Farewell to a Queen

Queen Elisabeth II died peacefully in her Balmoral residence yesterday afternoon. She was 96 tears old. She was a queen before I was born … and I’m a grand mother. Immediately, all over the Internet, respects were paid, tributes were written, and pictures were shared. Most of those images showed her, smiling, wearing her crown with pride… the only one that was in my mind, was of her, petite, frail, all dressed in black, wearing a mask, alone, mourning her husband, the man she had loved since she was 13. Alone, following the rules while those who set those rules were partying in Downing street. Those were the same people who were now flooding social media with tributes. It angered me beyond words. It saddened me beyond words.

Of course, there were also many thousand of sincere tributes, notably from snooker players, including Ronnie.

Tributes and token of respect came from all over the world. The flags were taken at half mast in front of the European Commission building in Brussels. European countries expressed their solidarity with the UK people and shared their sorrow.

Rest in peace Elisabeth Windsor, Queen, mother, grand-mother, grand-grand-mother … a formidable woman in a male dominated world, a unifying force in a profoundly divided country, a beacon of dignity in the face of a deeply corrupted political class. I hope you are now reunited with your love.

Snooker players away from the baize…

Peter Devlin hasn’t really enjoyed much glory on the main tour so far, but was given a great opportunity to show … his showman side whilst helping WST to promote the coming English Open

Here is what he posted on his facebook page today:

Had a brilliant day as the guest at Milton Keynes Dons Stadium MK
Did a few interviews, and performed a rap live in front of just under 10,000 football fans. Standard 😂😂
Massive thanks to World Snooker Tour for giving me this opportunity to help promote the upcoming English Open, and the Snooker Tour in general 😁
Also met John Motson, and was a bit starstruck hearing his standout commentary voice in real life!

Asked by a friend if he enjoyed it, he replied:

(It) was awesome mate! I wish I could have that kind of confidence at snooker! Literally no nerves whatsoever doing that in front of thousands. But put a cue in my hand and different story 😂

Ronnie supports a terminally ill artist and is full of admiration for the positive way he deals with the situation

An award-winning artist is selling his work for charity after being diagnosed with brain cancer and given only months to live.

Antonio Russo from Bovingdon, AKA Stony, who went from being a street graffiti artist to winning global art prizes, is raising money for The Brain Tumour Charity.

The father-of-two, who was diagnosed in 2019, has been producing work with inspirational messages throughout his career and they have been bringing hope to people with cancer.

Snooker star and art lover Ronnie O’Sullivan has become a close friend after buying one of his canvasses.

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Antonio Russo

Mr O’Sullivan said: “He is a great friend to me. When I met him I thought ‘I really like this guy’ – he has a lovely way about him.

We stayed in, starting talking, eating and watching Formula 1.

Now I know his family – his daughter and son. We also come from neighbouring villages in Italy so we share that culture, so there was an Italian connection too.

I love his art. Antonio has his own unique way as an artist and I think it is fantastic.”

Ronnie O’Sullivan with Stony’s canvass

Mr Russo, 56, said: “I’ve been involved in art and music all my life and have been fortunate to travel the world and work with some amazing people.

I stay positive despite my diagnosis and it is fantastic that my work inspires people and helps them through tough times.

In January he was given six to nine months to live but has been on a clinical trial drug which he says he draws great strength from.

My cancer is terminal but I’m the biggest survivor in the world,” he added.

Artist Antonio Russo

Mr Russo continued: “Ronnie is a fantastic guy and a good buddy, and he’s also really knowledgeable about art.

I’ve got work in big galleries and have lots of high-profile clients but the most important thing for me is that my work touches people and helps them.

Mr Russo was born in Luton but moved to Sicily as a baby before returning with his family to the UK when he was 12.

He had been drawing and painting since he was three years old and was drawn to street art as a teenager.

Artwork by Stony

He added: “Graffiti was a way of expressing myself and I joined a community of street artists who were just dedicated to their art.

They were artists, not taggers who just went around painting their names or one design – I was always creative and colourful and it was about expressing myself through art.

Mr O’Sullivan said: “The illness is so bloody sad but he is so positive – he has a great spirit about him.

He never gives in – he always believes there is something better around the corner.



Ronnie at the races & Willo’s views

Last week-end Ronnie went to support the Venturi at the races in London.


He, and Nicolas Hamilton, were there as a ROKIT embassadors. Ronnie even had the honor/pleasure to take Toto Wolf’s seat in the safety car for the hot lap.

By all accounts, he totally enjoyed the experience.

He shared some images on his social media

And a short video of the hot lap

During the same week-end Mark Williams reacted to WST announcement that Ronnie has withdrawn from the 2021 British Open with this:

WilloreactionRosBritishOpen Withdrawal

It says it all about how the top players who started in the 90th, and are still at the top, feel about the current trends in snooker. It’s increasingly about shortening formats and being lucky. Making the sport more random will suit the bookies and excite the gamblers but not the true snooker fans. It will not help the sport in the long term, quite the opposite.

Even the young players with a brain see it: the excellent Davild Caulfield has been talking to Peter Devlin. Please do read the full interwiew, it’s very interesting.

This is only a very short excerpt with Peter’s quotes relevant to the above:

“I’ve seen the rankings and learned a lot about how it works this year in the rankings – consistency is not rewarded,” says the world number 114.

“The only reward is for deep runs in tournaments, and not all tournaments that you have deep runs in give you any reward. My goal is just to be lucky.”

“I know I’m good enough to have deep runs, but it just has to be the right tournament. Stuart Carrington got to the semi-final of Gibraltar, beating five top players on the way, and he won £6,000 for that.

“Then another player drew Anthony Hamilton in the UK Championship – Anthony had COVID – so the other guy got a walkover and got £6,500. What does that say?


When Ronnie gets scary … it turns nasty.

I stumbled upon this one… 

Anger as Ronnie O’Sullivan snooker scarecrow display trashed by vandals in Somerset village

The targeted attack has been branded “a disgusting act”

Ronnie O'Sullivan scarecrow display at Milborne Port
Ronnie O’Sullivan scarecrow display at Milborne Port

Residents of a Somerset village have been left horrified and disgusted after a life-size scarecrow of snooker sporting legend Ronnie O’Sullivan was vandalised in a front garden.

The rocket flames attached to the end of Ronnie’s cue were ripped off and vandals attempted to remove the scarecrow from the seat which he had been tied to.

The culprits then upturned a snooker table which had been placed beside the record-breaking snooker champ leaving the scene in disarray.

The annual scarecrow competition, run by the local community chose a sporting theme this year and were inundated with entries which now form an entertaining display in front gardens around the village.

However, mindless vandals went to several gardens overnight and trashed some of the displays leaving the owners angry.

Ronnie had been lovingly made by Milborne Port resident Mandy Chaffey along with the help of her husband Colin and 22-year-old son William who idolises the sporting hero (named The Rocket due to his style of playing).

Made in true Worzel Gummidge style, they spent hours stuffing pairs of tights with straw, making his outfit and laying out a snooker table display complete with coloured balls.

The scarecrow display was trashed by vandals

She said that as soon as the competition organisers told villagers the scarecrows had to follow a sporting theme there was no question who they were going to make.

“My son is snooker mad and loves “Rocket Ronnie” and it was a joint effort between the three of us,” she said.

“When we opened our door that morning the display had been attacked and they ripped off the rocket flames we had put on the end of his cue and threw it on the ground.

“They then tried to removed Ronnie from his chair, but he was tied too tightly and ended up just lying there in a dishevelled heap.

“They then pushed the table right over which had a set of snooker balls glued onto it, and it narrowly missed hitting my son’s car that was parked in the driveway.

“Whoever did this just didn’t think, and it was a disgusting act.

“This is a community competition which we all put a lot of effort into doing and they obviously just ‘don’t get it.

“They also targeted a tennis player scarecrow in somebody else’s front garden, ripping off its arm and stealing the ball.”

Ronnie O'Sullivan scarecrow display at Milborne Port
Ronnie O’Sullivan scarecrow display at Milborne Port

Mrs Chaffey said that the actions of the vandals would not destroy their spirit and said they had managed to patch Ronnie up and return him to his former glory, however his rocket flames remain missing.

“It is a wonderful thing to do for our village, just to see the joy on everyone’s faces when they see the scarecrows is fantastic, even the recycling men have a laugh at them,” she added.

🙃 😎  …

A bit of light stuff with Laila and Ronnie

Laila Rouass makes her return on UK television in the Holby City series and, of course, the media have been at it, but not in a bad way.

Laila and Ronnie have been on Sunday Kitchen last week-end … if you wondered why he wasn’t in the ES studio at the Shoot Out here is your answer…

‘When he winds me up’ Laila Rouass jibes at Ronnie O’Sullivan on Saturday Kitchen

LAILA ROUASS jokingly mocked partner Ronnie O’Sullivan on Saturday Kitchen today as she revealed the food she cooks for the world snooker champion when he “winds her up”.

Saturday Kitchen: Laila Rouass on cooking aubergine for Ronnie

Saturday Kitchen’s Matt Tebbutt welcomed actress Laila Rouass and world snooker champion, Ronnie O’Sullivan, on the BBC cooking show this morning. In the usual fashion, the chef asked the guests what their food heaven and hell were but was taken aback when the actress joked she rustles up Ronnie’s least favourite food when the couple clash.

Matt introduced: “Morning guys, we’ve got a couple of guests today actress Laila Rouass and world snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan.

“You’ve both done the show independently before now we’re doing things slightly different today.

“[Laila’s] food heaven is [Ronnie’s] food hell and visa versa, is that right?”

Revealing her food heaven, the actress said: “My food heaven oh god what was it? I can’t remember. Aubergine and coriander.

Read more: Ronnie O’Sullivan’s diet to lose weight and ‘feel 100 percent’


Saturday Kitchen: Laila Rouass hit out at partner Ronnie O’Sullivan (Image: BBC)


Saturday Kitchen: Laila and Ronnie revealed their food heaven and hell (Image: BBC)

“I love aubergine because my mum cooked it, it’s Lebanese food and my mum loves cooking Lebanese food. I’ve grown up with aubergine.

“But you’re not a fan, though?” Matt asked Ronnie.

“It’s very hard to get it right. If it’s right it’s okay but if it’s not I don’t like it and coriander is a complete no-no.”

“Some people taste coriander and they think it tastes soapy,” Matt said. “Ronnie, what’s your idea of food heaven?”


Saturday Kitchen: Matt joked it was “amazing” the couple got on with each other (Image: BBC)


Saturday Kitchen: Matt was amused by the couple’s eating habits (Image: BBC)

“I love fish cod is nice anything fishy,” the snooker champion replied.

“I hate cod I really don’t like I’ve tried to cook it,” Laila commented.

“It’s amazing you still get on,” Matt joked.

“She’s adapted her menu. I put a menu out every Monday,” Ronnie remarked.

“When he winds me up I just make aubergine for supper and then he just starves,” Laila joked.

Later, Matt quizzed the couple on their respective favourite foods and why they were drawn to them. 

Laila revealed: “My mother was a chef and her speciality was Lebanese food so they roast a lot of aubergine and that’s something I grew up with. But [Ronnie] can’t stand aubergine.”

“It doesn’t do anything for me, aubergine it doesn’t have any flavour and coriander does the opposite for me it kills me,” Ronnie said.  “My mate calls me the fish man because I always have fish wherever I go,” he continued. “Red meat can sit around too long whereas fish goes and I can get on with what I need to do.”

“That’s quite visual, thanks for that,” Matt joked and Laila added: “On a Saturday morning.”

Discussing her imminent return to Holby City as Sahira Shah, the actress said: “I left 2012 and so it’s good to be back. Sahira is a go-getter she’s really talented, she’s really ambitious. It’s like visiting an old friend going back to Holby.

“I was supposed to start filming in May but then we went into total lockdown so it delayed until October hence I only stopped filming two weeks ago.”

“If you’ve got to touch somebody they’ve got to be in your bubble so they bringing in somebody that’s in your bubble,” she explained.

“There was one day Ronnie wasn’t playing and I said Ronnie can come and they looked at his pictures and they said, ‘No, he’s just too hairy we’re never going to be able to match them’ so he didn’t come in in the end.”

And Laila has got Ronnie interested in the Buddah and Greek philosphers … as well as being “boring” in everyday’s life.

Ronnie O’Sullivan and Laila Rouass’s new life – Buddhism, green tea and early nights

EXCLUSIVE Laila says the snooker champion’s rock and roll days are behind him as he now prefers green tea and turning in at 11pm

Laila Rouass and her fiance, former wild man of snooker Ronnie O’Sullivan

He’s not quite at the pipe and slippers stage but it looks like The Rocket’s turbo boosters have been turned down a few notches.

For years, snooker speed king Ronnie O’Sullivan grabbed the headlines for his booze and drug antics as well as his ­wizardry at the table.

But at 45, a father of three – and even a grandad – the current world champion really does have a more philosophical approach to life.

And he can thank fiancée Laila Rouass for that.

The Holby City actress has been researching the ­teachings and methods of the Buddha and Greek philosophers as part of her studies in wellbeing.

She says Ronnie has bought into the idea too and is a calmer cueman as a result.

Laila says she’s been inspired by philosophers to help her future husband Ronnie (Image: Alpha Press)

Gone are the days – and nights – of living it up with rock giants like Ronnie Wood and Liam Gallagher.

Now, says Laila, 49, her fella is more likely to be found tucked up in bed for an early night with a cup of green tea.

Having seen the effect on Ronnie, the former Footballers’ Wives star is now setting up a workshop, a ­website and an Instagram page to help ­others through the stresses of lockdown.

Laila, who has been with Ronnie for nine years, said: “I enrolled on a Yale University course on wellbeing and happiness which has led to me starting a new initiative about self-compassion.

“It’s been a lifesaver for me. I’m ­putting together a workshop using the likes of Epictetus, the Stoic philosopher, whose philosophy is about dealing with setbacks – like at the moment.

Two Ronnies – O’Sullivan and Wood – along with Stereophonics frontman Kelly Jones back in 2004 (Image: Richard Young/REX/Shutterstock)

“To Epictetus, all external events are beyond our control. We should accept whatever happens calmly and dispassionately.

“But individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through self-discipline.

“Buddha’s whole view was about what happens in life not being permanent.

“It’s about changing your mind state. That’s kind of what I’ve done through lockdown. In some ways, it’s been so ­useful for me to have this time.

“Our mindset also affects how we treat ourselves and how we eat.”

Speaking about how her new philosophy has affected Ronnie, Laila added: “I did the course but he’s kind of got into it as a result.

Ronnie now has a healthier lifestyle (Image: REX/Shutterstock)

“There’s a thing called ‘Intuitive Eating’ which sounds a bit Gwyneth Paltrow/hippy dippy, but it’s based in scientific fact and research.

“It’s a philosophy of eating that makes you the expert of your body and its hunger signals.

“Essentially, it’s the opposite of a traditional diet. It doesn’t impose guidelines about what to avoid and what or when to eat. It’s listening to your body and eating food that makes your body feel good.

“So Ronnie’s started realising, like me, that this stuff actually works. It’s just small practices that you can include in your daily life that make you happier.

“He’s started doing it and is loving it. He knows that if he has a big, fat Maccy D’s he’s not going to feel good afterwards.

“But it’s not easy to get into that mindset and break old habits. It’s easy to realise what it is, but it takes ­practice to actually do it.” It all seems to be having an impact on Ronnie.


Ronnie O’Sullivan plays a shot during the first round match on day two of the 2020 ManBetX Welsh Open (Image: Getty)

Laila went on: “He’s so boring these days. He likes watching TV, going out for dinner.

“All those rock and roll days are well and truly over.

“Before the pandemic, I’d be like, ‘Let’s go out! Let’s go to the club. Let’s go downstairs and have a dance’. And he’d be, ‘No, mate, no, no, no’ – that’s what he’s like – so we’d be having our green tea at 11 o’clock at night.”

Charismatic Ronnie has long been regarded as the sport’s most naturally gifted player – and its greatest ever.

He has six world titles and many believe he would have more but for off-the-table distractions.

Ronnie has turned to sports psychiatrist Steve Peters over the years, with great success.

He has said that he fancies giving something back himself when he hangs up his cue, possibly as a drugs and alcohol counsellor or carer.

“When I finish playing I want to train as a counsellor. I want to understand the business and mental health side.”

Fans will hope a retired Ronnie is a few years off, of course. He has the small matter of the world championships to defend in April.

He doesn’t make himself favourite to win. But then he’s always been philosophical like that.

Laila might have got Ronnie into the Buddah, early nights and green tea, but she failed to get him on Holby City … and that’s because he’s too hairy!

Snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan ‘too hairy’ for Holby City role with girlfriend Laila Rouass

Sahira Shah (Laila Rouassa) will make her return to the hospital tomorrow to run Darwin Ward and over the weekend, Laila was on Saturday Kitchen with her husband and snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan.

With soaps using the two metre rule when filming, it means any scenes that involve two characters being in close proximity either have to be altered or, a family member must be called in to replace the other actor. During Laila and Ronnie’s appearance on Saturday Kitchen, they revealed he wasn’t able to be used as a body double because he was too hairy to be a patient.

Laila told presenter Matt Tebutt: ‘It’s so funny. What happens now is if you’ve got to touch somebody, like a patient, you’ve got to know them, they’ve got to be in your bubble. So they bring in somebody that’s in your bubble and just cut away. I was like ‘oh yeah Ronnie can come’ and they looked at his pictures and they said ‘no no, he’s just too hairy – we’re never going to be able to match them’.

Laila continued: ‘So he didn’t come in in the end. I think it would have been fun to have him as a supporting artist. I think it’s the Italian [in him].’

Well, having seen it close-up, I can’t argue with the”hairy” bit!

Now, surely that’s enough gossipy gossip  for an entire year.

I promise, I’m back to snooker tomorrow!



Looking back at 2020

2020 has been a strange and extremely difficult year for everyone. The covid-19 crisis has disrupted our lives, we have been locked down for long periods, most of us still are. We have been separated from loved ones, some of us have got the disease, some of us have lost someone dear to them to the disease. Most of us have struggled – still struggle – economically and mentally. And, we are not out of it just yet, unfortunately.

In the middle of this disaster, Barry Hearn and WST have managed to get our sport going. Yes, it’s been mainly behind closed doors, yes, many are tired of Milton Keynes and events outside UK have been either moved or canceled BUT most players have been playing and have been offered earning opportunities, and fans have been able to watch a lot of great snooker. Also, great efforts have been put into making the setup attractive and different for each competition.

Thanks you Barry Hearn, thank you WST!

Big thanks also, to all the players, the WPBSA, the officials, the fitters, the pundits, the commentators, the sports journalists, the television crews and everyone behind the scenes who have made it possible.

Thank you!

And the news broke off yesterday evening that Barry Hearn has been awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours for his services to sport. 

So, to keep the tradition alive, here are my awards … and the golden turkey.

The Awards

Player of the Year: Judd Trump

Judd Trump is well ahead of everyone in terms of ranking points, he has more than 800000 points more than Neil Robertson, who is ranked second. He has won six ranking titles during the year: the 2020 German Masters, the 2020 Players Championship, the 2020 Gibraltar Open, the 2020 English Open , the 2020 Northern Ireland Open and the 2020 World Grand prix. He reached two more finals: the 2020 Championship League (October 2020 edition) and the 2020 UK Championship. He has played 103 matches over the year, won 84 of them. He played 721 frames, won 456, made 97 centuries. The only disappointment for him is probably that he started the year as World and Masters Champion and finishes without holding any of the “Triple Crown” titles.

Achievement of the Year: Ronnie’s sixth World Title

Ronnie hadn’t reached the one table setup at the Crucible since his defeat to Mark Selby in the 2014 Final. His last appearance at the Theatre of Dreams had been a nightmare as be went out in the first round to James Cahill, an amateur at the time. His season has been an indifferent one by his standards. For once the bookies weren’t making him a favourite. Very few, if any, expected him the to win the 2020 World Championship,  but he did. He went on to beat Thepchaiya Un-nooh, Ding Junhui, Mark Williams, Mark Selby and Kyren Wison to become World Champion for a sixth time, at the age of 44, the oldest winner at the Crucible since Ray Raerdon in 1978. He made 12 centuries during the Championship. He admitted that the reduced media duties, and the absence of crowd had helped him in that there were less distractions, and less pressure as well. It was all about playing… and play, he did, fully focussed from start to finish.

Match of the year: Ronnie O’Sullivan v Mark Selby Semi-final

I have chosen this match because of its signifiance in the context of the rivalry between Ronnie and Mark Selby. Speaking to Stephen Hendy over Instagram during the lockdown, last June, Ronnie had admitted that, if there was one match he would like to be able to “take back” and play again, it would be the 2014 World Final, a match where he lead by 10-5 and ended up up losing by 18-14.

Here is the piece Eurosport did about this conversation:


Five-times world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan has named the one match he would like to replay – naming the 2014 World Championship final as his major regret. 
O’Sullivan looked set to win the world title for a third straight year when he led Mark Selby 8-3 and 10-5 six years ago only to see the Leicester player mount a rousing recovery to complete an 18-14 win with a comeback boosted by a watertight tactical game.

It denied O’Sullivan the chance to join Steve Davis and Ray Reardon on six titles in the modern era and continue to leave him two adrift on Stephen Hendry’s record haul of seven.

The Essex player has not been beyond the quarter-finals since 2014 as he prepares for his latest bid to recapture the sport’s biggest title at the Crucible next month.

O’Sullivan insists he won’t be drawn into long tactical exchanges with Selby – who added two mores victories in 2016 and 2017 – if he comes across him this year.

“The match I’d like to play again would be Selby in the 2014 final because I’d have played it differently,” said O’Sullivan during his latest chat with Hendry on Instagram.

“I would have done everything I could to not get bogged down and keep the game open.


“I’m just going to blast them open, I’m not getting sucked into eight or nine frames of 50-minute frames, because it destroys you.

“I tried to compete with him and play that sort of game, but then I sat back and thought, ‘I’ve lost my own rhythm.’

“I’d rather lose three frames on the spin but keep my own rhythm, because given the chance I could go bang, bang, bang and win three frames back.

“It got to the point that even if he left me amongst the balls I
weren’t even going to make 20 because I just had no rhythm. I learned a lot.”

O’Sullivan certainly seemed to dictate terms in their previous meeting, running out a 5-1 winner in the Welsh Open last eight in February boosted by breaks of 85, 95 and 142.

“Certain players have your number and I think Selby kind of had my number for a bit, I struggled against him, even though I had victories against him,” said O’Sullivan.

“I thought, I might lose to you, but it’ll be on my terms. Ever since I’ve played like that I’ve enjoyed every game I’ve had against him, even if I’ve lost to him.”

Well, given the opportunity to play Mark Selby over four sessions, Ronnie did exactly what he had told Hendry he would do. He refused to get sucked in his opponent game, he refused to enter into safety battles. He went for “hit and hope” shots when in  snookers and it  worked. Ronnie could easily have lost that match, he was behind for most it. IIn the end, He was 16-14 down and produced an extraordinary salvo of three frames to snatch victory.

Guess what? Mark Selby didn’t like it. He though that it was “disrespectful” from Ronnie to play this way. When he won in 2014, he was praised for “finding a way” to beat Ronnie, and rightly so. This time it was Ronnie who “found a way” to beat him by refusing to let him dictate the pace and the style of the match. He too should be praised for it.

Frame of the year: Kyren Wilson v Anthony McGill World Semi-final decider

This is certainly the most extraordinary frame I have ever watched.

Here is how WST descibed it in a recent article:

One of the most extraordinary deciding frames in snooker’s rich history. As it progressed, wizened Crucible veterans gawped at the screens backstage, wondering what could possibly happened next. At one stage the two players seemed to have invented a new game within a game, taking turns to bounce the cue ball off the baulk cushion to try to flick the last red into a centre pocket. That was after Wilson gained 43 points in fouls to leave his opponent needing snookers, then somehow contrived to go in-off twice. Eventually it was settled by another freakish moment as Wilson fluked the green during a safety exchange. He was on the verge of tears as he potted the last pink, completing the unique frame score of 103-83. “I have known Anthony since we were kids, and in the last frame we were just two young lads out there feeling the pressure,” said Wilson. “We fought so hard for three days, toe to toe, we both gave it everything. It was just the maddest match.” A gracious McGill smiled: “I feel as if the match was stolen from me – not by Kyren but by the snooker Gods. I really enjoyed the fight, it was played in the right spirit.”

But words can’t really convey the drama ir produced… so here it is for you to watch (again)

Most dramatic day of snooker of the season: Saturday 14th of August, 2020

Yes, actually, the third day of the 2020 World Championship semi-finals, was, in my opinion, the most exciting and dramatic day of snooker, if not ever, certainly since I started following the sport some 15 years ago. Both semi-finals were remarkable, tense, dramatic and  went to a deciding frame.

Shot of the year: Stephen Maguire incredible “trick shot” at the 2020 Masters

It has to be this …

I love Maguire’s celebration …

Luckiest man of the year: Stephen Maguire

Stephen Maguire didn’t qualify for the Tour Championship, but got the opportunity to play in it when Ding – who had opted to return to China as the pandemic unfolded in the UK – withdrew. Stepen made the most of this unexpected chance as he went on to win the event, earning himself £150000. Stephen had also previously earned £30000 for reaching the quarter-finals of the 2020 Players Championship. That was enough for him to also win the “Coral Cup” and the £100000 bonus coming with it. Basically he got £250000 by playing in an event when he should’nt even have been in the draw. It had to be won though, so, well done Stephen Maguire!

The Golden Turkey

Golden Turkey

Barry Hearn’s insensitive treatment of Anthony Hamilton

Anthony Hamilton had qualified for the television stages of the World Championship: he had beaten Sam Craigie by 6-3 and Scott Donaldson by 10-5. He was due to return to the Crucible for the first time since 2008. Anthony had turned 49 in June. Over the last decade he had suffered countless back injuries. He was really looking forward to it, knowing that this may well be his last opportunity to play on the biggest scene of all. People like David Hendon and Hector Nunns, who were on-site, were clear about it on social media: Anyhony was absolutely dlighted to have qualified and definitely wanted to play.

The qualifiers had been well under way when the news came that fans would be allowed into the arena, and they would not be tested, and there would be no temperature checks. Anthony Hamilton only learned about it after he qualified. He had been shielding, as he suffers from asthma. He felt that it was undsafe for him to play. He withdrew.

Barry Hearn’s reaction was particularly insensitive and unfair.

You can read here what I wrote about it at the time.

It’s worth reading the comments as well.

The reigning World Champion at the time, Judd Trump, did himself no favour as he jumped on Hearn’s bandwagon

Judd Trump has hit out at Anthony Hamilton for withdrawing from the World Snooker Championship on the eve of the tournament, calling the world No 48 “selfish” and suggesting he should have pulled out prior to securing his place at the event instead of taking an opportunity from another player.

Ronnie however wasn’t impressed by the decision to have fans back, stating that players were treated like lab rats.

Ronnie O’Sullivan says allowing spectators into the Crucible Theatre for the World Championship is treating snooker players like “lab rats”.

The tournament, which begins on Friday, will be the first indoor sporting event with crowds, allowing around 300 supporters to attend each session.

Qualifier Anthony Hamilton, who suffers from severe asthma, says it is “ridiculous” and “too early” for fans.

Five-time world champion O’Sullivan said players “all run a bit of a risk”.


Those that have booked tickets to attend the Sheffield venue will be placed in ‘bubbles’ of up to four people – limited to a maximum of two households – and will be socially distanced from others in the arena.

Temperature checks will not be in place and although face masks must be worn around the venue they can be removed once spectators are seated inside.

World number 48 Hamilton pulled out of the Championship League – the first event that was played on the sport’s return – because of health concerns and called the decision to allow people to take off their masks in the auditorium “a mad thing”.

He added: “Let’s say one person gets ill and dies from the Crucible, that is one person who has died for no reason, just for entertainment.

“I won’t be comfortable in there personally. I don’t know why anybody would be comfortable – we all know it is airborne.”

However, O’Sullivan said: “I defy anybody if they have been keeping their distance from people for four months to say, oh right, now you’ve got to go into a room full of people – unless you have got a death wish, and some people have in many ways and they just don’t care.

“But if you are one of these people that happens to care about your health and are taking it seriously, I totally get how [Hamilton] feels.

“I would feel a bit strange walking in a room with 10 people I don’t know, and I have done. I didn’t feel comfortable.

“So I totally respect where Anthony is coming from, and where other people are coming from – they want crowds in there, they want things back to normal. We have a choice – we don’t have to go and play. We all run a bit of a risk.

“I have the option not to play but I’ve decided to play. Maybe with 5,000 fans I could see it’s a bit of an income you’re going to lose, but 200 fans, is it really?

“Maybe they have to start doing a test on crowds at some point and I’ve heard people say they’re treating the snooker event a little bit like lab rats – you’ve got to start somewhere, start with snooker players.

“Less insurance to pay out for Anthony Hamilton than there is for Lewis Hamilton.”

O’Sullivan says he has had friends die from Covid-19 and has not been within 20 feet of his mother, who is in the ‘high risk’ category because she had pneumonia last year.

“It’s not until you’ve had people close to you that have gone through it, and know someone who has died,” he said.

“I don’t think it has been taken seriously enough.”

The worst aspect of it, is that Anthony’s fears, and Ronnie’s views were vindicated as the “experiment” came to an end after just one day. It was deemed too risky by the UK government

If that premature, reckless decision to allow a crowd in hadn’t been made, Anthony Hamilton would have been playing at the Crucible. He was the one ‘robbed” of a golden opportunity. 

But Barry Hearn never apologised of course…

Statistics source: cuetracker.net

The 2020 UK Championship – Olivier Marteel honoured

Olivier Marteel will be the referee in charge of the 2020 UK Championship final. 

Olivier Martell coronavirus

Olivier is a nurse in Belgium, that’s his day job. He usually works in the radiology department. When the covid-19 first wave hit our country in the spring , Olivier volunteered to work on the frontline. This is a picture he shared with Jan Verhaaas at the time.

It’s a very difficult and dangerous job, made even more difficult by the heavy PPE equipment.

Olivier missed the 2020 World Championship, giving priority to his duties as a carer

Now, WST and WPBSA wanted to honour him: he will be the man in the middle come Sunday.


Congratulations Olivier, enjoy! Nobody deserves it more than you.

Here is a video shared by WST. Rob Walker interviews Olivier …