THE air-conditioned Star Snooker Academy proved to be a blessed relief from the scorching sun last Saturday in Sheffield.
Situated in Sheffield United’s training facilities, it is the practice base of Ding Junhui - among others.
And into this arena marched Shane Castle, to the sound of Wild Ones by Flo Rida, ready to write another chapter in his remarkable story that began nearly seven years ago.
All players who qualified for the English Association of Snooker & Billiards (EASB) finals weekend had to choose their walk-on music.
Shane accounted for Liverpool’s Josh Mulholland - who won the prize for the most supporters - 6-1 in the English Under-16 Championship final.
And the next day the phenomenal 14-year-old blitzed James Pearson, from Leeds, 5-0 in the English Under-14 Championship final.
But another former Chandler’s Ford SC junior missed out on a second national title.
Alex Dunkley, now 24, was beaten in the English Combined Cue Sports Championship final by Phil Mumford, the partner of Mandy Fisher.
Back in the early 1980s, Mandy made a living out of playing snooker. She founded and ran the World Ladies Billiards & Snooker Association for 30 years before retiring last year and accepting
the post of president following the death of Agnes Davies.
The boy Castle and little Alex eventually took a shine to the buffet after a fruitless drive around Sheffield in search of a good, old-fashioned café.
Apparently, the spread was so much better than the one in Bulgaria for the European Under-21 Championship.
Incidentally, Shane’s first final was officiated by Belarus referee Tatiana Woollaston, who married world number 43 Ben Woollaston, from Leicester, last year.
Ben and EASB chairman and chief executive John Hartley, sporting a sharp suit, presented Shane with the under-16 trophy.