When I was 16, I had just turned professional. My main passion was snooker and my life revolved around billiard halls. All my friends were there. It was my social place, my workplace, we would have dinner up there. I was eager to get going. As you get further into your career, the fear can kick in, but as a youngster you have nothing to lose. It was pure excitement. All I wanted to do was play snooker, so the opportunity to play professionally was fantastic. And when I started getting a few results and a few pay cheques, even better.
I miss young Ronnie. My younger self was so grounded, so stable, so together. Snooker was great, family life was great, things couldn’t be better than when I was 16. Then my dad went away [his father Ronald was jailed in 1992 for the murder of Bruce Bryan in London, and was released in 2010] and that rocked me massively. After that I was over-trying on the snooker table because I didn’t want to make him feel responsible for me getting bad results. I put a lot of pressure on myself. And sometimes the harder you try, the less it happens so it is a vicious circle. I didn’t know how to deal with it.
I’m not against capitalism and people making money, I just think it could be distributed more fairly, put in the right places.
I would tell my younger self to get counselling a lot earlier to deal with the grief of my dad going away. I felt like I was carrying the whole world on my shoulders. In hindsight, I would have sought professional help to get through the grieving process with somebody. I don’t think I could have done much
differently. I got my head down, I carried on playing snooker, I hadn’t yet discovered drink or other stuff. I was pretty sensible really. It was just too much.
I drunk and took other substances just to fit in. After I’d won my first ranking event, that monkey was off my back and I’d made my dad proud. I decided it was my time and went on a bit of a barrage – out drinking and hanging around with people who weren’t like-minded and didn’t have to perform as a professional sportsman. If I could live my time again, I would delete that part of my life. If I was a party type of guy, that’s one thing, but I never actually enjoyed it. My mum and dad were my role models and they used to do it. But when I speak to my dad about it, he says it wasn’t for him either. My mum liked to stay out partying, so he had to go with her.
My younger self wouldn’t believe how much I am into fitness and nutrition. My dad used to have to force me to run. Part of the deal was that if I wanted to leave school early to play snooker, I had to have a fitness routine. Running was a good addiction for me. I have an addictive nature, so if I find something I enjoy, which I did with the running, I stick at it. But I could never have seen myself doing cross-country races and running for a club. Running took me away from the typical snooker player culture of gambling and drinking. When I am running in the woods and the sun is shining through the trees it is great to be alive.