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Alfie Burden heads to the Seniors with another crack at pro snooker in mind: ‘The tour misses me creating a bit of drama’


Alfie Burden is back with a cue in his hand (Picture: Getty Images)

Alfie Burden is returning to snooker at the World Seniors Q School this week, but he is not just thinking about taking on the veterans, he has a bigger comeback in mind.

The Londoner retired from the game last year after dropping off the tour and just falling short of bouncing straight back on through Q School.

He expected his cue to be back in its case for good but the pandemic, and the thinking time that has come with it, has seen him start to change his mind.

While the 44-year-old is not loving the idea of putting in hours of practice, he does fancy another taste of the excitement that big events provide.

‘The lockdown has been a lot of thinking time and I have been thinking that maybe I wrapped it up a bit early,’ Burden told Metro.co.uk.

‘I know I dropped off tour, I wasn’t in a good head space at Q School after losing the tour card at the World Championship, I was all messed up there. I nearly got through though, lost in the final match.

‘I’ve not missed practicing but definitely missed the adrenaline of competing in tournaments. You get used to having that buzz of competing when you’ve done it your whole life, the craic with the boys as well.

‘What I do know is that if I get my game right I’m still good enough to compete on the tour, I know that for a fact. I don’t think the other players would doubt that either.

The last few years I wasn’t really giving my all to the game, had a lot of other stuff going on. It’s difficult to compete at that level when you’re not giving it your all.’

The veteran first turned pro in 1994, with only the briefest of spells off the pro circuit in 2009 when he won the World Amateur Championship.

The route back onto tour for Burden would be through Q School after the World Championship finishes in May, and he has teased that we may just see him there.

‘There’s a good chance you’ll see me rocking up at Q School, I know I’ll probably get a bit of stick because I announced my retirement, but I’m used to a bit of stick anyway,’ he said.

‘The Tour probably misses me, mate, cause a bit of chaos, create a bit of drama wherever I go, I think it misses me.’

First up for AB is the tournament this week, with two places at the World Seniors Championship at the Crucible on the line, an event he was talked into playing by Seniors boss Jason Francis.

‘I’ve played nothing, I’ve not picked me cue up for basically 10 months,’ he said. ‘It’s bizarre. Played snooker basically full time since I was 16 so it’s been very weird. Back in the day we had a long summer break and put the cue away for maybe eight weeks, so this is the longest time without playing. This time I thought I’d put my cue away for good.

Burden is considering making his retirement a very short one indeed (Picture: Getty Images)

‘Two weeks ago Jason Francis bent my ear about the Seniors event. I had no intention of playing it but he rang me up a few times, to be fair. I said, “no, no, no I’m not playing, I’ve not picked me cue up.” But he was quite persistent and in the end I thought, why not?

‘I’m not expecting to go and qualify at the Seniors, there’s some great players in there, but I’ll try and have a bit of fun. I’ve always been a fierce competitor, it’ll be no different. If I’m playing tiddlywinks with me son I’m trying to beat him, that’s just the way I am, so I’ll be trying, whether it’ll be good enough, I don’t know.

‘If it can ignite a bit of passion back, I’ve got no doubt in my mind that if I practice for a month to six weeks I have a great chance at Q School.’

His 10 months away from practice ended a couple of weeks ago in Bristol where he practiced with Stephen Lee’s son, Alfie, who is also set for a crack at Q School this year.

Burden plays on Tuesday at the Crucible Club in Reading, as he begins his journey in the Seniors alongside Andy Lavin, Martin Dylan and one of the stars of the sport’s golden age, Tony Knowles.

There are some classy operators in the Seniors, many of whom are still on tour, so Burden knows this is a tough task while out of match practice.

‘I’m not expecting too much from the Seniors, I’ll have played about 15 hours of snooker after 10 months off so I won’t be in great shape,’ he said.

‘Playing Knowsley, I don’t think I’ve played him, he was still a pro when I turned pro but I don’t think we ever played [Alfie forgets their one meeting, a 5-1 victory over Knowles at the 1999 Scottish Open.]

Tony Knowles is a three-time World Championship semi-finalist (Picture: Getty Images)

‘He can still play, he’s still been getting wins on the Seniors. Getting through the qualifiers is going to be tough. Rod Lawler, Rory Mcleod, David Lilley, Lee Walker, Peter Lines, they’re all there, it’s tough.

‘Me old mate Patsy [Fagan] will be playing as well, I’ve been speaking to him recently, we’d been playing golf until they shut the courses and he can still knock a few balls in. He’s a great guy, a lovely guy and wouldn’t be short of a story or two. Playing Alex Higgins every other week, you couldn’t avoid a story.’

Burden may not have been playing much snooker over the last 10 months, but he has not been idle, setting up a dairy delivery business with his friend and working hard with his son Lene on his promising football career.

The former amateur world champion does feel like dropping off the tour came at an unfortunate time for him, though, just as the snooker world moved to Milton Keynes, just up the road from him.

‘My luck innit, I’ve spent 26 years travelling all over the place, up north, going to all these tournaments. The year I come off tour the venue’s half an hour from me house,’ he said. ‘That’s just my standard form.’

Burden takes on Knowles, Dylan and Lavin on Tuesday 30 March, with the group winner returning on Sunday for the play-offs.


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