Ronnie O’Sullivan explains to Desmond Kane why he is envious of the atmosphere created by darts fans as he travels up and down the country playing in raucous snooker exhibition events. The five-time world champion also admits he is relishing making his punditry debut alongside Jimmy White for Eurosport at the UK Championship later this month as his self-imposed sabbatical from snooker continues.
I’m on my way to another exhibition event in Kent while putting together this blog. We had a fantastic night in Portsmouth earlier this week. The atmosphere at the club nights is something I thrive on. It is noisy, and there’s a buzz in the air. I was saying to my mate the other day that I should have been a darts player. I just love the noise. In fact, when I’m playing they get so noisy that the crowd start telling the noisier lot to keep quiet. I quickly tell them to make more noise. I like it, it’s a buzz. Too much silence brings a tenseness that I don’t like. Is it too late for me to take darts up?
I think so, but I truly believe it’s great to play in that atmosphere (Former player) Willie Thorne was there this time, and he was great with the fans. The crowd loved him. My game was not looking good when I turned up. I’ve had a back injury that has stopped me from running or doing any exercise. Playing snooker has been out of the question to so last night was not looking good. But somehow I stretched the leg out, and it felt ok. I was able to get down on the shot, my game suddenly came back, and what a great feeling that is. That’s what we play the game for. I can’t believe how much I have enjoyed these nights, I really enjoy being on the move going to different towns and cities. Each night is different, you don’t know what you’re going to get.
I take a running friend too. I have learned it’s important to have like-minded people around you at all times. A typical day would see me get up at 7.30am to go out for a run, we generally do 35-45 mins. Get back, have a shower, and have some breakfast. Breakfast can last up to one or two hours depending on how the ambience is. Then it is back to the room for a snooze. Anyone that has got insomnia will know a little snooze is good. We then head down the motorway anytime between 11 and 1, making sure the traffic has died down Visiting new and old places to entertain the fans is a surprise and a pleasure every time. The crowds have been fantastic, and I’m growing into it. I actually prefer the exhibitions to playing in the major competitions. I’ve really embraced it.
I’m able to go for my shots, going for maximums every night and scoring big breaks. The fans have really loved it, which has made me love it. I was born to play snooker, it’s in my blood.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to compete in the major events, but I’ve been doing that for 25 years, and now is the time to enjoy all that I do.
There’s no pressure on me to prove myself anymore. All I want to do is play, the only pressure on me is the pressure of wanting to perform very well for the paying customers, but that’s always been the case for me. That will never change. I will continue to play exhibitions for the next 10-15 years because it is touring at its best.
I was listening to the comedian Jimmy Carr the other day, and he says he loves touring. I knew what he meant. I get the same feeling, I love driving up and down motorways, stopping off in service stations, staying in nice hotels and having great food.
I CAN’T WAIT TO MAKE DEBUT AS A PUNDIT ALONGSIDE ‘WHIRLWIND’
The exhibitions is one part of my life that I’m really enjoying, the other part is the Eurosport work. I’m really enjoying the balance of doing my Eurosport work, and am really looking forward to my punditry work for the UK Championship. It’s a great chance to watch some high class snooker, this time without the pressure of having to pot balls. This time I’m going to be able to watch all the other guys handle the big occasion, and what better way to do it than being on the couch passing opinion with Jimmy. The shows are going great too, and I think we have done a great job. I love all the feedback from the people who watch the show. It’s important we know what you like and don’t like. That way we can give the viewers the perfect show.
RONNIE’S NEXT BLOG IS OUT ON SUNDAY: ‘WHAT FUTURE HOLDS AFTER SEVEN MONTHS OUT’