The Sky Sports presenter, snooker aficionado and owner of a world-class haircut answers our questions…
Andy, we’re half way through a sizzling week of green baize fun in Blackpool, how much do you enjoy working with the snooker crew?
Sometimes I do have to pinch myself when I’m working with people like Jimmy White and Steve Davis. Obviously as a huge fan of the sport, I’ve grown up watching these players. So for me, even now it’s like being a kid in a candy store. I remember one of the first presenting gigs I got for Sky Sports about ten years ago – I had to share a dressing room with Jimmy who was (and still is) my all time snooker idol. I tried to play it as cool as possible but all the time in my head I kept thinking ‘you’re Jimmy White!’
What was it about the Whirlwind that made him your idol?
The 1984 World Championship final between White and Davis was the reason I first fell in love with snooker. Although Davis won it 18-16, it was Jimmy’s style of aggressive play that made me want to watch and play as often as I could. From then on I was Jimmy mad, and at the time probably knew more about him then he did. I painted a small white piece on my cue, to look like his, and even started swirling it, like he does, just before a shot. Sometimes I still do this, but sadly now with less accuracy.
You are pretty handy with a cue yourself…when did you first play and what’s your highest break?
My dad bought me a tiny Steve Davis table for Christmas when I was ten, and from that moment I never stopped playing. When I was about 14 I managed to convince my parents to sell their dining table and buy a slate bed snooker table that changed back into a dining table. I played most nights after school, with my best mate Paul from across the road, for various made up titles. He was Tony Knowles and (obviously) I was Jimmy. About a year later I started playing in a club and at the age of 22 I knocked in a break of 97, which is still my highest. I always wanted to be a pro, but deep down knew I’d never be good enough, which still hurts to this day.
You recently won the inaugural Talksport Pool Championship – how stiff was the competition?
The level of competition was decent but I used to play professionally in my 20s so I had a huge advantage over them. I still play a lot today and would fancy my chances against most players, so from the outset I knew I should win it. A field of 32 set out and I only dropped one frame in the entire competition – which annoyed the hell out of me.
How did you get your MBE?
I won my MBE off Steve Davis playing nine-ball pool about eight years ago. We were filming for Soccer AM’s All Sports Show and I bet my Barking & District Pool titles and Steve matched the bet with his Mosconi Cup winner’s medal and MBE. I beat him 2-1. To be fair to the Nugget, I heard him in an interview about a year ago and he mentioned he was no longer an MBE because he lost it in a bet.
Is it true that Willie Thorne once hired you as his hair consultant?
Yes! I mean no, of course not.
If you could have a dinner party with any five sporting figures – alive or dead and from any sport – who would you choose?
Jimmy (obviously), Mohammed Ali, George Best, Pele and Pamela Anderson. She must have played some sports at school right?
Your Diamond Lights cover recently enjoyed chart success. Any plans to extend your musical career – maybe a version of Snooker Loopy?
Ha! We released Diamond Lights for Great Ormond Street Hospital as my youngest daughter has had treatment there on a few occasions and they are fantastic. The song did really well and we raised a few grand which was wonderful. I’m not too sure the music world is waiting for me but if Barry Hearn wanted to bring out a new version of Snooker Loopy I’d jump at the chance!
Andy is running the London Marathon this year to raise money for GSOH – CLICK HERE to donate