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Bill’s Tai chi move for the love of snooker

Former manager of Delancey Street snooker club took up Chinese exercise after suffering serious injuries in a motorbike accident

19 April, 2018 — By John Gulliver

Bill took up tai chi after a motorbike accident

IF there is one thing you can say about Bill Cornish is that he never gives in.

What caught my ear about Bill – he used to manage the famous snooker club in Camden Town – is that after a severe accident he took up tai chi and persisted at it for 12 years until he was able to follow his dream again – of holding a cue.

His “dream” job was realised when he became manager of the snooker club in Delancey Street.

“I couldn’t wait to get to the club every morning – imagine being paid to do something you love!”, he told me.

But all that was shattered the day he was knocked off his motorbike on his way home from the club. He splintered both wrists, severely bruised his spine and tore ligaments in both legs. He was on his back for nearly four months. And his hand shook so badly when he tried to use a cue for the first time he thought he’d never be able to play again.

But then he discovered the recuperative powers of the Chinese exercise tai chi and after years at it slowly regained control over his hands and, to his astonishment, was able to pick up a cue again.

Bill Cornish with former world snooker champion Terry Griffiths

Snooker had become his life since he took it up at 18. By his 20s he had been on the verge of becoming a professional snooker player but all that seemed to belong to the past.

But he is not the self-indulgent type, I discovered. And, as to be expected, he became so proficient at it that he was soon in the championship class. Now he teaches tai chi at St John’s Church, Palmers Green, near his home.

His story doesn’t end there because he returned to the challenge of play­ing snooker again. Of course, as he explained, the game has moved on since he played it in the 1990s, when the snooker club was in its heyday, and he can no longer consider attempt­ing to join the professionals.

But Mr Cornish, now 61, with a wife and two daughters, earns a living as a black cabbie in whose taxi I heard the story the other week.

His ability to overcome adversity is a quality most of us admire. If there are any readers with a similar story let me know.

Today the snooker club has vanished, replaced by a music shop. It was the dream child of two Jewish men, John Lazarus and Antony Samis, whose club was considered the best in London.

Times got hard for the club when parking restrictions were introduced in the Camden Town area, driving away customers. Then both died – and the club closed.

But the story of the club lives on through the extraordinary life of Bill Cornish.


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