Day 12 of “No Crucible ” – Women Snooker Day

Yesterday would have been “Women Snooker Day” in the Winter Garden. Of course, that wasn’t on, instead, there were a few good articles published around.

This one, by WPBSA , looks at how the women’s game has progressed  over the last year:

Women’s Snooker Review 2019/20

29th April 2020

 

Today we look back on a 2019/20 World Women’s Snooker Tour season which has seen some fantastic snooker played across the globe by the world’s leading female players.

Of course, the end of the season has not concluded in the way that we would have liked with the unavoidable postponement of both the Festival and World Championship tournaments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it has nevertheless been an important 12 months for women’s snooker with tournament entries and media exposure continuing to increase.

Below we pick out a few of the highlights of the campaign and reflect on the action we have seen on the baize…

Title Triple

For the first time since the 2016/17 season we crowned three ranking event champions as regular champions Reanne Evans and Ng On Yee were joined in the winner’s circle for the first time by Nutcharut Wongharuthai.

Having been knocking on the door for the previous 18 months with four ranking event final appearances to her name, the Thai star memorably broke her title duck at the Australian Women’s Open with victory against On Yee in the final. The win saw her become only the sixth active player to have won a full-ranking event title and reach a new career-high ranking of third in the world where she remains today.

Either side of her triumph came further victories for England’s Reanne Evans, who added record-extending ninth and sixth triumphs at the UK Women’s Championship and Eden Women’s Masters tournaments respectively. The wins helped our reigning world champion extend an unbeaten run dating back to October 2018 and underline her status as the undisputed number one on tour.

It was however Ng On Yee who ended the winning streak of Evans at our most recent competition in Bruges back in February, a 4-2 final success marking her own return to form as she claimed her first title in over a year on the WWS circuit at the second Belgian Women’s Open.

Crucible Return

Prior to the ranking event action though it was at the iconic Crucible Theatre in Sheffield where the new season was launched as women’s snooker returned to the home of snooker for the first time in 16 years.

The new Women’s Tour Championship saw our top four ranked players take to the baize at the venue which has hosted the professional World Championship since 1977, with only Reanne Evans have competed there previously.

With plenty of drama, tension and high quality snooker on display, the event represented a wonderful showcase of women’s snooker and demonstrated what our top players can do on the big stage.

  • Read our full report from the day HERE.

Participation on the Rise

The primary objective of WWS remains to provide opportunities for women and girls to pick up a cue and play snooker, providing the platform for players around the world, of any age or level of experience, to do so competitively.

We have been delighted this season to welcome several new players to the World Women’s Snooker Tour with no fewer than 35 women competing on the circuit for the first time.

With a total of 152 players from 29 countries currently ranked – an increase from just 38 players only six years ago – the tour is bigger than it has ever been during the current generation with more players joining all the time.

Among those to have joined the circuit, Northern Ireland’s Chucky Preston made an immediate impression at the Eden Masters by reaching the quarter-finals on her debut, while she was also one of a number of newcomers to reach the final of one of our side-tournaments during the campaign.

For the first time we welcomed players from Morocco as African Games champion Yousra Matine and Hind Bennani travelled to England to compete, with Hind reaching the Challenge Cup final at the UK Championship despite playing with a borrowed cue after her own did not arrive in time.

We have also been excited to welcome new players from Guernsey, Scotland, Russia, New Zealand and more.

Ranking Risers

It has been another season which has seen key movements across the world ranking list with a number of players reaching new career-high positions as they continue to develop their game.

As already mentioned above the most notable example is Thailand’s Nutcharut Wongharuthai who climbed to third position behind leading duo Reanne Evans and Ng On Yee at the top of the list.

Not far behind her and up to a new career-best of seventh is Emma Parker of England, who enjoyed another strong season by reaching her second ranking event semi-final at the Belgian Women’s Open, as well as winning Under-21 tournaments in Bruges and Leeds. She also achieved success at national level by claiming the English Women’s Championship for the first time.

Other notable players to have made significant gains at the top end of the rankings include former European champion Wendy Jans, while 17-year-old Ploychompoo Laokiatphong is up to 14th after she reached her first ranking event semi-finals at the UK Women’s Championship and Eden Masters tournaments.

Professional Opportunities

It has been another season where together with our friends at the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association and World Snooker Tour, we have continued to work to provide new opportunities for our stars to compete at the highest level.

Most significantly this season saw our reigning world champion Reanne Evans qualify to play at the professional Champion of Champions for the first time, where she took on former triple crown winner Shaun Murphy live on ITV4. There she was able to recover from 3-0 down to force a deciding frame, before Murphy was able to get over the line with a one-visit break.

Once again Evans was also invited together with Nutcharut Wongharuthai to compete at the Shoot Out professional ranking event, although both ultimately found themselves up against impressive performances from opponents Ian Burns and Thor Chuan Leong respectively in the first round.

Both Evans and Ng On Yee also competed at the prestigious SangSom 6-Red World Championship in Thailand last September, while our top three ranked players were also set to play at the Betfred World Championship qualifiers in Sheffield this month, prior to the postponement of the tournament until later this summer.

WPBSA also honoured Mandy Fisher, the woman who singlehandedly kept the women’s game alive for years, when nobody else cared:

The Mandy Fisher Story

29th April 2020

 

Whether as a fellow competitor, an organiser, as a colleague or as a friend, it is safe to say that most people involved with women’s snooker during the past 40 years have come across Mandy Fisher at some stage or another.

One of three well-known women to have played under the surname Fisher – bizarrely none of them are related – the highlight of Mandy’s career on the baize came back in 1984 as she achieved her dream of becoming the world women’s snooker champion.

But her legacy to the sport will be something far greater as she played an instrumental role in the creation of the organisation known today as World Women’s Snooker (WWS), which she still heads today as its president.

For over 40 years her life has been intertwined with a sport that has fascinated her since she was a girl. Today in the first of a two-part interview, we hear from Mandy about how she became involved with snooker and the events that led to the formation of WWS in 1981.

“When I left school, I used to go to a local BRSA (British Rail Staff Association) club with my parents because there were a lot of activities including pool and bar billiards,” said Fisher. “One day they were short on players in their team and they asked me to play pool and I won. I then won the local singles championship in my area which was a big achievement at the time. I was the only woman ever to be in it and the only woman ever to win it.

“After that my dad took me somewhere to buy me a cue as a present when I was 16 and that was the first time I had ever seen a snooker table.”

From the outset Mandy was intrigued by the game and as she learned more, inspired by the opportunity in front of her to be able to progress to the highest level in the sport.

“The guy who had the snooker room said he knew of a women’s association and I went along and I saw the standard,” said Fisher. “I thought that there is no other sport in the world where I felt like I could reach this level and become good at it, so I spoke to my parents about how much I loved it. They gave up their front room and moved into a bedroom so I could have a snooker table in there!

“I practiced hard and I went to the World Championship and it was brilliant. A girl called Lesley McIrath won it from Australia and they announced that the following year there was going to be £2,000 for the winner and £1,000 for the runner-up. That was a year’s wages for me so I had a chat with my parents and gave up work to concentrate on snooker. That following year I reached the final, won £1,000 and lost in the final to Vera Selby.”

After her breakthrough performance came a devastating blow however as it was announced in 1981 that there would not be any future women’s snooker tournaments.

Although she was still young and new to the game, Mandy was not prepared to see her snooker journey be cut short and set about forming the association that exists today as WWS. Although this did inevitably come at the expense of her playing career to some extent, she still has many fond memories of the time.

“I was so passionate about the sport and so with the help of a company called Grosser Jack from Windsor in Berkshire, we formed the World Ladies Billiards and Snooker Association,” explained Fisher. “I was the founder of the association and I liked administration, so I had a lot of fun.

“I carried on playing but when I was running things and trying to get it off the ground it was difficult. I was proud to be one of the first women ever to reach the last 128 of the English Amateur Championship.

“There was a lot of talent in the women’s game at that time, players like Alison Fisher, Kelly Fisher, Tessa Davidson, Stacey Hillyard and other such good players. Everyone inside the top eight could make century breaks, which was significant when you consider that at the time it was still such an achievement in the professional game.

“We used to have 40 entries even in those days coming up to Leeds to play at the Northern Snooker Centre, which was – and still is – one of the best clubs in the country. Jim Williamson welcomed us with open arms which a lot of clubs didn’t in those days, so that makes it extra special that the club continues to be a significant venue for us today.”

Of course, the 1980s were known in the UK as snooker’s first boom period and for the women’s game it was no different as Mandy recalls.

“It was an amazing time to be involved in the sport,” said Fisher. “I was quite good friends with Jimmy White and Tony Meo because in my town the man who first introduced me to snooker used to have them down to play on his table and then he would take them around all of the little snooker clubs in the area.

“I was lucky enough during the day to go in and play, then they used to go out and do an exhibition. I would go along and watch which was fantastic, He did that several times and got them lots of exhibitions, in the days when they were amateurs before it really took off in a big way.”

The dominant player during the 1980s was six-time world champion Steve Davis and Mandy has fond memories of crossing cues with him and his great rival Alex Higgins on the baize.

“I did a local exhibition with Steve and Alex at the Bushfield Sports Centre in Peterborough in front of 1,000 people and they bussed a load of people from March to support me which was wonderful,” recalled Fisher. “The atmosphere was incredible and I played three frames against Alex Higgins and I did sneak one off him (he probably allowed me to win it, I’m not quite sure!).

“But during the second best of three against Steve Davis I just produced. I don’t know if it was the adrenaline but I did play really well and I was 54 points ahead at 1-1 in the third frame before he cleared up with a 57 break. But it was fantastic and I have great memories of that evening, it will always stay with me.”

Although he was not a player, another man synonymous with snooker in the 1980s was of course Barry Hearn, then manager to Steve Davis and now chairman of the sport’s commercial arm World Snooker Tour.

“Barry was lovely and in the early days he gave us an awful lot of support which I am eternally grateful for,” explained Fisher. “My first experience with him was when he organised the intercity mixed pairs where I played with Steve Davis and another girl called Julie Islip played with Tony Meo.

“The event was on national television, screened directly before the FA Cup final to keep viewers on that channel. We did a pre-match interview the week before with Dickie Davis on World of Sport and then went down there to Southend to play on a match table in front of all the people which was amazing.

“Barry did all of that and he saw the potential in women’s snooker. He later secured sponsorship from Forte Hotels to sponsor us for three years, with events played across London. He also achieved the Mita world masters which injected huge sums of money into the women’s game. He really is the Midas man!

“Unfortunately for us Barry was becoming heavily involved with other activities such as Leyton Orient football club and boxing, typically making a success of everything that he does! But it was fantastic to be able to work with him during that period and to see what he is doing now with the professional game.”

More recently, women’s snooker has survived some challenging times before in 2015 agreement was reached with snooker’s world governing body the World Professional Snooker and Billiards Association (WPBSA) for World Women’s Snooker to become its subsidiary company. With the support of the WPBSA the World Women’s Snooker Tour has been able to expand like never before with international events held across the world and over 150 players now on the world ranking list, leaving Fisher optimistic for the future.

“It has been fantastic to have the WPBSA on board during the last few years,” continued Fisher. “They have been really enthusiastic about it and it has been great to host events outside of the UK in mainland Europe, Asia and the Oceania region of the past few years. In particular, last year’s World Women’s Championship in Thailand was one of the best tournaments that I have been involved in during the past 40 years.

“I firmly believe that the sky is the limit with women’s snooker. There is no physical reason why a woman cannot play snooker as good as a man. Certainly, Reanne Evans is capable of and has proved that she can play amongst the professional men. We are welcoming more new players all the time and I am confident that as we continue to grow and visit new territories, we will only continue to see players improve. I see a very bright future ahead for the women’s game.”

Thank you to Mandy for her time and we look forward to seeing her and everyone else back on Tour next season.

And Annette Lord wrote this lovely piece about Vera Selby, a great champion, strong lady and once “a voice” on BBC snooker.

‘Revelation’ of 1980s BBC female commentator Vera Selby leaves snooker fans shocked

In honour of Women’s Snooker Day, Annette Lord looks at one of the game’s female pioneers who surprised many watching the classic Crucible matches in lockdown.

“Who’s the woman commentating on the BBC in 1982?” That was the question on many fans’ lips when the TV network launched its Crucible Classics last week, looking back at golden matches from yesteryear.

In fact, some messaged Snooker Chat searching for the answer after seeing Tony Knowles trouncing Steve Davis 10-1 and others took to social media with the query.

The answer is Vera Selby, a remarkable lady who is not only a multiple world champion in both snooker and billiards but was honoured for her services to both sports and also amazed everyone by playing regularly well into her 80s.

Selby was born in 1930 in Richmond, North Yorkshire, and first became aware of billiards aged six through watching her uncle play in the cellar of his home in Newcastle. This started a life-long love of cuesports, with Selby becoming women’s world billiards champion eight times between 1970 and 1978.

She was also one of the leading women’s snooker players of the 1970s, winning the national title four years in a row from 1972-75 and also regaining it in 1979.

But her success didn’t end there. Selby was crowned the first ever women’s world snooker champion when the inaugural tournament was held in 1976 and five years later captured the title again, entering the record books by becoming, at 51, the oldest female world champion in any sport.

That was 1981, and within two years Selby – who made a living as a lecturer in art, textiles and dress design at what was then Newcastle Polytechnic – had taken early retirement aged 53.

Selby was also becoming a voice on TV, as some of the Crucible Classics last week proved.

Some fans were astonished to hear Selby commentating, and there was also praise for the BBC for being “ahead of its time”.

“I had no idea there were women commentators back then,” said v3rng (@vernongiles1959), one of many to comment on Twitter.

“Vera Selby commentating for BBC at the Crucible in 1982. Snooker was way ahead of its time with a female commentator,” added Phil Gilman (@bookiemonster81), with Chris Schou Watts (@goatsebeast) saying: “Good on the BBC for getting women involved at the top level so early (seeing as snooker only really ‘started’ in the 70s).”

It was certainly a surprise to remember that snooker had a woman commentator in the early 1980s. But Selby was not the first female to commentate for the BBC on cuesports. Thelma Carpenter, also a champion in both billiards and snooker in the 1930s, commentated for billiards on BBC Radio. And Joyce Gardner, one of her rivals in both games whose once recorded a snooker break of 82, was also employed to commentate on radio. One of her appearances was at the 1946 World Snooker Championship, where she gave her thoughts on Joe Davis v Horace Lindrum for the fee of 6 guineas (£6.30).

Yes, there were female cueists in the 1930s. Alongside Gardner and Carpenter at the top of the game was Ruth Harrison, from County Durham, who won the Women’s Professional Snooker Championship – a national event – eight years running.

Back to Selby, who was given a lifetime achievement award for services to billiards in 2014 and was made an MBE for services to snooker and billiards in the 2016 Queen’s birthday honours.

She told the BBC’s Rob Walker: “It was wonderful. Prince Charles gave me it. He said ‘you don’t look like a snooker player.’ I replied, saying we weren’t all big butch male players and he laughed.”

Amazingly, Selby was still competing at the age of 86 and is now 90, enthusing about the benefits of playing for older people.

She said in 2016: “It guards against dementia and it’s a physical thing as well as being mental. You are not getting fresh air but you are walking round and round the table.”

What a remarkable woman. Vera Selby, we salute you!

I had the pleasure to meet Vera at the Women’s Day in 2016 . She is a truly remarkable person!

I you are passionate about snooker and you don’t already, give Nigel’s blog “The Green Baize” a follow.

Day 11 of “No Crucible”

The most interesting bit for the snooker fans yesterday was provided by the BBC: their “Crucible Classic” choice on the day was the 2003 semi-final between Ken Doherty and Paul Hunter. Paul started the last session of the match 15-9 up and still lost, by 17-16.

Ken is a great, great player, he can score heavily, but his two main strengths are a very shrewd all-round game combined with a terrific temperament. He never gives up, and rarely cracks under pressure. In the last session of this particular match, both are on show.

Paul was only 24 at the time, it was his first semi-final at the Crucible. Clive Everton, in the commentary box, reflected that pressure and anxiety got at him in that last session. It’s not really surprising, but still, with such a big lead, he should have won that match.

Whenever a match involving Paul Hunter is shown on television, social media fill with “He would surely have been World Champion, had he lived”. Well, at the risk of being (verbally) crucified, beheaded, and quartered … I’m not so sure.

“Why?” will you ask me. “Paul had a fantastic temperament, look, he won the Masters three times, from far behind, he beat O’Sullivan in one of them”. Indeed, he did.

On the other hand, his record in multi-session matches in ranking events wasn’t great. Not counting his last season, when he was obviously very ill, Paul played at the Crucible seven times, and only won five matches. His record in the UK Championship – that was played as best of 17 from round one in those days, with the final being best of 19 – he reached the SF only once, lost in the QF twice, and otherwise never got past the last 16 in ten appearances.

The way he played in that last session against Ken, pretty much reminded me of Jimmy White. Both very attractive players with flair, entertaining to watch but struggling to get over the line when in front. Jimmy was expected to win the World Championship “surely”. He didn’t. Now I’m not saying that Paul Hunter wouldn’t have, I’m saying that I’m not as certain as most seem to be that he would have done it, had he lived. And now, sadly, we will never find out.

Other than that, Phil Haig, who is really very prolific recently, has gone and interviewed Barry Hearn about Ronnie and Judd Trump

Barry Hearn explains his problem with ‘genius’ Ronnie O’Sullivan and warns him: ‘Judd Trump is the new king’

Hearn and Ronnie
Barry Hearn and Ronnie OSullivan have had their ups and downs over the years (Picture: Getty Images)

Barry Hearn and Ronnie O’Sullivan have had a complicated relationship over the years which the WST chairman puts down to one reason, the Rocket’s genius.

The snooker supremo has known O’Sullivan for three decades, twice served as his manager and is in charge of the sport that has made the 44-year-old a millionaire and household name.

However, they have fallen out plenty of times, quite seriously last year with O’Sullivan threatening a breakaway snooker tour and Hearn responding in fairly heavy-handed manner.

The Rocket is never shy of criticising snooker’s hierarchy, with Hearn describing Ronnie’s regular moans as ‘deadly dull’ during this season’s English Open.

Hearn does have sympathy for O’Sullivan though, to an extent, as he sees the work of a genius on and off the table.

The five-time world champion conjures up brilliance on the baize, but his unique talent comes with a unique mind and Hearn has learned to expect the unexpected from the sport’s biggest star.

‘This might sound strange,’ Hearn told Metro.co.uk. ‘Ronnie O’Sullivan is a lovely, lovely person, he’s also a genius, and therein lies the problem.

‘A genius is not normal, they don’t say normal things and they don’t act normally, that’s one of the reasons they are a genius and we have to allow for that. ‘

Ronnie comes out with some outrageous things and I allow for it, in the same way that I allowed for Alex Higgins because he was a genius, Jimmy White, genius, Phil Taylor, I don’t expect normality from geniuses.

‘The sad thing, for me, is sometimes the errant ideology of a genius is counterproductive to their own personal welfare.

‘For Ronnie O’Sullivan, I love him, I’ve known him since he was 12-years-old, I’ve been his manager twice, we disagree of lots of things fundamentally because he’s got too much time on his hands and he likes a column inch so he comes up with outlandish statements, most of which are rubbish.’

After a quiet season so far for O’Sullivan, with his only trophy coming at the Shanghai Masters, the world number six is eyeing-up a much busier couple of years ahead as he tries to rediscover his best form.

The Rocket has not played in every event available to him for years and Hearn believes it would be a wise move for him to be more active while he still can.

‘The over-riding factor is Ronnie O’Sullivan was born to play snooker and I don’t want him sitting in his armchair when he’s 60 with any regrets,’ Hearn continued.

‘I’d rather see Ronnie O’Sullivan turn up and play with a smile on his face than almost anything in snooker.

‘The fact he didn’t play the Masters this year or enough events to get into the Coral Championship, that’s called a mistake, a mistake made by a genius.

‘Hopefully he says: “I’m just going to enjoy my life, I really love playing snooker and I’m going to play a bit more, whenever I want.” I want him to be happy, funnily enough, and I’m certain he’s happiest playing snooker.

‘Sometimes, like this crisis, whether it’s sport, a relationship, whatever, complacency is a killer and the day you lose something, it’s quite good because you realise how much you miss it.

‘We’re all missing sport and Ronnie sounds like he’s missing snooker and that’s bloody good news.

‘He might appreciate, both of us might, a bit more when we get back to normality. Sometimes we take it for granted and that’s not the right the way out of any relationship.’

O’Sullivan is undoubtedly still snooker’s biggest star and most popular character, but he is no longer the dominant force with a cue in his hand.

World champion and world number one Judd Trump currently holds that mantle, but Hearn believes O’Sullivan will love the challenge of trying to reach the top of the mountain once again.

‘Trump is the new king on the block, I think he’s an outstanding player and he will develop into one of the all-time greats,’ said the WST chairman.

‘The competition itself, to compete, wake up in the morning with a purpose is actually more important.

‘I think Trump would be a big price favourite to beat Ronnie currently. I’m not looking for Ronnie to make improvement, he’s in his mid-40s, he’s done remarkably well to be as good as he is.

‘But like the Steve Davis’ and the Stephen Hendrys, he’s still good enough to beat nearly all of them all the time. Go and enjoy yourself son, fill your boots, make a few quid, but more importantly, get that little adrenaline rush because don’t kid me, you love it. You love it!

‘And you don’t like to admit you love it. Of course you get disappointed when you lose and that’s because you love winning. Take a leaf out of Bazza’s book. Don’t waste an hour because you can’t get that hour back.’

Judd Trump
Judd Trump won his first World Championship title last year (Picture: Getty Images)

Trump is unquestionably the best player on the planet right now, but he has certainly not reached the levels of popularity that Ronnie has enjoyed for years.

The world champ is well on his way to becoming a legend of the game, but can he become a star in the mould of the Rocket? Hearn believes so.

‘I do,’ said Barry. ‘I think Trump is an outstanding player. It’s going to be interesting watching his game and personality develop, which I think they both will.

‘I think Judd Trump is going to be one of the all time greats. I’ve got a lot of time for him.

‘He’s got a hunger which the best players have got. In any sport, as much as we say, “what would we do without Tiger Woods?” Then Brooks Koepka or Jordan Spieth comes along. Not the same, different, but still great and technical standards are moving ahead.

‘I’ve been watching the BBC archive and, not being cruel but, those players don’t look very good compared to what we see today. The way they stroke the ball, move on the shot, they miss miles more than today. Sport improves, progresses.

‘You can enjoy brilliance at any time, I can watch Ronnie O’Sullivan play all day. Left handed, right handed, cue in his teeth I think he can pot them sometimes. But lets’ enjoy the moment, make the memories, they won’t be there forever, that’s why we should enjoy it and that’s why we shouldn’t take it for granted today.

‘Would we miss Ronnie O’Sullivan? Bloody right. Would the game survive? Bloody right. Because that’s the nature of sport. People come through. Great fighters that looked unbeatable become normal and human after a while.’

I’m sure that Barry Hearn loves his problem dearly 😉

And I agree with him, watching those matches from the past, the standard wasn’t that great, although, conditions being different, it’s probably hard to compare matches from different eras in a fair way.

On the other hand, I’m not sure that Judd Trump will ever have the charisma that players like Ronnie and Jimmy White have. Stephen Hendry never had it really, and Steve Davis only got it when he no longer was a winner.

Also, although he looks unbeatable – or about – at the moment, only time will tell if Judd Trump can sustain that over a decade or more. Mark Selby looked almost unbeatable for four seasons – he was a runaway number one and three times a World Champion in those four seasons – then, suddenly, he started to struggle and his confidence deserted him. I’m not saying that the same will happen to Judd Trump, all I’m saying is – as Ronnie once put it on ES – that we should have this conversation in ten years time.

 

Could Stephen Hendry return?

When Stephen Hendry announced his return to competition on the Seniors Tour at the Seniors World Championship 2017, there were a lot of expectations and his faithful fans predicted that he would wipe the floor with the opposition. He didn’t. Actually, he was very poor. In his first match, he only just beat Aidan Owens, an amateur, by 3-2, on a black ball shoot-out, and lost by 3-0 to Peter Lines in the next.

He competed on the WSS Tour in the next two seasons, but the poor form continued, and it was clear that he wasn’t enjoying this. But maybe, this is about to change…

Indeed, in an interview with Phil Haig, Hendry has revealed that he’s now working with Sightright and is already seing results:

Stephen Hendry teases coming out of retirement after work with snooker coach

Stephen Hendry
Stephen Hendry is trying to get his love for the game back (Picture: Getty Images)

Stephen Hendry has teased the possibility of coming out of retirement, having worked with coach Steve Feeney and beginning to enjoy playing snooker again.

The seven-time world champion retired in 2012 after defeat in the quarter-finals of the World Championship and has not been tempted to return, only playing on the Seniors Tour in recent years.

The 51-year-old struggled to adapt to life in snooker’s chasing pack after dominating the game throughout the 1990s, and regular defeats eventually became too much for him to handle.

However, eight years after retirement, Hendry has been working with Feeney, the man behind innovative training technique SightRight, which has been credited with improvements in numerous players, most notably Mark Williams en route to his 2018 World Championship win.

Hendry is making no promises or plans just yet, but he sounds more interested in playing competitively than he has for almost a decade.

‘I’ve been doing a wee bit with Steven Feeney and I’ve started to get a bit of pleasure from hitting the ball back,’ Hendry told Ken Doherty on an Instagram Live.

I’d done about half a dozen sessions with him and I was getting quite into it, then obviously this [coronavirus] has happened.

‘Hopefully, Praise God if Sheffield is on, if he’s there, he’ll maybe give me a few hits.

‘He asked me what I wanted from it in the beginning and I just said, “I want to enjoy playing snooker,” that’s all. ‘The way I was playing, even in the Seniors. Not hitting the ball properly, it was just torture really, it’s the last throw of the dice.

‘If this thing works out with Feeney, I start to hit the ball properly and get a bit more enjoyment out of playing… ‘

The World Championship Seniors is hopefully going to be on in August. You win that, get in the Champion of Champions, you see what happens there and you never know.

‘I’m making no plans, I just want to enjoy playing then see what comes from there.’

Feeney has also worked with Ronnie O’Sullivan and has been a huge influence on Dave Gilbert’s vast improvements in his mid-thirties, which saw him reach the World Championship semi-finals for the first time last year.

The coaching is based on sighting and alignment and Feeney has also done substantial work with darts players and golfers.

After the rescheduling of the World Championship to run from 31 July-16 August, the World Seniors Championship is now set for 20-22 August at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre.

Jimmy White is the defending champion, but there will be even more attention on Hendry with a win potentially seeing the legendary Scot return to regular action.

It will be interesting to see where Hendry goes from here. In 2017, after losing to Lines, he admitted that he wasn’t handling pressure well anymore. In his bio he spoke of “yips”. A lot is about confidence in snooker and if confidence returns… who knows indeed? Not to play at his prime level, of course, but to play with pleasure and guve a good account of himself. I’m sure fans would welcome that.

 

 

Day 9 of “No Crucible”

Yesterday evening should have seen the conclusion of the second round at the World Championship …

Eurosport has published this vodcast about the “Greatest Rivalries”

To be honest, I found this one a bit disappointing, but the issue is probably with me rather than with the vodcast. I’m not overly interested in “rivalries” and the concept of “rivalry” itself is not entirely clear to me.

I’m certain that Alex Higgins saw anyone who beat him regularly, and possibly threatened his “status” as “People Champion and the most important player on the tour, as a rival or even as an enemy. His attitude towards the like of Steve Davis, Cliff Thorburn, and Dennis Taylor suggests that much. At times he really hated them. I’m very doubtful that those “rivals” feelings were reciprocal, nor that they were so extreme. They probably had very mixed feelings: irritation most of the time, anger as well, but surely they were also disconcerted and puzzled as it was plain for all to see that he wasn’t stable mentally and battling addictions.

Some of those “rivalries” were the expression of a “change of guard”: Davis v Hendry, Hendry v Ronnie, Ronnie v Trump and to an extend Selby are examples.

Other rivalries, like Ronnie v John Higgins, John Higgins v Mark Williams, Mark Williams v Ronnie, are the true rivalries in my eyes: sportsmen of the same generation, competing against each other throughout their career. Same era, same opportunities, same conditions.

And then, you have those rivalries that are more of a fans’ thing than anything else. As much as I like Jimmy White for his unwavering love of the game, I can’t see him as a rival to either Hendry or Steve Davis in terms of career and achievements, and, surely, both Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry must have been aware of this even in their prime. Jimmy had the flair, the charisma, and the charm … but his lifestyle, personality, and iffy work ethic meant that he was never going to challenge them in terms of career achievements.

To an extend, this also goes for the Hendry v Ronnie rivalry from 2004 on. Hendry was no more the force he had been, but hope never died in his fans.

WST Crucible Gold was about Ronnie and shows his last three Crucible Finals wins

This of course triggered very fond memories for me, as I was there in 2012 and 2013.

It also awoke bittersweet ones. I was thrilled to watch him win in 2008. I was in a snooker club, because I couldn’t watch BBC at home. The club doesn’t exist anymore, it’s a supermarket now, the owner has lefts us, taken away by cancer, and I remember the mixed feelings seeing Ronnie there with his partner and two young children. At the time, I knew that their relationship was on the rocks,

An interview with Barry Hearn

Sports journalist Phil Haig has interviewed Barry Hearn

Barry Hearn
Barry Hearn is going strong despite recent scares (Picture: Getty Images )

Barry Hearn suffered his second heart attack earlier this month, but the 72-year-old is already back at work, motivated and searching out his next hit of adrenaline.

The veteran promoter suffered his first heart attack in 2002 and the second came on 5 April, but far from being concerned by the health scare, Hearn was more worried about being a burden on the NHS during the coronavirus crisis.

Having a history of heart issues in the family, Hearn knew exactly what had hit him earlier this month, but it took some persuasion from those around him to not just keep calm and carry on.

‘I’m doing alright,’ Hearn told Metro.co.uk. ‘During times like this you feel silly complaining and I won’t be, because there are people going through much worse things than just a little heart problem. It was just throwing a couple of stents in.

‘When I went into hospital I was embarrassed to be there, really, but everyone told me “no, you’ve got to go” and it was good advice. I might not have woken up. That would have been a terrible way to finish the book, wouldn’t it? But you still feel embarrassed because they’re front line troops in there

‘I knew what it was because I’d had it before, but this was a minor one, so I was reluctant to go and see anyone. I’ve got a cardiologist so I spoke to him, told him the symptoms and he said “get down there!” I had a night in the intensive care unit, which was horrendous, but they looked after me really well. ‘Maybe it’s told me that I have to grow up a bit, I can’t do everything myself, I need to maybe delegate a bit, but I just don’t like to. I didn’t like handing the boxing over to Eddie, but what a good idea that was, he’s doing a better job than I ever did.

’ Barry’s father, Eddie’s grandfather, Maurice died at just 44-years-old due to heart problems, and with the same health issue running deeper through the roots of the Hearn family tree, it has motivated Barry to live life to the full. ‘You grow up in that sort of environment, waiting for your turn because his father was 45, his father was 43, so I bucked a trend there,’ Hearn explained.

‘I think it’s just made me appreciate my whole life, I’ve appreciated every day I’ve been given and I’ve not wasted it, I’ve tried not to miss a moment because I know how precious time is.’

Hearn is back at work and busy as he tries to find ways to get his darts and snooker players back to work as soon as possible with the coronavirus putting global sport on hiatus.

He has already found a way to keep darts players busy with the PDC Home Tour which is seeing the world’s best play over webcam from their houses, while the World Snooker Championship has now been rearranged for the end of July.

The chairman of both the PDC and WST, Hearn still leads the way on the decisions made by both organisations, and he does it all for the rush he could never get from competing himself.

‘The sadness of me and sport is I’m arguably the best sports promoter in the world, not arguable in my book, but I’m a failure at every sport,’ Barry said.

‘Running marathons, triathlons, I’ve always reached a reasonable standard in every sport but never one I’d want to promote myself. I’ve failed the Hearn entrance exam, but I enjoy it.

‘I love competing with myself in everything and I run my business the same way. It’s a successful business but I run it like a sportsman’s world – to win.

‘I love it. It’s a buzz in my life, a rush of adrenaline.

‘When Anthony Joshua first signed for me [at Matchroom Boxing] he looked at me, sort of old fashioned, quizzical, like “what do you really want out of me?”

‘And I went, “I just want 1% of your adrenaline” and that sums up everything. Whether it’s Steve Davis winning, whether it’s Phil Taylor winning, whether it’s Anthony Joshua, Chris Eubank, all the people over my life. If I can get 1% of their adrenaline going through my veins then I’m a lucky man and I’ve been lucky so far.’

As someone who claims to be the best sports promoter on the planet, Hearn does not deny that ego is involved as well as the thrill of the action. In darts and snooker he has very little competition, but is motivated by bettering his own achievements.

‘We’ve all got an ego, we all want to be seen to be doing the best job ever,’ he continued. ‘I want to do the best events, the ones that get the biggest ratings, that pay the biggest prize money, that make the most money, it’s all a chase after adrenaline in different ways.

‘I take a lot of satisfaction in where sports have got to over the last 20 or 30 years. Darts, snooker, boxing, Eddie would look back on this period of his life with pride because he’s taken it to another level. That’s what people like us do, what turns us on and what gets us out of bed in the morning.’

As the leading figure in snooker and darts, and with son Eddie certainly one of the most influential people in boxing, the Hearns wield substantial power in the sporting world.

However, Barry feels sport as a whole is done a disservice by those in political power who do not give sporting endeavours the support needed to reach new heights.

Hearn feels he takes care of the professional level of his sports, but there must be improvements to how amateur activities are run.

‘We do need a better infrastructure in the UK for amateur sport because so many of the governing bodies are run by blazers – that’s not a compliment – who are passionate about their sport but have no idea about commercial ramifications,’ said Hearn. ‘

That has to change because amateur sport is essential to the country and essential to me. Things like diversification, across women, ethnic communities, age, disability, there’s a whole range and it’s such a big job, I get frustrated as I get older because I think it should be government-led.

‘I don’t think successive governments have paid sport the respect it deserves and made investment in sport that unifies the nation, keeps us entertained and makes us lead a better lifestyle.

‘I always think, whatever we pay for defence, we should put the same into sport and we don’t. We rely on amateur enthusiasts to do it and it’s not their fault that they’re not good enough.

’ A master salesman and spin doctor, Hearn could have been a politician in another life, and fancies himself as one, but although he knows it is too late for him to pursue that career path, he doesn’t mind telling the government how he would do things.

‘If I was 20 years younger…obviously I’d make a great Prime Minister, but the minister for sport, it’s an outrage that that isn’t a full cabinet position,’ Barry said.

‘I was talking to him yesterday, I said “the problem with you guys; you’re great, you’re passionate, but you have absolutely no power. I might as well talk to a tree!”

‘They’re lovely people, intelligent, good ideas, but zero power. That’s the first thing I’d want to change, the minister for sport is a cabinet position. It’s as important as defence, certainly as important as the charities we support overseas with our development fund. God knows what we could do with that money.

‘Times like this you do get a little bit isolationist, you do what’s right for us. Why haven’t we got this PPE? Imagine me running that! I’d have every bastard in the world making that stuff. It wouldn’t be pretty, but it would be effective and efficient.

‘That’s the same with sport, yes we need to do more, across a whole range of sport. Who’s going to do it? You can’t lump everything on Bazza!’

There is no doubt that the fire still burns in Hearn and his love of sport is unquestionable as he turned his political anger towards a lack of funding for grassroots cricket.

‘What pisses me off, we win the Cricket World Cup, within 24 hours, the entire team is on the lawn at 10 Downing Street with Theresa May having their picture taken.

‘Over the last 12 years, 50% of local village teams have gone out of business. 50%! I wouldn’t go. I appreciate a wonderful victory, great for the nation, but do something for my sport and I’ll come and have my picture taken. Is that a good swap?

‘In the realities of what we spend on everything else it’s a pittance but sport doesn’t get the respect. People criticise, there’s not enough amateur snooker competitions. I know there’s not! What do you want me to do?

‘I’ve done my bit. I’m trying to get the dream out there, but I need a bit of help, boys.

‘Until someone puts point-whatever per cent of our GDP into sport and it won’t be sidetracked into other things to save money, then like any business you have a budget and you can allocate a budget, it’s simple business and it frustrates me.’

So what’s next for Hearn? Getting his sports back on track through and after the coronavirus crisis is the immediate concern, but he, as ever, is looking further ahead.

Neither a second heart attack nor a global pandemic can keep Barry down, and he will plough on in search of more success.

‘The world’s a changing place,’ he said. ‘The numbers have been amazing, the company’s grown from me underneath a billiard hall into one of the biggest sports companies in the world. It’s very satisfying.

‘But then along comes this virus and we’re an events company without any events.

‘We have to be creative like we have been with the darts at home and next week we’ll trial some snooker stuff and get ready as this lockdown eases, hopefully some behind closed doors events before we can go on to entertaining live audiences.

‘This is something I’ve never experienced in my life, I think it’s our toughest challenge and we have no idea really how long it’s going to go on for and how much damage and pain it’s going to cause,

‘Looking ahead, I don’t think we’ve gone as far as we can go anywhere, even in the UK and Europe. I’m pleased to say the numbers are going up everywhere, in all our broadcasters.

‘Realistically, obviously I’ve done an outstanding job, but compare snooker to golf in China we’re still miles behind even though we get bigger figures, so there’s an image perception issue still

‘Tennis and golf are probably the two that I compare us to to say “why on Earth aren’t we four times bigger when we are actually 10 times bigger for exposure and audience? The World Snooker Championships get 500 million viewers, a hell of a lot of them are from China. It dwarves virtually everything else in China. I feel we’ve still got huge potential there.’

Given his relentless drive, many onlookers assume it is all about the money for the snooker supremo, but Hearn says that has long since subsided as a motivating factor.

‘People will always say it’s about the money, but that’s usually people with no money say that.

‘When you get to a certain stage with money you are doing it for love and passion. Like I found out a couple of weeks ago, I miss it, its not about how much you make, that’s just a measuring stick.’

Barry Hearn does not exactly come across as humble there … but we knew that already.

There is no doubt about his passion for sport, but, although I love many sports, in my opinion, sport should not be a top priority in any government. Not until poverty is eradicated, not until quality food, health care, and education are REALLY available to all. We are very far from that. And when I write education, I’m not speaking about academic grades, I’m speaking about much more fundamental things: knowing how society functions and how to function in it, understanding the basics of the economical, and political systems we live in, understanding our place and impact on the global ecosystem, developing the ability to reason, analyse and be creative, to grow a critical mind as not to fall for dogma, myths, and indoctrination, be it political, racial or religious. And more down to earth, being educated to the basics of health care (physical and mental health), nutrition, and cooking. Sport has its role in this, but it’s far from being the highest priority. Art, for instance, is just as important. Sciences and engineering are MORE important.

In this crisis, when I see people not understanding why they should stay home for now, when I read that people have died after following Donald Trump “suggestions”,  when statistics show that in some “civilized” countries – yes the UK as well – as much as one child in three lives in poverty and needs to rely on food banks and government-funded free meals, my feeling is that we are very far from what a true “civilized” society should be. In that context, sport can be a tool to achieve the goal, but it’s not the main tool.

Also when I see someone like Donald Trump being elected as the president of the biggest military power on the planet, I can only despair. This is the failure of democracy because so many people aren’t ready for democracy: they are too gullible, too irresponsible and too selfish. It’s the result of education failure, and again it’s not about grades, there is no such thing as a “Ph.D. in true humanity”. Then, of course, dictatorship is worse… so much worse.

When I read that “it unifies the nation”, I cringe. There is so much tribalism in sport. So much of “us against them” spirit when it comes to supporters. Think hooliganism, think about how much aggression you witness in pubs every time England plays Wales or Scotland at rugby for instance. Sport SHOULD be a unifying factor – that was part of Pierre de Coubertin Olympic dream – but let’s be honest, only too often sport is just the opposite.

 

Day 8 of “No Crucible” – Bizarre?

In their daily vodcast, Andy Goldstein, Neal Foulds, and Jimmy White explore “bizarre” snooker moments. 

With hindsight, it’s true that the whole 2020 Masters was a story of the unexpected, and, of course, Ronnie’s concession at the UK Championship in 2006 left everyone puzzled, and many worried. Signs that things weren’t right had been there in the previous months though.

But, there were a number of other strange moments, not included in their vodcast, and here are a few.

Dechawat Poomjaeng at the 2013 World Championship certainly should have been included …

It was both funny and disturbing. One of the funniest moments I was lucky to witness at the Crucible came in the media room after Stephen Maguire first-round defeat to Poomjaeng that year. Maguire came to the media room, obviously gutted and more than just slightly nonplussed. He literally let himself fall on the chair, sat there slumped for a few seconds, then declared “I have never seen anything like that”. Then leaned over the desk, half-covered his mouth with his hand, and with the look of a man about to disclose a dangerous secret, he whispered “Between us … he’s not the full shilling”. Now considering that there were about 5 mikes and 15 recorders on that desk, not even mentioning that the whole interview was filmed, that was quite surrealistically comical.

This incident at the Crucible in 2009 was quite strange as well and triggered endless discussions amongst fans

It’s obvious that, had Dotty not put his fist in the pocket, the white would have gone in-off. However, the white, in this case, was still on the bed of the table when Graeme touched it. Therefore, Alan Chamberlain calls a foul, as expected, but not because of the in-off, because Graeme has interfered with a ball in play. Also because there wasn’t an in-off, Alan leaves the white where it stopped, instead of cleaning it and putting it on the cushion. Mark Selby though doesn’t understand this. In his view, the white was going in-off and therefore, he believes that he has ball in hand and picks it. Alan Chamberlain immediately calls a foul … as it’s now Mark Selby who has been interfering with a ball in play. Eventually, Dott very sportingly refuses to take advantage. Strictly sticking by the rules Alan Chamberlain was right. But, under those circumstances, his call was a bit unfair on Mark Selby. I don’t think any player, except maybe Dominic Dale, or someone who is a referee as well as a player would have reacted differently than Mark did.

This one wasn’t bad either … Graeme Dott gets static shocks when touching the table at the Crucible in 2013 and asks for the carpet to be watered

Luca Brecel coming to his first-round match at the 2018 Masters, carrying two cues, was strange too, especially as, at no point, did it became clear what his intentions were. Having several cues is not unusual in pool, but the purpose is generally obvious: one cue to break, one to play, and, in some cases, another one to play jump shots. But in snooker? I can’t remember another occurrence of a player turning up with several cues.

“Crucible Gold” was looking at Stephen Hendry’s Crucible wins in 1990, 1992, 1994.

All three of those were wins over Jimmy White. In 1992, Hendry won 10 frames on the spin to win the match 18-14 from 14-8 down, in 1994, Jimmy twitched on a simple black off the spot, with the table at his mercy. Stephen was sitting in his chair, looking resigned, and admitted afterward that he didn’t expect to get another chance. Many fans are convinced that Jimmy White would surely have been a World Champion, if it wasn’t for Hendry. I love Jimmy, but I’m really not sure. He definitely should have won at least one of those two. Jimmy lost those two matches as much if not more than Stephen won them.

And finally, Stephen Hendry and Ronnie are going to do another Instagram chat on April 30, 2020. It should be interesting!

Hendry Instagram announcement

Day 7 of “No Crucible” – Ronnie looks back at his career and plans his future

Ronnie O’Sullivan reveals retirement plans after ‘disaster’ of last year

UK2018ronnie_BetwayInterviewRonnie O’Sullivan – Image credit: Getty Images

In a wide-ranging discussion about his life off the table during a storied career, Ronnie O’Sullivan has told Eurosport he will retire at the age of 50.

In a frank and honest discussion, O’Sullivan spoke about how his life spiralled in the 1990s following his incredible ascent to fame as a teenager, and the imprisonment of his father, before a spell in rehab proved a turning point in his career. The five-time world champion also talked about the roles played by his mentors Ray Reardon and Steve Peters in cementing him as one of the greatest players to ever play the game.

O’Sullivan went on to examine why a reduced schedule didn’t work for him in 2019-20 and how he will change next season by not practicing and instead “play every tournament”. He also revealed why he will retire in five years time…

We have selected some of the best extracts below, but you can listen to the podcast for the full episode.

RONNIE ON HIS PRIVATE LIFE IN THE 1990s

I was just partying a bit too much and like I said when I won that tournament (in 1993) I thought I’d made it. I’d come into a bit of money, I had a nice house, a nice car, I was single. So, I could do what I want when I liked really. I just probably chose the wrong company but it just got hold of me really. I took my eye off the ball. I wasn’t really focused on snooker and I wasted probably five years of my career just messing about really.

THE ‘LIGHTBULB MOMENT’ WHEN HE KNEW IT HAD TO CHANGE

I think after I lost to Stephen Hendry in 1996, and I was quite overweight as well. I was eating and drinking quite a lot. I was looking at a picture of myself and it dawned on me, and I thought, ‘I need to get myself fit again’. So, I spent three months, I lost my driving licence, so I spent three months just going to the gym two or three times a day, eating really well and got myself in good shape for the next season. And then I managed to win four of five tournaments actually, which was great. But then I went back to drinking and partying again. So for the next two years I wasn’t as bad as I was before but I was still doing things that I shouldn’t have been doing. So, that’s why I decided that I had to go to The Priory. Basically, first thing in the morning I was getting up, having a drink, having a joint just to function through the day. Which never felt good because I thought ‘I don’t want to have to rely on this sort of stuff’ but it just a hold of me a bit too much and that’s when I decided to get help for it.

ON GOING TO THE PRIORY

I just rang up the drugs helpline and said, ‘I’ve got some problems and I need to get some help, I think I know what it is, and I’d like some help.’ She said fine, so she came round the house and spoke to me and within two hours of meeting her she had me in The Priory in Roehampton. That was probably the best thing I’ve ever done. I didn’t want to go, I was scared. I thought ‘I’m not an addict, I’m not an alcoholic, I’ve just got to learn to just control it a bit’. And when I went in there and they said it was complete abstinence it was like ‘What? There’s no way I’ll be able to do that.’ But, I managed to get clean and sober. I haven’t stayed clean and sober the whole time but I don’t go out and have one or two drinks, I have a glass every six months if it’s a birthday party or New Year’s Eve thing. Otherwise I’m teetotal really.

HOW HIS CAREER WOULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT WITH HIS DAD AROUND

I think it would have been a lot different. I think I would have won the World Championships a lot earlier. I think I would have won plenty more tournaments. Absolutely 100% it would have been different but it was what it was and it was just unfortunate. It was unfortunate for me and unfortunate for him and things could have been so much better really. I certainly would have enjoyed my career a lot more having him around than not having him around.

RONNIE ON HOW RAY REARDON CHANGED HIS GAME

My dad made the phone call to somebody. I don’t know who he called. But he said, ‘Ronnie could do with a little bit of someone with a bit of experience in his corner. Who would you recommend?’ They mentioned a few names then said the one you really want to get hold of would be Ray Reardon. So we said, ‘Can you get his number for me?’ and he said ‘yeah, no problem.’ So we got Ray’s number and my dad phoned him up and he had a chat to him and said, ‘Would you want to help my son?’ And he went ‘Yeah, love to! No problem.’ So he got off the phone to Ray Reardon and phoned me up and ‘here, I’ve got Ray Reardon’s number, he’s waiting for you to call him.’ This was halfway through a match, I was playing Andy Hicks at the time, and I think I was 9-7 down in the final session. I had a phone call from Ray and I said ‘Ray, I’m playing well but I’m 9-7 down.’ He went, ‘he’s not scared of you, that’s why.’ I was like ‘really?’ And he said, ‘No, he’s not scared of you, no, no, no. Just keep him tight, keep tight, don’t go for them ones where you leave them easy.’ So I thought ‘alright’ and I tightened up a little bit and I won the match quite easily, about 13-10 or 13-11. But it felt different, it felt a different way of playing. I felt in control. I got more mistakes out of my opponents. So, that was my first lesson with Ray, over the phone. Then, the next day he was in Sheffield so we really got to work on the table. And then from that moment onwards I was a different player, a completely different player, and all for the better as well.

RONNIE ON STEVE PETERS

Again, that was through one of my managers at the time. He knew me better than anyone at the time and he knew that I was having these stage frights if you like. I was OK practicing but as soon as a tournament came up I was so overly anxious that I would end up worrying myself so much that I wouldn’t be able to pot a ball when I get there, and I wouldn’t even be able to enjoy it. And he read this article about this guy that Steve Peters was working with and thought that it sounds just like Ronnie and Ronnie could do with some help form this guy. So I got in touch with Steve Peters and he agreed to meet me, we went up to his house. I think I spent about an hour with him for the first session and after about 10 or 15 minutes I thought ‘this geezer’s different’ and he grabbed my attention. I thought ‘I want to see what this guy’s got to offer.’ So, I did what he said for a year or two years. I really studied hard on the model, tried to get my emotions under check which I did and I had become a different player. So in the same way that Ray changed me, Steve changed me in my mental approach. So by then, I probably felt I’d got to…I’d covered all my weaknesses if you like.

RONNIE ON REDUCING HIS SCHEDULE

I think it backfired on me this year because in previous years when I did play I either won the event or at least got to the finals. So, I was getting a lot of ranking points and that was keeping me up the rankings – I got to number one towards the end of last year, that’s with playing half the tournaments some of the other players were playing. But, you need to win tournaments to do that and this year I haven’t. I’ve made finals, played two semis, made two quarters, two last-16s. So, it hasn’t been a bad season but I haven’t played enough and obviously I’ve struggled – I think I was about 18 on the one-year list. So, next year I think I won’t practice and I’ll just play probably every tournament and use that as my practice. So, when I come home I don’t play, spend time at home and do some of my other bits and pieces that I enjoy to do, like a bit of property and stuff, because I don’t want to be a slave to the game. But then I think if I’m going to play 90 or 100 days a year, I might as well play 70 or 80 matches and just use the matches as my practice. And if you lose great you have a few days at home and just try out doing it differently and seeing what I get because last year was a disaster. And I was missing so many tournaments that when I did some back to play I felt like I was well off the pace and that isn’t a nice feeling either.

RONNIE ON RETIREMENT

I think I’ll give it one good crack maybe next year or the year after I might play some more and then by the time I’m 50 call it a day. At some point, I can’t go on forever. It would look stupid keeping playing and playing. I love doing the exhibitions and stuff like that but if I can get another four or five years out of my snooker career that’s great. Obviously I’d like to do the exhibitions but then look to do stuff away from snooker.

I can only recommend that you listen to the full podcast, instead of just reading the article, because there is a bit more to it than what’s written. It’s a very positive interview and Andy remarked that Ronnie seems to be in a good place mentally, whilst a lot of people struggle with the lockdown. Andy knows Ronnie very well; as children, they were going to the same school and became friends. Andy is a decent amateur snooker player himself. In a way, he’s the ideal interviewer for Ronnie, who trusts him, knowing that he won’t distort what he’s telling him in order to create “stories” that sell.

Here is part of the vodcast …

Ronnie will turn 45 in December, so that’s him planning to play for another five years. A lot can happen in five years…

Yesterday’s Crucible Gold was about Steve Davis.

Steve’s emotion after winning in 1981 remains endearing and infectious even after nearly forty years. The 1984 final finish is still tense and enthralling, as well. People who never saw Davis play as a young man may think that he was mainly a defensive player, but he actually was very positive in his shot selection, without being reckless. And when in 2011, he defeated John Higgins, the defending Champion, in the last 16, Steve was slower, but he was still going for his shots. I think the finish of that match, should have been included in this “Crucible Gold”.