Find out more about the European Under-21 champion, who is playing on the World Snooker Tour for the first time this season.
Darryl came through a tough field in Malta to win the EBSA Under-21 title.
Darryl, welcome to the pro circuit. First, tell us about your European Under-21 victory in Malta…
I was in a group of five players to start with, I came through that and was seeded fourth for the knockout rounds. I got through the last 64 and last 32 quite easily, then the last 16, quarter-finals and semis were all played on the same day. I had three tough matches, especially the semi-final when I was 4-2 down to Lukas Kleckers and came back to win 5-4. That finished at nearly 1am, then I couldn’t sleep so I turned the TV on and it was showing a repeat of my match! I ended up watching that until 4.30am so only slept a few hours. Luckily I felt fine for the final and beat Louis Heathcote 6-3. In the later stages there’s a lot of pressure because everyone knows the tour card is at stake. It can be the undoing of some players. I just tried to concentrate on each match. In the final I went from 2-2 to 5-2 up, then he won the next frame and he was on 60 in the next when he missed the black. I made a really good 64 clearance to win. I’m so excited now to play on the pro tour because it’s all I’ve wanted since I was a junior.
You live on the Isle of Man – what’s the snooker scene like there?
Not great. There are not many tables or players to practise with. Luckily I have a good table at home and one or two players I can have a game with. I will have to fly to England for all of the qualifying events. The one at Crawley was handy because it was so close to Gatwick. My expenses will be higher than most players and I’ll spend more time travelling, but I’m used to it because I did it so much as a junior – going to tournaments in England every month. Plus I have a great sponsor called Mardic Ltd who help with expenses, and I want to thank my friend Roy and the Mann Cat Sanctuary for their support.
When did you first play snooker?
My grandad bought me a three-foot table when I was really small, then when I was eight I got a six-foot table. I first played on a full size at a local club when I was nine. I loved watching Jimmy White and Stephen Hendry on TV, and I went to watch live at the Crucible twice. I started entering tournaments and at the age of ten I won the Isle of Man under-17s and under-21s. I was the only player ever to win them both in the same year. I did the same every year until I was 14 – after that they stopped running the tournaments! I had a coach called Mel Quine, who was also a referee, and he was a big influence on me until he died when I was 12.
What are your goals for the next two years?
Just to retain my tour card. It is tough for the new pros. But I’ve played in a few ranking events as an amateur and beaten the likes of James Cahill and Chris Wakelin, so I know what to expect. Winning one match in the World Championship last season earned me £6,000, so together with my support from sponsors I’m off to a good start and I can cover my expenses.
Do you have a job away from snooker?
Yes I have worked at the Mann Cat Sanctuary for several years, initially as a volunteer and now I virtually run the place. I work there around five hours a day, and then practice snooker afterwards.
Darryl has found the purr-fect balance between work and snooker
What does your job there involve?
It starts with cleaning each morning – which brings you back to reality after playing in a snooker event! I manage the online sales, deal with visitors and work on the media side, running the very popular Facebook page, which has a big following worldwide. I really enjoy it and I’m lucky to have an income away from snooker.