SNOOKER eccentric Dominic Dale is best known for his ‘wacky’ personality, his elegant voice and a surprise run to the quarter-final of this year’s World Snooker Championship.
But although he is widely regarded as Welsh by many including himself, ‘The Spaceman’ was in fact born and raised in Coventry.
The 42-year-old, who has recently finished his best season on the tour to date, was born in Walsgrave Hospital and grew up in Brownshill Lane near the old Jaguar factory in Allesley.
“I remember having lots of fun growing up in the area,” said Dale, who is currently ranked number 24 in the world.
“We used to have a bus terminal by our house and we used to play on a field right next to it.
“I lived in Coventry until I was ten and at that point my father got made redundant so he bought a cottage in Wales and I moved away.
“Nick Price (who was on the receiving end of the fastest ever maximum break by Ronnie O’Sullivan) is from Nuneaton and he said in a pub quiz one of the questions was ‘where was I born’ and he was shocked to find out the answer was Coventry.
“I moved to Wales and that’s when I started playing snooker so I entered all the Welsh junior and amateur events.
“That’s why I consider myself to be a Welsh snooker player but I will always have a strong affiliation with my Coventry roots.”
Known as ‘The Spaceman’ for his eccentric personality an unexpected win in the Snooker Shootout event in Blackpool was followed by a run to the quarter-finals of the World Snooker Championships back in April which won him a fresh army of fans.
A first round win over Mark Davies earned him a second round clash against fellow qualifier Mark Wasley, who had knocked out China’s in-form Ding Junhui.
“I knew it was a big chance to make it through to only my second Crucible quarter-final and I think Wasley’s win over Ding made it much harder for him.
“I think perhaps he may have put pressure on himself. It takes a long time to learn the game and I knew being the more experienced player gave me an advantage.
“But at the end of the day I knew I had a job to do and I ended up playing really well.”
A convincing 13-4 victory set up what turned out to be a classic Crucible quarter-final clash with 2013 finalist Barry Hawkins.
The 42-year-old’s run in the competition looked like coming to an end after trailing 11-5 to the world number four.
But Dale went on to win seven consecutive frames on the trot before the match went into a nervy final frame decider.
“In the first few sessions I never really got going and Barry was playing really well. He wasn’t missing a pot.
“In the third session I knew I had to win the first four frames and I was back in the match which I did and I was very pleased with how I was scoring.
“I changed my cue action slightly which helped but in the final frame I didn’t really get a chance and Barry played some fantastic snooker to win.
“I wouldn’t say I was disappointed because I took the world number four all the way. It just wasn’t meant to be but there were plenty of positives for me to take away.”
Looking back on the 2013/14 season, Dale believes it was one of the best of his career and one he will not be forgetting in a hurry.
He added: “I’d have to put it down as one of my best having qualified for the World’s and winning the Snooker Shootout.
“Like a lot of players I experimented with my cue because when you’re playing in China the conditions are very different and I think that had a positive effect.
“It is always going to be difficult to beat the season I had in 1997 when I won my first ranking event (Grand Prix) but to win a tournament, get to the quarter-final at the Crucible and enjoy some success is really pleasing.”
Dominic Dale took Barry Hawkins (left) to a final frame decider in their quarter-final clash at this year’s World Championships. (s) Photo courtesy of worldsnooker.com