April 26, 2015

Week One – How was it for you?

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 7:09 am

Table 1Today we move into the second week of action from Sheffield and I am forced to ask you all where has the first week gone? It’s all going far too fast for my liking.

Having returned from The Crucible Bubble on Wednesday I can now think a little clearer. The Snooker Gods, who reside permanently at The Crucible without the need to resort to buying a ticket from the rip-off merchants at Viagogo, messed with my mind so much while I was there that they cursed me into thinking that Mark Selby was the man that could break the famous Crucible hoodoo. What an idiot I am. Davis, Hendry, O’Sullivan, Higgins, Williams etc. couldn’t do it so why the hell did I ever think The Jester could? He even had the China Curse on top for good measure. Like I say, I blame The Snooker Gods.

When I say Bubble, it does feel like that, which is primarily the reason that I can’t stay there for too long. I do like my space and freedom and if you are like me then being there for too long can just wrap you up and make you feel a bit claustraphobic, as well as leading to you starting to talk like Rob Walker on a permanent basis. I think I could have coped with this as a star struck 20 something but as I’ve gotten older I don’t think it’s for me. I’m sure Matt from Pro Snooker Blog would vouch for the fact that I’d probably go stir crazy if forced to stay, I’d also probably end up skint as I like eating out. However, I remain extremely grateful to World Snooker for allowing me the chance to hang out backstage.

But my whole experience this time around has been great, largely thanks to the great people I have met, in particular Kathi from Germany and Dani from Spain, both fantastic people who I look forward to seeing again. I was looking forward to this so much this year, primarily because I haven’t been enjoying the season as much as I used to. I put this down to the conveyer belt, seemingly endless Best of 7 borefests that are now the mainstay of the main tour. Last week has already proved, if further proof were needed, that longer matches have a place in the calender and that ‘SHOCK HORROR’ young people do have the attention span and interest to follow them!! Who knew?

On the table, it’s so difficult to pick a winner. Selby, as I said above flattered to deceive but was ultimately cursed from the outset, another fancy for some Mark Allen came a cropper last night, John Higgins was last seen walking around with a shovel looking for a bulls arse to hit and it’s the quiet men of the season, Ding Junhui and Barry Hawkins, the latter of whom seems to have been getting at one with nature in a little cottage, who are carving out a real tilt at the title.

I have always maintained that Ding won’t win this while it’s held in Sheffield, while a small part of me still thinks that, he has an outstanding chance this year and is playing in a far more relaxed way than I have ever seen him. His smile melts a million hearts and it’s great to see him so chirpy, even if he does forget that he’s on maximums.

Ronnie is back to being his usual impish self, gone is the professionalism instilled in him by Steve Peters and back is the laddish mate of Damien Hirst who decides to take his shoes off during a match, lists ‘shagging’ as one of his four passions in life, none of which are snooker, and uses his press platform to tout for more media work and a new pair of designer scoobies. The BBC have of course been lapping this up and seem obsessed with shoes when the rest of us are bored rigid by the whole subject.

My mate kindly signed my book.

My mate kindly signed my book.

The BBC coverage also continues to provide comedy material (albeit by accident) whilst continually treating all their viewers as though they have a combined mental age of 18 months, with my apologies to any 18 month olds reading this. The commentary team are still using the same old jokes and cliches, so much so that if the earpieces just played a repeat of last year’s commentary I don’t think anyone in the audience would notice. Having been in the arena I can also vouch for the fact that they are far too loud and can be heard at playing level quite clearly. It also doesn’t help that the commentators, in particular Terry Griffiths who works with a couple of the players, decide to crack gags as shots are about to be played. Not that I’d accuse our Tel of using this to his advantage, perish the thought.

Other highlights so far have included Matt Selt embracing his feminine side by drinking a pink cocktail with a cherry and an umbrella in it on Friday evening and me not skitting him about it (much), Robbo telling everyone that he hates being referred to as Robbo, thus condemning himself to a lifetime of being called Robbo all the time on here from now on, me having breakfast with my best mate Steve (twice), Graeme Dott moaning about the format of the qualifiers (twice) and Alan McManus turning the tables on the press after losing to Ali and conducting a debate about the tour structure and the scandal of letting ‘Bulgarians’ play in the World Championship with Matt and myself as all the other bored hacks disappeared.

The obvious highlight is of course another Scotsman, Anthony McGill. The boy seems genuinely stunned to have done what he has done so far and five matches in to his World Championship he’s still looking fresh and a little like a kid who has just found the keys to the sweet shop. What a story it would be for snooker if he were to prevail and end up winning it? It’s about time we had a shock winner after all.

Anyway, that’s all from me for now and we’re back on the baize at 10am, though quite frustratingly there are no matches playing to a finish today which seems odd as both Ali/Robbo and Ronnie/Matthew could have squeezed in a morning and evening session today. Not quite sure of the logic of that I have to say.    

Joe Perry v Shaun Murphy
Marco Fu v Judd Trump

Ali Carter 2-6 Neil Robertson
Matthew Stevens 3-5 Ronnie O’Sullivan

Joe Perry v Shaun Murphy
Marco Fu v Judd Trump

Hawkins and Allen Press Conferences

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 5:50 am

A Crucible comeback was the order of the day for Barry Hawkins last night as he put paid to Mark Allen’s hopes for another year. Here is what they had to say after the match:


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