Snooker: Dad-to-be’s world title shot back on

Craig MacGillivray

Craig MacGillivray

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Craig MacGILLIVRAY travels to India tomorrow hoping to become only the second Scottish player to win the IBSF World Amateur Snooker Championship – although the Granton man admits he almost pulled out of the event.

MacGillivray’s partner Sammy is due to give birth next month and Craig was prepared to scrap his trip to Bangalore and remain at home in preparation for the arrival of their first child. However, with the cancellation of the women’s and master’s sections of the tournament, the duration of the men’s competition was shortened and Sammy gave the Craig the green light to take on the world’s top amateur talent.

“The event usually lasts 17 days and, with Sammy being due on December 20, I’d decided not to go to India,” revealed MacGillivray, a former snooker professional. “But when I found out it had been cut to six days, I had a change of heart and Sammy is happy for me to head out there to play.”

On top of expecting a baby, MacGillivray has started working long shifts as a taxi driver having been made redundant from his job with a water company earlier in the year.

While looking forward to representing Scotland, he is, however, being realistic about his chances. Most of his opponents will be playing full time and, with recent changes in his life, Craig has been unable to practise as much as he’d like.

The World Amateur Championship begins with a group stage of over 100 competitors before narrowing to six knockout stages with the final 64 players. Past winners include Jimmy White (1980), Ken Doherty (1989), Marco Fu (1997) and Mark Allen (2004), who all picked up the title shortly before embarking on successful professional careers. Stephen Maguire became the first and only Scot to win the event when he beat Luke Fisher of England in the 2000 final in China.

In contrast to these famous former competitors, MacGillivray accepts his days as a professional have come to an end. He said: “It would be great to win but I have no interest in turning pro again. I was playing professionally for 15 years.”

Despite his lack of confidence, MacGillivray admits the chance to get away from the daily grind might actually boost his hopes in Bangalore.

“I think I’ll be able to relax a bit when I’m over there,” he said. “If I play well, I’ve got a decent chance.” He also insists his lack of desire to turn pro is not a sign that he wants to give up the game altogether. “I love playing snooker – I’ll always play amateur.”

MacGillivray has cut back on taxi shifts to squeeze in as much practice as he can. Between working and hospital check-ups with Sammy he visits local club Locarno’s in Slateford where he practices for three to four hours a day hoping to regain the form that led to success at this year’s Scottish Amateur Championships which he won by beating Scott Mackenzie 5-0 in the semi-final and clubmate Ross Vallance 7-1 in the final.

Also representing Scotland in India is former Scottish champion Mark Boyle, of Cumbernauld, who qualified through his overall ranking.