I wanted to be Joe Davis when I was growing up; the five-foot folding snooker table, which took up 90% of my bedroom, was the investment I needed to help this dream materialise; I already had comedy glasses.
As I grew older, and was allowed out of my bedroom unaccompanied, I discovered, during the 60s and 70s, there were as many snooker halls then as there are Prets and Costas now!
Many were above Burton’s, meaning you could buy a suit and get a century break (Ok, eight) within the same building.
Many halls were temperance; the strongest drink you could get was black coffee – unless you included WD40 for the squeaky doors – although this doesn’t mix too well with Bovril.
The greatest expense, aside from the table hire, were pieces of chalk. I’d always forget my chalk and collected over 100 small, used-only-once, blue cubes; I finally ground them down and gave them to my mother stating they were the new, exotic range of Bronnley bath salts.
Snooker was made popular in July 1969 with the introduction of Pot Black. The thrill of this game was somewhat negated as a majority of UK TVs in 1969 were still black and white; thus meaning the grey ball scored one as well as seven – given the vertical hold on the TV was always on the blink in my flat, I always thought snooker was played at sea during a force ten gale.
My favourite player, once colour TV was more prevalent, was Perrie Mans; he, like me, had clearly made his waistcoats out of discarded curtains! Although, being professional, he’d have removed the hooks!