In my younger days I was good at sports but not really good at any particular one. I wanted to be an Olympic 1500m runner first, a swing bowler for Northants second and an attacking central midfield for Manchester United third. I ended up running for Northants, being kicked off the park in Sunday League and shoveling it down the legside in cricket. It would be the game of pool where I won my most trophies. Our team dominated the Northants pool league for about five years and we even had an England player in our team.
Snooker, of course, is very different game to pool and hard to be good at both. My best break on the 12ft by 6ft was just 51, and my only 50 break. On the pool table I can clean up. It’s always cool when you clear the lot and the black in pubs around the globe on your travels. I remember doing it twice in a pub competition in a bar in South Africa with a cue off the rack with chicks watching on. Fred Trueman and Indoor League would have loved it!
TO pot those balls you need your own personalized stick. Pool cues tend to be shorter and thicker than the more elegant snooker cue. You need power, screw and big side in pool to break open the balls and control the white. You can use any cue for either pool or snooker, though. Anyone who has played pool league here know it all gets bit serious and we are nothing like the Americans and tend to be very conservative and roll the balls over the pockets to block the opponent, a very British approach to sport. In an America bar you are expected to attack and go for your shots and get irritated looks when you roll it behind another ball or block the holes. Pool should be about attacking shots to be fair. One guy in Miami got so annoyed I was beating him with safety he chased me out of the bar!
I do like a heavier cue with a thick butt, why Powerglide sticks are better than Riley. It has to feel right in your hands to be confident enough to play those big pool and snooker screw shots the length of the table. Side and top are also important in Pool as you don’t have much space to work with and although the pots are normally a short distance and easier, to keep the break going you need total cue ball control. Powerglide sticks seem to offer that more than the Riley ones on that score. Riley always seems to put too much gloss varnish on their cues and that takes away the feel for me. My old Riley’s would soon be filed down to the wood to have a nicer felon the skin. Oh and it’s always worth rolling a new cue on flat surface before you buy it in case it’s warped or bent. If isn’t straight that will obviously effect your game and cause more miscues and kicks, even a small bend.
The tip is the most critical part on the stick and you have to trust it not to fly off when you well smash the ball. It amazes me how glue keeps it on. The great Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath lost two fingers in an industrial accident as a teenager and relied on shaped plastic thimble like things on the stubs of his fingers to carry on playing, always carrying around bag full of the these things with a nail file wherever he goes. It’s the same for a good pool and snooker player as the cue an extension of your arm.
You get a plastic carry-case with the cue and a discount voucher to buy a leather pouch one or a new wooden case. If you are serious about your game that case will protect your all important tip. After a few pints as a teenager you tend to think you are Bruce Lee with your pool cue and the tip could go flying. The cue costs around £ 25 in a generic place of sale like Argos or a bit more in a proper sports shop. I paid £40 for mine about four years ago in a bespoke sports shop. I only play now and then when I take the cue out with me and mostly take one off the rack in the pub. I also take a small file I won in a Christmas cracker to file the tip down on those warped lumps of fire wood in your local pubs and clubs.
Investing a decent cue case is a must, especially if you've purchased an expensive cue which you want to keep safe from moisture and miscellaneous knocks. Most cues do come with a case, but these are often soft pouch-like affairs which do little to protect your costly potting stick. The cue that I recently purchased didn't actually come with a case, so I had to buy my own. I decided on the Croc Tubular Cue case, which is currently available for £27.99 from Amazon. To be honest, I wasn't too keen on spending nearly thirty pounds on a cue case, so I purchased my one for £24 on eBay.
Design & Appearance
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The Croc case takes the appearance of a poster tube, covered with a black 'crocodile skin' effect material. Thankfully, it's not real crocodile skin, nor is it real leather - instead it's a water resistant vinyl which i've found to be hardwearing and fairly scuff-resistant. The end section (the bit where you put the cue in) features a zippable lid to further protect your cue from the elements. In general the case looks nice and neat, and on the side there's a small additional section which is perfect for keeping chalks.
Specifications & Final Word
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At 116 centimetres in length, the Croc case will fit any 3/4 jointed snooker or pool cue. Inside, the tube is divided into two sections so the shaft section is kept separate from the cue's butt - this is handy as it stops the two pieces of wood bashing together and causing any superficial damage. The weight of the case is negligible, and I've had no problems transporting it around - that said, it does feature an adjustable shoulder strap if you're keen on the over the shoulder look! Overall, the Croc Tubular Cue Case is a well made and smart looking accessory which offers a good deal of protection for the cue inside. At £27.99 I would argue that the product is slightly overpriced, so look out for bargains on eBay.