I just finished reading “Unbreakable” , Ronnie’s latest book, and I loved it.
I wasn’t sure what to expect TBH. I was afraid that there would be a lot in there that we, the fans who followed Ronnie’s career for years, already know. And, in a way there is, but the book still surprised me, agreeably.
In fact, this is not a sequel to the two previous autobiographies, it’s not an autobiography at all actually. It will not take you through what happened to Ronnie over the last ten years, nor will it it tell you what he won during the last decade, when or who he beat. It’s not that kind of book at all.
The book has 13 chapters, not counting the prologue and epilogue. Each chapter has a distinctive theme and, actually, you can read them independently, in no particular order. Each is about one subject that is important to Ronnie, as a person and or as a snooker player. I each, Ronnie reflects – in a very personal way – on why and how this particular theme is important to him, how it has impacted his life and changed him as a person. Here are some of the themes he reflects on: The Crucible (the venue, no the event), Snooker and his love for it, Being a child prodigy, Practice, his “Lost Years”, Accepting his addictions, Anxiety, what it takes to be a Winner, Family, Relationship with his children (with regrets and pride), his first and his latest World Championships …
It’s a – at times emotional – narration/reflection written at the first person. It’s easy to read and, at the same time, I often found myself thinking “Wait … I may want to read this again, tomorrow”. It’s a habit of mine, a few hours after reading something, to try and gather/structure my thoughts about what I did read and if I find it difficult, it’s usually a sign that I didn’t fully “absorb” all the layers of the story or message.
The part about the 2022 World final really touched me. A friend of mine, who is a psychologist, told me this right after Ronnie’s 2022 World Championship win: “Now we can’t ask anything more from Ronnie.”. And that’s exactly how Ronnie felt as well in that moment: that he had given it absolutely everything he had in him and that he didn’t feel able to do it ever again.
The book is dedicated to Laila, but if you hope to read anything about their relationship or their private life … you won’t find it in there.
A few day ago, this was shared on TikTok.
And it’s exactly what you’d expect from the man who wrote that book … an ordinary bloke, both blessed and cursed with an exceptional talent that made him a star… a star who just wants to enjoy an ordinary life and simple pleasures.
“Unbreakable”, Ronnie’s latest autobiography, is officially out since yesterday, there was a lot of promotional work going on with interviews and radio shows, notably on BBC sport, TalkSPORT and Virgin radio.
Excerpts of these interviews are available on YouTube:
One thing Ronnie said in those interviews is that, in the coming season, his priority will be on the Asian events and that he might skip UK events in order to keep himself fresh for the “outside UK ” events.
Ronnie himself did a bit of promotion on social media… suggesting that, even if you don’t like like, the book could be useful to you in different ways …
… as a sleep inducer, a coaster or even a door blocker…
‘RONNIE O’SULLIVAN IS ONE OF TOP THREE GREATEST SPORTSMEN ALIVE’ – STEPHEN FRY PAYS ULTIMATE TRIBUTE TO SNOOKER GOAT
Stephen Fry has paid a glowing tribute to seven-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan in reviewing his latest autobiography ‘Unbreakable’. The respected author, actor, comedian and broadcaster feels O’Sullivan is as talented as 15-time major golf champion Tiger Woods and 20-time Grand Slam tennis winner Roger Federer. “A GOAT in the same triumvirate as Tiger Woods and Roger Federer,” said Fry.
Ronnie O’Sullivan is one of the three greatest living sportsmen in the world alongside Tiger Woods and Roger Federer, according to celebrated author, actor and broadcaster Stephen Fry.
Ardent snooker fan Fry made the comments in reviewing O’Sullivan’s latest autobiography Unbreakable which studies “the personal challenges and obstacles” the Essex icon has faced to make it to the summit of his sport.
The world No. 1 has won 39 major ranking titles, a record-equalling seven world titles, seven Masters, compiled a record 1,202 century breaks and produced an unsurpassed 15 147 breaks since turning professional in 1992.
He also holds the world record for the fastest 147 of all time after clearing the table in an astonishing five minutes and eight seconds during his 1997 World Championship match against Mick Price. at the Crucible Theatre.
“Reading this is like watching an O’Sullivan break: hypnotic, dazzling and impossible to tear yourself away from,” said Fry. “When will the world fully realise that Ronnie O’Sullivan is one of the top three greatest sportsmen alive, a GOAT in the same triumvirate as Tiger Woods and Roger Federer?
“This utterly compelling, surprising and beautifully put together book shows us that there is so much more to him than outrageous natural talent. He is as fascinating a human as he is a player. A fabulous read.”
Fry has always been a devoted and vocal O’Sullivan supporter throughout his gilded career and was quick to heap praise on his fellow Englishman after he recorded his landmark 1,000th century break during a 10-4 win over Neil Robertson in the 2019 Players Championship final.
“Ronnie, you’ve done it, a thousand centuries, it’s extraordinary,” he said. “How many more is it than I’ve made? It’s a thousand more than even I have made, it’s an incredible achievement. No one ever thought it would be possible, a millennium of centuries. You’re the millennial man, Ronnie.
“I know you must get tired of hearing this, Mozart, genius at work and all that, probably bores you rigid, but I wish you knew, perhaps you do, just how much pleasure you’ve given to millions of us who adore snooker, and who find watching you play one of the most thrilling sights in all of sport.
“It’s been a privilege to be alive at the same time as you, Ronnie, it’s a wonderful thing. So thank you, as well as congratulations.”
If you hang around older snooker players “Patsy Houlihan” is a name that will pop into the conversation sooner than later. He is mentioned in Jimmy White’s and Steve Davis’ biographies. They will tell you that he was probably the most gifted player they ever watched or played.
Luke G Williams became fascinated with this character, put a lot of energy and work into researching archives, documents and interviewing contemporaries. The result is a book.
Luke G. Williams explains what drew him to spend more than two decades researching the life and times of a snooker subculture legend…
Until I read Jimmy White’s autobiography in 1998, I’d never heard of Patsy Houlihan.
When I read that White regarded him as one of the greatest snooker players he’d ever seen, my curiosity to find out more about Houlihan soon became an obsession, which in turn became an unwavering determination to bring his remarkable life to wider attention.
My quest finally ended last month, when my book ‘The Natural: The Story of Patsy Houlihan, The Greatest Snooker Player You Never Saw’ was published.
As ‘The Natural’ hits bookshelves, it is 45 years since Houlihan’s sole appearance at The Crucible. In the 1978 world championship he beat Chris Ross and JIm Meadowcroft in qualifying to seal a place in the last-16 in Sheffield against Cliff Thorburn. Houlihan succumbed 13-8, but not before he had shown glimpses of his formidable talents with a string of fluent breaks.
“Boy, was [Patsy] a smooth player,” is Thorburn’s recollection. “I had to be very careful against Patsy because if the balls were open he could get to you. A very dangerous player.” Truth be told, Houlihan – then 48 – was already in decline, fading eyesight and issues with recurrent conjunctivitis having blunted his considerable powers.
Patrick William Houlihan was born on 7 November 1929 in Deptford, south-east London and died 77 years and one day later, having spent his entire existence living within a small radius of the place of his birth.
“Deptford was everything to him,” Houlihan’s daughter Patsy Girl told me, and in old-school pubs and snooker halls south of the river, his name is still spoken of in awed tones. Comedian Simon Day recalled: “What a legend Patsy was. He was like the Sasquatch – rarely seen but older snooker hall lags would always say [when they saw someone else play]: ‘he couldn’t beat Patsy!’”
Although his pro career from 1971 until 1993 was modest, Houlihan’s record as an amateur was sensational – comprising seven London titles, the first back in 1954, as well as the coveted English Amateur Championship in 1965.
In that English Amateur triumph, Houlihan thrashed future world professional champion Spencer 11-3 in the final at the Blackpool Tower Circus in front of 1,750 spectators, having already disposed of world amateur champion Gary Owen and future six-time world professional champion Ray Reardon.
Houlihan’s 6-5 victory against Reardon – after trailing 5-1 – was arguably the greatest amateur match ever played. “As we shook hands, Ray said I ought to be locked up,” Houlihan later chuckled. “As he was a policeman then, I thought that was rather good.”
Houlihan’s overall record in the English Amateur Championship was stellar – comprising 64 wins from 77 matches. His peak? Twelve months from mid-1964 until 1965 when he won 20 straight matches and five successive trophies – the London, Southern and English titles, plus the BA&CC ITV Television trophy and the Muswell Hill ‘Green Man’ tournament.
Houlihan’s amateur record was compiled at a time when unpaid snooker possessed far more strength in depth than the stagnant professional ranks, with the likes of Cliff Wilson, Ron Gross and Marcus Owen battling Houlihan for supremacy.
Sadly, none of this richly talented generation were encouraged to turn pro at their peaks by then snooker tsar Joe Davis and the small band of other inward-looking professionals. In Houlihan’s case, Davis disapproved of Patsy’s penchant for hustling and playing for money, often in insalubrious snooker halls.
As former WPBSA chairman Rex Williams told me: “Joe was very particular who came into the professional ranks. He looked into your background and if [it] was even slightly shady there was no chance. [Patsy] applied and was turned down. He came from a very poor working-class background… That shouldn’t have been held against him, but it may have been.”
The truth was, hustling and money matches were the only way for a working-class lad like Houlihan to earn a living from snooker – and make a living he did. Indeed, such was his formidable reputation that he had to formulate innovative wagers to persuade people to risk playing him.
Six-time world champion Steve Davis recalled: “[Patsy would] play people and he wouldn’t be allowed to have the cue ball touch a cushion or whatever. People would think they would be able to beat him if he had that type of handicap but he was so skilful that he could still win.” At other times, Houlihan would play for money one-handed, left-handed, or even with the end of a broom rather than a cue.
Houlihan’s chances of turning pro were not aided by a criminal record acquired in 1966 when a spot of drunken high jinx saw him break into a warehouse with a couple of drinking buddies.
This misdemeanour, along with the Indo-Pakistani War, prevented him from participating in a delayed world amateur championship in 1966. It was also probably the reason why an application to turn professional in May 1969 was rejected; by then Spencer and Reardon had been welcomed into an expanded pro circuit but Houlihan was frozen out until 1971.
Heartbreakingly, no video of Houlihan in action has survived save for the briefest of snippets. As such an objective appraisal of his greatness is hard to formulate, although the testimonies of those who saw him play are instructive.
Jimmy White, who spent many hours playing with Houlihan and Tony Meo at the legendary Pot Black club in Vardens Road, Battersea in the 1970s, still rates him as the greatest – or among the greatest – cue men who ever lived.
“Some days Patsy struggled because he’d been drinking the night before or gambling or whatever, but when it all connected and he started performing, he was like no one else on earth,” White explained. “There are certain people in this world, certain sports people, like Floyd Mayweather in boxing or Tiger Woods in golf, like Ronnie O’Sullivan at times today, that when they hit their peak they just can’t be beat … Houlihan was like that.”
Another Houlihan advocate is Bill King, father of tour veteran Mark, who after decades in and around the snooker circuit remains unswerving in his view that Houlihan was “the best snooker player I’ve ever seen”.
Houlihan’s swiftness around the table was legendary and he is thought to be the first player to complete a century in less than four minutes. The man who now holds the record for the fastest televised century, Tony Drago, only saw Houlihan play when he was past his peak, nevertheless the Maltese flyer admits: “We played the same sort of game, Patsy and I, except he was probably even faster.”
Movingly, a common thread among those I spoke to about Houlihan was that he was a man whose generosity towards others, particularly young players, was considerable. Having missed out on success in the professional ranks, Houlihan had every reason to be bitter, but instead he chose kindness.
Example? Former pro Tony Meo customarily refuses interview requests these days, however he made an exception when it came to Patsy Houlihan, ringing the author and saying: “I’ve been approached to do all sorts of stuff about snooker in the 1980s … and I’m just not interested. But you’re doing something very good by writing about someone who was such a nice man, and that means more to me.
“It’s nice that Patsy Houlihan’s being remembered because he was a decent soul… What can I say? We loved him.”
‘The Natural: The Story of Patsy Houlihan, The Greatest Snooker Player You Never Saw’ is published by Pitch. Luke G. Williams has been a writer for more than 25 years and tweets @boxianajournal
Main image: Houlihan (right) with Welsh snooker talent Clifford Wilson outside Burroughes and Watt in London. (Seamus Phelan) Home page image: A publicity photo taken of Houlihan during his later years on the pro tour. (Patricia Houlihan)
I haven’t read the book … yet. But I will read it, definitely.
If you are interested, but not living in the UK, finding the book might be very difficult. It’s however available on Amazon. Now I’m NOT at all a fan of Amazon business model but sometimes, if you really want a book, you have no other choice. It’s available in kindle version as well.
Ronnie O’Sullivan: I no longer question my addiction
The snooker ace talks about finally finding balance and taking care of his mental health.
By Helen McGurk
After a life that’s proven almost as colourful away from the table as on it, Ronnie ‘The Rocket’ O’Sullivan, snooker genius and recovering addict, reckons he has found some balance.
“I’m less intense. I’ve not mellowed in that I’ve changed my personality, but I’ve learned to just not take myself too seriously. I’m much more philosophical,” says the seven times world champion.
At 47, he’s been at the top of his game for longer than many of his peers. Yet it wasn’t an easy start for the former ‘bad boy’ of snooker – given his family history (his father was jailed for murder when O’Sullivan was 16) and his battles with drugs, alcohol and depression.
He won his latest world title just last year – but was defeated by Luca Brecel in the quarter-final of this year’s World Championship at The Crucible, Sheffield – and has overcome periods of self-doubt, plus a year-long break from the game, only to come back stronger than ever.
His struggles with severe anxiety and ‘snooker depression’ are charted in his latest book, Unbreakable, which largely focuses on how he’s tackled his “mental wellbeing”.
These days, he runs, paints and sticks with people he considers to be true friends, far away from the celebrity circuit. He has a good relationship with both his parents, who are divorced (his father was released from prison in 2010 after serving 18 years), and has been with his partner, Holby City actress Laila Rouass, for a decade (although they briefly split last year).
“It’s good,” he says of their relationship, smiling. “She’s great. I love her. She’s great company and I love being around her. She’s very supportive. I have to behave myself – I know when to go, ‘Alright, you’re in charge’. But she’s also really good at going, ‘Listen, you’ve got a busy life, you’ve got a lot to do, just get on with it’.
“Now it feels a lot better – everyone’s just in a better place. I just want to see her and her daughter happy [Rouass has a teenage daughter from a previous relationship], and her family, who are like my family, happy.”
In the book, he says his worst times were between 1994-2000 and that rehab and running saved him, while the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Steps programme and a good sports psychiatrist have also helped.
“I went to AA and NA, I learned about addiction and struggled for about three or four years, because I just couldn’t accept that I was an addict,” he says today.
“Now I don’t question it, whereas before, I’d go out and try to drink sensibly and fail miserably. So now, I think, don’t even start. They say if you stand outside the barber’s long enough, eventually you’ll get a haircut. So I stay away from clubs, from people that drink. They’re not for me, because eventually that will be me.”
He uses a diary he’s kept for the last 10 years to help manage his anxiety, putting smiley, neutral or miserable faces against entries and then working out what triggers him – which is often taking on too much – and has developed a template to maintain his mental wellbeing.
“I’d rather just stay simmering with my work, which means I’m not at high intensity all the time, just ticking over.”
O’Sullivan has been described as “the most naturally gifted player ever”. He was potting balls from age seven, had scored his first century by 10, beating all in his wake before turning professional at 16.
He earned the nickname ‘The Rocket’ for his fast pace and still holds the record for the fastest maximum (147) of five minutes eight seconds. But the pressures of snooker and a disrupted family life came at a price.
O’Sullivan’s Sicilian mother Maria also spent time in jail for tax evasion, leaving him to look after his little sister Danielle. His father’s imprisonment had a huge effect on his life.
“That was the biggest thing that just ravaged me, mentally and emotionally, it just ruined me. I thought, that’s it, I’m never going to see him and we’re never going to have that relationship any more. It’s just two hours on a visit once a month and loads of phone calls. I just wanted him there.”
His misspent youth and problems with drugs, alcohol and depression – plus spells in rehab – have been well charted in his two previous autobiographies. Unbreakable focuses more on how he feels when he’s playing, and how he’s learned to take care of himself.
He says his relationship with his father – who currently lives in a campervan – since he came out of prison is great.
“At the start, everyone was just adjusting. You know, my dad’s an alpha male and he was like, ‘I’m back and I’m in charge’, but I was 36 , knew what I was doing and didn’t need to be told. Now he just backs off. We have a great relationship. I see him all the time.”
He largely credits his improved mental health to his mentor, sports psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters.
“I’ve learned everything from Steve Peters. He has given me the ability to work it out for myself now, to get on with it and not be afraid to confront stuff and know how to get on top of it.”
O’Sullivan admits in the book that he hasn’t been the best parent, doesn’t see his eldest child Taylor-Ann and hasn’t been a hands-on parent to his two other children, after his relationship with their mother broke down.
“Given the opportunity, I would have liked to have done loads more, but it got to a point where I thought it was best for everyone, for my sanity and their sanity, that as long as they’re healthy, they’re good, I’m going to play the long game. I’ll be here.”
His experiences have made him stronger, he insists, and he hopes he may forge a better relationship with them as they get older – he sees his younger two children at weekends and in the holidays, and they were at The Crucible in Sheffield last year to see him lift the World Championship trophy.
In some ways, he is looking forward to his snooker career coming to an end – he predicts he may continue for another couple of years, or longer – but while he’s still doing well, he won’t quit.
Now, though, he is able to separate his snooker life from his other interests, and the balance has helped him love the sport again.
“We still do the things we love, but we have a way of detaching ourselves from that for a certain amount of time to give ourselves a break and live life a bit – and then have the confidence that when I go back to it, it’s still going to be there,” he says.
“I hope people will go out and will start to listen to their instincts. At some point, it can be the simplest thing, whether it’s walking your dog, going for coffee with a friend, hanging out with certain people that make you feel good about yourself… sprinkling your life with little things that just feel good.”
Unbreakable by Ronnie O’Sullivan with Tom Fordyce is published by Seven Dials on May 11, priced £22.
Ronnie was on the “This morning” ITV show earlier today … cooking a curry.
I found this account in the press (the Mirror) with some pictures.
Ronnie O’Sullivan swapped his cue for a frying pan today during a live cooking segment on This Morning.
The world snooker champion proved he is a dab hand in the kitchen as well as on the green baize.
Ronnie rustled up a chicken curry for presenters Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes, who admitted it was a “surreal” experience.
The presenter confessed: “This is surreal. I’m loving talking to you. This king of the green baize and there he is standing in the kitchen and we’re talking cooking.”
Ronnie ‘The Rocket’ admitted he struggled with his weight as a child but had lost two stone after meeting a nutritionist and fallen in love with cooking.
Ronnie has released a new cook book, Top Of Your Game, which has Top Of Your Game, 70 recipes to cook for your best self.
Ruth did warn Ronnie to turn down the hob to make sure the food wouldn’t spit.
She also pointed out that he only uses one hand when cooking – and some viewers at home noticed as well.
The presenters tucked into Ronnie’s delicious meal, but Eamonn admitted the three of four person portion looked like two to him.
The Rocket revealed that he had weight problems in his childhood.
He explained: “I kind of always had a problem with my weight as a kid. I was a bit chubby and overweight and a lot of that had to do with being down the snooker club, a lot of fried food and that sort of stuff.
“Then obviously as I turned professional I realised to try and be the best I could be I tried to eat a bit healthy. I had awareness there was a good and bad side to eating. It just took over.
Then I got into running and that meant I could eat what I liked. I was slim. Then I got lots of injuries and couldn’t run so I piled on the weight. So I always had that fear as a kid I didn’t want to be too overweight.”
Well those who have seen him cooking with Rhiannon live on facebook will be able to reassure Ruth: he can and does use both hands when cooking. But then the Mirror wouldn’t be able make a story out of it 😉
Anyway, judge by yourself… here is the show!
MissingClip This Morning on ITV (17.05.2019.): from snooker pro to chef: Ronnie O’Sullivan
Just look at the recipes! You‘ll find our favourite stir fries, curries, pizzas and all sorts of food you may think are typically unhealthy. Far from being disastrous, these will quickly become your go-to meals, made with satisfying ingredients that won’t break the bank!