BLACKPOOL’s Mr Snooker – Harry Wyers – reaches a notable milestone on Wednesday when he celebrates his 90th birthday.
And 90 has been a big number in his varied snooker life already.
Harry, a proficient amateur player, qualified coach and class one referee in a career spanning eight decades, said with a tinge of regret: “They used to call me Joe 90, because all my breaks were in the 90s and I never had a hundred, and I don’t think I ever will.”
He holds the distinction of having shared the green baize with eight different world champions, though it was the day that he played against Steve Davis while working at the old Commonwealth Sporting Club that sticks in the memory the most.
“Steve had a 147 break against me. I broke off in that game and thought I had played a good safety shot!”
Harry started playing snooker around the age of 14, though it wasn’t his first love.
“I caught a fish off the sea at Blackpool with a bent pin and a piece of string, so I asked my mum if I could have a fishing rod.
“I had it for two weeks and then changed it for a snooker cue!”
And that is the game that has dominated his sporting life ever since – and still does.
“When I came out of the navy, I joined the Fylde League in 1945, and I have been playing in it ever since except for six years when I lived in Canada.”
Harry, who lives at Edmonton Place, Bispham, bemoans the fact that snooker is on something of a downer in the Fylde Coast area.
He blames it on the licensing laws, the smoking ban in pubs and clubs and the fact that cheap booze means fewer people venture out for a drink, leaving vacancies at the snooker tables.
He shakes his head sadly when he said: “I tried to organise a three-man team tournament to raise money for Trinity Hospice, but I only got two replies.
“The game is quite good nationally and Barry Hearn is doing a good job in making it attractive to young people, but in the Fylde it is in a bit of a sick state, and people have lost interest.”
He says that is a far cry from the days when the Fylde amateur championship at Blackpool Tower used to attract crowds of more than 1,000.
“I recall once contributing an article for The Gazette and I called Blackpool Tower the local crucible of snooker,” added Harry, who was involved in helping to organise the United Kingdom professional championship when it took place at the Tower in 1977.
Asked how he would celebrate his 90th birthday next week, Harry replied: “My daughter has got something in store for me, but it’s best not to ask.”
He is even working on a book about his life and times in snooker.
“But I have only got up to 1945!”