Ryan Thomerson’s snooker journey via Melbourne, a blacksmith shop and the home of Neil Robertson


Ryan Thomerson is the latest Australian to join the World Snooker Tour (Image: WPBSA)

Ryan Thomerson will be a new face on the World Snooker Tour this season, having embarked on an amazing journey to professional status that has meandered through a costume factory, a blacksmith shop and the home of Neil Robertson.

The 27-year-old won the Asia Pacific Open Snooker Championship in March to secure his place on the tour, beating the likes of Andy Lee and Glen Wilkinson in Sydney and putting on what might be the best performance of his life.

“For me, I think I played the best I’ve played in a while, or really really,” Thomerson said Metro.co.uk. “I put my head down, made three tons and a bunch of other fractures.

“My match with Andy [in the quarter-finals] was a great match, after trying to tour for six years, before playing Andy I knew the match was going to be the winner and it turned out to be so.

The Aussie was able to compete in the APSBF event and avoid the Q School, having tried this grueling event in the past and not enjoying it at all.

“This tournament is an absolute nightmare,” he said. “I’ve been there three or four times and actually only ever had a decent result.

“This tournament, you just don’t know. So it’s such a mix of players coming through, it’s such a lottery. It’s also very expensive, last year it cost me about £2,500 with entry fee, accommodation, just food and all, it’s a tough question. I was glad not to do it this year.’

Thomerson was the standout player at the Asia Pacific Open Snooker Championship (Image: Steve Fabian)

However, this is just the latest twist in the Thomerson story as he began his snooker journey when his father Paul moved the family to Australia and brought him to the table.

“I was born in England and lived here until I was 11,” Ryan said. “My dad played on tour when you could pay £1,000 to do it. He played in a club in London where guys like it [Peter] Ebdon used to walk and play.

“I never played, I raced motorcycles. We moved to Australia in 2006 and Dad wasn’t really ready to buy me a bike again so he took me to a pool hall in Melbourne, Fast Eddies, and I started playing and continued from there.

“I played against Victoria U12 the same year I started when I was 11 and won that. I won Australia U15 and that’s when I first met Neil when I was 14.

“I started playing more then, my dad had a snooker table in his house and I started playing every day. I skipped school so many times, put on my uniform, left, but snuck back in, changed and went to the snooker hall. I first went to the IBSF U21 in China when I was 16 and then there for five years until I was 21. I was on a good run when I was 19, losing to Hossein [Vafaei] in the quarters.’

Thomerson needed to fund his snooker endeavors and did his best to strike a balance between improving, making some money and coming to the UK to speed up his progression in the game.

“I was working as a bartender at the time and was struggling to play full-time,” he explained. “A really good family friend has a costume factory, he had a vacant space in the factory big enough for a snooker table, so we moved a table there and I worked for him and in the bar. I was 20 then, had two jobs and was practicing.

“I came back and forth from England when I was 17. Sometimes I stayed with Neil, I was really close friends with Vinnie Calabrese who used to tour. He lived with Neil, I was invited to come, the first time I was supposed to stay a week and ended up staying four months.

“I did this every year to try and improve my game. In 2016 I was working as a blacksmith with another family friend. I did this full time and got to the point; do i want to play snooker or not?

“So I stopped working. Six months of training and in 2017 I finished second in a tournament, won a ranking event in the South Pacific, won the Australian Open, won what was then Australia’s biggest tournament of all time, the Reventon Masters, $12,500 winner-takes-all against eight of Australia’s best Player. Then I came here and I’ve been here ever since.”

The UK is undoubtedly the place with the best chance of making it on tour, and living with one of the greatest players in the world can’t hurt your chances either.

Thomerson says he wouldn’t be competing at the level he’s at now without the help of Robertson and Joe Perry, who was also a huge influence on his career.

“I’ve lived with Neil on and off since I was 17,” Ryan said. “This time it was almost five years.

‘I met first [Neil’s son] Alexander when he was two, so I’ve known her for a long time. I wouldn’t be here at all if I couldn’t stay with him.

“We used to practice a lot here in the club. Joe was there too and had a massive impact. I used to play with him a lot, now I only live five or ten minutes away from him, so he will really help.

“I suppose Neil is similar to Jackson Page and Mark Williams in terms of closeness. But since I’m only from abroad, I had problems with being away. Being with Neil is like a second home. It was huge.”

The 27-year-old is now leaving the Robertson home and trying to forge his own path, which he needs to do in order to fully focus on his own career.

“I wanted to start doing a little bit of my own thing,” he said. “In a way it’s hard living with someone like Neil because you can get lost in the snooker scene.

Neil Robertson has been one of the best players in the world for over a decade (Image: Getty Images)

“I always want Neil to do well, I go to tournaments with him, in that regard my game hasn’t improved as it should. I didn’t practice enough because I used to go to tournaments with him, so I certainly didn’t practice enough.

“By January I felt like it was time to do my own thing with exercise and eventually moved out. In a way it helped me to do my own thing but I would never have turned pro or gotten any results without Neil’s help.

All is going well for Thomerson at the moment except for a bad accident which has made preparing for his professional debut difficult and very painful.

Aussies are famous for their barbecue skills, but Thomerson ditched him in April and managed to set his foot on fire so bad he hasn’t heard a pair of shoes since.

“I only started playing last week because I managed to set my foot on fire almost six weeks ago,” Thomerson summarizes the story. “We had a BBQ for my girlfriend’s birthday but it was so windy I couldn’t start.

“There was some petrol in the shed so I figured I’d take some, put it on and it was ok the first time, perfect. But because it was so windy it still didn’t get hot enough. I knew I shouldn’t have, but I got more.

“I wanted to carefully pour it onto the coals, but it just went up. The whole thing flew in my face. I dripped the gasoline all over my foot and my foot burned. I ran around the yard with my leg on fire for about 30 seconds and didn’t know what to do.

“Nobody was out there, the canister poured gasoline on the burning grass, black smoke everywhere. I slid down that patio, took off my sweatpants and socks, but also took off my jocks and I was stark naked. I think I got my pants back up faster than I even took them off because my girlfriend’s dad came out and we managed to get it under control.

Thomerson will be fine and ready to begin that professional journey later this summer, but he hasn’t emerged from the fiery chaos unscathed.

“It went from the back of my heel to the beginning of my big toe, the skin was blistered,” he said. “I wore cotton sweatpants and socks, they said if I wore nylon or if the gas had gone somewhere else I would be gone. So I was very lucky.

Thomerson takes on Ding Junhui at the 2016 Six Red World Championship (Image: Getty Images)

“Since then I still don’t wear shoes anymore. There are two places they said it’s worse than third degree burns. They said I didn’t need a skin graft and it looked fine, but it’s been coming back like blisters for the past few days. Everywhere else it has healed well, just not in two places. It was not nice.”

Once his foot heals, Thomerson is realistic about his goals but intends to make an impact on the pro scene and brings with him a hunger for success.

“My goal is to be between 70 and 80 by the end of the season,” he said. “I don’t want to be silly and say I have to be in the top 64, but that’s where I want to be.

“I want to enjoy it, but I didn’t turn pro just to play and just enjoy being happy when I lose, I want to win.

“I’ll allow myself the first few tournaments to get my mojo and see how it goes. But I played at the World Cup in China a few years ago [Mark] williams, [Ryan] Day, [Liang] Wenbo, everyone on the TV table so I know what to expect. I’m definitely not there just to make up the numbers.

MORE : ‘Just hit me’ – Fear left Zak Surety, who dreaded snooker matches and feared for his future

MORE : ‘I haven’t touched my cue in a year’ – Adam Duffy is back on tour nearing the end of snooker

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https://metro.co.uk/2022/06/02/ryan-thomersons-snooker-journey-via-melbourne-a-blacksmiths-and-neil-robertsons-house-16753143/ Ryan Thomerson's snooker journey via Melbourne, a blacksmith shop and the home of Neil Robertson

Nate Jones

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