World Seniors champion David Lilley has set his sights on making it via Q College and proving that he belongs on the World Snooker Tour, after a demoralising two-year spell on the circuit.
Lilley turned professional for the primary time in 2019 on the age of 43. His first few months on tour have been ruined by a shoulder harm, and he was ultimately relegated on the finish of the 2020/21 season. However an “overwhelming” triumph on the World Seniors earlier this month has given Lilley the motivation to make a recent begin.
The 45-year-old from Tyne & Put on labored as an insurance coverage claims controller, taking part in snooker on the novice circuit, earlier than deciding to make the leap to the professional sport after qualifying via Q College two years in the past.
“In my first season on tour I began getting ache in my shoulder,” he stated. “It could solely come on sure pictures and I might get a taking pictures ache via my neck. Then I used to be quitting on these pictures to keep away from the ache. I spent fortunes with physiotherapists and chiropractors attempting to unravel the issue however nothing labored. That led to anxiousness. Mentally I used to be gone, ruined. I might go into matches very apprehensive, then get embarrassed after I performed badly.
“The primary lockdown was a blessing as a result of I ended taking part in snooker, and with relaxation my shoulder obtained higher. I feel it was a repetitive pressure harm as I had gone from taking part in eight hours per week to eight hours a day. Fortunately it doesn’t trouble me any extra.”
Lilley gained simply 5 matches in his first season on tour, and although he improved in his second yr – notably beating Shaun Murphy on his solution to the final 32 of the English Open – it was not sufficient to maintain his card.
“It was solely after I obtained to the ultimate weekend of the seniors occasion that I made a decision to enter Q College once more and attempt to get my place again,” he stated. “I really feel I’ve unfinished enterprise. I understand how effectively I can play, however I can depend the variety of instances I’ve performed that on the tour on the fingers of 1 hand. I referred to as my spouse and she or he agreed, she stated I have to get it out of my system. I’m absolutely focussed on Q College now, hopefully I can get via and provides it a correct two years on the tour, harm free.”
Lilley earned a spot within the Seniors occasion by coming via the qualifying rounds. “I arrived on the Crucible with no expectations and no targets aside from to play effectively,” he displays. “I discovered the tv lights laborious to regulate to at first, then began to get on a roll. All of it simply got here out of the blue.”
After knocking out Philip Williams, Ken Doherty and Patrick Wallace to achieve the ultimate, Lilley scored a 5-3 victory over Jimmy White, sealing the £15,000 prime prize with a break of 69.
“It was an enormous excessive, overwhelming,” he stated. “Essentially the most pleasing factor was to complete the match in a single go to slightly than crawling over the road. The cash is good, however I’m simply glad to have confirmed what I can do when it mattered.”
Lilley’s one remorse was that he wasn’t in a position to share his triumph with a person who had an enormous affect on his profession. Stan Chambers was a broadly revered coach within the North East, having helped numerous juniors be taught the sport over greater than 50 years. He sadly handed away earlier this month.
“Once I began taking part in, my dad was powerful on me, he would shout at me if I missed a simple ball. Stan was the one who would stick up for me. And he was my coach for a few years,” recollects Lilley. “He was at all times the primary man across the North East and he will probably be massively missed. I used to be at his funeral on Thursday and it was nice to see so many faces there, previous and new.”