Peter Devlin is a unique addition to the professional snooker scene this season as he brings his comedy rap talents and charity work to the table after an unusual route into the sport.
The 24-year-old came through Q School over the summer, booking his place on the main tour for the first time, having only taken up the game seriously at the age of 16.
The Londoner has been enjoying a steady progression in the game after difficulties off the table delayed his initial growth, but is now more than ready to make a splash.
‘I started at about 11, playing pool with my dad, but I had a few family issues from 13-14 with my parents splitting up,’ Devlin told Metro.co.uk. ‘It was a messy period where I couldn’t play much snooker at all so I went completely off the radar till I was 16.
‘I left school at 16 to take it up full time because it’s what I wanted to do and I had to concentrate on it because everyone round my age had gone way ahead, but I’ve had a very steady rise since then.’
Devastating Devlin quickly got back on track, claiming the English Under-21 Championship in 2016 and has been picking up plenty of wins to keep his game going in the right direction.
‘Every year there was something to say I was improving, not like a flash in the pan,’ he said. ‘I’d win a junior event, then the English Under-21, then a few amateur events, Pro-Ams then got to the Challenge Tour, a few good runs there and now Q School, I’ve been making progress.
‘I missed out on a lot of my junior years, outside issues can affect the table and the issues I went through meant I carried a lot of anxiety as a kid.
‘I went from being a really confident 11-year-old to coming back and being really nervous and anxious, I changed a lot on the table because of that. Not only was I missing the years of playing, I was a completely different person when I came back.’
Devlin has conquered those issues admirably and is already something of a star away from the snooker table, with his rap videos soaring past 1 million views on YouTube.
Covering anything from snooker to Love Island, Devlin has plenty of fans, although it only started out to win a few friends at school.
‘It started off, I just wanted to find a sort of place in school, I didn’t know too many people and there was a group of people I wanted to get on with and they enjoyed them,’ Peter explained.
‘It carried on a bit from there, but sort of in the background. Then just after I won the English Under-21 I ate something with hazelnut in it, which I’m allergic to, I was in hospital for a night, nothing serious but I was so bored.
‘I got a Subway delivered and just did a little rap about it and it started up again from there. I made a video for one and it got 100,000 views, I’ve had over a million views now. They’re all comedy ones, just relatable things.
‘They’re just enjoyable to make, they’ve been popular, but now I’m on the tour it’ll take a back seat.’
For a man only just about to take his first steps into professional snooker, Devlin is well aware of the pitfalls of the pro game and has taken measures to help address them.
The Leyton cueman is an ambassador for Silence of Suicide and is working to raise awareness of mental health issues in snooker, which is rarely spoken about but can be a real issue for players.
‘I was made ambassador for Silence in Suicide, and I’m writing a song for them, which will obviously not be a comedy one, it’ll be a pretty hard hitting one. Hopefully that will come out well,’ Devlin said.
‘They were working with the World Seniors Snooker and I did an online challenge on Facebook with them.
‘There was maybe 1,000 people watching live on Facebook and I had time to do a little talk before I did the challenge and I was thinking about doing a rap but I thought I’d do something serious because people haven’t seen that side of me.
‘I mainly spoke about mental health among snooker players and how it’s not talked about enough. We’re on our own, travelling around, playing one match for £5k or nothing.
‘You could have frame ball for £5k and twitch, thinking you’ve literally thrown it away and have to live with that. You’re living with guilt, frustration, anger, then going to the practice room on your own, banging your head against the wall.
‘Travelling all round China, often on your own, 24 hour journeys sometimes, each way, after you’ve just lost £5k. It can be very hard and very damaging.
‘I spoke to the charity after who asked me to be an ambassador so I was very happy to do that. We’ve shared some ideas, that’s how the new song’s come about.’
Devlin has played in the Shoot Out and Gibraltar Open before as a top-up player, memorably winning his first game at the Shoot Out and catching the eye as he celebrated with his mum.
However, he will make his debut as a fully-fledged tour player on Wednesday in the Championship League and he is thrilled to be thrown ‘in at the deep end’ against Shaun Murphy, Jimmy White and Martin O’Donnell.
‘I’m feeling very good,’ he said. ‘Obviously nervous and excited. I’m pleased I’m in at the deep end, not quite TV but near enough, because if I do have any good runs in tournaments, later stages will be on TV. I’m glad to get it out of the way now so I know what it’s like and what to expect.
‘It’s a brilliant group, full of not only good players, but good names so people will be interested and I was hoping to get a group like that. To get Jimmy White, one of the biggest names Shaun Murphy, one of the best players and O’Donnell’s a very good player as well, a great group to be in.
‘Jimmy’s seen some of my raps. He came up to me at the Shoot Out and asked to see them, I showed him a few on YouTube and he seemed to enjoy them.
‘The Shoot Out, it was far from a good performance, but you’ve got to go out and enjoy it, make the most of it. For me it was my first ever TV time so there’s no point going and being like everyone else. I wanted to experience it how I wanted to experience it.’
Devlin sticks to that mantra of not wanting to be like everyone else and his journey into professional snooker is bound to be an entertaining one as a result.
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