As players gear up for the start of the Shanghai Masters qualifiers tomorrow, I’m particularly pleased to see Patrick Wallace back as part of the professional circuit.
He’s a player with a pure love of snooker: he loves playing; he loves watching; he loves being part of the scene.
Patrick defeated Joe Meara 10-5 to win the Northern Ireland Amateur Championship for a third time earlier this month and was thus eligible to return to the pro ranks having been relegated in 2006.
He had a great run to the Crucible quarter-finals six years ago, beating Alan McManus and Mark King before losing 13-11 to his close friend Joe Swail.
It was an emotional occasion for both players, so used to supporting each other and finding it difficult having to meet at such an important juncture in the game’s top event.
Patrick began the following season 21st in the provisional rankings but failed to finish inside the top 32 and began a decline that would eventually cost him his main tour place.
The last time I saw him was in Belfast last August when he came for an evening to watch the Northern Ireland Trophy. Then, he was unsure about whether to put his cue away for good or give the amateur circuit a go.
I could see that he retained a great love for the game and that simply stopping would be very difficult for him. That he would win his national title a few months on shows just how good a player he still is when the pressure of pro competition is off.
I wish Patrick all the best when he cues up tomorrow against Matt Selt.