Father-and-son snooker pair Peter and Oliver Lines have caused a ripple in the sport over the last few days at the UK Championship in York.
Snooker is a sport so often dominated by the big names, the likes of Hendry, O’Sullivan, and Davis, who have a combined 92 ranking titles. With that being the case, the notion of a relatively unknown father and son eliminating Neil Robertson and Judd Trump, two of the sports heavyweights, from the UK Championship is almost unfathomable.
But last night, 21 year-old Oliver Lines completed a sensational victory over Judd Trump to secure his place in the third round of the competition in York. He joins his father Peter, who beat the tournament’s defending Champion Neil Robertson. They’re the first father/son pair to reach the last 32 of a competition since Geof and Neal Foulds in 1986.
The story of a father and son both reaching the third round would be interesting enough even if they hadn’t knocked out Robertson and Trump along the way. However, the fact that Peter and Oliver have seen off such heavyweights of the sport is a remarkable feat. It’s worth remembering that neither player has before reached the third round of a ranking event. With Oliver ranked 61 in the world, and Peter not even on the professional tour, the Lines’ achievements are even more astounding.
Dad Peter has said how his main priority is his son’s success: “If he’s doing well, that’s what I want…If I do ok, it is just a bonus” he told BBC Sport, modest words from the 46 year-old. However, Peter surely holds underlying ambitions for personal success. He has dropped in and out of the professional tour throughout his career and the Leeds-born player will undoubtedly be relishing the chance of re-building his own reputation, despite his humble words.
For 21 year-old Oliver, this could be a coming of age. We’ve seen in the past how success in a major tournament can elevate a snooker player’s profile. Take Anthony McGill for example, a player who took the 2015 World Championship by storm and has since built on that success, establishing himself in snooker’s top 20. Of course, Oliver Lines has a long way to go if he is to match that kind of rise. Beating a high profile player such as Trump can just as easily breed complacency as it can confidence and success.
Indeed, this is where the key lies for the Lines family. Peter and Oliver face Liam Highfield (ranked 106) and Jimmy Robertson (ranked 36) respectively in the last 32, and it’s vital that they don’t allow complacency to creep into their mindsets having knocked out two of the sport’s best. In a best of 11 frame match, a lack of concentration can cost a player dearly, as Stuart Bingham will testify having suffered defeat at the hands 0f Yu Delu. The Lines’ need to emulate the mentality of playing the bigger names if they are to build on their third round successes.
Peter and Oliver are in the same side of the draw at the UK Championship and may be relishing the prospect of a potential meeting further down the line. Of course, that remains a distant hope, but it’s something that snooker fans would love to see. Whether or not Peter and Oliver can go further in the competition, this has been a remarkable story, and a proud moment for the Lines family.