First 2023 Interview: Sam McKay is Reaching for the Stars…

First 2023 Interview: Sam McKay is Reaching for the Stars…

SNOOKER FANS across the globe know there is only one Wizard of Wishaw – John Higgins.

But, with Scotland being such a young hotbed for snooker talent, and having churned out many top players in the past, and the present, one such prospect, who hails from the same town, may well be on fans’ radars sometime in the future.

Sam McKay is a 17-year-old from North of the Border in the UK and is looking to extend the hotbed of talent that has already emerged from Scotland in the sport.

He started like many, playing snooker at the age of nine, and ever since, has been hooked on the game, seeking to go as far as he can.

Ironically, he has only ever played Higgins, the four-times World Champion once.

He said: “I played John when I was 14 in an exhibition in Motherwell, he absolutely battered me. However, I saw the way he went about the table and how confident he was and it gave me a lot of motivation to try and see if I could be like that and play as well as him. I have not played him since.  I have played other professionals like Anthony McGill, Frazer Patrick and Ross Muir whom I have also learned a lot from.”

McKay is coached by a former professional Jim Donnelly, who has been coaching him since 12 years old. Donnelly was the first Scottish player to reach The Crucible and reached 29 in the World Rankings.

He added: “Jim has been great to me and if it wasn’t for him, I would not be where I am now.”

Naturally, every Scottish player dreams of emulating the success of 7-times World Champion Stephen Hendry, who, at the age of 53 made his comeback onto the World tour a couple of years back – in a kind of snooker rebirth.

McKay’s greatest achievements to date include winning the U-14s and U-16’s Scottish Nationals and Captaining his team in the Home Internationals in the past years in the U-16 and U-21 categories.

Like many youngsters who dream of success in the sport, The Crucible, snooker’s Mecca, is the place where every player dreams to play at the pinnacle and Mckay is no exception.

In fact, he’s so passionate about the game and the place, that he doesn’t think it should ever move from the humble surroundings of Sheffield.

He added; “I am a huge fan of The Crucible.

“I don’t ever want the World Championship to move somewhere else. I’ve been to watch the snooker at The Crucible. It’s not like any other venue. The atmosphere is different. You are super close to the action. It’s a great place to play snooker and it is something I hope to achieve in the future.

One thing that McKay thinks should change in the game though, is the time a player spends on the shot. He thinks there should be a fair but firm shot clock so players don’t take endless time thinking about shots.

He added: “It would probably be to put in a shot clock of 1 or 2 minutes as I’ve never been a believer in people who take minutes over a shot.”

This is where the mental side of the game definitely comes in, and for Mckay, the mental toughness (something SnookerZone has been researching a lot for our own game) has apparently helped Mckay focus better and improve his attitude.

He has been having sessions with the Gold Label of Mind Coaching, Matt Andrews Mentoring, (a friend of the website) whom we interviewed a while back.

McKay admits: “This is the part of the game I’ve always struggled with most. He (Matt) has been great to me and I definitely have noticed improvements in my attitude toward the game and my thought process during shots.

With Scotland such a hotbed for talent and such a close-knit community of snooker wonders, MacKay is in good hands, and with the right support and training, the youngster may well go far in the game.

Indeed, Mckay told SnookerZone that before he decided to become a snooker player, he was into astronomy. and wanted to become an astronaut, so he really did want to touch the stars – literally.

He remarked: “I’ve always been fascinated about what else is out there and about how the universe works.”

SnookerZone wishes Sam McKay well on his snooker journey and we hope to see him on TV soon. Who knows, maybe Wishaw really will have another Wizard in the future?

(Photo screenshot from Sam Mckay’s Facebook Page)



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Chris Gaynor

Chris Gaynor is a writer with 10 years' experience writing for the web. He loves snooker, CSI and loves cycling off tiramisu!