Ronnie pays tribute to Andy Murray

After Andy Murray’s defeat at the Australian Open, after showing tremendous heart and determination on the court, many sportspersons reacted, showing admiration and support.

Ronnie was one of them

And this reported by BBC

Ronnie O’Sullivan praises Andy Murray after retirement plans

Amazing though how they always seem to find something negative to put forward … the first sentence isn’t about Ronnie’s praise of Andy Murray, it’s about him being “lazy”!

Well, personally, I think Ronnie was genuine in his praise, and Andy Murray deserves only respect and admiration for what he did on and off the court. I wish him the best, first and foremost to be able to enjoy his life without pain nor unbearable limitations.

As for Ronnie, he may indeed not be as ruthless as Steve Davis and Stephen Hendry were, but to me, it’s precisely because he’s a bit softer on himself that he is still competing at the highest level at 43 (and counting). Anyone who ever did endurance sports – hiking over several days for instance – will know that managing your efforts and resting your body and mind at the right times is key to achieving the goal eventually.

Ronnie: an interview and revisiting the Masters

The Masters 2019 is upon us, it starts on Sunday, and inevitably Ronnie is in the news. He’s won this tournament a record  seven times, over the last fifteen years, he’s made it to 9 finals, in fourteen participation and won it six times. So it’s no wonder that the press will want to speak to him in the build-up.

And now of course, having won the UK championship for the seventh time before Christmas, bringing his number of “Triple Crowns” to nineteen and having superseded Stephen Hendry’s tally in the process, he’s largely recognised as the greatest.

So here is an interview with de Daily Mail

‘I don’t think any player has ever got the better of me’: Ronnie O’Sullivan on being the best in the world, why he can play until he is 55, and his next trick

  • Ronnie O’Sullivan has had ‘no better feeling’ than being at the top of his game
  • The five-time world champion tells Sportsmail why he is so consistent
  • He has considered taking up hobbies including go-karting and Nordic skiing  
  • O’Sullivan will play Stuart Bingham in the first round of the Masters on Monday 

Ronnie O’Sullivan is usually his own harshest critic. But the tortured king of snooker seems less tormented nowadays, with the pursuit of perfection not as painful as it was.

It is refreshing to hear O’Sullivan, 43, who is normally quicker to praise his contemporaries, speak about those moments when he is at the top of his game.

‘It’s fantastic! There is no better feeling,’ he says. ‘I feel like I have an answer for anything that my opponent might bring to the table — whether that’s good safety, or good break-building, or good potting.

Ronnie O'Sullivan believes there is no better feeling than being at the top of his game

Ronnie O’Sullivan believes there is no better feeling than being at the top of his game

 

O'Sullivan has won five World Championships and seven UK Championships during his career

O’Sullivan has won five World Championships and seven UK Championships during his career

‘I just know that they have to continue doing what they’re good at to a very high level for a very long time to have a chance to beat me. And they might beat me. But I’ll be coming for you the next week.

‘And I’ll be coming for you the week after. So keep bringing your A game. At the end of their career most players will say, “Well, I didn’t really get the better of Ronnie”. And that’s all you can do as a sportsman.’

At 17, O’Sullivan saw off Stephen Hendry to win the 1993 UK Championship, thanks to sublime talent and an infectious personality, and has dominated snooker for more than 25 years.

‘I’ve had to play different eras and players. Some players will come along for five years and everyone will be saying, “Oh they’re going to be great”. And then I’ll have to deal with them.

‘And then it will be another batch and then I’d have five years of them. And then another batch of players. Because they can’t sustain it. They can’t sustain it for 25 years.

‘I don’t think there’s any pro who has ever played in my era who can honestly say that they got the better of me, really,’ he says nonchalantly between sips of lemon and ginger tea.

So how has he done it? ‘You have to reinvent yourself sometimes,’ he continues. ‘You have to look round and say, “There are players out there doing stuff better than I am”. I want to try to get that into my game.’

O'Sullivan spoke to Sportsmail about his lengthy career and his success in the sport

O’Sullivan spoke to Sportsmail about his lengthy career and his success in the sport

 

Aged just 17, O’Sullivan defeated Stephen Hendry to win the 1993 UK Championship

Aged just 17, O’Sullivan defeated Stephen Hendry to win the 1993 UK Championship

O’Sullivan, who watched and learned as heroes such as Jimmy White, Steve Davis and Hendry became opponents, had a close eye on Mark Williams last year. Aged 43, the Welshman won his third World Championship in May, 15 years after his last Crucible victory.

Williams credited Steve Feeney’s SightRight stable with advances in his game and this was not lost on O’Sullivan, who joined the programme in July.

‘I noticed Mark had got more compact and that was a consequence of changing his alignment,’ says O’Sullivan. ‘I was always interested in someone who can compact everything that they can do. When I’m playing my best I feel compact and tight so I thought I would give it a go.

‘I knew I needed to do something. I didn’t want to carry on playing as I was last season.

‘It was like learning a new language. He gave me solidness, if you like. I’m not a better player. I don’t believe you can improve as a player. I think once you get to 21, 22 you’re as good as you’re ever going to be.

‘I’m just a different type of player. More consistent, if you like. Probably won’t have as many moments of brilliance because I won’t need to. I’ll just be solid — which is OK for me.’

O'Sullivan accepted that he was a solid player and that has helped him achieve success

O’Sullivan accepted that he was a solid player and that has helped him achieve success

 

O'Sullivan has won a record total of 19 titles in Triple Crown tournaments during his career

O’Sullivan has won a record total of 19 titles in Triple Crown tournaments during his career

O’Sullivan credits Ray Reardon with improving his safety game, and his union with psychiatrist Steve Peters helped challenge his mental demons. Away from the table, nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert changed his attitude to food, and artist Damien Hirst is a regular in his dressing room.

‘I’m lucky, I’ve got some good friends,’ he says. ‘And some great people who have become friends. My friends are people who want nothing from me — even with Steve Peters.

‘He wants nothing from me other than to see me do well. I kind of gravitate to those people and keep them in my life. I’m lucky to have them around.’

O'Sullivan is a keen runner and has changed his approach to his diet to prolong his career 
O’Sullivan is a keen runner and has changed his approach to his diet to prolong his career

 

O'Sullivan beat Mark Allen to claim his seventh UK Championship victory in York in December 

O’Sullivan beat Mark Allen to claim his seventh UK Championship victory in York in December

The wild nights out are long gone in favour of quiet nights in. O’Sullivan, who has written three fiction books and has his own cookery book published in May, is reading about Genghis Khan and is a Netflix aficionado.

He still runs (‘I can do a Parkrun — three miles — in about 20 minutes, which is all right, though it ain’t great.’)

But O’Sullivan, nimble of body and inquisitive of mind, is looking for new pastimes.

‘I’m going to go into karting,’ he says. ‘I’ve got my first testing after the Masters. They do four five-hour races. Three drivers.

‘You do the pole position — all that sort of thing. You start at eight in the morning and finish at five at night. So I thought, yeah that’ll do me. Once a month, something like that.

‘I want to start Nordic skiing as well. Cross-country skiing. I’ve always fancied that because it’s like running. I’ve got that running background. It doesn’t look like there’s much skill involved. I’m always looking for something to do.’

The West Midlands-born cueman has thought about taking up go-karting and Nordic skiing 
The West Midlands-born cueman has thought about taking up go-karting and Nordic skiing

 

He insists that he does not prepare for tournaments or opponents in a specific manner
He insists that he does not prepare for tournaments or opponents in a specific manner

O’Sullivan won the UK Championship last month, becoming the first player to win 19 Triple Crown events, overtaking Hendry in the process.

With the Masters — a tournament he has won seven times with three victories in the past five years — starting on Sunday, O’Sullivan faces 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham in the first round on Monday. How has he been preparing?

‘I don’t actually prepare for one tournament in a certain way. I just kind of play,’ he says.

‘I’m a bit like a boxer who is fit all year round. I wouldn’t be like a Ricky Hatton where I finish a fight and then don’t go near a gym for two months. I’d be back in the gym, training. That’s how I live my life as a snooker player.’

As his career progresses, O'Sullivan has taken on more commentary and analysis roles

As his career progresses, O’Sullivan has taken on more commentary and analysis roles

 

O'Sullivan's first match at the Masters will be against 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham 

O’Sullivan’s first match at the Masters will be against 2015 world champion Stuart Bingham

O’Sullivan will be analysing his competitors for Eurosport during the competition. He provides sharp insight and has learned a thing or two.

‘I’ve had to commentate on nine frames in a match,’ he says. ‘Wow! So you get to see a different game when you’re commentating from when you’re playing.’

And although he believes that his form over the past six or seven years has been something near his best, how long can he go on?

‘Whatever sport or business you’re in, you’re always looking around at your competitors,’ he says. ‘Is anyone doing anything better than you and can you learn from them? I don’t really see anybody tearing it up, really.

‘It’s kind of giving me a little more belief that I can play a bit longer than I thought I could. I think 50 would be the minimum. Competing and still winning tournaments.

‘Unless some really good players come up through the ranks, I could maybe go on until 55. So who knows? I’m never satisfied, I just want to be as good as I can be, if that makes sense.’

Ronnie has also been on twitter, yesterday and the day before for the first time this year. He’s considering doing some podcasts and pointed his fans to this video by Eurosport UK, recollecting some of his most remarkable moments at the Masters.

Looking forward to kicking off 2019 at the Masters next week 😃

Snooker is for all, from babies to grannies

Whilst action continued in Barnsley this week for the German Masters qualifiers (two rounds), Ronnie met fans and signed books yesterday in Bluewater.

It was covered by the local press 

Snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan delights one of his oldest fans at Bluewater – Sheila Ulph from Chatham

By Lynn Cox

Five-time snooker world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan delighted fans young and old when he popped into Bluewater.

The top sportsman was at the WHSmith store signing copies of his newest book, Soho Nights thriller, The Break.

Pensioner Sheila Ulph who is from Chatham, is probably Kent’s oldest Ronnie fan.

Mrs Ulph, 91, got a signed card from him because by time she got there yesterday, all his books had sold out.

She was delighted as her daughters had not told her they were taking her to meet him.

Mrs Ulph said: “As far back as I can remember watching snooker with my husband (I have been a fan).

“I didn’t know I was going to meet him – it was a total surprise from my two daughters.

Sheila with the card signed by the snooker champion
Sheila with the card signed by the snooker champion

“My grandson met him before and got his book but I was too late to get the book, but we will buy one.”

However, she said he would treasure the signed Christmas card she had received from him.

Her daughters say their mum has also turned down days out with them and opted to stay in to watch Ronnie play in matches and finals.

“She also put bets on him winning whenever he played.

Ronnie O'Sullivan was at Bluewater meeting fans and signing his book
Ronnie O’Sullivan was at Bluewater meeting fans and signing his book
Ronnie signed a Christmas card for Shelia (6117463)
Ronnie signed a Christmas card for Shelia 
Ronnie O'Sullivan also met a young fan at the book signing
Ronnie O’Sullivan also met a young fan at the book signing

Mrs Ulph added:”Every time I saw him whether he won or lost, it was good.

“Just watching him is enough for me, he’s absolutely superb.”

Hundreds of people went along to meet the sportsman turned author including a young baby which he held and posted for photos with.

His book explores the gangland world of ’90s Soho.

Set in 1997, when Cool Britannia’s in full swing and Oasis and Blur are top of the pops and it feels like the whole country’s sorted out for E’s and wizz.

But it’s not just UK that’s on a high, life’s looking up for Frankie James too – the main character in the book. Frankie’s paid off his debts to London’s fierce gang lord, Tommy Riley.

His Soho open snooker tournament is about to kick off at his club.

Ronnie O'Sullivan was at Bluewater meeting fans and signing his book
Ronnie O’Sullivan was at Bluewater meeting fans and signing his book

The future looks bright, but then Frankie finds himself being blackmailed by a face from his past.

They want him to steal something worth millions and it is enough to get him killed or banged up for life.

Frankie’s going to need every ounce of luck and guile that he’s got if he’s going to pull off the heist of the century and get out of this in one piece.

The Break is the third, fast-paced Soho Nights thriller, written by O’Sullivan.

Since turning professional in 1992, he has clocked up number of awards and trophies, including the UK Championship, the China Open, the Regal Championships, the Benson and Hedges Masters and the British Open.

In January 2000 O’Sullivan won the Nations Cup for England, boasting the best record of any player, 13 wins from 15 frames played.

In 2016 he turned his hand to fiction, publishing his debut novel Framed.

The last part of the article is just a cut and paste from the “trailer” on Amazon and what they chose to “highlight” regarding Ronnie’s record just baffles me … but there you have it. Whoever wrote this trailer probably isn’t a snooker fan.

This was my own review of the book.

As for the German Masters qualifiers, I’ll cover the first round outcome tomorrow.

No #SPOTYforRonnie

Once again snooker has only got minimal coverage in the SPOTY show and neither Ronnie nor Mark Williams have been considered.

Here is Desmond Kane take of it. Desmond is writing for Eurosport

Feature – Ronnie O’Sullivan SPOTY snub reeks of ignorance, snobbery and borders on national disgrace

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s latest snub for the BBC Sports Personality of the year award is a total farce that is either genuine ignorance or a weird old case of class snobbery, writes Desmond Kane

And so the incurable malady of the Sports Personality ceremony lingers on.

The disgraceful decision to again ignore Ronnie O’Sullivan, snooker’s greatest player of all time, from SPOTY, hit a worst note than David Baddiel trying to sing Three Lions at the smug, self-satisfied annual jamboree.

The decision-making to somehow omit O’Sullivan from the shortlist is as much of a waste of space as filling Birmingham’s Genting Arena with 15,000 to celebrate a closed shop. This is an event that completely lost its sense of decorum a long time ago. Probably when blokes like Harry Carpenter and big Frank Bruno were putting golf balls around the old BBC TV Centre back in the 1980s.

SPOTY is no longer for the people who watch sport, but soiled by people who think they know what the public like or want. Who think they know better than the great viewing public.

VIDEO – ‘Absolutely ridiculous!’ – Allen slams Ronnie’s SPOTY snub

00:44

It has as much credibility as the haggard Brexit diatribe “the will of the people” by disconnected eccentrics who have completely lost any sense of what the public actually want or like.

“What has anybody done in British sport done that Ronnie hasn’t done,” said an animated Mark Allen after his 9-7 win over Shaun Murphy in the Scottish Open final in Glasgow.

“It is absolutely ridiculous that he gets overlooked time and time again.”

O’Sullivan was priced at 14-1 for the top award last night behind only Tottenham and England forward Harry Kane, and it must be said a deserving winner in Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas.

Even when the six names were trotted out by host Gary Lineker, who weirdly invited them to trudge onto the stage if they heard their name like some sort of sixth form teacher, O’Sullivan was still ahead of Lizzy Yarnold and James Anderson in the betting.

But how can he win if he isn’t allowed a place on the shortlist?

VIDEO – O’Sullivan lifts seventh UK Championship

01:06

Like him or loathe him, at the ripe young age of 43, O’Sullivan has personality, longevity and continues to be a magnificent champion at a stage of his career when other players are reaching for the horlicks.

The latest judging panel who opted against O’Sullivan for the final list of six nominees for the top award are guilty of failing to properly appreciate one of this country’s most talented sports people of all time.

Since he turned professional in 1992, O’Sullivan has astonishingly never been nominated. Yet on he goes, continuing to not only compete with age, but actually improve with 19 major events carried off from the sport.

He has enjoyed a wonderful time in 2018, finishing the year with a record seventh UK title while winning the World Grand Prix, the Players Championship, the Shanghai Masters and the Champion of Champions amid a smorgasbord of runs to the latter stages of events.

If he cannot make it onto the shortlist, you can well and truly forget the biggest snooker story of the year: the rejuvenated world champion Mark Williams winning a third world title at the age of 43, 15 years after his second gong at the Crucible. This miracle on the Sheffield mound occurred a year after the Welshman was thinking of retiring for failing to qualify for the tournament.

How can such world-class individuals be overlooked when they have spades of personality, charisma, dedication and a winning mentality?

VIDEO – When Mark Williams went NAKED to celebrate his world title – Eurosport Advent Calendar

01:43

Snooker is a game that was huge in the 1980s when it was transported from darkened spaces in working men’s clubs to mainstream TV.

It made icons of men like Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins, Steve Davis and Jimmy ‘The Whirlwind’ White, but it is interesting that snooker has been treated with more disdain at a time when standards have never been higher. At a time when the standard-bearer is an English bloke who performs such a tough, unremitting game like he is potting pool balls down the pub.

O’Sullivan brings a spiritual element to snooker that has never been seen before and is perhaps unlikely to be witnessed again. O’Sullivan has made it more of an art form than a game. Van Gogh of the green baize. Quite possibly.

Well, the working class roots of snooker are obviously sneered at, and a general ignorance about the talent levels involved in the game make a mockery of the SPOTY panel of judges. Once again.

The SPOTY judging panel have made a barmier call than the trio who thought Deontay Wilder drew with Tyson Fury in their heavyweight contest last weekend.

Like O’Sullivan, Fury does not fit into the politically correct crew who put false, manufactured persona above proper working class heroes.

Like O’Sullivan, he has suffered from a cliquish interpretation of what the man or woman in the street likes.

SPOTY will continue to be run by a cabal of misguided snobs, but it completely lacks any credibility when it decides to omit great personalities for being great. And more importantly, for being true to themselves.

Follow the link above to watch the actual videos.

Desmond’s article only expresses the sentiments that countless others shared on social media yesterday evening.

#SPOTYforRonnie – The Guardian’s view

This is the take of  “The Guardian” writers on the coming SPOTY

BBC Sports Personality of the Year: who should win five top awards?

Our writers offer their choices for the highest honours at the prestigious ceremony, from Ronnie O’Sullivan to Tracey Neville

Alastair Cook. Ronnie O’Sullivan, Tracey Neville, Ester Ledecka and the England football team all caught our scribes’ eyes.
Alastair Cook. Ronnie O’Sullivan, Tracey Neville, Ester Ledecka and the England football team all caught our scribes’ eyes. Composite: Tom Jenkins, PA and Getty Images

Main award: Ronnie O’Sullivan by Andy Bull

Ronnie O’Sullivan has been winning for 25 years now: five world championships, seven Masters and seven UK titles, the latest of them this month. His 19th major victory means he has overtaken Stephen Hendry and become the most successful player in snooker history.

Hendry had already reconciled himself to it. “Ronnie is the best player I’ve ever seen,” Hendry has said. And in all that time, O’Sullivan has never even been nominated for Spoty. Which suits him just fine. “I’m so happy I don’t get nominated,” he has said. “Standing around at some gathering – it’s not my scene.” Which is true, Spoty is a lot of nonsense, but it is also the sort of thing you might say when you have been snubbed 25 times.

O’Sullivan is the rare sort of genius you can actually relate to, one who is always carping about his job, his workplace and his boss. Just like us. And if he lost the popular vote in Crawley when he said their venue “smells of urine”, anyone who has spent any time in an average English leisure centre might suspect there was a grain of truth to it, too. O’Sullivan has always been pretty honest about how hard he finds life, his mental illness, his drink and his drug problems. And unlike some of the other nominees, he is not boring, he is not bigoted, and he is happy to pay his taxes. He is slogging through life just like the rest of us, doing the best he can, it’s just his best is that much better than everyone else’s.

Greatest sporting moment: Cook’s farewell century by Ali Martin

Ian Botham was often asked who wrote his scripts. But for one sunny September day in south London the great all-rounder’s playwright was seemingly seconded to Alastair Cook who, having stated the fifth Test against India at the Oval would be his last in the whites of England, signed off from the stage with a 33rd and final century.

At 33, Cook was calling time because of miles on the clock rather than age. He felt the extra drive that was required at the top level was missing and, in a summer dominated by the bowlers, a double-century against Australia the previous winter was starting to become an outlier. But, freed from any pressure or doubts, an innings of sweet timing followed, and not just by way of willow on leather.

By the time Cook walked off there were 147 runs to his name – bookending a record-breaking England career that had begun 12 years earlier with a century on his debut in Nagpur – and a capacity crowd that included his heavily pregnant wife, Alice, and two young children was rising for its umpteenth ovation. As the slightly embarrassed opener noted at the close: “Sometimes dreams do come true.”

World sports star: Ester Ledecka by Sean Ingle

A robust case can be made for all four world star of the year nominees. Francesco Molinari won the Open and took a maximum five out of five points at the Ryder Cup. Oleksandr Usyk became the undisputed world cruiserweight champion. And the incredible Simone Biles was the first gymnast in 30 years to win a medal in all six women’s events at the same world championships, a feat made all the more remarkable given she had a kidney stone 24 hours before her first discipline.

Yet what Ester Ledecka achieved in Pyeongchang was arguably even more mindblowing. Not only did the 23-year-old Czech become the first athlete in history to compete in skiing and snowboarding at the Winter Olympics – she also shocked the world by taking gold in both events. No one gave Ledecka a hope in the women’s Super-G skiing final, given she is primarily a snowboarder, was racing on skis rejected by the US superstar Mikaela Shiffrin and had been in severe pain beforehand. In fact, her victory was so unexpected that NBC declared Austria’s Anna Veith the winner before Ledecka came through to win by 0.01sec.

A few days later Ledecka crushed her rivals in the snowboard parallel giant slalom, a head-to-head in a series of knockout races, to make history. Her snowboarding coach, Justin Reiter, reckons Ledecka – who is also a brilliant windsurfer – is “one of the greatest living athletes”. Who are we to dare argue?

Gareth Southgate
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Gareth Southgate after England’s victory against Sweden in the quarter-finals of the World Cup. Photograph: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Team of the year: England’s footballers by Paul MacInnes

On the one hand it is too obvious. Men’s football dominates the sporting landscape in this country and sometimes the social and cultural equivalents, too. This England team do not need any more attention than they already have and – you know what? – they did not win anything either. But on the other, there is really no choice: Gareth Southgate’s side delivered the most significant performance of any British team this year. The World Cup is the biggest sporting event on the planet for a number of reasons and one of those is that competing (and even noncompeting) countries invest so much of themselves into it. A good performance lifts a nation, a bad one sends it spinning into introspection.

England’s underperformance at international level had become a psychodrama; their defeat at Euro 2016 by Iceland four days after the Brexit vote a national metaphor. To throw all that off as England did was a seismic feat. To go further: to play modern, intelligent football, to do so with camaraderie and a smile, was not so much a pleasant surprise as a delicious shock.

England (the nation) revelled in it, it made people happy. What more can you ask for from a sporting team than that? And a semi-final place was not bad either.

Coach of the year: Tracey Neville by Anna Kessel

How many people can say they changed their sport forever? Tracey Neville’s England netball win did just that. Beating Australia, the best in the world, in their own backyard to clinch Commonwealth gold. Only Australia and New Zealand had ever made the final before. Neville’s team changed English sporting history and broke a global hegemony.

She did it with coaching prowess, bringing Helen Housby – who scored the winner in the final seconds of the game – into the England squad, making the inspirational Ama Agbeze captain, and squeezing every ounce of professionalism out of semi‑professional players.

The victory gave netball an iconic moment. That glorious photo of the Red Roses piled into a happy heap – Housby’s blue tongue and delirious expression – was plastered across front pages. Its power moved mountains: bringing in TV deals, a glossy Nike campaign and 130,000 more players.

In victory, Neville lifted her own profile, a very rare thing for a female coach. The media attention suits her. She is laugh-out-loud funny, down to earth and hugely likable. A women’s sport and a female coach outshining male competitors? That truly is a new world order.

#SPOTYforRonnie

Snooker personality of the year is upon us and Eurosport, amongst others, have been starting a social media campaign to get Ronnie in it. 2019 has indeed been remarkable year for Ronnie, who won five titles in the course of it, the last being his records breaking seventh UK Championship only a week ago.  It uses the hashtag #SPOTYforRonnie

Here they tell you why Ronnie deserves to be nominated for SPOTY

There is of course also a case for Mark Williams as well, after his extraordinary win at the Crucible last May, not forgetting the press conference and  celebrations that follow.

But in terms on “recognizability” by average Joe, Ronnie is by far the most marketable figure in snooker, and the one more likely to attract votes even from those who follow our sport only casually.

The recognition is long overdue and Hector Nunns on twitter reminded us why. This article is already four years old but still very much “up-to-date”.

ANOTHER BBC SPOTY SHORTLIST WITHOUT O’SULLIVAN

ANOTHER BBC SPOTY SHORTLIST WITHOUT O'SULLIVAN

RONNIE O’Sullivan may or may not have deserved to make the shortlist for this particular year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year Show, but the annual programme celebrating the sporting year this Sunday will be another reminder that he has never even been nominated and put forward to the public vote.

This year O’Sullivan has won the Masters, the Welsh Open making a 12th and all-time record 147 maximum break to win it, the Champion of Champions and the UK Championship in one of the best finals of recent years, chucking in another 147 in the event. And all done with the usual panache and style that has even fellow pros purring, drawing in TV viewers in the millions.

Let’s be generous to this year’s much-changed BBC panel and note some of those achievements occurred after the shortlist was announced, and also that he fell short in the big one, the World Championship final at the Crucible, losing 18-14 to Mark Selby in a match which he unusually let slip. If you believe that a world title should be some kind of pre-requisite to be nominated then there is at least a reason this year, although that is a decent campaign by most normal standards.

However the BBC have now given themselves a serious problem over O’Sullivan and wider sporting recognition for him on SPOTY – and it stems purely and simply from bewildering past oversights, and from not nominating him when they should have.

If not earlier, they should have had him on the shortlist in 2012, when his career was all but saved by sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters, and O’Sullivan went from being 4-0 down in the first round in January at the German Masters to beating Andrew Higginson, winning his first ranking title for two and a half years in Berlin, and then winning a fourth world title and a first for four years.

And even more unforgivably, he should have been on the shortlist last year, incredibly waltzing to a fifth world title after finally doing what he had threatened for years and taking almost an entire season away from the game to recharge the batteries.

Having not taken these opportunities to give O’Sullivan the chance of at least a public vote for the recognition, either a) he never will be; b) the pressure reaches such a level he might get nominated in a year he shouldn’t be to make up for it; or hopefully c) he does win another world title, by no means guaranteed, and the chance is finally and belatedly taken to push his claims.

In recent casual conversations with sports editors they have expressed amazement that O’Sullivan has never been on the shortlist, since he transcends his own sport in the way great sportsmen do. And yet it is some of their colleagues who have in the past been in part responsible, making up the numbers on the panel who decides – alongside BBC senior management, and a selection of the great and the good of British sport.

There just seems to be a snobbery that persists about snooker, and a bias, agenda, call it what you like towards other sports. There is simply no other rational explanation as to why O’Sullivan has never been on the shortlist. This can’t be levelled at the public – they aren’t even getting the chance to vote – so it is the panel. A public vote would in my view in the years mentioned above have resulted in something akin to darts legend Phil Taylor’s second place in 2010.

Steve Davis, working for the BBC at the recent UK Championship, stated as diplomatically as he was able that O’Sullivan there was “more emphasis on sports where you sweat”, in fairness probably as far as he could go before in all likelihood earning some kind of rebuke from his employers. Davis, of course, finished in the top three five times in the 1980s in the days of a free vote.

His BBC co-presenter and commentator Stephen Hendry was stronger after last year’s baffling omission, raising the snobbery concern. O’Sullivan himself is pretty philosophical when asked about it, just accepting that he and his sport are not the cups of tea of those doing the judging.

In fairness there was a time in his career when O’Sullivan probably didn’t help himself, with the regular talk of retirement and hating his own sport – but the work with Peters has seen almost all of that disappear since 2011. And there is a valid reason he is called a genius to the point of monotony. That he is a genius.

The bottom line is that O’Sullivan would be far more recognised – and for good reason – than many of those shortlisted this or last year. He would be more recognised than most footballers. Probably six of this year’s crop could happily go down the street without being spotted. Fame isn’t everything, but O’Sullivan is widely known for his supreme talent and honours on the table and a certain notoriety, fascination and intrigue off it.

Personality, let’s call it. Let’s see if anything changes if he can equal Davis’s world title tally in Sheffield.

 

Photograph by Monique Limbos

It still valid, every word of it.

There were also plenty of players supporting the idea on social media. Such recognition would benefit snooker as  a sport and all its exponents. Asked the question in Glasgow this week, Mark Allen’s answer was unequivocal.