I was somewhat surprised to learn that Stephen
Lee feels sufficiently aggrieved at Peter Ebdon to ask for a public apology
some four months after an incident in the World Snooker Championships 2001 in
Sheffield. An incident that I suspect most people considered long gone?
As you may recall Stephen Lee and Peter Ebdon
fought out a long and I feel sure gruelling match that ended with Peter Ebdon
exploding with emotion more or less as the winning ball (from his point of view
disappeared into a baulk pocket). Peters celebration of the win was I
feel sure completely genuine and emotionally sincere but to many onlookers it
was perceived as excessive and even a bit unsporting.
A few interesting points come out of being an
armchair Snooker supporter; one of those as I have mentioned before is that we
tend to discuss such matters with our friends and fellow league players. I can
distinctly remember other occasions with Peters matches that observers
commented about his behaviour. One of these was in the Masters a few years
back, the general feeling then was "well it was a big match for him and well
thats just the way he is". Not only that but "he seems a very keen and
committed family man and feels that he is very responsible for their financial
well being so every ball potted and missed is significant to him for those
I watched his press conference at the World
Championships and when he won his first major for months earlier in the season
on Sky sports. On both of these occasions he was very emotional and at the
World Championships made a particular effort to say that he hadnt meant
any disrespect to a fellow professional but couldnt hold his emotions
back any longer. During the British Open press conference where Peter spoke
about his family and his relief at getting nearer to what he sees as his true
potential, I feel we were given an insight into the type of man he is.
What I feel is significant is that Stephen Lee
clearly hasnt moved on since these incidents and feels strongly enough to
jeopardise his teams chances in the prestigious team event The world team
championships because Peter Ebdon is on the same team as himself. For me the
irony here is twofold, one the event will result in him being paid even if he
doesnt win a frame and two what power would he have to influence
proceedings if Peter was assigned to another team, in other words if Peter were
Welsh or Scots would Stephen relish the thought of stuffing one up him on the
table rather than resorting to, off the table bickering and dredging up past
I cant fully support either player in this
matter but feel that if one player is unwilling to play for his country then
his commitment is surely lacking, I know dozens of players who would be
delighted to take his place. The reason I mention commitment is that he seems
to be putting personal matters ahead of both the sponsors wishes and his fans
desires to see him represent his country again in this event. Not to mention
the position that his manager might prefer? If, I remember correctly? Stephen
was very strong in the event last year and gained much respect and admiration
for his performances throughout?
The reason that I chose the title for this
piece, is that of the two players. Stephen sticks out in my memory for having
failed a test for banned substances last year, so I feel that taking the moral
high ground does not necessarily suit him as well as it might.
Peter on the other hand might be inclined to
take the role of peace maker as Snooker is to him symbolic of his desire to
prove himself a capable and worthy provider of both financial security and
perhaps a flawed but ultimately respectable competitor?
I remember a comment made by a former World
Champion who said, "what people often forget is that as professional sportsmen
we are really one man small businesses so we often have more at stake than just
the performance on the table". Perhaps as Peter manages himself this also
explains the emotional involvement and levels of commitment that this type of
sustained effort requires from him.
I hope that both players do take part in the
forthcoming World Team Championship as in these times of potential War and
disharmony on a global scale, we the viewers need entertaining distractions and
positive examples of behaviour for the younger Snooker supporters to
One last thought for Stephen to consider Steve
Davis was once drawn against the little known Peter Ebdon in the World
Championships in the dreaded first round. The result of this clash was a
resounding success for the delighted Ebdon. The following year the same clash
was lined up by the fates yet again, on this occasion Mr Davis quietly
demolished Mr Ebdon on the table and prevailed even more emphatically than he
had lost the previous year. Perhaps Mr Lee should have waited for an
opportunity to let his cue and ability on the table do his talking for him? My
memory isnt as clear about Peter Ebdons following encounter with
Stephen Hendry but I wouldnt be surprised if the outcome was similar.
It seems interesting that people often use the
term un-sportsmanlike behaviour to criticise anything that they dont
like. Interestingly in sports like Boxing or at the end of a Formula 1 race the
behaviour demonstrated there is considered appropriate to these sports so how
would one fairly define sportsman-like behaviour anyway?
A keen observer of Snooker and
Pool and collector of Cues and Books.