Martin Gould used to be potless – but has finally got the breaks that make worrying about paying bills a thing of the past.
The 34-year-old from London claimed a first ranking title success at the German Masters at the weekend with a 9-5 victory over Belgian prospect Luca Brecel.
That saw Gould, up to No15 in the world, pocket £60,000 at Berlin’s Tempodrom when after blowing his first go at the tour he struggled to scrape enough money together for the basic necessities of life.
But having grabbed a second opportunity with both hands, the Pinner professional appreciates his achievement all the more.
As is well known Gould worked as a casino croupier in between while also recovering from the devastating loss of his mother to cancer 12 years ago.
It is a proper sporting story of ‘If at first you don’t succeed’ and since many media outlets saw fit not to cover Gould’s feat in much detail on opening Six Nations rugby weekend, we’ll have to do it for them.
Gould said: “The tough times I have come through make it sweeter. I had one year on the main tour and didn’t do myself justice.
“But financial pressures meant I just couldn’t afford playing the PIOS tour.
“It was a very weird feeling arriving at a tournament thinking ‘If I can win £150 that pays for this bill, or that one’ and it got to the point where it got too much for me.
“I was playing not being able to afford to lose, rather than playing my own game to win.
“But in 2007 a good friend Paul Brennan paid for me to enter a tournament and I have never really looked back. I will be getting him a few beers next time I see him.”
After finally getting the monkey off his back Gould expects more titles to flow with the pressure off.
And he also feels there is unfinished business on the biggest stage at the World Championship, for which he can still qualify automatically by staying in the top 16.
Gould is haunted by an agonising 13-12 loss to Neil Robertson in Sheffield in 2010 from 11-5 up. Robertson went on to win a world title that year.
He added: “Hopefully, titles could be like London buses for me now, I have waited for so long and then two, three or four could come along.
“And it is good that we now have tournaments virtually back to back for the rest of the season, so I get to continue and take this form into those.
“It is a huge goal to get straight through to the Crucible without three brutal qualifiers, I didn’t survive those last year.
“The Crucible match against Neil Robertson? What match was that? I have had a couple of operations since then to have it removed.
“There probably is unfinished business at the Crucible, really there always will be until you actually win the world title and lift the trophy.
“That is every player’s dream, Stuart Bingham did it last year and there is no reason I can’t do it too.”
Photograph courtesy of Tai Chengzhe