Christmas Day. The day snooker careers are born.
If it were not for a kid-size Steve Davis snooker table from Toys ‘R’ Us, the 2005 Crucible champion would not have been Shaun Murphy, whose 1990 Christmas present kicked off a love affair with the game.
But where should today’s snooker-minded Christmas shoppers search for last-minute presents for their loved ones?
More than a quarter of a century on from the Murphy family’s legendary Christmas shop of 1990, Toys ‘R’ Us remains a contender, its website offering a total of six tables, ranging from a 24-inch model for £19.99 to a six foot pool-and-snooker table for £237.99.
However, if a snooker cue is what you seek, Toys ‘R’ Us’s website is not the place to look– there is not a single individual cue for sale.
Truth be told, the two heavyweights of the ‘kids-and-amateurs snooker accessories’ market are Argos and Sports Direct. Between their websites, there are 17 tables and 52 cues available.
Argos’s cue stock is dominated by Riley cues– of greatly varying price– whereas Sports Direct has more or less equally divided its stock amongst Riley, BCE and Powerglide cues, none of which is more expensive than £50.
The most eye-catching, if unaffordable, cue on offer across the two retailers can be found at Argos.
The Riley Ronnie O’Sullivan Limited Edition Match Snooker Cue, signed by Ronnie O’Sullivan and made-to-order, is yours for the paltry sum of £1799.99…
The manufacturer did not respond to an e-mail asking how many of the custom-made O’Sullivan cues had been sold through Argos.
Not to be outdone by Argos in the ‘flashy’ stakes, Sports Direct has reserved its high-quality, high-price offerings for its selection of snooker tables.
Indeed, not only does Sports Direct have 11 tables on sale, against Argos’ six, amongst Sports Direct’s tables are several high-quality products in the £5,000-8000 bracket. However, one suspects Little Henry might not get very near these tables at Christmas time.
At the more realistic end of the scale, the cheapest six foot table available on Argos’ website is £99.99, while SportsDirect.com’s cheapest six-footer is £179.00.
Of course, the snooker shopper’s universe does not end at Sports Direct, Argos and Toys ‘R’ Us, but for those not wishing to splash out on a hand-made John Parris cue for their little one, the right gift should be available somewhere across the three retailers’ websites.
So, there we are.
Merry Christmas to you all– and to at least one future snooker World Champion.