Like father like son as Lines duo prepare for battle
Tournament draws in the Leeds home of the Lines family is like snooker’s equivalent of Russian Roulette.
For father-and-son Peter and Oliver Lines are both professional snooker players at opposing ends of the career spectrum.
Peter, 45, is a veteran of the Tour having turned professional in 1991, while 20-year-old Oliver is enjoying his first year on the circuit after winning the European Under-21 title last year.
But the pair cannot be separated in the world rankings, Peter is 65th, one place better off than Oliver in 66th.
And the duo are dreading the event when they are paired to play each other in a competitive match for the first time.
That inevitable day nearly came in York, at this month’s Betway UK Championship.
After Ronnie O’Sullivan decided not to defend his UK title, it meant if one other player from the world’s top 64 had not applied to play at the Barbican, then it would have been Lines versus Lines in the opening round.
As it is, the duo will now play Anthony Hamilton and Cao Yupeng next Thursday, two days after the tournament cues off.
Both are adamant an all-Lines encounter is one match they do not want to play in.
“Playing dad, is not something I would have looked forward to,” said Oliver. “We will be happy to keep missing each other.
“We came so close in this tournament, we just needed one person not to enter from the top 64 – apart from Ronnie – but thankfully it didn’t happen.”
Father Peter agrees with his son, even if both are desperate for points to break into the world’s top 64 players.
He told The Yorkshire Post: “Playing each other in York would have been an absolute nightmare.
“Obviously I need the points to get in the top 64 myself – as does Oliver. It would have been good for the one who won, but the other guy would have been pig-sick.”
Lines senior has struggled this season for results, and admits he has made sacrifices to help Oliver launch his own career.
“Things are not great at the moment. As you get older, its gets harder and harder.
“To be honest, I have been concentrating a lot of my efforts on trying to make sure Oliver gets into the top 64 himself.
“My snooker has suffered a little bit but it’s a sacrifice I am willing to make.
“I wouldn’t say I am not bothered – I am still trying to stay on the Tour myself – but if he gets in at my expense, I wouldn’t be disappointed.
“I am helping him off the table, he doesn’t really have a coach. I sort all his stuff out at comps, so he can just go there and concentrate on his snooker, nothing else.
“Although it’s an individual sport, you do need help. I know that from the mistakes I have made throughout my career.
“He can just turn up and play. If you lose, it’s just snooker, because a lot of outside stuff can influence you off the table. I am just trying to take that away from him.
“He has just signed up with a manager (Django Fung), the same guy who looks after Judd Trump, which will be really good for his career.
“I look after his day-to-day stuff, make sure he is all right. Booking his practice, things like that.
“Like any parent, you want the best for your kids. I absolutely love snooker, there’s no better feeling than earning a living doing something you love.”
And it’s not just the Lines boys who would have suffered should the two have faced each other next week. Peter’s wife Sarah – the pair celebrated the birth of baby son Leo six weeks ago – would also have been put in an impossible position.
“Sarah would have been in turmoil, not knowing who to cheer on,” said Peter.
“We have just recently had a little boy, so she sits at home watching the scores in absolute shreds. When you can’t see the table you don’t know what’s going on, you are just watching the live scores.
“Then when his match finishes, my match starts and she has to go through it all again.
“She is phenomenal. Oliver wouldn’t be where he is now today if it hadn’t been for Sarah. He’s a good lad and appreciates it.”
Asked whether Leo is a future snooker star, the proud dad replied: “I don’t know, I might be too tired to go through it all again!”
On a more serious note, the father and son – who both train at the Northern Snooker Centre in Leeds – know first-round prize money in York is vital for their top-64 ambitions.
With prize money counting over a rolling two-year period, players constantly have to bank winnings to maintain their Tour status.
“Oliver is in a better position than me, because this is his second year on Tour, he has no points coming off his ranking,” said Peter.
“Every point he gains goes on to his ranking, where as I have points coming off from two years ago. It’s how the rankings are, a bit harsh, but that’s the reality.
“If you are winning, it doesn’t matter what the rankings system is, you will do well. I have been a little bit unlucky, because I have fallen out of the top 64 now – which means I am not seeded. I did well in the Wuxi and Indian two years ago, but both those events have been scrapped.
“So in reality I have had £12,000 come off my rankings and I can’t possibly defend it. You can either sit at home and moan about it, or get on with it. I prefer to get on with it, and just play the game.
“If I fall off, I fall off, then I will decide whether I am going to try and get back on the Tour.
“I love to play, so will still carry on in some capacity. I don’t want to retire. I would still like to carry on playing – even if I was outside the 64 – because then I could still go to competitions with Oliver,” said Peter.
“If I am in them, I might even earn a few quid towards my expenses.
“Even when I do retire as a professional, I will still play as an amateur, because I just love to play snooker. Hopefully, it won’t happen just yet.”
Whatever happens, Oliver is just thankful to have a seasoned professional like Peter in his corner at tournaments.
“Growing up, he always said to me ‘the only thing I am going to tell you about is your attitude. As long as you have a good attitude you can do what you want’,” he recalled. “Dad’s very good to have in your corner. Even when things aren’t going well in a match, he is always there for me at the interval to tell me what’s going wrong. Sometimes you just need a word from the right person, and I start playing well again.”
The Betway UK Championship runs from November 24 to December 6. Tickets start at just £6, for more information call 0844 854 2757 or visit www.worldsnooker.com/tickets