My wife and I were, as usual, totally absorbed in watching on television this week’s snooker world championship taking place in Sheffield. I’m always amazed at the dexterity and imagination of professional snooker players who can work out angles like architects and then persuade the white ball, through technical cue action to spin off to the desired area of the table. I am the snooker player in the family, but Ann is a knowledgeable and enthusiastic follower of the game. I learned the game in a working men’s club in north east England and at my office on the banks of the Thames in London, where the dining room contained a snooker table and  where I was an enthusiastic but mediocre lunchtime player. 

On moving to the Forest in the 1970s, pool was taking over from bar billiards as the popular pub game, with a forest pub league including, as I remember, sports clubs as well as pubs. I played for the sadly now closed Crown at St Briavels, in a league of teams from around the Forest, which included Bream Rugby Club and the Globe at Alvington.

Another sadly closed venue, the Close Turf Club on the St Briavels to Bream road had a full size snooker table, which was very well used. 

Snooker tables seem much larger in real life than they do on the television screen. Those snooker players play with such precision that I can’t believe that they are really playing on a table as big as the snooker tables that I have played on and have caused me so much frustration.  

The late television personality John Morgan had a full size snooker table at his home in Mork, near St Briavels. I played against him once on his home ground. He had recently attended as evening celebrity event, where there was a snooker table. ‘Hurricane’ Higgins, the Ulster snooker wizard, who was the best player in the world but had a drinking problem, was at the event, challenged John to a match for his world championship title.

The ‘Hurricane’ was somewhat incapacitated, so John Morgan won. The next time he played was against me, and he bravely put his newly acquired world champion status up for the winner. For the only time ever, I won a match against him, which made me the world champion. I have never put my title up for a challenge since then, so I think that I’m  still the world snooker champion, a title I have now held for over 40 years.

I’m always available for a non-title game, but I’m not going to risk my world title.