Peter Lines turns 50 next month but the Leeds potter already has reason to celebrate.
For the 2017 World Seniors champion, who celebrates his birthday on December 11, will join an elite group of players to have brought up their half-century and still be competing on snooker’s main tour.
Six-time world champion Steve Davis was 58 when he finally packed away his cue, but the likes of Jimmy White (57), Nigel Bond (54) and Ken Doherty (50) will join Lines at the Betway UK Championship in York this week.
Yorkshireman Lines has been a professional for nearly 30 years but, after falling down the rankings, was forced to endure Q School in the summer, to secure a two-year Tour card, meaning he will continue playing at the highest level into his 50s.
“When you are a kid, you don’t think about being 50,” said Lines, 124th in the world rankings. “But when I was playing last season, I really wanted to try and stay on the Tour when I was 50.
“That was a goal I set myself to try and get back on the tour. That’s why I went to Q School.
“It is a good milestone, to be playing on the main tour at 50, it’s a good effort.
“I am just waiting until next season and then I will really turn it on, and show them what’s what,” joked Lines, who is yet to win a match this season. “It’s not been a very good start to the year, I haven’t won all season.
“Going out there and not winning is still as hard to take as it’s ever been.”
Today’s first-round draw at the York Barbican could have been kinder, as Lines has been paired against four-time world champion John Higgins.
But Lines has an impressive record against the Scot – a mere pup at 44 – winning six of their eight meetings spanning 26 years.
In fact, the last time Lines lost to Higgins was 25 years ago, at the 1994 European Open.
“For a player of my ranking, I have a great record against John, which is really strange,” said Lines, who turned professional in 1991. “Everyone has bogey players, and, hopefully, I am his.
“I will just go out there and enjoy myself. I will train as hard as I possibly can, and on the day if it’s good enough, it will be good enough.
“I will try as hard as I can, like I always do every time I get my cue out.”
The father-of-three, including fellow professional Oliver, reached the quarter-finals of the UK Championship 10 years ago.
The event in 2009 was held in Telford, but has since returned to York, a venue on the doorstep for Lines.
“It’s my favourite competition,” said Lines, who knocked out defending champion Neil Robertson in the opening round in 2016. “I think the venue, the main arena, is fantastic. It’s local. Sheffield is the big one, but there’s so much pressure to get there.
“With York, you can just go and enjoy yourself. I love it there.
“Hopefully, I can play a bit of decent snooker, and this can be the kick-start for my season.”
Peter is not the only player in the Lines household hoping for an upturn in results in York.
Oliver has endured a tough run this season, losing to the likes of Robertson, Jack Lisowski, Stephen Maguire and Ronnie O’Sullivan.
The 24-year-old former European Under-21 champion faces Michael Georgiou in the first round tomorrow.
“He’s working with a new coach, Chris Henry, and playing really well, but it’s just not been good enough,” said Peter. “He’s played Maguire, Lisowski, Ronnie... You can’t just play well, you have to be exceptional.
“Maybe four or five years ago, there were 20 or 30 players on the tour, who shouldn’t have been there because they weren’t good enough. But there aren’t any of those players any more, they have all gone.
“If you turn up for any match now, if you don’t play well, you don’t win, it’s as simple as that.”
Regarding his 50th birthday, Lines says: “We can’t do anything because I am competing in the Scottish Open in Glasgow. My birthday is on the 11th and I am in Scotland playing on the 10th, so I couldn’t really organise anything either. No sunshine holiday, either, as it will be minus 10 in Scotland instead.”
Fellow Leeds cueman David Grace opens up against Tom Ford on Thursday, the same day as Rotherham’s Ash Carty, 24, faces Chris Wakelin. Sheffield-based Ding Junhui meets Duane Jones tomorrow.