What’s Yours?



Even after nearly fifteen years of collecting cues, I still like to try new cues on the snooker table. In fact I first started collecting because I got it into my head that I wanted to use an old cue as my regular cue for playing the game.

My first proper cue was a machine spliced cue made by E J Riley and signed with a transfer “at least” by Dennis Taylor. This cue was a centre jointed ash cue, of the type that at the time could be readily purchased in any high street sports shop. I eventually decided to seek out a single piece cue, with some history attached to it.

At first I could not find an old cue that was firm enough or that seemed to allow me to play a stun screw kind of game consistently. I then came across a maple Riley hand spliced tombstone badged “Riley cue”. This cue was firm and solid and made the deep screw shot very easy, so I bought it for £65. This seemed to me at the time a huge amount of money to lay out for a cue. I used this cue for about a year, until I reconsidered and decided to return to ash.

At this time I developed an interest in finding out which cues the professionals used and discovered that Tony Knowles used a Willie Smith and Steve Davis used a Ye Olde Ash cue. At the time, I had no idea that both of these cues were made by Burroughes and Watts.

I then read that Powerglide were making good cues in Fred Davis’s book so ordered a Rex Williams original through the post. When this cue arrived it was as you can imagine in mint condition, the cue was excellent and a great example of a genuine modern hand spliced cue. After a while the fact that this cue was new and that it had no front splice, like the cue that Rex was using at the time, encouraged me to renew my quest for a genuine old cue and not simply a well made yet modern replica. This was my choice and is not meant to be a negative reflection on the cue in any way.

I then saw an advertisement from a gentleman selling old cues in Pot Black magazine, well I say gentleman, this chap turned out to be Andy Hunter. I bought a few cues from him over the next few months and we became friends sharing an interest in old cues as we sought out knowledge and the next discovery together.

One Saturday morning I received a call from Andy saying, you won’t believe what I’ve got for you! He proceeded to describe a Tom Newman facsimile cue that sounded just what I had been looking for. I sent a cheque and within the month the cue arrived through the post, securely taped in a protective tube.

I could hardly wait to take the cue to the practice table, at first the tip seemed too big and the shaft a little bumpy, but after a while I became used to these characteristics and started to like the cue’s individuality.

I am not a great player but feel that what ability I have is enhanced by the cue and that when I use other cues I am less comfortable at the table and less in control.

I can only begin to imagine Eddie Charlton’s discomfort and mental anguish when someone stole his Clark McConachy cue. This cue had enabled Eddie to compete with Ray Reardon at the top of his game, as he lost one of their epic finals 30 frames to 31 in the 1970’s. Sixty-one frames in one match, the mind of the modern player must boggle? 

The only other cue that I have owned that came close to the Tom Newman cue for me was a Parris champion cue, this cue had a lovely piece of ash in the shaft and played quietly but with a great deal of power if required.

John Parris has a great reputation for making cues and this cue for me justified it. The cue was three quarter jointed with an extending extension. I made an eighty-six break on the line up and a sixty in a live frame with this cue and yet sadly it became damaged when rain leaked into my case and unbeknown to me was left to dry slowly. The next time I played with the cue the whole ferrule and about an inch, down the shaft completely snapped off. I do not blame Mr Parris for this outcome as I feel that most cues would have suffered in these unfortunate circumstances.

The only cue that I have never owned of the companies around within the past few years is a Hunt & O’Byrne, unfortunately I sent them a cheque for one of their Green Plate hand made cues on the very weekend that they went out of business. As you may know, it is customary to pay off the major creditors in such a case and even though I wrote to the receiver, I never got my cue or my money back.

I once approached Dave Brown, the owner of Craftsman cues and asked him to make a cue for me, he recorded my specifications and turned out a tremendously good-looking cue. This cue was in the general style of a Burwat Champion, but with a tulipwood front splice. I eventually sold the cue to a friend who could use it so well that it seemed destined to be his.

It is odd at times that a cue that you yourself cannot use seems to be just the thing for another person. I am considering going back to Mr Brown and asking him to make another replica cue for me in order to have a second crack at meeting my playing needs, however chances are that after a month or two I will feel compelled to return to dear old “Tom”.

I wonder what stories you can tell of the cue that you use, or of the cues that you have seen in use in your local area, I can’t believe that I am the only person, this obsessed with old cues? Maybe you could share your stories with me and I can pass them on to other readers of the site?

Where you one of the people that sent a Burwat Champion to Alex Higgins, in the hope of helping him to win a third world championship? Do you own a matching pair of custom built “Eureka’s”, do you use a John Roberts cue to help your Tomatoes to grow straight? Let me know.

David Smith