TOURNAMENT sensation Michael Wasley has admitted that to begin with at the age of 10 snooker was an escape following the devastating loss of his father to cancer.

The 24-year-old from Gloucester pulled off a thrilling shock victory over world No2 and man of the season Ding Junhui at midnight on Monday.

It was the biggest win of world No73 Wasley’s life, and has guaranteed him a largest ever pay-day of at least £16,000.

Wasley’s breakthrough has seen him sign another couple of balls in the set used when he won his tour place, and presented to him as a gift by manager Paul Mount,  as new milestones.

And another win for Wasley, one that would see him into the quarter-finals, would also relegate six-time finalist Jimmy White from the tour – unless the ‘Whirlwind’ is handed a controversial wild-card tour place.

“My dad Trevor and my godfather took me to a club when I was seven, and I stood on a box,” said Wasley. “It was massive, and too big and heavy for me to drag around.

“Losing my dad was a massive strain on the whole family. My mum took the time to drive me around the country and if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be here.

“This was from the age of 11 and a half, and I don’t thank her as much as I should. But when you spend so much time with people it puts a strain on a relationship.

“It was really hard for her and all of us and snooker was something I could focus on without thinking about all that. Reality was destroying me, and snooker was an escape. It helped me focus, because if I focused on that I wasn’t thinking about all the bad things.

“We sold our house on Cromwell Street which held a lot of family memories, and it was a big step. Obviously that road is known for Fred West, we were at No16, he lived at No25.

“The move has helped all of us, and been a very positive step and brought the whole family closer together. And my manager Paul Mount has been like a dad to me in many ways since I lost my own and done so much to help me.

“I didn’t know until today that I would knock Jimmy White off the tour if I win my next match and get to the quarter-finals. I really like Jimmy, we are close, but I suppose you have to be ruthless in that situation.”


Photographs by Monique Limbos