Visiting the UK Championships in York this
week has been a very great pleasure, not only did my friend Dominic Dale win
his first match but I also saw a number of good players in action.
Such names as John Parrott, Nigel Bond, Tony
Drago, Mark King, Gerard Greene and Alain Robidoux were involved in two session
matches giving the audience the opportunity to really settle into the
The event has been tremendous value for money
and has already produced some sparkling entertainment, close finishes and a
shock or two, I must say that the departure of Marco Fu and Ken Doherty within
hours of each other was amazing,
Marco's game was something of an added shock
as he had been playing really well of late. From an international point of
view, Marco is extremely good for the game so I hope that his lapse is not a
symptom of something serious and that he will return to form in the near
I was also pleased to see Fergal O'Brien
winning again and respected his tenacity and resolve. Fergal would not look out
of place if he were seen on an old photograph from the late nineteenth century,
perhaps Fergal needs a nickname that reflects this such as "the fountain of
youth" O'Brien, perhaps too long for a nickname but you get the gist.
The miss rule still occasionally causes minor
irritation amongst the top players as it is occasionally applied differently by
some of the referees, I saw one shot, a shot out of a snooker of course, when a
player quite clearly gained an advantage from missing a yellow ball and due to
leaving his opponent a good distance away from it, the referee had called the
previous attempt a miss but probably due to how closely the cue ball had passed
the object ball and due also to the fact that it had passed the yellow, no
second miss was called. The player queried the decision but was told "I've made
my decision". As a neutral observer in this particular match, I felt that the
referee was wrong but that under no circumstances would he be prepared to
change his mind. What surprised me was the fact that the shot that the player
had played was a variation of the two cushion clip shot that Cliff Thorburn
popularised some years ago and was just the type of shot that the miss rule was
strengthened and clarified to counteract, who'd be a referee?
Overall the standard of refereeing,
sportsmanship and professionalism of the top players referees and event
organisers is something to be very proud of, in fact I recommend that should
you get the opportunity, you should go and see some live Snooker.
I have been lucky enough to attend quite a few
events over the years but enjoy the longer session matches the best. I think
that many of the more seasoned players would benefit from a larger audience in
attendance at their matches as it would no doubt enhance the atmosphere and
thus the apparent significance of the match, this might then assist some of
them to recapture some of the form that they had when they were appearing in
front of packed houses.
Perhaps a case in point was the John Parrott
match, he had lost two frames on the trot to trail eight-seven, the gallery was
full and most of the vocal support was for him, he eventually ran out the
winner, taking the last two frames. I'll leave you to make up your own minds
about the significance of support from a crowd of hopeful and positive thinkers
in an audience but urge you to remember some of Alex Higgins's performances in
the twilight of his career at venues such as Wembley.
I would like to take this opportunity to
congratulate Nigel Bond on his play thus far, especially as he, like me, uses a
Sheridan cue to play with. In my case I alternate with a Tom Newman Facsimile
cue but Nigel has used his for approximately fifteen years and to a somewhat
higher standard than I, it has to be said.
Who's your money on for the championship? Well
who knows perhaps a player from a few short years ago might have a renaissance?
A Bond or a Dale might go all the way? The winner in the end will be Snooker
and the army of fans who quietly queue for tickets even before the television
cameras arrive, this band of loyal followers who enjoy nothing better than star
spotting in the foyer and watching the game that they love played to a standard
that they can only dream of. Long may it continue.