Obituary

Edward Fitzsimons

Snooker club owner

Born in Dumbarton on May 8, 1942. Died in Balloch, Loch Lomond, on March 11, 2018

Fitzsimons Eddie 2Edward Fitzsimons, right, who has died aged 75, was the man who brought snooker to Balloch on Loch Lomondside.

Proficiency at the game, which involves green baize tables and multi-coloured balls, is frequently the cue for the old joke that it was the sign of a misspent youth.

And the man who was known as Fast Eddie was more than just good at it.

Eddie Fitzsimons was born at Levenview Terrace in Dennystown, Dumbarton, which was widely known as Wee Dublin.

He was the eighth of 14 children born to Irish emigrants John and Josephine Fitzsimons, who landed in Dumbarton from Dublin in the 1920s.

The family soon left the tenement flat overlooking the River Leven and Dumbarton Bridge and moved to a new house in Brucehill.

After attending St Patrick’s HS, Eddie became a machinist at the Singer sewing machine factory in Clydebank.

Soon afterwards, he met and married his childhood sweetheart, Winnie Lafferty, who was herself from a family of 11 children, in 1963 at St Joseph’s Church in Helensburgh, bringing five children of their own into the world.

A tenement flat at 7 Govan Drive, Alexandria, became Eddie and Winnie’s first house and they moved from there eventually to a new council estate at Dalvait, Balloch.

Eddie worked on board the Clyde paddle steamers before taking up a post at Burroughs Machines Limited in Strathleven Industrial Estate.

He had a brief dalliance with politics and for a time was a Labour Party activist in Vale of Leven.

The 1960s and 70s was a time of remarkable change in Vale of Leven when the main industry, the Royal Naval Torpedo Factory, moved to HM Naval Base at Faslane and was taken over by Plessey Limited, which closed down after a workers’ sit-in protest along with Burroughs, Westclox, Wiseman’s and a number of smaller factories on Strathleven Industrial Estate.

Eddie, who was an active trade unionist, took up a job as manager of Victoria Wines in Mitchell Way, Alexandria.

When things were quiet – they were often quiet – Eddie spent much of his spare time and dinner and tea breaks in the old Torpedo Factory Club in Susannah Street enjoying a game of his favourite sport.

He became absorbed in the game of snooker and encouraged his own sons, Paul and Edward, to take up the sport.

In the late 1980s, Eddie fulfilled his ambition and opened his own snooker club, Fast Eddie’s, at Pier Road in Balloch.

He ran it for 20 years before selling the land in the Lomond Shores area for a housing development.

The name he gave to the club caused a few eyebrows to be raised in surprise, due mainly to Eddie’s laid-back and leisurely approach to life.  Fast was a four-letter word that would not generally have been associated with Eddie.

He was a mad keen snooker fan though and travelled often to Sheffield to the Crucible to watch big stars such as Denis Taylor, Steve Davis, Ray Reardon, John Spencer and many others take part in the world championships.

Scotland’s own world champion, Stephen Henry, got Eddie’s vote as the best ever.

His other loves in life, apart from family, were his Catholic faith, football – he had a soft spot for St Patrick’s FPs – cycling and gardening.

Eddie re-kindled his teenage love of dancing in later years although son Evan said Fred Astaire had little to fear by way of competition.

Eddie lost his bravely fought battle against cancer at home in Balloch on Mother’s Day, surrounded by his loving family.

His requiem mass was held at St Patrick’s Church in Dumbarton on St Patrick’s Day and he was laid to rest with his wife, Winnie, at Cardross Cemetery.

Eddie Fitzsimons is survived by his five children, Paul, Edward, Colette, Gavin and Evan and his three grandchildren, Lisa, Carly and Jacques.

BILL HEANEY

 

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