ON April 28, 1979, a former postman was crowned champion of the world.
The story of how a 31-year-old won only the second professional tournament he’d entered is now part of snooker folklore.
Just under seven weeks after Terry Griffiths beat Dennis Taylor 24-16 at The Crucible, baby Pascal Richard came into the world.
When their paths crossed 33 years later, it saved Richard’s snooker career.
Speaking after claiming three local titles in the space of one month, the 34-year-old told <i>cuestars.co.uk</i>: “My close friends know I was very close two seasons ago to packing in the playing side altogether because my form had got so patchy.”
“Terry didn’t do any specific coaching with me as such because I was there to improve my coaching – not my playing. But talking through a lot of snooker stuff with him made me realise in how many ways I’d been going wrong, especially in the mental department.
“I definitely credit Terry with reminding me how winning players think. I’d definitely slipped into a negative mindset, expecting to lose. I could never have won the matches where my back was against the wall before spending that time with Terry. I’d just forgotten how to do it.”
Richard’s remarkable run in April kicked off with a 3-1 victory over Paul Foster in the final of The News Championship at the Village Snooker Club.
Then he was crowned the Portsmouth District Billiards & Snooker Association champion after a final at Portchester Social Club which he described as “probably the best quality match I’ve ever been involved in”.
The 2011 and 2013 champion Mike Talmondt, playing in a fifth successive final, raced to a 3-0 lead.
Richard, who then dug out four frames in a row with some “Selby-style take-the-easy-ones-and-run snooker”, said: “I didn’t miss a ball for those four frames; Mike didn’t miss one in the first three.”
And at the end of the month, Richard returned to Stubbington and completed the hat-trick by whitewashing Jordan Winbourne 4-0 in the final of the Gosport & Fareham Snooker League’s scratch competition.
His 18-year-old opponent had won the title for the past two years.
Richard, the 2005 champion, had thought his name was on the trophy after a dramatic 3-2 victory from 2-0 down against Scott Stoneage.
“Scott missed a straight blue from a foot out to win 3-0 having hit a 70 and a 50 in the first two frames without leaving me a sniff,” he recalled. “I wondered then whether maybe it was just my turn to win.”
And he added: “Bearing in mind I’ve not looked anything like winning a scratch singles tournament in many years – some combination of yips and lack of confidence – to win all three was something that I’m pretty chuffed with.
“It’s interesting that I played so well in winning that doubles tournament last year with Chloe (White) literally a few weeks after that spell in Wales.
“It can’t be a coincidence that I’ve looked and more importantly FELT like a real player again since that time.”
Incidentally, three times during these competitions, Richard successfully utilised his “new favourite shot” given to him by former professional Jason Weston.
It’s the full length of the table double in black-ball games with enough pace to leave the ball on the side cushion if the pot is missed.
Richard runs the Cuestars Section at Copnor Snooker Club, Portsmouth, and has revealed plans to start a Section at the Village Snooker Club on June 1.
Picture by Steve Toms: Pascal Richard with his Portsmouth trophy.