They say that behind every great man there’s a great woman.
And in the hands of any great snooker player, there’s a great cue – that 59-inch long piece of wood that separates winning from losing and glory from disappointment.
So you have to feel sorry for Mark Davis, who this week was forced to withdraw from the European Masters after his own cue was stolen from his car in Milton Keynes.
Arguably, the 48-year-old could have borrowed a temporary replacement or even brought one from a shop, but snooker players are precious about their cues – which are tailored uniquely to their individual specifications – and so Davis perhaps felt that going home for a sulk (and to call his insurer) was the best course of action.
How’s your week going? Arguably not as good as Mark Selby’s. He earned a bye in the first round of the European Masters after his scheduled opponent, Michael White, was forced to pull out after he socialised with the Covid-19 hit Daniel Wells.
In the second round, Selby demolished Gao Yang, a sixteen-year-old making his professional debut 5-0, and now the Jester from Leicester walks straight through to the quarter-finals due to Davis’ misfortune. His reward? £6,000 in prize money and counting. Nice work if you can get it….
Snooker’s Greatest Cue Mishaps
While Mark Davis’ stolen cue has to go down as being in the wrong place at the wrong time, others have also lost their beloved piece of ash at the hands of others.
The most famous example is that of Stephen Hendry, who won seven world titles with the same cue he used throughout his career. Unfortunately, the Scot’s famous bit of wood was destroyed by airport baggage handlers when travelling back from a tournament in Asia, and Hendry was never quite the same player ever again.
Ironically, Hendry also suffered from a willow thief – his cue, a gift from his parents when he was a child, was stolen from the 1992 Rothmans Grand Prix. It made a miraculous reappearance when a £10,000 reward was offered for its safe return.
Spare a thought for Anthony Hamilton. The journeyman pro had the same cue for 34 years….and then, like Hendry, it was snapped by baggage handlers on the way to the Gibraltar Open. Unsurprisingly, the Nottingham potter was distraught.
“I decided to pull out of the tournament straight away and fly home the next day,” he said.
“I will get a bit of money from my insurance company but obviously the cue itself is irreplaceable. I bought it when I was 14, six months after I started playing, for about £60. It has never been the best cue in the world, but it was my cue, and it’s the only one I’ve used since. You could scour the planet and you’d never find another the same as mine.”
But it’s not all bad when an airline damages your cue. Mark Williams planed to sue Ryanair for loss of earnings back in 2003 when he was forced to miss the Masters due to having no cue, but after he was able to successfully get the bends taken out it the Welshman took the cue to the World Championships and went all the way, lifting the trophy and claiming £270,000 in prize money.