April 30, 2012

Stevens, Carter and Trump Press Conferences

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:05 pm

Just got back from Sheffield and about to put the finishing touches to the Quarter Final Preview after a fairly profitable Round 2. In the meantime here is the Press Conference earlier from Matthew Stevens after he came through a tight battle with Barry Hawkins. Here is the defeated Judd Trump who lost in a decider in the match of the championship so far against The Captain, Ali Carter who you can listen to here.   

Another Manic Monday at the Crucible

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:30 am

Ali and Judd are having a bit of a spat

It promises to be a day of drama here today as we see every match on the table play their concluding session. The two this afternoon are nicely poised with tonight’s needing legendary Crucible comebacks from the players behind.

Yesterday teed these matches up nicely, a real bad-tempered affair between Judd Trump and Ali Carter concludes with Judd leading 9-7. After the session Ali tweeted the phrase ‘@LuckTrump147’ to which the naughtiest baizer in the world today replied ‘@attitudecarter’. This follows Ali describing his opponent as ‘a bit simple’ the other day, which somehow seemed to have gone over the tabloid writers heads when it was very clear what Ali meant, but hey, there was a wedding proposal so obviously any news relating to an underlying rivalry in snooker at the World Championships must play second fiddle.

One interesting thing that the TV cameras somehow missed during the first session was when Ali approached Judd and lifted his leg up to check he hadn’t trodden in something after a particular stroke of luck, the look on Judd’s face was far from amused. I’d imagine the press conferences after this one might be worth a watch, indeed, I have it on very good authority that one of the players (guess who) intends to let the venom flow whatever the result, you’ve got to love that.

Anyway, Ali is getting very frustrated with some of the run of the ball Judd is having and I hope that doesn’t threaten to ruin what could be a fantastic conclusion between two players that have been going at it punch-for-punch so far.

Ronnie O’Sullivan continues to lurk in the shadows here and is just two frames away from a match up with Neil Robertson in a match that many, including myself, think will decide the eventual champion. A blistering display by the Rocket all but saw off MJW, who looks set to continue his losing run against Ron, he took the final two frames of the session to avoid the dreaded phrase ‘lost with a session to spare’ but surely a comeback from him now would be up there with the greatest ever Crucible comebacks given how well his opponent is playing, it would rank alongside Robbo’s against Gould a couple of years back, if not higher.

In the other matches, the man they call ‘The Quiff’, Jamie Jones continues to ride the crest of the wave that he is currently surfing on. Jones leads Andrew Higginson 10-6 after taking a crucial final frame clearance including a double on the final black which, if the BBC could ever be arsed again to do one of those musical montage pieces would surely be a magic moment worthy of inclusion.

Matthew Stevens seems to me to have outplayed Barry Hawkins but is somehow still level at 8-8, on paper this was always going to be close and for me this threatens to steal the headlines today barring another marriage proposal of course. I still marginally fancy Matthew to win just on the basis that he has been easily the heavier scorer of the two and that can really help out when things get twitchy.

On a personal basis, it’s time for Mrs SB and I to make our way home after the session this afternoon. It’s a strange thing being here for a lengthy amount of time, it almost feels like you are in your own little bubble where time stands still and the days all blur into one long one. It is a fantastic experience but you do know that you are living in a somewhat surreal world when you are having breakfast with Steve Davis, after session drinks with Team Carter, more drinks (and a few more) with Matthew Stevens and a Chinese meal in a restaurant populated by 4 world champions with 13 titles between them. I think a hefty dose of normality is now required and besides, we are adopting a rescue greyhound tomorrow so duty calls.

The one thing this means is that the rest of the championship can be spent getting back to peddling general silliness and sarcasm, I have the BBC commentary team in my sights and having only caught a snippit of how it’s going for the TV viewers yesterday, I can honestly say that ‘inch perfect’ is the phrase this year that may make me want to go out and clean up the streets by the end, but let’s keep an open mind for now.

The Quarter Final Betting Preview will follow once we know the line up and the bookies have a decent selection of prices up. The sun is shining in Sheffield today and we are now just a week away from the final day of the championship, what twists and turns are in store I wonder?


20* Ali Carter 7-9 Judd Trump
24* Matthew Stevens 8-8 Barry Hawkins


19* Jamie Jones 10-6 Andrew Higginson
21* Mark Williams 11-5 Ronnie O’Sullivan

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April 29, 2012

Sunday at the Crucible

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:51 am

It's all about The Captain's Lunchbox

We are now truly entering the business end at the Crucible as the final two last 16 matches get underway today and two absorbing ties continue this afternoon.

Yesterday saw wins for Stephen Maguire, Stephen Hendry and Ryan Day and they now make their way into the Last 8. Maguire produced a workmanlike performance to finally see off Joe Perry while Stephen came back and won the one frame he required in around 15 minutes to put paid to the defending champion John Higgins.

Ryan Day meanwhile put in a very strong final session display in going from 9-7 to a 13-7 win over the final Chinese player in the championship Cao Yupeng. While Day would not be anyone’s idea of the winner, I’d say that he is the player with the most of a ‘Joe Johnson’ type feel here, in that he seems to be having the fortnight of his life at the minute and he looks very assured at times in the balls, using his daughters as his inspiration when the going gets tough. You can watch his press conference here.

In the other two headline matches, Ronnie took an early advantage over MJW and will be looking to assert himself on the match further this afternoon. It’s a familiar pattern between the two and I wouldn’t be surprised if O’Sullivan ended this afternoon’s session only needing 3 or 4 frames for victory, but we’ll see.

Long standing friend of the blog Ali Carter is definitely now finding a bit of form and he leads Judd 5-3. The Captain was in fine form earlier in the day when myself and Mrs SB caught up with him, after criticising my choice of shirt he went on to cover such topics as Neil Robertson being the luckiest player on the planet, who’s the luckiest hacker on the circuit, who bears unneccesary grudges against people, why certain people in the game are out for themselves and why he’s not bothered about falling out of the top 16, apart from that it was a fairly pedestrian chat which I’m having my legal people mull over before I write a book about it.

However the real hot topic came when he was quizzed by myself and Mrs SB about the contents of his lunchbox. The Captain has famously suffered with Crohns Disease for a long while and is now on a real health kick to bounce it into touch. This includes such drastic measures as taking special packed lunches to venues, just like a little boy in his first day at school.

We asked him whether he favoured a lunchbox with stickers on it and if so, what those stickers were or whether his lunchbox was adorned with pictures of Paddington Bear. The Captain gave us one of his looks and we stopped this line of questioning almost immediately, I think I got very close to the truth when I asked if in all honesty it was an Incredible Hulk lunchbox, but that’s another one I’m saving for the book. Mrs SB has promised however to make him some stickers and I noticed a look of excitement on his face when she said this.

When Ali was playing I was in the background behind the cameras and at a crucial point in the final frame of the session he made his way over for a chat. He seemed slightly riled at the running that Judd was getting, one particular shot being described in less than polite terms under hushed breath, all I can say is that I’m glad the ultra sensitive microphones didn’t pick it up. He then decided to walk over to Judd to check his shoes for dog shit, it’s fair to say that the young lad was not impressed with the Captain’s line of questioning……the book just got juicier.

Mr and Mrs Footie Shirt Man

In other news yesterday and coincidentally after I put a picture of him on the blog. Footie shirt man proposed to footie shirt man’s fiancee live at the Crucible and unfortunately for people like me that specialise in the cruellest level of humour she said yes and it was all a bit embarrassing. Footie shirt man is clearly over the moon at making footie shirt man’s fiancee, footie shirt man’s wife and let’s hope they live happily ever after. More happy than Stephen Hendry who, after beating the defending champion Higgins was asked by a hapless hack to give his thoughts on this momentous event. To say he wasn’t impressed is putting it very mildly….

The only other real piece of news yesterday involved Steve Davis and a tub of vaseline, the legal people are again involved but there is no way in a million years I am going to divulge that kind of information until I have been granted Salman Rushdie type round-the-clock protection, the Nugget after all has friends in very high places.

Here is the order of play for today:

Sunday April 29


19 Jamie Jones 4-4 Andrew Higginson
24 Matthew Stevens 3-5 Barry Hawkins


20 Ali Carter 7-9 Judd Trump
21 Mark Williams 5-11 Ronnie O’Sullivan


19 Jamie Jones v Andrew Higginson
24 Matthew Stevens v Barry Hawkins

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April 28, 2012

Higgins and Hendry Press Conferences

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 4:59 pm

Stephen Hendry coasted to victory over the hapless John Higgins in a match that was won before the final session got under way. Hendry marches on to a match against Stephen Maguire who earlier admitted that Hendry was his idol as a kid. You can see what Higgins had to say here and what the winner Hendry had to say here.

Perry and Maguire Press Conferences

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 12:08 pm

Stephen Maguire has this morning beaten Joe Perry by 13 frames to 7 to progress to a possible second round meeting with Stephen Hendry, assuming there are no slip ups from him when resuming against Higgins at 2.30pm. Joe said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Maguire win the tournament while Mags was a little more cautious about his chances, when asked would he have taken a tie against Hendry for a semi-final place at the start of the championship, his one word answer being ‘No’. You can view Joe’s press conference here and Stephen’s here.   

Saturday at the Crucible

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:40 am

The New Favourite (left) and Footie Shirt Man (right)

We are now nearly half way through the Crucible marathon and after a day which surely all but saw the end of John Higgins challenge for his fifth crown at the hands of Stephen Hendry we move into an absorbing encounter between two other former champions Ronnie O’Sullivan and Mark Williams.

The session between Hendry and Higgins last night was, in a nutshell, awful. Both struggled and I am sure when Stephen speaks to the assembled bloodhounds of the press he will be the first to admit that he just played slightly less dreadful than the defending champion who produced one of the worst sessions of snooker of his life, if not the worst.

But the difference was that Hendry potted the balls he had to and Higgins didn’t, I’m sure John is relishing the prospect of being introduced to a packed crowd this afternoon in what is a thankless task, doubtless he’d rather be back home with Denise and the kids and forget what has been a very poor season for him.

Hendry meanwhile will take the win and marches on to what looks like another all Scottish clash with Stephen Maguire who leads Joe Perry 11-5 and needs just two frames this morning.

Meanwhile, we have a new favourite for the event as Neil Robertson took the first quarter final slot by defeating the plucky Dave Gilbert who had already won five matches to get to this stage. The Tamworth Massive were giving it large all evening but they could not inspire their man, he did however get closer to the Aussie than I thought he would and it really makes you wonder why he’s not done more in the game up to now. All in all, a great end to the season for him.

The other match that got underway was between Ryan Day and Cao Yupeng and Day seemed the calmer, more assured of the two throughout and will be looking to stamp his authority on the session this morning and establish an unassailable lead against the last remaining Chinese player, in all, it’s been a disappointing world championship for China and the assembled press contingent, the lovely Victoria hasn’t even had a chance to have any of them play with her toy penguin.

Though on announcing a new event yesterday, namely the new International Championship which unsurprisingly follows exactly the same format as all the others over there, the Chinese party brought with them some very impressive hand crafted golden boats as a present for World Snooker, who returned the gesture by running to the local souvenir shop to get some steel wine goblets for the bemused visitors to take away. It was definitely one-nil to China in the gift stakes it has to be said.

Mrs Snookerbacker arrived at the Crucible on Friday and I thought that was all I needed to instill a bit of normality to my final days here. The Crucible experience can get you wrapped up in a lifestyle of late nights, a bit too much booze and poor eating habits, all of which are no good for you but are inevitably things that I end up doing. Mrs SB can usually spot the signs when I am beginning to get too excited and stray into this sordid existence but even she missed them on Friday and we ended up getting a bit drunk, this resulted in me annoying (the easily riled) Roland from Snooker Island by inventing a new variation of pool, which basically involved moving the balls by hand after every shot. Juvenile stuff.

Yesterday was all about recovery and what better way to start than a nice ‘interesting’ breakfast? On entering our chosen eatery we were confronted by The Nugget, Steve Davis who was nattering away to us all the way through our morning curer, we talked about doughnuts, blogging, running up hills and cunning ideas to keep him in the top 64 for another season, one involved calling in a few favours from Bazza, including automatic qualification to a couple of ranking finals if things got a bit tight.

Feeling a bit more refreshed I headed back to the Media Centre and Mrs SB went shopping. There was a bit of filming going on in there and the Nugget once again turned up with a waistcoat he’s getting signed by everyone for an auction on EBay, he didn’t ask me to sign it which would of course had increased the value by at least 50%, a rare chance missed, but I did promise to put a link up to it when it’s ready to sell. Whilst all this was happening a rather amusing incident involving the BBC TV crew, a member of the Press Association and a decidedly unstable table had the place in uproar, let’s just say that the quality of the furniture in here is of the usual standard.

Tabby - Wants a Willie.

Later in the day I also caught up with the lovely Michaela, who gave me a great big smile and a hug, no doubt with the forthcoming Willie awards on her mind. Her great rival for the title of Foxiest Referee, Ivy being far less blatant in her pursuit of the big one, the decision is still with the judges who are determined not to be swayed by underhand tactics. Eirian Williams was close by and said ‘ah, you’re the funny one’ so at least someone likes me, Paul Collier revealing soon after that a certain Mr Maguire isn’t my biggest fan (in other news Michael Jackson died), but as they say, you can’t win ’em all.

Bettingwise, it’s still a mixed bag. A maximum bet on the handicap in Robbo’s match ducked on one frame, Gilbert winning nine rather than eight, whilst how there wasn’t at least four centuries in the first session of Higgins and Hendry I will never know, they are currently on two and for the over three to land it would entail Higgins hitting at least one, which looks about as likely as spotting Elvis Presley in the crowd sitting next to Whitney Houston. But on the plus side, the signs are good that this will be recouped by Maguire and Day this morning.

All eyes today however will be on Ronnie and Mark, who will probably play most of the session in front of the whole of the Crucible, assuming Higgins doesn’t mount an unlikely comeback on the other table, which I can’t see happening at all. Mark will be hoping that the talk of the head to heads and how poor his record is against Ronnie will be rammed down people’s throats come Monday evening. Today also sees Ali and Judd get underway in what I still think will be a lot closer than the odds suggest.

My full preview for round two is here.


18* Joe Perry 7-13 Stephen Maguire
23 Ryan Day 9-7 Cao Yupeng


17* John Higgins 4-13 Stephen Hendry
21 Mark Williams 3-5 Ronnie O’Sullivan


20 Ali Carter v Judd Trump
23* Ryan Day 13-7 Cao Yupeng

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Robbo and Gilbert Press Conferences

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:00 am

Just a quick update with the Press Conferences from Neil Robertson and Dave Gilbert after the conclusion of their match last night. Robbo full of praise for his opponent as he looks ahead to a meeting with either Ronnie or MJW in the Quarter Finals. You can see Neil’s here and Dave’s here

April 27, 2012

Friday at the Crucible

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 9:45 am

The Baize Boys are Feeling a Little Off-Colour

Friday sees the second round kick off in earnest and the match that everyone is talking about is John Higgins against 7-times Champion Stephen Hendry, their first ever meeting at the Crucible. 

On a traditionally low-key first Thursday in Sheffield, Mark Williams completed his first round match with a 10-6 victory over Liu ‘Hendry’s Lad’ Chuang and gave a rather low key press conference which you can watch here. He looks ahead to his match with Ronnie and says he’s owed him one for ten years, it has to be said that if he can overturn an horrendous record against the Rocket here then I’m sure that decade of hell will be completely written off.

Ali Carter also completed his win over Dark Mavis and their press conferences can be viewed here. The Captain looked to be truly flying around the table and looks as fit as the proverbial fiddle having cut out largely everything from his diet and got his lunchbox out after a consultation with a certain Dr Ebdon.

This is in complete contrast to the rest of the field who seem to be auditioning for roles in Holby City with their various ailments, Dark Mavis (Dizzy) joining the waiting room yesterday to sit next to Dom Dale (Handjob), Judd (Trumps), Selby (Stiff), Dott (Undiagnosed Crap Snooker), Murphy (Just sitting there for some extra publicity), Ding (Tourettes) and Allen (Tourettes). Ali also found time to check that I was wearing appropriate footwear after his match and he continues to misunderstand the meaning of urban chic, I am determined to teach him the error of his ways.

Mrs Snookerbacker also entered the hallowed ground of rainy Sheffield yesterday for her birthday. It’s fair to say that we celebrated it in some style, if the definition of style is drinking too much and having a bag of Monster Munch between us. But the table is booked for a nice meal tonight and I’m sure we have put the over-excitement of meeting up after a few days apart behind us. Mrs SB will be releasing an official statement later today apologising to fans for what she thought was her ‘silly’ behaviour, but in truth she was just a little squiffy, which is always fun to observe.

So to today, Hendry v Higgins, Robbo to a finish, who said snooker was boring? Oh yes, and Day v Yupeng instead of Ding v Allen, this place is just full of thrills and spills, but it would be nice if the weather improved along with the player’s overall health.

You can read my second round preview here and I do feel there are some tasty bets out there to be had.

Friday April 27


17 John Higgins 3-5 Stephen Hendry
22 David Gilbert 6-10 Neil Robertson


18 Joe Perry 5-11 Stephen Maguire
23 Ryan Day 6-2 Cao Yupeng


17 John Higgins 4-12 Stephen Hendry
22* David Gilbert 9-13 Neil Robertson

April 26, 2012

Davis and Carter Press Conferences

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 3:09 pm

Ali Carter produced some excellent stuff to finish off Mark Davis earlier, including a concluding break of 132. The Captain now sets up a juicy second round tie with Judd, which starts on Saturday. Mavis is the latest to join the Crucible sick list and he explains here that he was suffering a bit out there meanwhile, Ali is in tip top health having suffered all season and you can hear what he has to say here.  

Thursday In-Running

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 11:22 am

Just a quick post for anyone around today to have a natter about the action. A traditionally quiet day at The Crucible before the second round gets underway in earnest tomorrow. If either Ali or MJW lose from their first session commanding positions it will break the record set in 1992 for seeds losing in the first round, it currently stands at 8 which was the number who lost then. 

7* Ali Carter 10-2 Mark Davis 
22 David Gilbert v Neil Robertson


18 Joe Perry v Stephen Maguire
9* Mark Williams 6-3 Liu Chuang

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