Crucible 2019 – last interviews before it starts

The World Championship starts in a few hours and Shamoon Hafez (BBC) has been interviewing some if the main contenders.

World Championship 2019: Ronnie O’Sullivan seeks sixth title at Crucible

It’s not great that Mark Williams is feeling this way, but I can understand why he does.

Indeed just have a look at the poster:

WC2019Poster

He’s completely in the background, whilst Mark Selby who has not done much at all this season in right in front. Mark Also wasn’t on the cover of the new game “Snooker 19” that Worldsnooker is promoting. That’s hard to understand unless Mark is indeed right.

In my opinion he’s been a great World Champion but that view may not be shared by everyone. There is a trend now to ask sportsperson to be “Mr/Mrs Perfect”. Well spending the whole year celebrating on social media with a lot of drinking involved, and getting in trouble in Dubai for being too explicitly flirty (with his own wife BTW) may not be what’s expected of Mr Perfect. But what Mark certainly has done, and I believe it’s much more important than being Mr Perfect, is being a champion to which the man and woman of the street can relate/identify. Because, we, real humans in real life, we are not “Perfect” and it’s hard to relate to an image that bears no “reality”.

 

Crucible 2019 – The Press Day

Traditionally the Friday before the World Championship is the Press Day. The top  16, the officials and the sponsor meet the members of the press.

Here are some images and videos that emerged today on social media

Meeting the press:

Ronnie remembers his best and worse Crucible moments with Eurosport

And he’s been talking to the sponsor…

As always, Ronnie sounds a bit low-key, but I honestly believe that this is part of trying to ease the weight of expectations a bit.

Meanwhile the fitters are getting the arena and practise room ready

Whilst Matt Huart has been working on a blog about the rankings (now there’s a surprise!)

Four to Fight for Season End Top Ranking

19th April 2019

Four players head to the Crucible from this Saturday looking not only to claim the Betfred World Snooker Championship title, but also to end the season as snooker’s world number one ranked player.

View the latest provisional end of season rankings

For the last seven successive seasons the honour has gone to three-time world champion Mark Selby, however having already been deposed as world number one by Ronnie O’Sullivan in recent weeks and with the prize money from his 2017 Crucible success due to fall from him ranking, there is a real possibility that this run will come to an end this year.

O’Sullivan favourite

Leading the race to finish the campaign ranked at number one for the first time since the end of the 2009/10 season is current top ranked player Ronnie O’Sullivan. The five-time world champion heads to Sheffield with a provisional total of £1,196,500 to his name, almost £200,000 clear of his closest rival.

Leading the chase is defending champion Mark Williams, who is the only player other than Ronnie whose prospects of claiming top spot remains in his own hands. This is because winning the tournament once again would guarantee that the Welshman would return to the top of the list, even if O’Sullivan were to reach the final.

Outside chance

The other two players who can still mathematically regain top spot are Neil Robertson and Mark Selby, however both would need some help by way of an early exit for O’Sullivan.

Both players would in fact need to win the tournament to stand any possible chance of leapfrogging the top two, with O’Sullivan also losing before the semi-final stage.

If O’Sullivan were to reach the last four, only Williams would be able to deny him a place at the top of the season-end rankings for what would be the sixth time in his career, while Williams is looking to finish there for a fifth time.

Also a £50000 prize has been announced for a 147 at the Crucible.

The prize for making a maximum break at the 2019 Betfred World Championship will be £50,000.

Snooker’s biggest tournament starts on Saturday and runs for 17 days, with 32 players battling for the title. And a 147 at the Crucible will be worth a £50,000 bonus.

Maximum breaks are usually rewarded from the rolling pot for 147s but with that pot down to £5,000 following Stuart Bingham’s maximum at the China Open, World Snooker and WPBSA have decided to boost the prize up to £50,000.

There is also a high break prize of £10,000.

147s at the Crucible

Cliff Thorburn 1983
Jimmy White 1992
Stephen Hendry 1995
Ronnie O’Sullivan 1997
Ronnie O’Sullivan 2003
Mark Williams 2005
Ronnie O’Sullivan 2008
Ali Carter 2008
Stephen Hendry 2009
Stephen Hendry 2012

147s this season

Michael Georgiou – 2018 Paul Hunter Classic
Jamie Jones – 2018 Paul Hunter Classic
Thepchaiya Un-Nooh – 2018 English Open
Ronnie O’Sullivan – 2018 English Open
Mark Selby – 2018 Champion of Champions
John Higgins – 2018 Scottish Open
Judd Trump – 2018 German Masters qualifiers
David Gilbert – 2019 Championship League
Neil Robertson – 2019 Welsh Open
Noppon Sanegkham – 2019 Welsh Open
Zhou Yuelong – 2019 Indian Open
Stuart Bingham – 2019 China Open

Yes, that’s 7 years ago. A maximum at the Crucible remains a rarity because a number of factors, notably the pressure because of the importance of the event and of course nobody will take unduly risks . With the big bonus gone, there wasn’t much incentive for the players to try to make one. They finally understood that it seems.

And everyone else has been doing previews. Here is mine.

Don’t believe everything you read in the press …

Today THIS was published by the Daily Star

Ronnie O’Sullivan coach BANNED from Romford training base – this is why

RONNIE O’SULLIVAN has been dealt a blow on the eve of the World Snooker Championship after his coach was banned from visiting his training base.

Ronnie O’Sullivan linked up with Stephen Feeney last year after he turned Mark Williams back into a world champion.

Williams, 44, won his third Crucible title in May 2018 and O’Sullivan decided to get the mastermind behind that success on board.

Feeney appears to have had a major impact on The Rocket after his stunning season which has seen him return to the world No.1 spot and claim five major titles.

But his progress could be hit after his coach was banned from O’Sullivan’s Romford training base.

O’Sullivan has practiced at the Grove Academy in Romford, Essex, for years.

But he’s had to change his plans for the 2019 World Snooker Championship, and will instead head to Sheffield.

The Grove Academy is owned by O’Sullivan’s former manager Django Fung, and he’s banned Feeney from entering the venue – although the player himself is still allowed in.

Fung manages fellow snooker stars Judd Trump and Neil Robertson and disrupting O’Sullivan’s preparations could give them a big advantage.

To which Django Fung responded THIS on social media
This happened 10 months ago. No one is banned, I just need to know who enters my premises and when. Also don’t need any unwanted distractions to my players. I explained this to and he fully understands it.

Clearly someone is making a “drama” story out of nothing. The article is inaccurate and misleading. Unfortunately many will only read the article, comment on it and share it and will not see – or will deliberately choose to ignore Django’s answer… because they like to stir the pot.

I have seen this type of things often enough when I was in the media room. Quotes from players, taken out of context, twisted, presented as spontaneous when they had been baited into it. Just to create “stories” that sell, in total disregard from what the players actually meant. And it’s all the most easy to do when they are interviewed, only minutes after a match, especially when they are feeling raw having just lost.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many journalists out there who genuinely do their job the best they can, trying to promote the sport, to sell articles to their – too often reluctant – editors whilst being fair to the players. But you have the others as well … like this one.

 

Ronnie signs for three more years with Eurosport

Here is the announcement:

Snooker legend Ronnie signs multi-year deal with Eurosport

April 02 2019

Snooker legend Ronnie signs multi-year deal with Eurosport

• O’Sullivan pens deal to be Eurosport snooker expert for three years
• Joins Eurosport’s team of experts that include White and Foulds
• O’Sullivan: Eurosport is the go-to destination for passionate snooker fans

One of the sport’s greatest icons will be on Eurosport’s screens for another three years after it was announced snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan has signed up with the Discovery-owned network to be an expert analyst.

Affectionately named ‘The Rocket’ in reference to his breath-taking shot making ability on the baize, the five-time World Champion will join Eurosport’s stellar cast of snooker experts throughout the upcoming 2019 World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.

O’Sullivan will also be chief contributor to an exclusive short-form series 60 Second Pro, to be screened on Eurosport’s linear and digital channels throughout the tournament where the potting maestro will dissect some of the key aspects of the game – covering everything from the perfect break to imparting the right amount of spin for certain shots.

Ronnie O’Sullivan said: “I am delighted to extend my association with Eurosport for another three years. Eurosport has been an important part of my professional life over the last few seasons and I can’t wait to share my opinions with viewers from right across Europe.

“It is well-known within the game that Eurosport is the go-to destination for passionate snooker fans and I’m proud to be part of that team.”

Joining O’Sullivan to analyse the best of the action during the World Snooker Championship will be six-time World Championship finalist Jimmy White, former professional stalwart Neal Foulds with respected broadcasters Colin Murray and Andy Goldstein anchoring the show and Rachel Casey conducting interviews on-site from Sheffield. Professional snooker guru Chris Henry, who has coached the likes of Shaun Murphy, Ding Junhui and Stephen Hendry, will supplement Eurosport’s coverage with unique insights into the mindset of the players during the 17-day tournament.

Over 150 hours of live coverage will be shown exclusively* on Eurosport, eurosport.com and the Eurosport App across Europe with highlights shows, replays and action from the qualifying tournament** taking that figure to well over 300 hours by the time the curtain comes down on the 42nd edition of snooker’s blue-riband event. Dave Hendon will be calling the action for Eurosport.

Eurosport first broadcast the World Snooker Championship in 2000 and has shown every tournament since 2003. In 2016, Eurosport underlined its status as the Home of Snooker when it signed a ten-year agreement with World Snooker to broadcast all of the major tournaments on the snooker calendar, including the Home Nations Series, Masters and the World Snooker Championship.

*Total exclusivity except the UK
**The qualifying tournament is available only on Eurosport Player

Notes to Editors
Key Dates for the Diary:
Saturday 20 April – Day 1 of the 2019 World Snooker Championship main tournament
Saturday 27 April – Second round begins
Tuesday 30 April – Quarter-Finals begin
Thursday 2 May – Semi-Finals begin
Monday 6 May – The final of the 2019 World Snooker Championship concludes

The 2019 World Snooker Championship will be shown on Eurosport platforms in:
Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kosovo, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Morocco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Turkey, UK, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vatican.

Ronnie O’Sullivan Biography
Born: 5 December 1975 (West Midlands, England)
Hometown: Chigwell, Essex, England
One of the greatest players in the history of snooker, Ronnie O’Sullivan has five world titles to his name having won the sport’s biggest prize in 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2013. During his professional career – which started in 1992 – O’Sullivan has won a total of 35 ranking tournaments and last month became the first player to record 1,000 100+ breaks in a career. Ronnie started working with Eurosport in 2014, quickly establishing himself as one of the most engaging, insightful and entertaining analysts in snooker. Away from snooker, Ronnie was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 2016, is interested in the role nutrition can play in everyday health and his modern-day sporting idol is Barcelona and Argentina playmaker Lionel Messi.

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
Pinterest
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.