November 2, 2011

Hendry – New Beginning or Beginning of the End?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 2:40 pm

Griff reckons Hendo isn't finished yet

Stephen Hendry aka The Wonder Bairn aka The King of the Crucible will be playing the type of match this time next week that he hasn’t played in over two decades, namely a qualifier.

He will be facing either Gerard Greene, Jimmy Robertson, Kurt Maflin or David Hogan in the Last 64 of the UK Championship over at the South West Snooker Academy in a match that may give us some indication as to whether he is determined to get back into the game’s elite or is finally shot to smithereens and destined for the commentary box after years of brilliance and almost superhuman courage on the baize.

Terry Griffiths, a man who knows all about the way Hendo approaches the game has been chipping in today with his two penneth. Tel Boy reckons that having the match staged in Gloucester where there is certain to be a crowd and you’d assume the possibility of live streaming can only help inspire him to book his place in York to face fellow Scot Stephen Maguire.

Griff says “When the qualifiers were staged at Prestatyn, the matches were in cubicles with hardly anyone watching, and it was very tough for those who were used to playing on TV. Stephen is playing well enough, in patches, to get back into the top 16. For him it’s all about motivation, and I’ve no doubt he will be fully motivated in the qualifiers. He would hate to miss any of the big ranking events, especially the UK and World Championship.”

While Stephen shoved a few used twenty pound notes under the ever grateful Griff’s nose he continued “He’s the best player of the modern era so it’s hard to drop down a level, but I think the qualifiers might inspire him. If I was still playing I definitely wouldn’t want to draw him. He can take inspiration from his friend Mark Williams, because Mark dropped out of the top 16 then got back to No 1 in the world. He is the most professional player I have ever worked with. In all the time I coached him, you could count the number of times he was a minute late for a session on the fingers of one hand. That’s one of the reasons why he was a great champion.”

Some might say that our Tezza is simply speaking through rose-tinted nostalgic spectacles here and that only a fool would predict a return to anything like the glory days for Stephen. But by all accounts he has been working on his technique and his coach reckoned we would start seeing the fruits of this ‘around November’ to coincide with what most would agree is the real start to the season.

Hendry can still cut the mustard in patches, he has proved that time and time again and he remains a very strong match starter. It must be incredibly frustrating for him to know that he can still play but just can’t keep it up for as long as he used to, a common problem as you get older (no wisecracks please). But he has also played some absolute howlers, who can forget (I have tried and failed) the turgid match he played against Jimmy last season in this or the subsequent slogfest against MJW that followed when Mark famously described Stephen as playing like a man ‘with no eyes’? Giving rise to demonstrations from blind people across the land who claimed they felt insulted by the comparison, not because they were blind, but because they reckoned they’d have performed better than Stevie did.

I think it’s pretty obvious to most that Hendry’s title winning days are well behind him, but does he have the ammo to get back into the 16? Will he be motivated as Griff reckons by the qualifiers or will he just wonder what the hell he’s come to? Will he change his game to the mindset of a fortysomething or remain convinced that he can play like he did as a teenager? Does he have anything left or have all the nailbiters he has been involved in, most of which he has won, finally taken their toll? Is it time to start rehearsing the anecdotes for the after-dinner speaking circuit, applying for roles in panto and looking forward to his next stint in the commentary box or has he just a bit more to give? 

Maybe we’ll get a clue to the answer this time next week.

Boylesports Snookerbacker 300 Tipster Contest: Last Chance to Enter!

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:58 am

In case it has escaped any eagle-eyed readers gaze there is a box on the right-hand side of the blog with the caption ‘Win £300 worth of Crucible Bets’ and it takes you here.

This is the season-long tipster competition which takes in the UK Championships, the Masters, the German Masters and the China Open. The UK Championships start on Sunday so you have very little time left to consider your team for the season.

After every stage of the contest, starting on Sunday with the UK Championship Qualifiers from Gloucester there will be a ranking list produced for all to see. Whoever tops the ranking list after the conclusion of the China Open will receive £300 worth of bets from Boylesports to invest on the World Snooker Championship.

It is free to enter, it involves no further commitment other than optional light-hearted banter with fellow competitors. So what are you waiting for? Enter today because after Saturday night you’ll be missing out on a whole few months baize-based frolics. Where else can you win something like this for nothing?

Boylesports have kindly donated this prize and I notice they are currently going best price on quite a few of the main contenders in the UK Championship, including the in-form Neil Robertson, World Champion John Higgins and runner-up Judd Trump (18/1 while it lasts), as well as MJW and Ding. If you fancy any of them, back them at Boyles.

They are also offering anyone opening an account from here an introductory ‘double matched’ offer up to £40 or Euros. If your first bet is a £10 or 10 Euros they will match it with 20, if your first bet is £20 or 20 Euros they will match it with 40. You can’t say fairer than that really can you? Nice firm to deal with too, if you have any issues relating to snooker bets with them through the season I will try my best to iron them out for you. 

So if you want to sign up to Boylesports, who are going to be pricing up specials on snooker with us throughout the rest of the season then click here and follow the steps.  

And don’t forget to enter the bloody contest and don’t come moaning to me if you are late as rudeness can offend. 

(Please enter on the competition page with the others and not on this post – thanks)

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