From Circus “Ghost Clown” to World Snooker Coach: Meet the Cuestars Press Officer Tim Dunkley
Snooker is a lot like the circus. You go there to be entertained, dazzled and you often come out wondering: “How did they play that shot?”
For Tim Dunkley, World Snooker coach and Press Officer at the amateur events at Cuestars under the head man John Hunter, like others, got the bug for snooker’s magic and decided he wanted to motivate others to potentially produce cue magicians of the future.
The website, which Tim writes for has produced many success stories, and Cuestars has also produced its very own professional success story in Billy Joe Castle, a former Cuestars player, now playing on the professional tour.
In this Q&A, SnookerZone caught up with Tim to discover a little bit about the man behind the website and the Cuestars tour and what he did before hitting the baize as a coach and writer.
Over to Tim…
- Hi there, Can you tell me your name, age and where you are based in terms of snooker for the record…?
My name is Tim Dunkley. I turned 60 in April 2018. I live in Southampton and I’m mainly based at Chandlers Ford Snooker Club, which is between Southampton and Winchester, and Waterlooville Sports Bar, which is north of Portsmouth.
- How did you get into snooker?
As a young child, I remember being told off at a Christmas party in the Southern Evening Echo’s social club after finding the snooker room and deciding to have a go. But that doesn’t really count, I suppose.
I really got into it when my son Alex showed an interest in 2000. Then it took over my life as he progressed up the junior ranks.
- More importantly what made you get into coaching?
As Alex became more involved, so did I. It was a gradual process but I started helping to run junior tournaments and started writing about snooker for the Echo. I wanted to learn more and I wanted a qualification. I passed the World Snooker course that was conducted by Del Hill and Mike Dunn in Sheffield in March 2007.
It was only later that I realized it gave me an escape route from my day job, which had turned from something I looked forward to every day for 20 years to something I dreaded for the last ten years.
- Have you played in any leagues or amateur events?
I played for Plessey in the Gosport & Fareham Snooker League in my 20s but never really took it up seriously. When I became more involved in my 40s, I played for a season or two in the Winchester City & District Snooker League. But my claim to fame is winning £1,000 in the year-long handicapped Roll-Up at Chandlers Ford SC in 2005.
In 2010, a motorbike accident shattered my right elbow. Apart for a few games against the kids, I’ve never picked a cue up since.
- Do you have a snooker product? If so what is it? If not, if you had the chance to create one what would it be?
No, I have no snooker product.
I’d love to see a device that prevented the cue moving forward until it had stopped at the end of the backswing. Or an electronic signal that automatically switched off mobile phones as players walked into the club. Or a holding area with padded walls away from the tables for over-enthusiastic snooker dads. Or a method of bypassing the teenage years for young kids.
- What is your highest break?
- And proud of it.
7) In your opinion what makes for a good coach and what kind of coaching do you employ in your lessons?
A good coach is anyone who can help a player. I start with technique and move on to potting and positioning and then cover all aspects of the game.
- When a client comes to you what is the most common fault they have in their game?
Not getting through the ball…
9) If you have any advice for anyone starting snooker what would it be?
It is a good idea to get someone to go through the basics with you first. I find the most difficult things in snooker are the first things you need, ie, a bridge hand and the ability to bring your cue forward and hit the cue-ball roughly in the center. Once you can do these, you can play a game.
10) Who do you most admire in the game? Ronnie excluded ...
I admire many players, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I enjoy watching them play. I admire Peter Ebdon for his honesty and determination. I admire John Higgins for his longevity. I admire Barry Hearn for what he has done for the game. I admire Jan Verhass for being a modern-day referee, rather than having an old-fashioned rather stuffy attitude that you sometimes see. The list is endless. However, if I’m sitting down at home to watch snooker and I want to be entertained, I’m sorry but it has to be Ronnie O’Sullivan or Judd Trump.
11) I notice on the website you have lots of success stories, obviously, they are all proud moments for you but what’s your proudest moment as a coach? Are there any juniors who you think may well go all the way?
We had a special young lad playing in our junior league who had a number of conditions. He was fascinated by trophies (and the colour blue) and desperate to win one. He played for a whole season but didn’t finish high enough. We decided to get a trophy engraved with ‘Highest-placed six-year-old’. His parents were asked to attend the presentation but no reason was given. When the then club-owner Jim Everett announced this special award at the end of the presentation, the little lad flew around the table shouting: “I’ve won a trophy.” Over the next few months, he told everybody – and I mean everybody – that he’d won a trophy. No one could walk into the bar at the club without being informed in great detail.
Since I predicted that an eight-year-old Shane Castle (who I didn’t coach) would turn professional – and I haven’t yet given up on that view – I try not to look too far forward. So many things can change as they go through the troublesome teenage years. I believe it’s best just to focus on the next step up the pyramid.
12) Can you tell me something about you that people may not know? Can be snooker related or just something unusual…
I worked in a circus for eight weeks in the long, hot summer and wet autumn of 1976. As well as doing the advance publicity, putting posters up in shops, I worked in the ring as the ghost in a clown act.
SnookerZone would like to thank Tim for his time and wish Cuestars well in producing some great talent of the future!
Are you a coach or a coach with a product and would like to be featured on the site? Email email@example.com and let’s see how you might fit in…