July 7, 2017

Break Off

Filed under: snookerbacker @ 10:25 am

Snooker always takes a back seat for me at this time of year and this year is no different. I gave the sport the same approach last season and found that it heightened my enjoyment of the events I look forward to most, namely The UK Championship, The Masters and the World Championship, including the brilliant qualifiers.

I also enjoy a few of the ITV events too so all in all for a snooker fan and blogger who has been there, done that and bought several anoraks that suits me just fine.

Thing is though, I’m increasingly growing more nostalgic these days about snooker. I’ve always of course, since the early days of this website made more than a passing nod to the golden era on the table, but now I seem to be experiencing something of a neo-nostalgia as I think back to the exciting time of starting this up and joining what I still believe was the golden triangle of snooker bloggers alongside Dave Hendon and Matt Pro Snooker.

Between us we seemed to have it covered. Dave had the inside track and journalistic prowess to bring even the most seemingly pedestrian stories to life, generating discussion in the days well before the snooker community descended on Twitter, he’s now busy putting his wordsmithery to far more constructive use as a playwright, gaining many plaudits already in a short time, while still keeping his eye in on the baize with Eurosport and his regular podcasts.

Matt of course was where you went for stats and in particular rankings nuances which sometimes only he seemed to understand fully. His seemingly endless stream of factual and statistical knowledge and enthusiasm fed a hungry crowd of anoraks more than they could chew and his site definitely contributed hugely to the growth of snooker in the UK and further afield in recent years, it also helped increase sales of anoraks across Europe by 23.6%.

This festering corner of the information super highway was where the less discerning reader would end up, for tittle tattle, gossip, the odd pisstake and a little bit of betting. The angles were covered and the daily stream from each of us seemed to confirm what for me was the golden era in snooker based websites.

As with all people wearing rose-tinted spectacles. I don’t think the overall feel, not necessarily standard of website, is quite the same. I can’t really pinpoint why that is but Dave packing in his to join the excellent Inside Snooker with Hector Nunns, another site which now unfortunately only appears sporadically, seems to have started the domino effect. Matt has swapped his anorak for a shirt and tie and has since joined the WPBSA and maintains their website with a familiar slant on rankings, whilst I, well, I’ve just lost a little bit of my early spunk and don’t post anything like as much as I used to these days. 

There are still of course many excellent websites out there covering the sport and all have their avid readers and fans, there is also of course the excellent Cue Tracker which must get tremendous traffic when the big events are on, but it’s fair to say that the snooker community these days tends to do its communicating with the rest of the waking (spellchecked) world via Twitter.

In my opinion, Twitter has also peaked in terms of its snooker community and while there remain some very interesting, shrewd, witty and light-hearted tweeters there are far too many idiots getting involved and unfortunately still a few players on there who just don’t really get how they ought to be portraying themselves as professional sportsmen, with sometimes fickle fans hooked on their every word and viewpoint. Also, and I am of course guilty of this, it’s not focused only on snooker and inevitably leads to other discussions/arguments, most notably politics in my case where I seem at odds with a vast majority of the snooker tour in believing the UK is a country being laughed at for it’s collective stupidity. But like all things, even if the UK regresses back to the stone age the sport will evolve into something else and people who love it will find other ways to communicate why they do.

Anyway, these are just a few thoughts I had while I struggled to sleep last night, the others were far too rude to write down pre-watershed and I’m pretty sure one of them is probably illegal in some countries, but the message from me is that it’s all about the future and not about the past. Just because I’m getting a bit jaded with something it doesn’t mean that everyone is. The World Cup is currently being played in China but it’s appeal isn’t really for me, the Shanghai Masters appears to have been scrapped from the calendar which is a shame as I used to like that one, but there are new events planned in new places so I’m sure it’s all in hand. Everything changes.

I’ll be back here when I find an event I’d like to get involved in and the mood takes me. I’ve threatened retirement from blogging too many times to think that this time I mean it and the fact that I’ve written this largely to fill a messy gap that was bugging me on the front page from a tournament a few weeks ago tells me that when the time is right I’ll be back. Until then….    

  • ANON

    This blog was a breath of fresh air at the time it started – there was a real dearth of decent snooker writing back then, so much so that I can even recall reading the execrable Snookersceney (sic) blog. Global Snooker Centre was a decent resource at one time (highlights such as the article on Martin Gould going to get a suit made) hard to believe it is 7 years since it (effectively) closed. Supremesnooker has also just bitten the dust. Have never ‘got’ twitter, the imposed 140 character limit has served only to disprove the old adage about brevity being the soul of wit. Putting aside how full it is of people writing things they would be ashamed to say aloud.

    Even over the time this blog has been running the number of clubs and people playing in the UK have tumbled at an alarming rate. The powers-that-be seem to have a remarkable lack of interest in this, as if the Worlds, UK and Masters are immutable manifestations of the “pseudo-festivals” described in Guy Debord’s La Société du Spectacle, and it doesn’t matter whether any new players come into the game or how good they are. The people running the game now are in a different league to Sir Rodney Walker, but appear to assume the status quo is some kind of new paradigm. History suggests they musn’t be so complacent – they should be careful that snooker doesn’t end up like Jai alai.

    Of course the real change over the past few years has been the bookies tightening up massively, which must be the really difficult part in continuing to blog!

  • Anon

    Maybe you have an opinion on the probable turning down of half a million prize money?

    Very disappointing to hear Barry Hearn describing Shanghai Masters/World Open as an either or rather than embracing both. The tour program is unbalanced with nine ranking events scheduled in the UK + the two most prestigious non-ranking events and of course, the Championship League occupying 16 days spread over 4 weeks.

    As it is surely desirable to increase the number of ranking events open to all professional tour players rather than reduce the number of UK events I suggest that a fifth ranking event in China could be added to the calendar by a few tweaks.

    An additional China ranking event (World Open) could be played 22-28 January with qualifiers 19-22 December. That would mean changing German Masters qualifiers to second week of January, and China Open qualifiers to say 14-17 February.

    It could be enabled by changing the Championship League (if you really must keep this competition) to a completely League format, reducing the number of double-days from eight to either five or six, whilst increasing the number of participants from 25 to 32. Four groups of 8 round-robin top two through to final, one final round-robin group of 8. 5-8 February and 12-15 March could be used for the four qualifying groups with the final round-robin either 26-27 March or make those matches best of 9 and run it 26-29 March.

    I am sure there are alternatives but if I can produce the above in a matter of minutes it does demonstrate that the calendar is not a block to adding a fifth China ranking event (a sixth in non-World Cup years).

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