Interview with Dominic Dale



Interview with Dominic Dale – December 2002

For those of you not familiar with Dominic Dale he lives in South Wales and is currently ranked well inside the top thirty-two Snooker players in the world. His biggest success on the pro-circuit to date was winning the 1997 Grand Prix, defeating John Higgins in the final.

Dominic thanks for agreeing to give our readers an insight into your snooker playing and your cue collecting experiences, firstly what first attracted you to taking up snooker?

When I was about eleven years old, my parents bought a six by three home Snooker table, primarily for my older brothers. I ended up playing on the table much more than they did and showed a little promise. I remember at this early age being fascinated by the colours of the balls and the techniques required to make a break. By the time I was thirteen, I had played on a full sized table and in fact made my first century break.

Many of our readers enjoy their competitive Snooker at league level, I wonder, did you ever play for a league team yourself?

Indeed I did, I played for the Red Dragon Hall C team when I was 14. I had many happy times while playing for this team and as a youngster was quite proud to have a place within it.

What factors do you take into account when choosing a new cue to play with?

The length, tip size and weight of a cue are very important to most players as well as the firmness or stiffness of the shaft. In fact I am considering seeking out a playable Burwat Champion cue to use as my main playing cue, I currently used one that was made for me by John Parris but can`t resist the lure of using an old cue. If I am fortunate enough to come across a good Burwat Champion of 58″ with an ash shaft, I hope that it will enhance my enjoyment in competing to the best of my ability.

What was your favourite cue when you were collecting?

I used to own a Tom Newman 1274 record cue with a macassar ebony butt and a massive screwed in plate. The cue was in excellent condition, full length with an 11 millimetre tip, it was made, as you know by Burroughes and Watts between 1923 and 1925 when Tom Newman made his 1370, the largest ever competitive break made with Ivory billiard balls.

I also had a lovely example of a Charles Dawson Champion cue also made by Burroughes and Watts; the condition of this cue was remarkable considering its age. 

What type of cue were you using when you won the Grand Prix in 1997?

I was using a cue that was made for me by a really good cue maker who lives quite near to my home called Trevor White from Bettwys near Bridegend. The cue was really well made, in the end I sold it along with my collection.

What is the most unusual cue you have been offered?

I was once offered one of the ornate cues made in France circa 1830, this was a Marquetry cue with a very ornately crafted butt. These cues are not to my taste, I prefer the English cues made from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

What do you think of the Cues n Views Web Site?

I really enjoy looking at the site, it is particularly informative for those people who are just starting out in cue collecting. The site is fantastic and invaluable for anyone interested in the history of the games of Snooker and Billiards.

Who are your cue sport heroes or which players, past or present have made a positive impression on you?

Without hesitation, I would have to say that I admire the dedication of Walter Lindrum. He made Billiards his life and holds all the most prestigious records in the sport. His dedication was almost total to his sport, in fact he shaped the destiny of the sport itself. He was so much a part of the Billiards scene of his day, and was such a good player that he could give a start to the other leading professionals of his day. He managed to get out of the game the maximum return for his extraordinary efforts.

What is your favourite Snooker memory, either watching, or playing?

I definitely prefer playing to watching, although I have had some good experiences while commentating. One of my most satisfying memories concerns the way that as a relatively inexperienced professional, I coped so well with the prospect of winning my first ranking tournament in 1997. it pleases me to remember how well I was able to remain focused on the job in hand, I did not let my mind wander to other factors like what if I lose or it looks as though I am going to win. I sometimes look back at that week with a disbelieving feeling, when I was 8 frames to 6 in the lead I made a 120 break and followed it up with a match winning 77, this performance was for me very exciting.

What are your future ambitions in the sport of Snooker? 

I wish to continue competing for as long as I can, I have a renewed sense of enjoyment at the moment and would like to keep it going for as long as I can. I enjoy the lifestyle and even enjoy all the travelling around the World. I feel that I have been lucky to meet some very interesting people.

What are your personal top three collectable cues, either ones that you have owned or others that you would still like to own?

Discounting the cues that I have already mentioned, I used to have a lovely pearwood shafted J P Mannock cue, it was stamped at 15½ ounces. It had a horn ferrule with an 11-millimetre tip. The facing splice was made from burr walnut with a nice and clear Burroughes and Watts stamp above the mother of pearl badge.

In my teens I owned an Orme Match cue, this cue was lovely and solid, in fact it was with this cue that I made my first century break. The shaft was ash and it had chevrons that were very pleasing to the eye. 

Finally a cue that is not considered by many to be particularly valuable but one that has good memories for me is the Riley Diamond machine-spliced cue. I played with just such a cue throughout my early amateur career. The shaft was maple with a lustrous bronze colour to it, I have a slight pang of regret when I think that I let that particular cue go, it was only fifteen ounce but played like a dream.

Dominic, it has been an absolute pleasure talking to you and sharing your cue collecting and playing memories. I would like to thank you for your time and also to wish you well for the rest of the season.

It has been a pleasure, thanks.

David Smith
Cues n Views

© Copyright December 2002 David Smith
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