Pool ace now playing on the World Snooker Tour having come through Q School.
How are you finding life back on the World Snooker Tour so far?
Great at the minute. I started off well by beating Matthew Stevens 5-4 to qualify for Wuxi, but then lost my first match in the Australian Open. It’s early days and I didn’t expect too much too soon.
What are your hopes and expectations for the next two years on the tour?
I genuinely believe I can make a big impact on the game. I’ve done it in pool and in 9-ball so I’m used to the pressure. My aim this year is to improve my ranking and break into the top 64, then keep climbing the ranks.
When did you first start playing snooker?
I first played snooker on a full size table when I was nine. I loved it. My next door neighbour took me down to the local club and I quickly noticed I could play. The club asked me to play for their team so I did, and by the age of 14 I had made the highest break ever in the league: 138.
What are your strengths and weaknesses as a player?
Potting and break building are my biggest strengths, but my safety sometimes lets me down. I really struggled with the pace of the table in Wuxi and it caught me out in the end.
Where do you practise, who with and how many hours a day?
I was never the biggest practiser but I have been playing a lot recently – near enough every day for around 5 to 6 hours. I’ve been playing different people but Joe Johnson has been a big influence on my game, he’s got me doing a routine which I’d never been shown before. I play at three different clubs: Pilky’s Sports Club in my home town, Cue Gardens in Bradford and the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds. They all have great facilities and they have been very kind to offer me free practice.
How many pool events do you think you will play?
I’m trying to knock the pool on the head for a bit, I’ve achieved everything in 8-ball pool and also done pretty well at American pool, reaching number three in the world rankings. Pool has seen a decline over recent years which is a shame as it’s a great game to play. Matchroom Sport put on the best events these days and have done for quite some time. I was gutted to be dropped from the European Mosconi Cup team last year, I thought I brought a lot to the team and I have a good record in the event, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Who are your snooker idols?
Jimmy White, Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry. I’ve been fortunate enough to play these guys and what they have done for snooker is unreal. I remember watching them on TV and thinking I hope one day that’s me, and now I’m chatting to them and playing in tournaments too. Jimmy popularised the sport along with Alex Higgins. But it was Steve Davis who won near enough everything, he was like a robot. Then obviously the greatest winner came along in Stephen Hendry, he changed the game to what it is now. I’ve been lucky enough to play a pool event in China with Stephen and can honestly say I’ve never met a more down to earth bloke.
What are your hobbies and interests away from snooker?
I love playing golf, although I’m not very good, and at darts I can throw the odd 180. I also play a bit of poker and love the bluffing side of the game. I like to socialise with my friends, they keep me on the straight and narrow as I was going off the rails at one point. I’ve had it pretty tough over the last few years, my mum passed away suddenly with lung and brain cancer, my manager had a heart attack and passed away, then my dad has had three strokes in the past 18 months, plus one of my best mates was killed in a car crash. There are at least another six people who I knew well who are not here any more. There are too many friends to mention but you could say I haven’t had it easy.