Snooker: Silverwood sets sights on World Championship success

James Silverwood.
James Silverwood.

When you have been as close to death as James Silverwood has been, there is nothing wrong with looking to the future with optimism.

The 27-year-old Lancaster snooker ace nearly died four years ago as a result of a horror car crash on his way to a tournament.

Believed to be dead at the scene of the collision in Leyland, Silverwood spent two days fighting for his life in a coma. Although he sustained a number of broken bones, the top potter happily went on to make a miraculous recovery.

And now he believes he is ready to make his childhood dream of becoming a future world champion of the sport a reality in the coming years.

Pie in the sky or just a pipedream, some people might say especially as Silverwood – a former England junior player – has yet to make an appearance on the world tour.

But having seen how 
fragile life can be, Silverwood is driven and determined to be the best snooker player that he can be.

“Why not strive for the top,” said Silverwood. “Why not do that?

“I started playing snooker not to just get on the world tour – when I started playing at 11-years-old, I dreamed of becoming world champion.

“That’s what I have always kept in my mind.

“If I did not believe that I could one day become world champion then I don’t really know how I could keep going.

“I am 27, I’ve had quite a few setbacks along the way but the thing which keeps me going, keeps me practising is having that goal.

“If I didn’t have that – I think I would have packed it in by now. Don’t get me wrong, I love snooker but if I didn’t think I could not get on the world tour, then I couldn’t play every day or practice every day like I am doing. To be honest, I don’t think I would be playing snooker at all.

“I want to win, I play to win – I strive for perfection.

“When I had the accident four years ago, it took me a long time to come back from that. But I feel like I am ready now.”

Silverwood’s quest to win a place on the world tour and ultimately appear one day at the Crucible theatre for the World Championships begins in May when he takes part in Q School in Wigan.

There are 12 spaces available for the world tour and to qualify, he must reach the semi-final stage of one of three tournaments which are being held.

Having got close to qualifying in the past, Silverwood believes this year will be the one.

“There’s around 12 or so players who are on the world tour currently who have never beaten me,” said Silverwood.

“I have always got the better of them, so I know I am good enough to compete at that level. But the reason why they are on the tour and I’m not is that they have had a good Q School.

“I have proven I am as good as anybody out there in Q School, I just cannot quite 
get over the line. Last year I played Sam Baird in round one – I had breaks of 70,90 and a ton but lost 4-3.

“I went 1-0 up, then 2-1 and 3-2 up.

“Sam then went on to qualify by winning his next matches easily 4-0, 4-0, 4-1 before winning 4-2 in the last 16 and quarter-finals to qualify for the world tour.

“That could have been me and I think it would have been me if I had got past Sam in round one. This year is the one.”

To help his quest, Silverwood has sought the advice of respected coach Neil Johnson.

“Neil didn’t take my game to pieces – he did not need to but there were a couple of things which he tried to change,” he said.

“At the time, it put my game five steps back, but now I feel like I have taken 10 steps forward.

“It took a long time to ground it into my own game because I have played that way for 10 years and have had success and done well.

“It is tough to change but I feel like I have five percent extra in my game.”