Billy Castle: My first season as a professional

BILLY Castle insists he couldn’t have survived his first season on the professional snooker circuit without the help of Cuestars and Attic Life.

The 25-year-old ended the year ranked number 114 in the world with £11,500 prize money to his name.

Speaking to at the Cuestars finals day at Jesters Snooker Club, Swindon, Castle thanked his sponsors and reflected on his first season competing against the likes of Neil Robertson, Jimmy White and Stuart Bingham.

He said: “I’d just like to thank Cuestars and Neil Herd’s company Attic Life for what they’ve done for me.

“Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to afford to go to a lot of places. To have their backing, not just as sponsors but as friends, has been really good. I can’t thank them enough.

“For everyone who plays snooker, it’s what you dream of doing.

“I’m not getting battered when I play these players. I’ve put up a really good fight in my first year. And next year I’m looking forward to pushing on.

“Looking back, there were a couple of results that I was very disappointed with.”

Castle, a graduate of the junior leagues at Chandlers Ford Snooker Club who is now based at The Crucible Sports & Social Club, Newbury, picked out three examples.

He lost 6-5 from 5-3 up to Ricky Walden in the International Championship and went down 4-3 to Cao Yupeng after a brilliant run to the last-16 of the European Masters in Belgium.

But he was able to take the positives from a first-round exit in the World Championship.

Castle fought back from 7-2 down against Dave Gilbert but lost 10-8. He had cleared the table with a break of 70 from 62 points down to make it 8-8.

“That was a brilliant game,” he said. “To do that, proved to myself that I’ve got it in me to do it.

“I’m just looking forward to next season. I’m going to put in a lot of hard work.”

Castle was guest of honour at the Cuestars under-21 finals day. He presented the trophies and played 20 exhibition frames against the youngsters.

Steven Hughes (Chandler’s Ford) was the only player to beat the professional. The 16-year-old kicked off with a 39 break. Castle replied with a run of 68 but Hughes cleared the six colours to win on the black.

Castle’s highest break of 94 was reserved for Ally Pollard (Alderholt), who was competing in his final under-21 event.

“I haven’t played since I lost to Dave Gilbert in the World Championship,” explained an exhausted Castle.

“To play 20 frames straight off, it takes some doing. But it’s all good fun. I enjoyed it.

“Seeing these young boys today, it was something I was doing. It wasn’t that long ago that I was here at finals day. I had the same look in my eyes as these lads do.”

Castle, who is married with two young children, added: “When you are away from the family, it’s a bit tough.

“But I’m only trying to make their lives better for them. It was my dream to do this and my family is behind me.”

Picture by Tim Dunkley. Snooker professional Billy Castle showing off his car supplied by sponsor Attic Life.

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Tim Dunkley (World Snooker coach)