PETER Lines seems to have responded pretty well to having teenage son Oliver on tour with him for the first time, winning the Pink Ribbon pro-am event in Gloucester before the season has really even got under way.
But there is no doubt about the pride felt by the Leeds player to see the reigning European Under-21 champion complete the first father-and-son double act on the circuit since Geoff and Neal Foulds in the 1980s.
Peter, the world No61 who only just kept his own place last term, insists that Oliver was never railroaded into the same career, and hopes that some of the conversations they have had about the tough times will keep him grounded. After all, Lines senior has had to take work selling insurance, as a taxi driver and a barman when the money was not flowing in.
A respectable career, the highlight of which was probably a run the quarter-finals of the UK Championship in Telford five years ago, has never hit extraordinary heights though Peter has loved every minute of it and would change very little.
And he suspects that emerging from a less high-profile family than, say, Blaine Hendry or Greg Davis may prove a blessing and also held up five-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan as the example to his son of how hard you have to practice, whatever the talent you may possess in the locker.
Ahead of a Far East road trip taking in the Yixing Open and then the Wuxi Classic, for which they both qualified, Peter said: “It has been my career, my living and a great love so to be going out there on tour this season with my son beside me does feel very special.
“It bugs me when I hear players or anyone else moaning about the game. It is a fantastic game, I still feel that at 44, and a great way to earn your living – if you are capable of it. I hope he is.
“In any sport you have to accept there will be bad times. In snooker, with 128 players in most daws, only one can win.
“Oliver at 18 has won a lot as an amateur and that will stop, and he knows it will be littered with disappointments but as long as you enjoying yourself and learning, you take it.
“There are people stuck in dead-end jobs who have to get up for the alarm, but if you love it then what price happiness? He is chasing his dream and let’s see where it takes him, he must enjoy the ride.
“When you are a young kid it is a fantastic way to earn money and see the world. I didn’t try and talk him out of it because I am still in love with the game at 44 and once I saw he was serious I backed him all the way.
“I appreciate how good a job it is, I did other jobs when I fell off tour and to support myself. I drove taxis at 5.30am, collected insurance, and worked in the snooker club behind the bar. To play snooker and get paid for it is a lot better than all of those.
“I do think that he is better than me, and will go on to have a more successful career than me. The only thing I would say against that is it is harder now in the sense that you could have a few unlucky draws in the 128 system and get a top-10 player every tournament. That would make it hard to establish yourself and climb the rankings.
“What it means is when you do get a decent draw, you have to take advantage. And I have told him not to get down if he loses to Robertson or Selby in first rounds.
“You might not win a match for four tournaments. He was disappointed losing to Jack Lisowski the other day, but from 3-2 up he was hit with two hundreds and an 80 to lose 5-3.
“Jack is No38 in the rankings, there are 37 better and that is the standard for Oliver to produce now.
“It might be easier for Oliver that I wasn’t right at the top, like a Stephen Hendry whose son plays snooker and always has that ‘son of the seven-time world champion’ thing. Living in the shadows of a real great must be almost impossible.
“Whenever you used to see Oliver’s name mentioned it would be ‘Oliver Lines, son of snooker professional Peter Lines’.
“Now all of a sudden I have seen it somewhere, after his Under-21 win and getting on tour, ‘Peter Lines, father of European Under-21 champion and emerging talent Oliver Lines’. But that’s good and I don’t mind at all.
“It has had a positive effect on me, the enthusiasm from Oliver talking about the tour and his matches is infectious. I want to stay on tour with him for as long as possible.
“It is almost inevitable we will play at some point, and I’m not sure whether I want that to be sooner or later. Probably best to get it out of the way.
“It is awkward playing your good friends on tour, so what it would be like playing your son in a major tournament I cannot imagine.
“I would absolutely dread it. We don’t even practise together that much, because he has his own style and it doesn’t work! It is too awkward, worrying about hammering each other.
“The crowd and the other players would be loving it, but not us. We are very competitive so it would never be a case of not trying, but it would just be horrible.
“We do have a fantastic relationship. Me and his mum split up some years ago and he came to live with me a while back - and my wife Sarah does a great job of supporting us both.
“And whether he makes it at snooker or not, he is a great lad and I have never heard anyone say a bad word about him. He is not big-headed, and appreciates what he has got.
“If there is one thing I would say to him, it is not to get too down after some bad results and to channel it into hard work on the practice table.
“And Ronnie O’Sullivan is the shining example for these kids. Everyone goes on about his talent, and what a joy to watch he is, and how he can produce this magic.
“But I can tell you he works his socks off on the practice table during the season, and before big tournaments. If he is doing it, and you’re not, you have no chance.
“He is better than everyone to start with, so if you think you can compete without working hard you are just kidding yourself.”
Photographs courtesy of World Snooker