Rob Milkins: Night Of Shame And Sporting Chance Turned My Life And Career Around

Rob Milkins admits he was embarrassed and fined for a drunken night of chaos in Turkey that helped change his life and career.

The milkman delivered a second rankings title at the Welsh Open – giving him a huge jackpot of almost £300,000, including first prize, a series bonus and other spin-offs.

The 9-7 win over former world champion Shaun Murphy brought Gloucester’s Milkins, 46, back into the top 16 after the best 11 months of his 28 years on tour, starting with a first title in Gibraltar.


Just a year ago, Milkins was at rock bottom after completing a birthday stroll at the inaugural Turkish Masters in Antalya. He ended up slashing his chin in a fall, getting into arguments with guests, attacking WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson and having his stomach pumped at the hospital.

Milkins, who was devastated at the time by the recent loss of his sister, immediately sought help from Sporting Chance, the mental health charity run by former Arsenal defender Tony Adams.

And Milkins, who had eyes on children Charlie, Elisha and Mia as he addressed his issues, insisted: “What happened in Turkey was probably the best thing that ever happened to me – in a nasty way.

“I’m not proud of what I did, but looking back it was the best. I went straight away for advice, she was brilliant.

“The World Snooker Tour sorted it out for me after what I did in Turkey. I had some problems, I told them about it and I wasn’t happy with some things in life.

“And they got me into Tony Adams’ charity, Sporting Chance. I met a lady in Gloucester, had six sessions in total and she said if I had more problems I should go back.

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“But I didn’t, I was fine. There were terrible moments but they are in the past now and I’m looking to the future.

“And after one session I won the Gibraltar Open. I opened up to someone, told the lady things no one else knows, and took it all from me. And it was a relief.

“I went to Gibraltar feeling like a different person and I haven’t looked back since. It’s been a long journey, no question. And after this win I am exhausted but happy.”

Milkins had won less than £1.3million in his first 27 years as a professional – and for a player who has struggled with debt in the past, that windfall has eased a lot of pressure.

He added: “The money means I can pay off my house and everything else and live comfortably – and most importantly, play with no financial pressure.

“I can do that this week for example at the Players Championship, the Tour Championship and the new one before the World Championship. There are more options this season.

“It’s been really difficult all day for the final with so much money at stake. I felt like I wasn’t doing my best all day and I just kept going. Luckily, Shaun wasn’t playing his best either.

“The pressure was so great that I wasn’t looking forward to it the night before. It was the £150,000 bonus that made it worse, people kept telling me how much it was worth.

“I was very emotional, but that was mainly because my kids were out there – I wanted them there and it was nice to have everyone in the arena.

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“It was hard to take earlier in my career to see people who might not have had the skills that I have to win a lot more than I do – but there’s a lot more to this game than skills.

“A lot of it is about your mental state and your head and how well you handle setbacks. I wasn’t good at it and I didn’t have much confidence.

“It’s improved a lot after Gibraltar, although it would have been nice to have won a title before that, in my 27th year on tour – maybe it would have been very different if I had won one 15 years ago.”

Along with the biggest title of his life and the cash jackpot, Milkins has a great shot at being seeded for the World Championship in the Crucible.

Also referring to the strength of his era, he said: “You always have a better chance of winning the World Cup when you’re a set, that’s for sure – although that’s a million miles away.

“Everything was right last week, but the worlds are so different in terms of best of 19s and best of 25s.

“At my age it was a golden generation when I came through, I’m about the same age as Ronnie O’Sullivan, Mark Williams and John Higgins.

“When I was young there were so many good players in snooker clubs. I think there were 10 players at my club in Gloucester who made hundreds. Now there may not even be two in all of Gloucestershire.

“The players don’t get through in this country and I feel sorry for the youngsters, they don’t have that choice of practice partners.”

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