Thursday 8 December 2016

King: I came here without a tenner in the bank

Wayne Gardiner

Published 22/11/2016 | 02:30

Mark King claimed victory at the Northern Ireland open
Mark King claimed victory at the Northern Ireland open

Mark King ended a 25-year wait for a career title on Sunday night and dedicated it to his family for putting up with his gambling over the years.

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King turned professional in 1991 and has earned over £1m during that time, but admitted arriving in Northern Ireland for the Alex Higgins Trophy "without a tenner in the bank".

He borrowed money from his dad Bill to get to Belfast and was unable to hold back the tears as he addressed the crowd following a 9-8 final win over Barry Hawkins which earned him £70,000.

King's wife Sally and his three children watched on as he broke down.

"To see that last two minutes, where (the children) came out... I have been dreaming of that ever since they were born. I never thought it would happen. Forty-two years old, I'm on the last nine of my career," he said.

"My wife's been unbelievable. (The) last few years, I used to (do) compulsive gambling, treated her like absolute c**p and she stuck with me. She's been an absolute rock. I looked at them and said 'am I dreaming?'"

King also paid tribute to his dad, who has looked over his career from the off but was unable to make the final because of illness.

"I want to thank my dad, I'm gutted he can't be here tonight, but he's not feeling well," he said, tearfully. "He's spent his last money on me, he lent me money to come here because I was skint.

"I came here without a tenner in the bank. My dad and my mate lent me some money until my money comes through from (recent tournaments in) China.

"I go to Gamblers Anonymous once a week, it keeps me clean and I want to build now."

Irish Independent

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