August 19, 2010

Gary Thomson: World Open, Mission Impossible?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:43 pm

Schalke, I mean Gary: Ready for Battle.

This weekend sees the start of the final qualifiers for the new World Open, one of Bazza’s big ideas to revitalise snooker. It’s the event in which hopefuls try and achieve their dreams of playing the big boys on camera.

One of those hoping to mix it up a bit is former professional Gary Thomson who competes in Match 25 here. Now Gary is better known to regulars on Betfair as Schalke04 and I don’t think he’ll mind me saying that he has been known to place the odd bet or two. So I thought he’d be the perfect player to place the blog chips on.

I also thought that it would be good to get the perspective of someone who is actually involved from a ‘hopefuls’ point of view to answer a few questions on the blog and Gary kindly agreed.

His fee included a bag of pickled onion Monster Munch, a six pack of Dr Pepper and an old copy of Cue World which included a centre spread of Perrie Mans. It’s fair to say he drives a hard bargain.

So Gary, tell us a bit more about your past achievements in the game.

Well, I was a late starter in the game, I first took the game up just before my 16th birthday. My dad took me to a pro-am as he was well into snooker and I decided to give it a go, I was off an 80 handicap and in my first event I played Alan McManus, he thrashed me but that was the night I got the bug for the game. Within 12 months of starting the game I turned professional, it was harder than I thought it would be and then for 7 long years I remained on the B-Tour. It was in 2001 that it all turned round for me, I got an awesome sponsor (Parklands Country Club) who paid for all my entries, gave me wages and bought me a brand new match table. It made a difference and in my first year of the sponsorship I won the 2001 Scottish Championship and finished No.1 in Scotland. I made my first competative 147 in the EASB Tour in Leicester, that was a great experience as not everyone can say they have done that. I won a further 4 Scottish ranking events that year. I played well in the B-Tour and qualified for the main tour in 2003. I had a good year beating players such as Billy Snaddon, Rory McLeod, Alfie Burden, Marcus Campbell, Paul Davies, Luke Fisher (World Amateur Champion) twice and my best result was beating Shaun Murphy. I finished No.87 in my first year on but due to money troubles in the game World Snooker cut the tour and I lost out. That was the end of my career and within 12 months I ended up chucking the game. I did put a lot into it and I know I was better than a ranking of 87, just didn’t get to prove it.

So why did you decide to return to the baize?

I saw the advert for the World Open and thought “why not” so I entered it as it was free and had nothing to lose. I was actually surprised at how I played but I still have the belief that I am better than most players in Scotland and better than some on the main tour so I was well chuffed when I won the regional event.

So what kind of breaks are you knocking in these days?

I’m not scoring as high as I used to be, still yet to hit any centuries since starting again although I am hitting in 60’s and 70’s but I am sure the higher breaks will come the more I get back into the game. I’ve never been a really high scorer but many frames I win are usually through grit and determination, a bit like how Dott used to be.

Not everyone on Betfair is a bum.

You are quite, shall we say, well known by another name on Betfair, are you surprised at the level of well-wishers there are for you for your comeback?

Yes and no, yeah I am well known on the Betfair forum to many hundreds of people but most of them are really decent guys and most of the talk is just banter on the site.

As this is the snooker and betting blog, I have to ask do you still like a bet on the snooker?

No, I don’t bet at all anymore, I enjoyed it while I did but my betting days are over.

What are your personal hopes for the World Open? Do you think it’s a good idea and do you know much about your first opponent?

My expectations are quite high for the event. I want to qualify and I will try my best to, I have got a great draw and I will possibly play 3 players I have never lost to (Munstermann, Gould and Murphy). My first opponent is Lasse Munstermann and yeah I know a lot about him. He is a decent player but has underachieved and I feel I am a better player. I have played him once before and won comfortably, 4-1 I think it was a few years ago …. I think the format for the World Open is an excellent idea and I really think they should hold more events like this, it gives the whole snooker world a chance to play in events without the cut throat conditions such as a b-tour. So I hope World Snooker continue with the way they are going.

How about a bit of juicy snooker gossip for the gasbags amongst us?

A juicy bit of gossip. Hmm, I have heard Hendry is playing awful and cueing awful. I know he is a fantastic player but players are saying his cue action has gone. I hope he turns it round as he is one of the players I admired while growing up. I have also heard Higgins will be back on the table soon, unable to confirm though. Also heard quite a few players are making a comeback to the game because of the amount of events that world snooker are staging, here is hoping the game gets big again.

So is this the beginning of your return? Will you be entering more events?

Well, yeah I can say it is. This has given me a lot of confidence that I can still beat people even when I’m not practising. As a result of getting through the World Open I have decided to play in PTC 5 + 6 and I have also confirmed my entry for the 2010/11 Scottish Tour which begins on 5th September.

Finally, if you make the TV and get interviewed, will you give me and the blog a blatant plug?

Yes, of course 🙂 ….. here is hoping I make it to the TV

So good luck to Gary and thanks for the interview, for anyone that hasn’t seen Gary in action before click here.

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