Islington youngster reaches national snooker finals
PUBLISHED: 07:25 05 December 2014
Building an early advantage is often vital in snooker – and Islington youngster Jackson Song has certainly managed that at just 11 years of age.
Song has been playing regularly for only 18 months, but defeated several older rivals to book a place at the English Under-14 Championship finals, which take place in February.
He practises at the Hurricane Room, King’s Cross, and John Woods, who coaches the young St Aloysius’ College student there, has been astounded by his rapid progress.
“Jackson’s improving unbelievably fast,” said Woods, an ex-professional who now runs his own business, Gone to Pot Snooker, and also oversees the weekly kids’ club at the Hurricane Room.
“You could see he had ability – we just worked on his technique and gave him different practice routines. We’ve got our own rankings here, he’s already up to number five and the kids above him are much older.
“It’s about keeping him patient at the moment because he wants to beat the world already. He’s basically two years ahead of his time after just 18 months, and now he’s in the last 16 in the country.
“It’s going to get tougher and tougher but, if he doesn’t do it this year he’ll have two more attempts at winning it. He could have a great future, perhaps better than any player that’s come out of Islington.”
Former world champion Peter Ebdon is the best-known product of the Hurricane Room, while a recent graduate of the kids’ club, Adam Stacey, was picked to play for England after reaching the last four of the English Under-14 Championship.
“Adam got selected for one of the junior national events and hopefully Jackson could end up playing for England as well,” added Woods.
“A lot of our kids travel from all around London to play here and Jackson is one of many that are going to tournaments. What makes him stand out is how quickly he’s got to that level in a short space of time.”
Song, who lives in nearby Collier Street, first began his fascination with the green baize after his sister bought him a mini-pool set and gradually progressed to playing each day on a full-size snooker table.
Now he practises between two and four times a week at the Hurricane Room – and every day during school holidays – as well as watching as much professional snooker on TV as he can.
Current world number three Ding Junhui is Song’s particular favourite and he dreams of following in the Chinese star’s footsteps one day – or, failing that, becoming a top-level swimmer.
Asked if he hoped to turn pro, the youngster said: “Definitely – but first I have to do my schoolwork!
“I like watching all the tournaments on TV, especially Ding – I really want him to win. Even if he loses I still watch it because I like Ronnie O’Sullivan as well.
“If I had to choose a sport to do, it could also be basketball, handball or swimming – I wanted to be an Olympic swimmer as well – but snooker is number one.
“I just like that feeling when the ball drops into the pocket. At first I could only pot one or two balls, now I can make big breaks and my best is 73.”
Song won eight out of 12 frames at the Southern regional qualifiers for the English Under-14 Championships and will head to Leeds for the last 16 in February with increased confidence.
He recalled: “It was nerve-racking because I had never played in the Under-14s before and in my head I was thinking ‘I have to do this, I have to do this’.
“I saw so many people come and I got more nervous and nervous but, when I played I forgot about it.
“There were some very good players there and I didn’t think I could beat them – so I was very surprised to win it. But even if I lost, I took a frame off them, which was very good.”
The Hurricane Room kids’ club has sessions every Saturday and is open to youngsters of all ages and standards. Visit www.hurricaneroom.co.uk or call 07511 916346 for more information.