Peter Lines and ‘family’ put cues in rack as top table dip into pockets
Peter Lines could hardly have picked a more testing period to join snooker’s governing body.Monday, 13th April 2020, 5:00 pm
Peter Lines: Has joined snooker’s top table. Copyright: PA Wire
The 50-year-old from Leeds – who next year celebrates the 30th anniversary of turning professional – was elected by his fellow players to join the board of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPSBA) in December.
Less than three months later and the sporting world is in lockdown in the global battle against the coronavirus pandemic. The World Championship in Sheffield has been postponed, and most players – who only earn when they play – have been forced to temporarily hang up their cues.
Lines fears there will be no snooker tournaments for several months, but hopes to use his new role with the WPSBA to represent the needs of players.
“I am on the board now, and we had a meeting the other day and decided to give all the players a £1,000, just as a little gift out of the WPBSA funds,” said Lines. “It might tide them over for a few weeks, help them out.
“It’s the snooker family, you try your best to help everyone out.
“I have only been on the board a couple of months, so this is a new experience. I got good support from the boys, because they think I will try my best and help them out, which I am. I love snooker. As a player, it’s human nature to care about where you are ranked, but that’s not really my thing. I want to do what’s best for snooker in general. Hopefully, the players will see that over the next couple of years.
“It has been enjoyable. We had some plans, but it’s all up in the air now, there’s nothing we can do until we see how long this lasts. I will be very surprised if there is any snooker played anywhere for the next three months. We haven’t seen the worst of it yet, and we need to get there before we can start planning ahead.
“With all the terrible things in the world, if someone had said that a flu or virus could bring the world to its knees, you would have thought they were crazy. Everything has just shut down. In theory, the snooker centre where I have gone to play for the last 30-odd years, it might never open again.
“If this goes on for months, that might be it. I hope not, but you just never know.”
That is the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds, home to several professional players in Yorkshire.
“The club has been shut, so we won’t be able to play until it re-opens,” said Lines, who also works part-time at the club.
“There won’t be any tournaments for months, but normally you would spend four or five hours every day at the club playing.
“It’s just about keeping yourself occupied.”
Lines is like sportsmen and women around the country who have been confined to their homes owing to coronavirus. But without a snooker table in his kitchen, the father of three – including fellow professional tour player, 24-year-old Oliver – is deprived of any training.
“I am okay, just bored to death,” admitted Lines, a former world seniors champion. “I have not been doing much, just trying to keep fit.
“I have just started running with Oliver, every day.
“My little lad, Leo, has had everything stopped too. It’s a real struggle keeping a four-year-old entertained.
“Oliver locks himself in his bedroom, playing Fifa, with his mates online. That’s not for me. I have been watching a few of those sporting great TV shows.”
At least the Lines boys are back home in Leeds, after fears they could have been stranded in Gibraltar.
The duo had jetted out to the island last month, for the Gibraltar Open, only for the coronavirus pandemic to escalate while they were overseas.
“It was a total nightmare,” he recalled. “It couldn’t be helped, but, realistically, it shouldn’t have gone ahead. Before we went out, we didn’t really know much (about coronavirus).
“It hadn’t escalated so there was no reason to cancel it.
“But when we got there, the place was on lockdown, you couldn’t go out after 7pm at night, you couldn’t go watch the snooker, there was nothing to do but sit in your hotel room.
“Then we were struggling to get flights home. They closed Spain down, and there was talk about closing Gibraltar down while we were there. Luckily, that didn’t happen or we would have been stuck there and would never have got home.”
For a player who has known nothing but playing snooker every day for the last 30 years, Lines – ranked 121 in the world – admits life is weird without a cue in his hands.
“I play for enjoyment these days, as opposed to trying to win tournaments when I first started playing,” he said.
“I play because I love snooker, it’s what I do every day. It’s my life.”
We are quite far away from the bold optimism shown by Barry Hearn. This is the reality for the lower ranked players and it’s very worrying. If the Northern Snooker Centre was to close it would be a crying shame. First because it’s the livelyhood of the Lines family that is at stakes but also because it’s one of the best, most beautiful clubs I’ve seen in the UK and it has a rich history. I dare to say it IS part of the sport history.
I hope that WST will do everything to support it’s players. They are snooker’s most vauable assets. It takes years of hard graft to become a snooker player worthy of the professional status. They are not “disposable” that you can replace easily.