DALE'S OF THE UNEXPECTED
Dominic Dale produced a remarkable escape to win the sixth Players Tour Championship title of the season in Sheffield tonight.
Dale needed three snookers in the deciding frame of the final against Martin Gould but got them and then cleared from last red to black to secure a dramatic 4-3 victory.
He is the eighth different winner on the PTC and EPTC series this season and certain to be part of the 24-man grand finals next March.
Snooker has long had to put up with ignorant people decrying it for a lack of ‘characters’ – whatever that actually means.
Well, Dominic is certainly a character.
When you ask a snooker player what their other interests are they usually say golf and poker.
Not Dom. He’s into opera, 1950s British comedy films, the life and death of Marylin Monroe, antique clocks and watches and all manner of other weird and wonderful pursuits.
Last week he compered the Jimmy White v Tony Drago exhibition in Gloucester wearing a full length velvet suit replete with top hat that made him look like a cross between Willy Wonka and Larry Grayson.
These days he lives in Vienna but is registered to represent Wales and I still well remember him necking a bucket full of champagne following the Welsh triumph in the inaugural Nations Cup in 1999.
He genuinely doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him. He is who he is and he’s happy with that.
Dominic has never been in the top 16 but is one of only 25 players to have won more than one ranking title.
His first came out of the blue. In 1997, he reached the Grand Prix final but came up against John Higgins who was at that time playing the best snooker in the world.
Dale won 9-6. He would be the first to admit it went to his head a little. Perhaps he thought he had made the big time but he failed to kick on.
Then ten years and several outfits later he won another ranking title, the 2007 Shanghai Masters, playing supremely confident snooker in the final session to see off Ryan Day.
Dominic is a one off. He’s known as ‘The Spaceman’ for his eccentricity but it should not be forgotten just what a good player he is when he puts it all together.
Last week after the exhibition we had a drink in the hotel where a bloke came over to him and asked if he was still playing.
It’s a question Dominic could forgive because he appears on TV only sporadically these days.
But he proved tonight that he is still a player and maybe this great escape will give him the confidence he needs for another resurgence in what has been, fittingly, a career stranger than most.
I've met Dom myself a few time and he's really a funny and interesting guy. The first real serious chat we had was in the Belgian Open in September 2008 and it was about phonetics, neuroscience and learning languages ... not what you would expect from the "standard" snooker player.
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