Adam Duffy is a modern-day snooker player who is not afraid to get his hands dirty.
The 28-year-old is quite happy to swap his cue for a trowel, pack away his dickie bow and waistcoat and put in a day’s graft on the building site.
Duffy lost his place amongst snooker’s professional ranks in 2014, and spent time working for his dad Kevin’s building firm in Sheffield.
While working on the building site – “I can actually lay bricks” – Duffy’s perseverance on the amateur circuit eventually paid off last year, earning a two-year Tour card.
He still works part-time in the family building business, to help supplement his snooker income, but Duffy believes time away from the sport has helped “make me more grounded”.
He said: “Most players, who are lower down the rankings, have to get other jobs.
When the tournaments are on, and you are sat at home watching, it’s hard to watch. I played in a few professional tournaments – as an amateur – but it’s not the same.Adam Duffy
“I enjoy it, it has made me more grounded. Snooker is just a sport, people get a bit ‘over themselves’. I have been there, when I was younger, you think you have made it.
“You need to be grounded, it’s not the be-all and end-all. It’s a career, but there’s a lot more to life. It pays the bills.
“Even if I was struggling now with tournaments, I would probably have to do a bit of work (on the building site).
“But I have done alright in the last few tournaments.
“I can actually lay bricks. I am not a machine, but I am not too bad. I labour if the guys need help, and I enjoy learning, watching the electricians and plumbers. You learn things from them that stay with you in life.
“My family have always been grafters, always worked hard, it must be in the blood. I just need to work hard at the snooker now, if I don’t and my dad doesn’t think I am working hard enough, I will know about it.”
Duffy admits time off the professional tour was tough.
“When the tournaments are on, and you are sat at home watching, it’s hard to watch,” he said. “I played in a few professional tournaments – as an amateur – but it’s not the same.”
Duffy returns to York next week for the Betway UK Championship, and has good memories of the Barbican.
In 2015, as an amateur, he caused a first-round shock, knocking out world No 3 Ding Junhui. It took a deciding frame to see him eventually bow out 6-5 to Joe Swail in the second round.
And back in 2013, he twice led Ronnie O’Sullivan before the interval, only to lose out 6-3.
“I beat Barry Pinches, but then lost to Ronnie O’Sullivan,” he recalled. “I played well against Ronnie, but obviously he is a class act.”
Duffy heads to York – where he will play Dominic Dale in the first round – in confident mood, after a good week in Belfast at the Northern Ireland Open.
He knocked out top-64 player McLeod, before bowing out 4-1 against world No 17 Anthony McGill.
“I had a good start in Belfast,” he said. “I know I am playing well, at the minute.
“Obviously, you need a bit of luck, but I am confident of a good run if I play well.
“This year the players that I have lost to have done well in tournaments. It’s a positive to take from the negative.
“I lost to Judd (Trump) at the European Masters, and he went on to win it, and before that lost to Michael White in Germany (in Paul Hunter Classic), and he won the title there. So I am not losing to people out of form.”
One thing is for certain, Duffy can expect a smoother journey to York, than last week’s Belfast trip. He missed two flights last Monday morning, after accidents on the M1 forced Duffy to consider pulling out of the Irish event.
Eventually, he managed to book a flight and arrived at Waterfront Hall just in time to beat McLeod 4-2.
“It was easier to get to Shanghai (for the Shanghai Masters, a week earlier), just a direct flight,” laughed Duffy.
“There were two crashes on the M1, a friend took me down, and we had to pull off at the services.
“My original flight was from Birmingham, but because I was going to miss that, I booked one from East Midlands, which was only 10 miles away. But I just couldn’t get there. I had literally given up, but there was a flight from Leeds at 11.15, which got in to Belfast at noon, so I was lucky. York is just a short drive up the motorway. It’s a cracking venue.”
Tickets for the UK Championship, which runs from next Tuesday to December 10 at York Barbican, are available via www.worldsnooker.com/tickets