May 10, 2012

The Willies 2012

Filed under: — snookerbacker @ 5:57 pm

The Master of Ceremonies

It is the night that all the players, officials and everyone involved in snooker looks forward to. It’s the hottest ticket in town, yes folks it’s time once more for the Great WT to announce the lucky winners of this year’s Willies.

Once the warm up acts Duncan Norvelle and The Grumbleweeds had done their thing and Joe Longthorne had sang a few songs it was time to get down to the serious business in hand. That hand being the one that holds the Willie.

As ever, some left with a multitude of awards while some had to settle for just the one. But spare a thought for those that didn’t get even a sniff of a Willie, they have all worked so hard all season that it would be nice to reward everyone with one. But unfortunately there are only so many Willies in the world and that’s what makes this newly enhanced prized erection so special.

Now, without further ado, it’s time to announce the winners….

World Champion and Willie Winner

Player of the Season: By definition this usually goes to the World Champion, though last year it didn’t because I liked the runner-up more. This year however, it has to go to Ronnie O’Sullivan. Not just for Sheffield, but for his brilliant German Masters win and his various PTC exploits, including another magical 147. At his best, he’s still the best.

Most Improved Player: Jamie Jones, not only for his performance in the World Championship but for the fact that anyone following the sport closely this season saw it coming. His rise up the rankings also justifies this well-deserved Willie.

Best Match: Perhaps because I was there but Ali Carter’s 13-12 win over Judd Trump in the World Championship must take this Willie, not the highest quality but for drama and sheer excitement this had it all.

Worst Tournament: There were a few to choose from, the one in that tent in Brazil being a particular lowpoint, the Sky Shootout failing to deliver this time around after a great opening year, I don’t count Power Snooker as that would always win this hands-down. But The World Team Cup or whatever it was called must take this accolade, thankfully it’s only every two years but this is one time I wish we’d follow football’s lead and make it every four.

Best Tournament: Despite the shortening of the matches, the UK Championship steals the Willie this year by virtue of it’s move to the fantastic city of York and the number of exciting matches it produced, as well as a brilliant final.

Best Sponsors: Betfred

Best New Snooker Betting Site: Apollobet

Best New Initiative: Live Streamed Snooker for the masses via Live World Snooker or the Betting Sites, a huge step forward and a Willie for their efforts. Though the launch of it was so soft it made a marshmallow look like a house brick, World Snooker Chairman Bazza can now show off his Willie to all for a job well done.

Most Disappointing Season: Has to go to the former World Champion John Higgins, who is a shadow of the player he was 12 months ago.

Baize Snail of the Season: Lots of contenders in this category, Rory, Angles McManus, Ebdon, Fergal but for sheer consistency this award has to go to my old pal Rod Lawler who always seemed to be involved in the last match to finish in any session he was playing in.

The Toys out the Pram Willie: It’s our Ronnie again. This time for walking off a packed plane full of people on a short flight to Dublin because he couldn’t sit next to his friend. Arr Diddums, here’s a Willie to play with.

The ‘One to Watch’ Willie: This category traditionally flags up a player lurking in the lower ranks who is ready to make that big push. The first year of the Willies we were spot on with Jack Lisowski, the second year we don’t like talking about, so is it a blessing or a curse to get this Willie? Either way, the player that is walking off with it this year for whom bigger and better things are predicted next season is Scotland’s Anthony McGill who I think now might be on the verge of making his breakthrough.

Like a Cat with 9 Willies

OK I might as well get this out of the way.

Mark Allen is leaving with a truckload of Willies this year, a record haul in fact so rather than going through them individually I thought it would be easier to just list the categories for which Mark leaves with an erection:

The Race Relations Willie, The Best Use of a Cat to win a Tournament Willie (The Late Tiddles – World Open), The Most Premature Celebration Willie (v Cao Yupeng World Championship final frame), The Most Misguided Press Conference Comment Willie – so many moments to choose from but the ‘Chinese Cheats’ allegations scoops a Willie, presented to Mark by his good friends Marco Fu and Liang Wenbo, The Best Use of Gaffer Tape in a Press Conference Willie (UK Championship), The Most Half-Baked Apology Willie (for the cheat allegations), Most Insulting Facebook Comment Willie (For his attack on Stuart Bingham’s good looks), Most Insulting Twitter Comment Willie (All Chinese people are ignorant and smelly etc.)  Best Pantomime Villain Willie (all season).

The Best Use of a Dog to Win a Tournament Willie: Stuart Bingham whose chance encounter with a little scamp called Maggie led to him scooping the jackpot as well as some of Maggie’s poos over in Bendigo.

The Blog Readers Willie for Longest Attendance at a Tournament for no apparent reason after Elimination: Goes to the ever-present Martin Gould, who just can’t seem to tear himself away from the Crucible no matter if he’s playing or not (Award presented by regular poster Northern Monkey who nominated the category)

Shiniest Head: Peter Ebdon

Best Nickname: The Ferginator 

Best Quiff: Young Jamie Jones

Worst Poet: Rob Walker

Best Giggler: Ken Doherty

Best Use of Orange Hair Powder: Steve Davis (BBC make-up department)

Tallest Freak Snooker Player Ever on Live Stream: Tom Doggett (SB Classic 0-4 v Sean Hopkin)

Worst Tour Guide: The Wizard whose tour of his home town of Gloucester has to be done to be believed. From Three Cocks Lane to Burnt Onion Salad. Total shit from start to finish. Truly careless.

The Lazarus Award for Best Recovery from Illness: Ronnie O’Sullivan, who shook off his season long battle with Glandular Fever to win the gruelling marathon that is the World Championship. Strange, he didn’t mention it once during the 17 days, it’s almost as though it never happened.

Best New Phrase for the Young People Willie: Keepin’ it real on the street with Team Somethin, Judd Trump’s coining of the phrase ‘Naughty Snooker’ shaped a new generation of potters, if you don’t know what it means you ain’t welcome, innit.

Their first Willie

The Mummy Mummy Make Them Go Away Willie: They gave European viewers the Willies alright so it’s only fitting that we reward the Evil Granny Twins from the front row of the Paul Hunter Classic event over in Fürth with one of their own. Don’t have nightmares…

Most Stupid Question Posed By A Journalist Willie: Picture the scene, you are a 7-times World Champion and you have just hammered the current world champion at the Crucible only to be asked by a hapless hack from the Press Association what you think of some bloke in a footie shirt asking his bird to marry him earlier in the day. Rightly edited out of all footage, Hendry treated this idiotic, utterly pointless poser with the disdain it deserved.

Most Ill-Timed Tweet Willie: Mark Williams, for calling the Crucible a ‘S**thole’ on the eve of the great event.

The ‘I can say Fuck and nobody will fine me’ Willie: Ding Junhui, who uttered the ultimate curse during his rant about rubbish tables and a rubbish crowd after losing to Ryan Day in Sheffield, but hey, this is Ding, you can’t fine him, it’s bad for business.

The Most Exaggerated Claim Willie: The usually understated Barry Hearn for claiming that snooker is leading the world out of global recession.

The Biggest Breach of Attire Willie: Liang Wenbo, who risked the wrath of Ken Doherty for not wearing his dickie bow in a match at the World Cup.

The Where’s he Scone? Willie: Goes to our old mate Shaun Murphy, who had promised to meet Mrs Snookerbacker in Sheffield for Tea and Scones, but ended up getting beat early and heading home.

Best World Number One to not be the Best Player in the World Willie: Goes to the ultra consistent Mark Selby who plays in everything and gets the ranking points he deserves.

The St Johns Ambulance Award for Sickest Player: Judd had the Trumps in Sheffield after eating a sick hen, Selby was as stiff as a Willie after a Chinese massage went badly wrong, Dark Mavis was so dizzy his head was spinning like a whirlpool, Dom Dale needed a prick in his hand it was so swelled up, Ali’s had his ongoing problems, plenty have had Clinchers Disease but only one player has consistently used illness as an excuse not to play this season and that is Ronnie.

The Organic Vegan Services to Carrot Juice Willie: Peter Ebdon, whose new cleansing diet has him preaching to anyone that will listen the value of forks over knives, or is it spoons? I don’t know, but anyway, the amount of weight he’s losing he could probably hide behind his Willie without being spotted assuming that doesn’t shrink at the same rate of course.

The Best Chinese Lookalike Willie: Liu Chuang who just happens to have been born just under a year after Stephen Hendry won an invitational event in Hong Kong. Pure coincidence.

Best Walk-on Song: Despite a last ditch attempt by Ryan Day to curry favour with the judges by coming out to Madness at the Crucible, for sheer hairs on the back of the neck stuff it has to be the ready for battle anthem played as Neil Robertson takes to the baize.

Great Quiff. Shit Song.

Worst Walk-on-Song: So many to choose from, with the exception of Day all of the Welsh boys need to have a real look at both themselves and their CD collections, but one stands out and that’s Jamie ‘Sexy and I know it’ Jones. Nothing else comes close to this truly cringeworthy effort. Another Willie for JJ.

Mismatch of the Season: Ronnie O’Sullivan v Ali Kirim, the hopeless Turkish Player somehow managed to get on live TV all over Europe in a match as one-sided as it is possible to get. Ronnie, clearly bored out of his skull playing a player that couldn’t string more than two balls together. Truly Turgid Stuff.

The ‘I can’t believe you have retired’ Willie: Stephen Hendry

The ‘I can’t believe you haven’t retired’ Willie: Ali Kirim

Best New Amateur Tournament: The Snookerbacker Classic, naturally.

Best Amateur: SB Classic Champion Martin O’Donnell wins a well deserved Willie for this and his first competitive 147 in a tournament in which he also took the spoils in Switzerland. Oh and he wears a waistcoat from Saville Row which by all accounts qualifies him as ‘reem’.

The ‘Anyone Seen Syd?’ Willie: Sydney Wilson, who entered all the Snookerbacker Classics and only turned up for the last one, duly qualifying for Finals Day.

The Good Egg Willie: Shaun Murphy for sponsoring a player through the SB Classic he even paid up the £50 when I threatened him with the bailiffs, talking of bailiffs…

Best Used Car Salesman: Stephen Lee.

The Rioja Induced Phrase that Pays Willie: Goes to Steve Daintry, also known throughout the Snooker world as Manager Steve of Team Carter who carries off a Willie for asking me the question in full earshot of my wife ‘How Did you Pull a Bird Like That?’ It’s Essex. It’s therefore Class.

Ebdon Clapped His Way to a Willie

Loudest Clap: Peter Ebdon 

The Golden Willie: Goes to pint-sized potter Joe Jogia, who told us his name was like gold after a hapless episode involving dodgy betting patterns and a pair of crutches. A nice shiny erection is in the post, don’t think of cashing it in no matter what your name is.

Foxiest Ref: For a third year in succession this accolade goes to Michaela Tabb who successfully fought off Ivy’s charge at the Crucible by giving me a hug. That girl certainly knows how to get her hands on a Willie.

Best Snoopie: Impossible to call, the three original Snoopies get to share a Willie, probably not for the first time. Bollysnoops, Loulousnoops and Sportysnoops get to pass the parcel.

The Clive Everton Award for Second Best Commentator: Must once again go to Neal Foulds.

Best New Commentator: Stephen Hendry, who seems to know his way around a snooker table.

Most Excitable Commentator: Phil Yates whenever Hendry is playing, sadly he’ll not be in such a state of glee anymore, the end of an era.

The John Evans Award for Second Worst Commentator: So many to choose from, the BBC playing several strong suits this year, the Live World Snooker Channel introducing an unsuspecting public to Mark Johnston-Allen, Patsy Fagan making his Eurosport debut, but the undisputed King of Commentary Cack is once again Mike Smith of Eurosport. Smiffy carries off the Willie for again thinking he can correct ex-professionals on shot selection.

The Cross Double Willie: Mike Hallett

The Failure to Correct Cross Double Errors Willie: Is shared between Hallett’s Eurosport comrades, Joe Johnson, Smiffy and Dave Hendon. 

Best Blog: Well what’s the point of doing this if I can’t get to hold my own Willie? Me Me Me.

The Snookerbacker Award for Second Best Blog: Prosnooker Blog, a class act on and off the laptop.

Snooker Super Fan of the Year: Taffy from Llanelli. Our paths first crossed in York when we stayed at the same bed and breakfast, since then I have run into him all over the place. I can only understand about 40% of what he says as he has such a broad Welsh accent, but I just kinda love him. A particular highlight was walking through Crucible Square to be shouted from behind ‘Oi Backer – don’t you go messing with Taffy’ before he came over and offered me a sweet with a big smile on his face. Top Drawer and well worth a Willie for his efforts.

Most Animated Annoyance at the unveiling of a #careless T-Shirt: Matthew Stevens, who came so close to punching my human plaything The Wizard when I pointed his t-shirt out to him (I’d bought him the t-shirt and told him to wear it). It continues to be the word that annoys the Welsh Dragon the most from the commentary box and his original comments to me in Sheffield the year before were the inspiration for the hashtag that you either love or hate.


Funniest Tweet: On the 23rd January I posed the question ‘Which 3 players would you most like to join Twitter’ to which Mark Williams replied almost immediately ‘@snookerbacker1 peter francisco, john higgins, quinten hann’.

The Most Misguided Tweeter: You shouldn’t really go around shooting your mouth off at bloggers, he said Matt at ProSnooker wasn’t entitled to his opinion, he called me a tit, a virgin and clueless (only two of which are true) yet he lives to tell the tale, step forward to a chorus of boos, Michael ‘two maximums a day’ Holt.

The Stuart Pettman Award for Worst Hair: Neil Robertson kept the spirit of Pettman alive by going ‘au naturale’ in the China Open, sporting a full head of Shirley Temple curls, such was the volume of his barnet he could probably hide a Willie or two in there.

Best Michael Stipe Lookalike Willie: Olivier Marteel

Mrs Snookerbackers Best Dressed Player: Ali Carter.  Mrs SB was impressed with the cut of his threads at the Crucible, credit also must be given to the man who ironed his shirts.

Mrs Snookerbackers Most Sporting Loser: She liked Andrew Higginson when he lost in Sheffield so a surprise Willie heads to Widnes. Andrew looks as shocked as the audience at this unlikely win.

Mrs Snookerbackers Best Haircut: Controversially, Mrs SB has plumped for Neil Robertson when it’s curly. Women eh?

Mrs Snookerbackers Nicest Shoes: Ivy the Referee. Mrs SB thinks she always looks elegant in her ladysuit and her shoes set this off just right.

Best Bribe: Paul Collier, the Welsh Referee shamelessly ‘bought’ a Willie by buying Mrs SB a birthday Mojito in Sheffield as well as complimenting her on her cakes at the SB Classic. Shameless yet effective.

The Enemy of the Moths Willie: Jan Verhaas who continues to get away with televised murder. At least three innocent victims slaughtered on TV by his giant hands this season.

Best Impersonation of a Badger by a Former World Snooker Champion: John Parrott

The Most Disgruntled Prize Recipient: Twitter prankster Mike Dunn who made a 147 inthe German Masters and got a bag of peanuts and a bottle of Dr Pepper for his efforts. Hopefully this nice big Willie poked his way will make up for it.

Most Overused Commentary Cliche: ‘Inch Perfect’ (John Virgo)

Most Accurate Quote: Sir Clive of Everton who recently said to Dave Hendon ‘That Snookerbacker is a nice chap’. Absolutely spot-on from the King of the Commentary Box who can tell class when he sees it.

Best Use of a V-Neck Sweater: Despite Stephen Hendry showing a flair for carrying off the BBC standard uniform Rishi Persad again showed them all how a real man wears this classic piece, a well-deserved Willie for him.

Naffest Ceremony: Stephen Hendry’s cobbled together ‘Guard of Honour’ at the Crucible. Truly hide behind the settee stuff and a woeful tribute to the King of the Crucible, hastily covered up with an introduction on Finals Night when he was dressed up to compensate.

And Finally, how could we leave without paying our own proper tribute to Stephen? Well we couldn’t and he becomes the second member of the prestigious Willie Hall of Fame for his amazing career. Him and the Nugget being the only two recipients of this coveted honour. A truly great Scot. Cheers and Tears all around the venue….(sniff)

And that’s it! Time to roll up the red carpet for another year as everyone leaves the Upton Snodsbury Comrades Club. Some in a state of elation, some of shock and some of despair. All there is left to say is a big thank you to all those who attended and remember, if you didn’t win a Willie there is always next year…..thank you for reading this tripe.  

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