When One Eye is Better Than Two – James Bonner in Australia
I don’t ever remember having two eyes. I was four years old when it happened, a small accident really.
I put scissors though the skin on my eyebrow, it was when I was pulling them out that I somehow damaged my eye. Back then, it was 1949, they just whipped it out so there was no chance of disease.
People were amazed that I was always good at sport. I’d give anything a go, and was good at it all. Playing table tennis or rounders, people would say – but now can you hit that ball out to the right without that eye?
All I knew was if I saw the ball coming, I could hit it back out there. I can’t really say how I knew.
I grew up in Scotland and worked as an industrial radiographer. Back then it was called non-destructive testing. We’d use x-ray to analyse and weld metals. Otherwise you’d have to destroy a pipe by pulling it apart, to work out how to fix it.
The job took me all over the world, to Africa, the Middle East and when I was 25 a mate asked me to come out to Australia.
On the way here I picked up the book Complete Snooker for Amateurs. I liked the game in Scotland, I’d hit a ball maybe 50 times.
The place I first stayed in Perth had two full size tables. The book said step one was to buy a cue, so I did.
The next day someone said to me, you’re a good player, where’d you come from? I said, I just started playing yesterday.
I joined a club and the next month I was Club champion. Soon after that I was State Champion. Over the years I won 15 West Australian State titles, 2 National titles and I played 5 World titles.
All those years I had been good at any sport I tried, but never number one. With snooker and cue sports I’ve been in Championships every decade since the ‘60s. For me it’s been easy, never hard work.
Snooker is a sport where one eye is definitely better than two. What’s the first thing a player does lining up a tough shot? They close one eye.
One of the closest Championships I played was against another fellow with one eye. We were neck and neck all the way through, the last shot decided the winner.
I won that one while I was working on the Dongara-Perth pipeline. I was out there with nowhere to practice. Just had to show up and play the game.
Later on I owned my own Billiard Room and coached a girl through to World Championship winner.
I always tried to give back. I had years as President of the West Australian Association and many more on the Australian Council.
It’s a great non-contact sport. We made sure we had rules that kept it a gentleman’s game. The bow tie and the handshake keeps everyone equal. We kept the rules about bad behaviour tight, no matter who you were.
The Game’s difficult for most, but I’d say it’s always been good to me.