Barry Pinches' capture of the fourth Players Tour Championship title of the season in Sheffield tonight was a victory for a decent, hard working professional.
Like many players, he had formed the view that snooker was not going in the right direction and was thus a staunch supporter of Barry Hearn when he declared his willingness to become WPBSA chairman if a vacancy arose last Dcember. Pinches (pictured with Jason Ferguson, who became WPBSA chairman after Hearn went on to head up World Snooker Ltd) is now benefiting from the increased playing opportunities that have been introduced under the new regime.
He has earned £18,600 so far this season. This is just £1,000 less than he earned throughout the whole of last season and it is only August.
He came from 3-1 down to beat Ronnie O’Sullivan 4-3, a significant achievement even if there was no crowd or TV cameras, a scenario which would obviously favour the three times world champion.
O’Sullivan, who had been in brilliant form throughout the tournament, looked set to win 4-2 but faltered and Pinches made a good 36 clearance before winning the decider with a solid 64.
The PTC is a meritocracy. Pinches has come through from a field of 91 professionals and many amateurs to land the £10,000 top prize.
He has done well to survive on the tour this long. Barry turned professional in 1989 after winning the English amateur title.
By 1991 he had made it to the Crucible but had to wait another 13 years for a second appearance, where he beat Jimmy White and took Stephen Hendry to a decider.
He had found some form around this time after several years of disappointment. He reached the 2003 UK Championship quarter-finals and the same stage of the 2005 Grand Prix.
He drew attention for his distinctive green and gold Norwich City waistcoat and nearly joined the top 16 but after a season at 18th dropped out of the top 32 and back into the qualifying quagmire.
It must be hard to enjoy snooker mired in the lower ranks where the difference between victory and defeat can be getting paid or not.
Now, Pinches is on the up and up at the age of 40. He is surely certain of a place in the PTC grand finals next March.
Good for him. He’s remained committed to the game even when, I’m sure, he’s wondered if he shouldn’t be doing something else.
Pinches is an unassuming sort. He was once described, laughably, by a newspaper as ‘lording it round the snooker clubs of Norwich.’
Nothing is further from the truth but if he feels like lording it tonight nobody could possibly blame him.