My favourite sport: Lee Dixon (snooker)

Lee Dixon (centre) celebrates another success in his days as Caernarfon Town football manager

At what age did you become interested in snooker and who was your first hero in the game?

I had my first 6ft snooker table at the age 5 from Father Christmas and to this today it brings back great memories as a child playing every minute on the table.

My grandfather would take me down the pub on a Sunday afternoon and I was hooked on snooker ever since then. I would play against all the older men in the pub and end up taking quite a few pounds home in my pocket.

Looking back in the early 80’s it was Jimmy White who was great to watch, great entertainer and cue power and a very rare left-hander in the game.

Who do you think is the greatest snooker player of all-time and why?

You could argue about who has won the most trophies, but that’s not to compare like for like, especially in different eras (Joe Davis entered the World Championships 15 times and he won it 15 times and Stephen Hendry etc).

You could argue about who has done best despite their limitations. You could argue about length of career and ability to sustain quality throughout it but I believe Ronnie O’Sullivan outguns pretty much anyone.

It depends how you determine greatness. Snooker players require a snooker brain as Stephen Hendry often calls snooker “chess with balls” and I completely agree with his analogy – mental toughness, physical condition, cue power, good judgement over shot selection.

Some of the most exciting players Alex Higgins, White, O’Sullivan could have their mental toughness called into question. Although, ironically, they are/were probably more exciting because of their personalities.

Looking back I can remember Ronnie winning the UK Masters at the age of 17, no doubt the dream of every young snooker fan and knocking Stephen Hendry off his perch.

Which local player do you think could have made it to the top?

Difficult question this as the older I got, the more time I put into playing football and I didn’t really see many people playing on the snooker circuit.

Or is there a local player now who could still make it big in the sport?

Peter Roscoe (right) once beat the great Ronnie O’Sullivan (left)

I remember the main name being mentioned was Peter Roscoe from Caernarfon who I didn’t know at the time but a lot of people said he was knocking centuries in for fun and was destined for great things.

In 2016 I arranged an exhibition charity night with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Peter beat him.

Think Ronnie was very surprised but that was the first time I watched Peter – he certainly is a class act.

What is your own snooker background? Won any tournaments?

Unfortunately I only played in the local snooker league but my age was a barrier as you had to be over 16 to enter. So I would play hours on end against friends and random people in the social clubs and local snooker halls.

Lee Dixon celebrates leading Llangefni Town to the 2009-10 Cymru Alliance League title

What’s your biggest break?

78 at the age of 14 and I was gutted as it was an easy ball I missed, but I won’t get anywhere near that these days. Think the nerves got to me thinking of a century!

Did Ronnie O’Sullivan’s success in the 2020 World Championship (sixth title) surprise you? Or did you expect him to win?

Ronnie O’Sullivan plays a shot against Kyren Wilson on day six of the 2020 ManBetX Welsh Open at the Motorpoint Arena on February 15, 2020 in Cardiff (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

Ronnie can win any tournament even if he had 12 months off without playing and I don’t think any other player could do that. So if I was betting man Ronnie would be the favourite in every tournament for me. The older he’s getting the better he’s playing!

Who do you think is Wales’ greatest-ever snooker player?

It’s got to be Mark Williams. I think he plays a similar style to Jimmy White and he’s won the world championship.
Some people may say Terry Griffiths (twinkle toes) but the game has moved on to a much faster pace since the 1980’s where Terry was very slow and less entertaining.

Is succeeding in the sport nowadays harder than it’s ever been?

Eight year old Jamie Williams of Holyhead in the company of snooker greats Jimmy White and Ronnie O’Sullivan on Eurosport. Photo: Ben Williams

Like any sport I think parents are the key factor to any success. The financial contribution to get your little boy down to a snooker hall and playing at least 3 to 4 hours a day is a huge commitment.

I’m tipping two young stars, Jamie Williams and Rio Chung, who could become greats in the snooker world.

Jamie, age 8 from Holyhead, seems to be mixing with all the snooker stars and getting a lot of attention in the local media.

He’s already made a break of 52 and playing across the country in an under-14s category which is remarkable. Little Jamie is ranked 4th in wales.

Ben, his dad, who is a great guy, has done so much work with his son and taking him all around the country.

The videos he uploads are brilliant of Jamie playing and get recognition from the snooker stars suck as Mark Williams.

Rio Chung (second left) with the Sgorio crew including Owain Tudur Jones (left) the former Wales international footballer

Another local lad from Bangor is Rio, 7 years old and already making breaks of 43 on a full-size table and breaks of over 100 on a 7ft table which is unbelievable.

So these two youngsters are my tip for a bright future. I’ve played against Rio’s dad (Mark) once before and I broke off and he cleared the table and got me being a referee for him.

Is there enough snooker on TV now?

I think the BBC do an amazing job with snooker tournaments on the TV and the coverage is fantastic, along with commentators who are all snooker legends.

Much prefer the BBC coverage compared to ITV and Eurosport – it’s just quite the same to watch.

…..Or do we deserve more?

I think the timing of the coverage is great and as the a start of the summer approaches we have the world championships and in the winter some tournaments over the Christmas period. I think too much coverage can do more damage just like what Sky have done with football.

The 2021 world championship takes place in May. Do you have an early tip to win it?

I don’t think anyone could ever bet against Ronnie O’Sullivan winning and if he turns up hungry it will be a walk in the park for him.

Who is snooker’s greatest ever commentator and why?

Whispering Ted Lowe.

His surprising exclamation of “no” when Steve Davis missed the cut black in the final frame of the 1985 final, effectively handing the title to Dennis Taylor, was a masterpiece in commentary understatement and sticks in my memory watching it early hours of the morning.

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