Snooker club giving kids a break

Green Room Snooker: David Hale and Remis Ducker enjoy a frame.
Green Room Snooker: David Hale and Remis Ducker enjoy a frame.
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HERE they are, right on cue.

Snooker’s finest, who rack up ton-plus breaks like they’re shelling peas, are in Sheffield again for a festival of potting.

Sharp shooter: Snooker fan Dominic Lawton lines up a pot at Paces.

Sharp shooter: Snooker fan Dominic Lawton lines up a pot at Paces.

And it’s not just around the Crucible where things are starting to get loopy.

At one snooker club, fathers and sons are getting into the spirit as the World Snooker Championship starts today in Sheffield.

The Green Room at the Paces Centre on Pack Horse Lane, High Green, opened recently by Simon Barker, boasts four tournament tables and professional lighting.

“We offer a membership deal for father and sons which works out at £12 per week,” says Simon.

“We think it’s a bit of a bargain. Trouble is when dad loses there is a danger that he’ll get a face on and cancel the membership!”

Normal membership is £10 a week and players - of all abilities and both sexes - are given an electronic fob which allows them all-day access.

Simon says: “We encourage players to use the club as they would if it was their own snooker room. It’s a relaxed way of doing things but as the World Championships approaches there’s certainly a growing buzz about the place.”

Simon, who runs a business selling and refurbishing snooker and pool tables, worked for several years installing the World Championship tables at the Crucible - and his work has taken him all around the world.

“I’ve never played professionally,” says the 42-year-old former Wisewood School boy who now lives in Chapeltown. “But I have a good living from the other side of the game.”

His snooker CV shows he has worked installing tables in the Far East, Australia, the Middle East and Europe and his clients have included Princes and Presidents.

Simon, who is no mean player himself having once made a 102 break, has worked closely with most of the pro players and will be attending sessions at the Crucible throughout the competition.

But he added: “I tend not to look at these guys through rose-tinted spectacles. They are just ordinary people with a tremendous talent.”

Siimon still gets a buzz out of watching the pros but that feeling is equalled by the one he feels at seeing children with learning difficulties who play at his club as part of the Stephen Harrison Academy.

The charity, set up by Sheffield-based former pro Stephen Harrison a few years ago, works with disadvantaged children to help them gain confidence as they work with coaches to achieve a certificate in snooker.

Simon says: “The kids love it and they’re learning and their confidence is growing.”

Simon is also looking forward to an international challenge at the club.

“We have a group of 11 German snooker players from Dusseldorf and Stuttgart arriving for the World Championships and they’ll be spending quite a lot of time with us. They will visit the Crucible, take a tour of the theatre and practise here at the club.”

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