage of a match, and once played a single frame on which he and his backers collectively wagered $10,000. 'Norman was terribly hard to live with', Paula remarked, because 'he'd earn $500 playing snooker at Lithgow on Friday night and lose the lot on the first race at Rosehill the next day'. We were 'always short of money', she added.

While in the middle of a frame worth $6000 at City Tattersalls Club, Squire collapsed and died of acute myocardial infarction on 23 December 1974. Survived by his wife, their daughter and his stepson, and by the two daughters of his first marriage, he was cremated. During his career he had made over two thousand century-breaks at snooker, sometimes as many as twenty in a week, most of the time playing for money.

Select Bibliography

  • C. Everton, The Story of Billiards and Snooker (Lond, 1979)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 14 Mar, 25 July 1969, 24 Dec 1977
  • private information.

Citation details

Richard I. Cashman, 'Squire, Norman Powell (1909–1974)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/squire-norman-powell-11749/text21009, published in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 18 April 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

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