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
I then read that Powerglide were
making good cues in Fred Daviss 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 wont believe what Ive 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 cues 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 Charltons 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
1970s. Sixty-one frames in one match, the mind of the modern player must
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
The only cue that I have never
owned of the companies around within the past few years is a Hunt &
OByrne, 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
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 cant 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
"Eurekas", do you use a John Roberts cue to help your Tomatoes to grow
straight? Let me Know.