Spaceman came calling



A Spaceman came calling
85 under the shade without his own cue

When my brother and I first came up with the concept for Cues n Views there were several things that we wanted to achieve.

One of them was to create a home for the writings of Norman Clare and Andy Hunter that could be viewed from all over the world.

Another was to create a resource for the would-be cue collector, enabling them to recognise the various old cues that could still be purchased.

The final objective was for Cues n Views to become a forum for discussion about Billiards and Snooker related collecting and a meeting place either in person or electronically for people with a similar degree of interest.

Regarding interactions with other collectors, I have been pleased with the response that the site has generated. Many people ask questions and on occasion telephone me seeking information and even seeking a particular collectible item.

Imagine my surprise if you will, a few short days ago. I picked up my messages the other day and recognised the voice included amongst these messages as the voice of Dominic Dale, former Grand Prix Champion and in past times a rather eminent cue collector himself.

When I rang Dominic back I discovered that he had not lost any interest in old cues and in fact was considering returning to an old cue to compete with.

It was not long before we moved on to discuss the cues in the Cues n Views collection. Dominic was very enthusiastic about the collection and almost immediately resolved to come up to Yorkshire for a viewing.

Some four hours later Dominic arrived and immediately presented me with several old cue plates for my collection and after a brief but polite greeting dived in to have a closer look at the cues that I have gathered together.

Two things right from the outset struck me; one Dominic really knows his exotic timbers and secondly, he is incredibly enthusiastic about old cues. After driving 240 miles to see them, I suppose this latter fact should not have been such a surprise after all.

We sat and talked cues for well over an hour and then Dominic selected a few to try at my local Snooker Club, Top Spot in Huddersfield. I had phoned earlier anticipating this development and booked our match table for this testing cum practise session.

On arriving at the club Dominic was recognised straight away, such is the power of television and so strong in the minds of the public is the memory of a “character “ performing to the best of his ability in a cauldron like sporting atmosphere. Dominic will have made many fans with his dashing play and his extravert dress sense during this and many other tournaments over the past few years, I have no doubt.

Dominic tried out several of my cues and then played a couple of frames against myself and two members of my local league team. There was never any doubt about the outcome of these frames but they were all played in a spirit of sportsmanship and good humour with banter replacing serious competition and the accumulation of ranking points.

From a statistical point of view, the highlight of this session was Dominic’s break of 85. The break was made with my Snakewood butted Riley cue, circa 1907. Even though, by this time it was quite late.

Dominic still took the time to chat with the members of my team and share a couple of stories about his travels on the Snooker circuit.

It is worth noting at this point that the table we played on was if anything, a little on the tight side and that if Dominic was using his match cue, he would probably have cleared the table and scored well into three figures.

We returned to my house for one last look at the collection and a well-earned cup of tea and then Dominic disappeared into the damp and rainy night for another 240-mile journey down the M1.

In the end Dominic chose not to buy a cue but said that he had enjoyed his visit, never had he seen “such a collection of old cues in such good condition”.

From arrival to departure Dominic Dale was the perfect guest, he showed interest in my collection, signed a couple of autographs and even added a couple of little items to the collection himself.

I feel sure that if he should manage to make his way into the top sixteen at the end of the season, there will be many more fans taking a keen interest in his career and coming to recognise what a talented and well mannered sportsman he is.

David Smith

© Copyright November 2002 David Smith
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