January 30, 2011

Blackpool Rocks as Smurf Awakes

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:51 am

A mysterious bald-headed slightly rounded customer calling himself 'Micky' has bought Fred out of rock.

I’d say that yesterday saw a phenomenon that our sport hasn’t seen in quite a while. Yes, at last, almost everyone agreed on something. The Sky Shootout seems to have won over the vast majority of people after a pulsating night’s action in Blackpool.

It is clear that the venue should be used for a ranking event, everyone has commented on how good it is. It would seem a logical step for the World Open next year if that is to remain in the format we saw in September, to be staged there.

But last night also produced something that we had been a little short on the previous night and that was drama. Whether a seasoned grizzled old snooker bore like me or someone new to the sport, how could you fail to be entertained by the Drago/McLeod and Robertson/McManus matches?

As I said yesterday afternoon, I think 4 hours is a big ask in one sitting and I would prefer a shorter TV slot, but hey, this is snooker, we’ve gotta take what we can get and eight hours in one day on Sky Sports is something that we might only have dreamed of in the dark years of Sir Rodney Effing Walker and the pre-Bazza era.

As with all new experiments, there will be things people don’t like. That voiceover, which I’m still not sure is meant to be tension-building or comical, is just plain daft. The only times it raises a smile is when it makes a mistake. I think I’d send the person from whence it comes back to whence they came. It adds nothing and as with anything that is over-repetitive it can only be enjoyed by the drunk and the clinically insane.

As for the crowd, they were great in the afternoon and helped to build the tension in the close matches last night. One sour point though was their treatment of Rory McLeod who seemed to be booed more than any other player, I wonder why that might be in cosmopolitan Blackpool? Whatever the reason, one particularly inappropriate comment that was picked up by Mrs Snookerbacker and a few others should have resulted in an immediate ejection of the idiotic bigot that said it. They just need to hurl out the drunks and throw them back out on the streets where they belong, they have no place in our sport.

But despite this, overall my six out of ten from Friday has been raised to eight today and I for one would not be averse to this becoming a permanent fixture on the calendar. I’m a little disappointed I didn’t go now if truth be told, at least I could have got some of the boys to give that racist a good kicking outside. But I like it and along with the vast majority think it has done the sport good.

Something that never does the sport good is betting scandals and a lot of the papers this morning have picked up on the match involving Jimmy Michie and Marcus Campbell on Friday evening, when Michie did a poor impression of a snooker player. To coin an old phrase, on that form he couldn’t have hit a barn door with a shovel (I’ve no idea where that phrase comes from).

In typically eloquent style, big Jimmy has denied any wrongdoing, describing the accusation as ‘Bullshit’ and saying that it wasn’t going to ruin his weekend, speaking from the Champagne Suite of Blackpool’s swankiest hotel surrounded by used £50 notes and screwed up Blackpool Rock wrappers.

Smurf wants Action.

But one person you don’t want to upset is Motormouth Shaun Murphy and today, in typical Smurfspeak our Shauny has called on the authorities to act swiftly in this case. Speaking to that well known crusader for truth and justice The Daily Star Smurf said: “All people are innocent until proven otherwise. But it is important that the sport is seen to be clean and these things are dealt with quickly. My only criticism in the past has been the speed at which these things have progressed.”

“The investigation into the betting at the Stephen Maguire v Jamie Burnett match in 2009 is still open.We are still waiting to know in that instance if there was anything going on there, for everyone concerned it would be best if it was wrapped up. We have a great team in place with the Integrity Unit, with Lord Stevens and David Douglas. If there is any malpractice about, they will find it and take the appropriate action”.

I didn’t know Kirk Stevens was a Lord.

From what I hear, there was a lot of cash being bandied about on this match, not one of the stand out ties of the first round. The bookies have been guilty in the past of crying foul a little too easily but in this case they seem to be justified in alerting the relevant people to the betting patterns. Obviously, at the moment this is in the hands of the Integrity Unit, not the police like the Maguire/Burnett saga, so it’s not, at least at this stage being seen as anything unlawful, it will be interesting to know what will happen if either party are found guilty by Douglas of the Yard, Bazza’s own personal bloodhound in human form.

I dare say the rozzers up in Strathclyde investigating Mags and Jaybee will be waiting until the day before the World Championship to put out their annual press release to say something like ‘our investigations are continuing’ and that this will again result in Maguire being put under the spotlight and put off his game at the most important time of the year for him. If Burnett qualifies for the Crucible I reckon that police statement is worth a bet, but I suppose by some that might be seen as inappropriate.

Anyway, onwards and upwards for today. The draw for the last 16 takes place before the action starts. Can anyone stop Ronnie and was that 16/1 at the start a bet that we should all have lumped on? Well, one thing’s for sure, whoever wins it, we can be certain that one poster on here will claim to have backed him at big odds at the beginning, you know who you are….

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