22 questions – 15 on life, 6 on snooker, and one for the cue ball!
Any unusual interests or hobbies away from snooker? I’m afraid there’s nothing unusual about any of my hobbies haha. When I’m not snookering or doing something snooker related, you’ll usually find me golfing or practising on my piano., much to the annoyance of Elaine who thinks I should be doing the hoovering or something.
You’re the Invisible Man for a day. Where would you go / what would you do? I think I’d head straight for Number 10 Downing Street to see what really goes on and the decisions that get made that we know nothing about. Maybe I’ve watched too many political box sets but I’m sure more goes on than we ever hear about.
You can be a pro for a season at any other sport. Which one, and why? I’d have to say golf. It’s the only other sport that I could’ve actually had a decent go at once upon a time. I never had to choose between snooker and golf but in another life i could’ve been stalking the fairways instead of living on the green baize.
Which personal possession would you hate to lose? Other than my cue! I’d have to say my phone. I can’t even say my passport as I have two of those haha. Yeah all my contacts, pics, videos etc are on my phone. So if that goes missing I’m finished.
What are your three biggest pet hates? I really struggle with people being late, people interrupting you and people who don’t say thanks when you hold the door open for them. Once in New York I stood holding the door to Bloomingdales open for what felt like 20 mins without anyone saying thank you. There’s just no need for it.
You can travel back or forward in time for a day – when and why? I’d love to go back to the days of Leicester Square Hall in London before it was destroyed in the Blitz to see where snooker as we know it started and where some of the first World Championships were played.
Stadium concert or intimate gig? – and who would it be? I’ve been to some great concerts over the years, but an intimate gig would be the one for me. I’m a real piano enthusiast so it would have to be Jools Holland, Elton John or Billy Joel. I love watching Jools’ New Years Eve show every year, he’s phenomenal.
You’re allowed three songs on a long haul flight – which ones? Sixth Avenue Express ( Jools holland ), Over my Shoulder by Mike and the Mechanics and The One by Elton John.
What would be your perfect 24 hours with unlimited travel, and with whom? In the days of Concorde I would’ve loved to go to New York for the day, with my partner Elaine and take in the sights and maybe a show on Broadway and then come home. It’s amazing to think that not that long ago you could actually do stuff like that. We seem to have gone backwards with travel and that’s a real shame.
Where would be your ideal holiday destination? I’m more of a city break kind of person than beach holiday so I’d always choose somewhere like NYC, Paris or Berlin. I really want to go and see more of Italy sooner rather than later. I recently watched Woman in Gold ( a film about a woman trying to reclaim what was taken from her family during the second world war ) on a flight to Shanghai and that’s got me really wanting to go to Vienna. so there’s plenty to do.
You can have dinner with any four people in history – who and why? Now that is tough. I’d have to meet American Scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer who is credited along with others for leading the Manhattan Project and creating the Atomic Bomb and try to understand why he did it, and if he understood what he’d made and the risks attached to such a weapon. I’d have loved to have met Winston Churchill and know what it was like to face such terrible things and keep going. Steve Jobs – creator of Apple would’ve been on my list too as his creative ability has in one way or another affected most of us in some way. I’d love to know what else he’d thought of and i’d also like to have met the snooker legend Joe Davis. We hear lots of stories from that era but it would’ve been great to meet the man himself and be able to show him just how far snooker has come.
Your three favourite tv programmes? Friends, by a mile! Im also into House of Cards at the moment and have just finished Prison Break which I loved. When I’m at home other than Sky News in the morning I don’t tend to watch much TV unless it’s sport so saving some good box sets for our long stints away is a wise move!
What car do you drive? – and which car would you like to own? I currently have a Range Rover Vogue. I’ve had it since I won the Masters and it was a little bit of a treat to myself. My absolute dream car would be a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 from the Bond film Goldfinger. But they’re now selling for £650,000 and that’s if you can find one. So I’ll have to keep practising, win a Nobel award and the EuroMillions and then I might be able to buy one.
Which movie have you seen more than any other? I’m really into old gangster / mafia films so I’ve seen The Godfather ( all of them ) and Goodfellas more times than I could tell you. My father used to play the theme tune to the Godfather on the piano regularly when I was a child but obviously back then I didn’t know what it was. When I watched the film for the first time years later, all the pieces fell into place. More than anything I love the way they all used to dress back in those days. The suits, the pinstripes really do it for me, so maybe I’ll have to bring some of those themes into my snooker outfits. I’ll just leave the shotgun at home.
You get to sink a few beers with anyone – who and why? My GrandFather Tom. I didn’t really know him when he passed away as I was so young but I’d love to have a beer with him now and listen to his stories of coming over to England from Ireland as a young man back in the day and what that was like and when he fought in the war. Apparently he played a bit of snooker / billiards in his day so we could always have knocked a few balls about too.
You can make one rule change in snooker – what would it be? Just one???? That’s not fair. There’s so many that I’d love to change and that I think would make a positive difference in the game. But if it’s just the one then it would have to be a shot clock. Some matches these days are just dragging on and in this day and age people don’t want to watch it. It’s a tough sell. We live in an age where everyone wants everything faster, quicker, now. Even fast food places now have a fast lane, yeah cause 5 minutes isn’t fast enough. Snooker we all know is great as it is, but I want it to thrive, not just survive, and i think for that to happen, it needs to quicken up.
Who’s the biggest nightmare to share a room with at tournaments? Probably my coach Chris Henry. When we started working together I used to always book us twin rooms and for a while it was good fun but in the end I had to bite the bullet and get two separate rooms. He’s great fun and he’ll kill me for saying this but he’s a bit of an old woman. He likes to “dither” over things like leaving the room and will check and re check that he’s got everything before going anywhere, and even then he usually forgets something! I might have to give him a written warning soon.
What’s the best wind up you’ve seen or heard on the snooker tour? I remember thinking that Mark Selby was winding us all up in Beijing one year when he came down all ready to play at 1am but it turned out that he was just jet-lagged haha. as a kid I was in the players lounge of the old Dr Martens League and Ronnie was minding his own business reading a paper. A few of us, Steve Davis and his father, Jimmy White and someone else were watching the TV when Jimmy very casually got up and moved around the room to sit with the Rocket. No one thought anything of it until the paper that Ronnie had been reading went up in flames! Very carefully, Jimmy had flicked his lighter out and WHOOSH! Up the paper went and we were all creased up on the floor laughing.
The best and worst aspect of being a snooker pro? The best part is easily the fact that I get to be involved in my favourite sport everyday and do it for my job. I feel so lucky that I found my career at such a young age and that I love what I do so much. The only negative about it from my point of view is how much time we now spend away from home and our loved ones. But I guess that’s the same for many men and women working around the world. Skype and FaceTime have helped to make the world feel smaller but we still miss each other for weeks at a time.
You can play one match at any snooker, or non-snooker venue in the world – where and why? I think a lot of players that didn’t get to play there would say the old Wembley Conference Centre, and that was a special place to play. But having played there years ago I can honestly say any time that you walk out in the Crucible to play snooker it’s special. I’m already looking forward to going back next year and playing out there in that hallowed arena.
Which tournament do you most enjoy playing in / being at? Lots of the events are special these days in their own right. The German crowds always make those events by being so involved, they really love their snooker. But for me it’s the predictable answer of The World Championship. Every time I go there I remember the great games over the years that have been played right there in that arena. The great moments in our games history, most of which have happened there. Alex crying for his daughter to come out after his win in ’82, Cliffs 147, Davis v Taylor in ’85, the epic Hendry v White battles…………….. the list goes on. They all happened there and that makes it more than a tournament for me. It an annual pligrimage to the Mecca of snooker.
And finally – name your all time top 5 snooker players (in order)? Now this really is a toughie because I think as players we all think that we’ve played in the hardest era. But in my opinion the 5 greatest snooker players of all time are
All the best
My thanks to Shaun for taking the time and being a great sport. Top man.