May 2, 2017

Downtime Musings

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 8:22 pm

It’s good to talk

It’s that time of the year again when snooker fans around the globe have to put up with that sinking feeling that it’s over. The World Championship has come to an end and we’re all a bit fed up aren’t we?

Regular readers of this rubbish will know that I don’t do congratulatory posts to winners, so I’ll get it out of the way that I think Mark Selby’s achievement of winning a third world title in this day and age is up there with one of the greatest in the sports history. Whatever you think of him, he’s got fierce competition in numbers these days to beat, something a couple of the other multiple world champions may not have always had.

I’ve just decided to write a few musings on snooker in general on a whim, because I feel like it and because it’s my blog and I can. 

My overriding feeling after this world championship is that I have possibly rediscovered something that I’d lost in the game. As a blogger I can’t stand the wall to wall season but as a fan it really makes you focus on the big events a lot more, which I now enjoy more than I have for a while.

My own personal World Championship experience makes me realise how lucky I am. I get to go to and see places that only a fraction of fans ever do. I meet the nicest and strangest people along the way, some who, through snooker, are now lifelong friends. That’s quite something isn’t it?

On the business side, Barry Hearn has increased prize money to levels that could only have been dreamt of a decade ago. He rubs people up the wrong way, he speaks his mind, he is sometimes incredibly rude to fans (and to me), but the fact is he has looked after the winners the way a professional sport should and for that all those who have benefited should thank him and those around him who secure the lucrative sponsorship deals.

I’m also glad that Barry (and more importantly Jason Ferguson) have realised that the sport needs help at grass roots level. Jason has pioneered some great work in the junior game, the WPBSA has also done great work promoting ladies snooker and snooker for people with disabilities, which should be applauded as they bid for Olympic recognition.

Where they have fallen short is the amateur game, which many of you know has been a passion of mine for a few years now; the SB Classic has produced quite a few new professionals who arguably, may not have got the exposure, sponsorship or confidence they needed without it. So Barry’s announcement last week of a new Challenge Tour, starting at a date after May 2018 is welcome, but we await the small print. On a personal level, it would have been nice to have been consulted on this as it’s basically an idea I came up with, but obviously it’s in hand at the WPBSA end so I wish them well and have no axe to grind as long as it benefits the sport at the right level.

Anyway, the amateurs and fallen professionals are off to The Guild Hall in Preston next week to take part in the brutal Q-School, where twelve of them will leave triumphant. I might pop along if a few of my good pals reach the business end, but it’s a very tough school this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few of the qualifiers come from further ashore. 

I’m still not sure what the point of this post was. As pointless posts go it’s up there. But I hope it’s helped a little for those who like me, miss our April routines, yearn for longer matches at the UK Championship, lament the demise of tiered structure qualifiers and the Welsh Open, get angry at wildcards who join after the first round of qualifiers and even angrier at that ranking Sh*****out nonsense; who want flowers back in the main arenas and think best of sevens in ranking events should be criminalised. There are more of us than you think – we cherish our anoraks.

Over and Not Quite Out of Baulk.


  • tony lyles

    What multiple World Champions do you feel had an easier ride then? Do you think the last qualifying round was too close to the start of the tournament as most qualifiers were really disappointing and having just played in 3 best of 19 could maybe have done with a bit more time to regroup? Whilst I love the longer format and always will the whole competition didn’t really sparkle for me and bar 2 or 3 games felt a bit flat.

    • Donal Murtagh

      Davis didn’t have anything like the level of competition that Hendry, O’Sullivan, Williams, or Higgins did/do

      • Yes, Davis himself admits this, I’d also argue that Hendry had far less competition especially in the early part of his career. Lots of the 80’s crew running out of gas and really only Jimmy that could compete with him until the likes of ROS, MJW and Higgins started professionally.

  • ANON

    I’m almost craving an event like this (a ‘replay’ of the world final on the Algarve one week later) to ease the ‘transition’.

    That was the year Jamie Cope came closest to stopping Higgins winning the worlds, couldn’t believe it when I saw his name in the draw for QSchool, hope he an get back to somewhere near his best.

  • Hannah Kitcher

    Was my second year visiting the Crucible and first year to properly ‘join in the conversation’ on Twitter. I had no idea there was such a community online and I love it!

    As much as a hate to admit that Selby deserves credit, Selby really does deserve credit! He has honed his game to almost perfection and the only thing that held him back in this year’s final was the fact that he had such a gruelling and competitive semi vs Ding which, as everyone said, felt like the real final, that he showed the first signs of strain that this marathon tournament can, and realistically should, take on a human.

    But then Selby is more than human isn’t he! His mind is so focused, it does make him boring. He is probably the perfect height and build for a snooker player that his stance is an immaculate and comfortable 90 degrees over the table. And who can fail to mention his bridging hand hey?! I mean for him not to have been crowned the World Champion of Snooker would have been a bit undermining to the sport. You could design a robot to play the sport better!

    A quick note side note on efforts to make the sport more inclusive. I do appreciate such things as ‘Ladies Day’ but it’s just a shame that it was so under promoted and underwhelming. I was in Sheffield the day before and on Ladies Day itself and didn’t see any real promotional activity in advance in the Crucible, Winter Gardens or even on the World Snooker website (at least it wasn’t obvious). I work in communications for a charity and have real desires to help World Snooker do a better job of next year’s Ladies Day, if they’d let me, because at the moment it has the heir of being a bit of an after-thought, coordinated as part of a diversity box ticking exercise by older men with no idea how to use social media or even make a slightly more interesting sign for the Ladies Day cake and hot drink deal in the Crucible bar.

    Anyways, thanks for letting me carry on the discussion. Severe withdrawal symptoms slightly abated. Much appreciated!


  • Piero Serra

    Always enjoy reading your snooker thoughts (pointless or not) and agree with you about Selby. I had watched snooker off and on since the late 1990s but it wasn’t until I spent most of April/May 2007 in bed with glandular fever that I really got into the game. Almost 24 hour-a-day snooker was practically an obligation and made the whole illness endurable. Mark Selby’s emerging brilliance is what I remember most from that tournament, so I do have a special place in my snooker heart for him and it’s gratifying that he is finally getting the recognition he deserves as one of the all-time masters.

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