PART-TIME factory worker Luke Simmonds is looking forward to the challenge of taking on defending champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in the first round of snooker’s Betway UK Championship in York next week.

Amateur cueman Simmonds has been drawn against six-time UK Championship king O’Sullivan in the tournament, which runs from November 27 to December 9 at the York Barbican.

Also returning to the Barbican for the first round will be local potters Ashley Hugill and Paul Davison. Hugill, from Melbourne, will face Iranian Hossein Vafaei and Pickering's Davison comes up against Stuart Carrington.

Simmonds has never been ranked higher than 94th in the world but won enough matches at Q School this year to earn a place in certain ranking events.

The 38-year-old from the Isle of Wight has worked in a factory for the past eight years, building carbon-fibre body parts for cars. He practises snooker whenever he can, to prepare for tournaments.

“Hopefully I’ll have a couple of days' practice next week before I head up to York,” said former World Amateur champion Simmonds. “The financial side is difficult because if you are not winning matches then you can’t cover your expenses.

“It’s exciting to be drawn against Ronnie because I have never played him before and it will be my biggest match in terms of the profile of the occasion.

“I admire Ronnie because, along with John Higgins and Mark Williams, they are able to play snooker in an optimum state of mind. They are totally at ease with themselves, enjoying the game with no concerns about prize money or expenses.

“I would love to be able to do the same but the hardest thing is to get to that point. I don’t feel good about my game at the moment because I am very self-critical of my own performances.

“Snooker is a unique game in that when you are at the table, if you can clear the balls then there’s nothing your opponent can do about it. And if you don’t give your opponent chances then he can’t score.”

That match will take place on Thursday, November 29 at 2.30pm. The event starts with 128 players in the line-up, and the whole first round takes place over the first three days.

Other top stars battling for the £170,000 top prize include Mark Selby, Judd Trump, John Higgins, Neil Robertson, Mark Williams and Mark Allen.

Tickets for the first three days start at just £8, and with eight tables in play in every session, it’s a good chance for fans to see many of the world’s top stars. For details see

Televised by BBC and Eurosport, the Betway UK Championship has been staged every year since 1977 and is one of snooker’s Triple Crown events, alongside the World Championship and the Masters.

The first-round draw in full is as follows. For dates and times, see

Ronnie O'Sullivan v Luke Simmonds, Yuan SiJun v Ken Doherty, Zhou Yuelong v Soheil Vahedi, Mark Davis v Sam Craigie, Marco Fu v Hammad Miah, Michael Georgiou v Luo Honghao, Jack Lisowski v Zhang Jiankang, Fergal O'Brien v Mei Xi Wen, Lyu Haotian v Tian Pengfei, Jimmy Robertson v Jordan Brown, Martin O'Donnell v Xu Si, Shaun Murphy v Chen Feilong, Ben Woollaston v Alfie Burden, Xiao Guodong v Sean O'Sullivan, Matthew Selt v Zhang Yong, Ding Junhui v Adam Stefanow, Judd Trump v David Lilley, Dominic Dale v Gerard Greene, Mark King v Elliot Slessor, Li Hang v Lee Walker, Ryan Day v Joe O'Connor, Andrew Higginson v Nigel Bond, Joe Perry v John J Astley, Michael Holt v Chen Zifan, Mark Joyce v Niu Zhuang, Anthony McGill v Lu Ning, Liam Highfield v Robin Hull, Luca Brecel v Fan Zhengyi, Tom Ford v Craig Steadman, Robert Milkins v Sanderson Lam, Alan McManus v Alexander Ursenbacher, John Higgins v Dechawat Poomjaeng, Mark Selby v James Cahill, Akani Songsermsawad v Eden Sharav, Ricky Walden v Jak Jones, Michael White v Joe Swail, Stuart Bingham v James Wattana, Kurt Maflin v Zhang Anda, David Gilbert v Ashley Carty, Peter Ebdon v Chris Totten, Stuart Carrington v Paul Davison, Yan Bingtao v Lukas Kleckers, Mike Dunn v Allan Taylor, Kyren Wilson v Andy Lee, Gary Wilson v Billy Joe Castle, Liang Wenbo v Sam Baird, Robbie Williams v Ian Burns, Barry Hawkins v Jamie Clarke, Mark Allen v Basem Eltahhan, Rory McLeod v Peter Lines, Martin Gould v Harvey Chandler, Hossein Vafaei v Ashley Hugill, Neil Robertson v Kishan H Hirani, Thepchaiya Un-Nooh v Jimmy White, Graeme Dott v Oliver Lines, Matthew Stevens v Ross Muir, Chris Wakelin v Duane Jones, Ali Carter v Thor Chuan Leong, Scott Donaldson v Li Yuan, Stephen Maguire v Simon Lichtenberg, Noppon Saengkham v Hamza Akbar, Anthony Hamilton v Rod Lawler, Daniel Wells v Zhao Xintong, Mark Williams v Adam Duffy.