It’s here. It might not be the most prestigious event of the season so far in terms of prize money but that matters not a jot.
This is the UK Championship, this has history, this has prestige and that is what makes it special. There are some things that money can’t buy and while I am all for exploring new territories whilst retaining some balance that is why these shores are and will remain, the true home of snooker.
If that sounds jingoistic I don’t care. The governing body must retain some of this history and not go chasing the fast buck, if we lose even one of the remaining three big events to China, we have sold our snooker soul. Any players that think it’s worth chasing the money for these events to the highest bidder are wrong. One day they will realise this and regret their stupid and ignorant stance on the matter.
However, happily I don’t think there are many players out there with real ambition that don’t want to win a historic event in the country it should be played in, there’s hope yet.
Add to this that snooker is back on the BBC in winter and in my view is something to savour, it’s a pair of comfy slippers and a hot steaming cup of fluffiness.
OK, you may not like the way it’s sometimes dumbed down so much as to reach Senile Ethel at the Old Peoples Home in Bournemouth (she loves her snooker, doesn’t matter that it’s on her Sanyo 12 inch black and white portable TV which hasn’t been working since the digital switchover) and Wayward Wayne at the Young Offenders Institute in Salford (it’s the only thing that calms the little bastard down and stops him self-harming), but it’s all we’ve got and I welcome the team back with open arms, which I’ll probably happily close in a week’s time.
Day One, unusually (I think) does not see the defending champion in action. But don’t worry about that, this is a quality field and we have six great matches to watch. The red button coverage has been curtailed of course so online for certain matches will be the only way forward, but we should be thankful for that at least in these tough economic and hard times at the BBC.
Of course for viewers outside of the UK, a lot of whom I know read this tripe, they will get their usual service from Eurosport, who should be praised for the work they have done in putting snooker out there for johnny foreigner to watch.
But all I’ll say is this. Hands off the UK, Masters and the World Championship. It belongs here, at the home of snooker and I can’t bloody well wait for a week of it. I’m off to York on Tuesday, but until then, it’s freezing outside, I have a stinking cold so I’ll be joining Wayne, Ethel and hopefully millions of others in front of the TV tomorrow morning with the heating and slippers on, dogs walked and fast asleep, Mrs SB snoozing and kettle and buttered toast on the go, to take the rise out of the BBC coverage on Twitter.
Join me, you know you want to.
All predictions and recommended bets for the first round are on the main preview, you should check out Apollobet’s match prices too here. OK they the current blog partners but this season they have been the best snooker bookies out there.
John Higgins 6-3 Michael Holt
Barry Hawkins 6-4 Liang Wenbo
Not Before 2pm
Ding Junhui v Ryan Day
Stephen Maguire v Fergal O’Brien
Mark Selby v Michael White
Graeme Dott v Martin Gould
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